“Problems are always there but it is up to you if you will spend your time thinking about the problem or planning the solution.”
This serves as motivation for David Baluarte, Jr., a former scholar of Tzu Chi Foundation.
For David, living in the impoverished community of Dreamland in Rosario, Cavite is just a challenge he was born with, not a chain that restrains him from dreaming a college diploma and a better life for his family.
But for decades, a higher education seemed an impossible idea for the children of Dreamland, and David was no exemption. That was until Tzu Chi Foundation discovered the situation of the community in the aftermath of Typhoon Dodong (Wutip) in 2007. Tzu Chi held relief aid distributions, provided long-term assistance to the neediest families and scholarship grants to the children. These programs are aimed at empowering the families so they can lift themselves from poverty.
In 2013David became one of the recipients of the scholarship from Tzu Chi. That fateful day when he found out Tzu Chi will support his college education, the course of David’s future changed.
Before this, David’s mother, Helen had encouraged him to find a job in a factory after his high school graduation. His parents could not afford to send him to college. David’s father is a fisherman, while his mother stays at home to attend to his two siblings’ needs.
It was a tough battle, and David was torn between earning money to help his family and fighting for his dream of getting a college degree as being the youngest child.
In the end, he chose what he believed will benefit everyone involved. He chose to continue his college education. Once he graduated, he knew he will be able to find a more stable job and support his family better.
Determined, David had saved the money that his mother had given for his job hunting to pay for the entrance exam fee at the Cavite State University in Rosario.
“I realized that it’s better to finish my education because it would lead to a new and brighter chapter of our life,” says David.
David was persistent to study and create a better life in the future. Fueled by his parents’ support and the financial, as well as spiritual support, from Tzu Chi, David graduated from college this year with a degree in Secondary Education Major in English.
Currently, David is a Filipino and English senior high school teacher at the San Sebastian College–Recoletos de Cavite. He is living his dream and aims to be a role model to his students.
“He is committed to the profession. Not everyone has the calling of being a teacher, so I see in him that he would be able to carry it for the years to come,” Department Head Farrah Columna commends David.
On David’s part, the life lessons from the monthly Humanity Class for Tzu Chi scholars had molded him to be the person and teacher that he is today.
“Master Cheng Yen aims to spread the love, and now I can apply it through teaching my students the lessons from the Master. I can share it with them whenever our topics are related to her teachings, two of those are compassion and charity,” the former scholar adds.
Now that David is already earning money, their family situation has become a bit more comfortable. David is currently funding the renovation of their house while his father is the one in charge with the construction.
“Thank you so much because now we can already feel and see that his hardship produced good fruits that will help him have a better life. If not for Tzu Chi Foundation, our life would have been harder,” says his father, David
David is like a gem shining amidst life’s troubles. May his perseverance and courage to dream despite the odds serve as inspiration to many poor students to continue chasing a better life for their families, and contribute in creating a better society through education.
David Baluarte Jr. received a certificate from Tzu Chi Foundation for finishing his college education. The certificate has been framed and displayed by his family at their house. It serves as a reminder of his determination to finish his studies and the love and compassion of Tzu Chi to him. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
David Baluarte Jr. prepares for his 7 o’clock class in San Sebastian College-Recoletos de Cavite. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A security guard of the school welcomes teacher David Baluarte Jr. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A student of David Baluarte Jr. picks up the topic Compassion and Charity for the impromptu speaking activity. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
After class, David Baluarte Jr. spend time with his students to understand each other better. One of his students describe him as an approachable and industrious teacher. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
David Baluarte Jr. allots his monthly salary for the renovation of their house. David Jr. starts to build a concrete home (left). His father is in-charge of the construction. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Helen, David Baluarte Jr.’s mother, drops her loose changes in the Tzu Chi coin bank. Saving some peso every day to help the needy is one of the family’s ways of giving back the help they have received from the foundation. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】