Alone but not apart: Converge keeps a Bicol working scholar connected

Converge Bicol working scholar
Christian keeps up with his school work online, thanks to a strong, stable internet connection from Converge.

Living independently is a rite of passage into adulthood and most young adults look forward to their newfound freedom from family. But when separation isn’t a lifestyle choice and independence is forced, living alone can be frightening. For a young student-athlete from Naga, solo living is a day-to-day challenge.

Christian Anthony Bermejo, 20 years old, is a basketball varsity student at Naga College Foundation, who recently found himself living away from his family.

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“Sa loob ng 20 years na nabubuhay ako sa mundo ngayon lang ako nalayo sa pamilya ko. Actually, mga limang buwan na ako nahiwalay sa kanila,” shared Christian.

Christian’s parents relocated to Bohol due to hardships in finding opportunities in Bicol. Being a student-athlete, Christian’s education at Naga College Foundation is free so staying in Bicol is the more practical option for him.

“Pinili nilang lumisan at ako mas pinili kong maiwan para na rin makatulong sa kanila para di na rin po nila isipin yung pag-aaral ko. Varsity po ako ng basketball ngayon, second year na ako. Kasama po ng ama at ina ko ang dalawa kong kapatid na babae,” Christian adds.

Most young professionals look forward to doing things on their own – from cooking, to cleaning and washing, the experience is an exercise in freedom. But for Christian, who is still studying, the responsibilities are coming in too early.

“Isa rin sa rason kung bakit mas nagiging mahirap ang sitwasyon ko kasi nasanay akong andiyan ang magulang ko para asikasuhin lahat ng mga kailangan ko. Yung tipong uuwi nalang ako sa bahay para kumain at magpahinga pero ngayon wala na sila, kailangan kong asikasuhin ang sarili ko at maghanap ng part time job upang kumita ng pera,” said Christian.

Forced to grow up and become an adult too quickly, Christian sought a part-time job as additional manpower in a business in Bicol. He is able to sustain himself but also sends money to his parents who are saving up to start a small enterprise in Bohol.

Through these hardships, Christian’s saving grace is the ability to talk to his family. Although they are miles apart, small blessings such as having a stable internet, keep him connected and close to his family.

“Napakahirap sa akin na 20 years na kasama ko sila, at bigla akong napalayo pero gabi-gabi akong tumatawag sa kanila gamit yung internet sa bahay kaya kahit papaano nabawasan kalungkutan ko, tuwing nakakausap ko sila online sa Messenger. Kaya kahit malayo sila, feeling ko andiyan pa rin sila para sa akin. Sinusuportahan nila ako palagi kaya di ko nararamdaman na malayo sila,” said Christian.

Encouraged by the hype and word on the street about Converge fiber internet, Christian applied for a line as soon as it became available in Naga.

The strong and consistent connection not only served as a vital avenue through which he could communicate with his family but also helped him cope with schooling.

“Dati ang experience ko sa internet hindi gaanong kalakas kasi hindi pa fiber, mabagal mag-load, kaya minsan nakakairita pag sobrang bagal ng internet. Nagpakabit ako ng Converge noong kasagsagan ng pandemic. Kailangan namin mag-adjust bilang estudyante sa online classes. Napakalaking tulong nito dahil kahit bawal lumabas, na-meet ko online mga teachers and kaklase ko at nakakapag-aral kami,” he adds.

With the basic plan’s affordability, which is now at P1,500 for 100 Mbps, the cost isn’t as burdensome for a working scholar/athlete like Christian.

“Sobrang kilala ang Converge sa lugar namin. Kung sa presyo, mura na, mabilis pa. Hindi na kami naghanap ng iba pa,” he said.

Living on his own, and with two more years in college, Christian hopes he can save up enough money to reunite with his family and contribute more to their livelihood.

“Gusto ko buuin uli pamilya ko. Gusto ko maka-graduate at makapagtrabaho,” said Christian.

The dream may be far off from now, but with the life skills and know-how Christian is gaining from his independence plus his own determination and hard work, it’s no doubt the dream will soon become a reality.

Converge has also provided internet support to young football players from underprivileged communities.

WATCH the full story of how Converge keeps a Bicol working scholar connected here:

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The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.