Recorded video courtesy of Eugene Laganina, edited by KIM Quilinguing, UP MPRO
Eugene Laganina, a second-year student at the UP Diliman College of Human Kinetics who comes from Umingan, Pangasinan, is not one to shy away from hard work, whether it is balancing between academics and training as a member of the UP Men’s Volleyball Team or working at a farm during the months of lockdown to save up for the future.
How he found himself from living a typical UP student-athlete’s life in UP Diliman’s campus to being in a lush bukid in Sta. Ines, San Miguel, Bulacan, staying at his eldest sibling’s place, is a bit of a story in and of itself. “Actually, sabi nila one-week class suspension lang daw, so umuwi muna ako sa kapatid ko sa probinsya [Actually, they told us at first that it was just going to be a one-week class suspension; so I went to my half-sister’s home],” he said. (Eugene is the third in a family of four siblings, with his older brother supporting his and his youngest sister’s studies through college.)
“And then sa following days, in-announce ulit na magiging one-month class suspension kasi lumalala na daw yung coronavirus, so naging pandemic na sya. So nag-isip-isip ako, ‘Paano na lang yung nakasanayan ko—yung pag-aaral at yung training ko? Ano na mangyayari sa akin dito? [And then in the following days, it was announced that the class suspension would extend to a month because the coronavirus situation had worsened into a pandemic. So I wondered, ‘What will happen to my studies and training? What will happen to me here?’]” he went on.
Nag-isip ako kung anong magagawa ko para makatulong ako sa mga magulang o mga kapatid ko.
His first concern was helping his family. “Nag-isip ako kung anong magagawa ko para makatulong ako sa mga magulang o mga kapatid ko. So tutal, probinsya naman ito, naglakas-loob ako na magtanong sa mga kasama ko kung okey lang ba na pumasok sa pagiging trabahador sa bukid [I thought about what I could do to help my parents and siblings. So since we were in the province, I worked up the nerve to ask if it was all right for me to work at the farm],” he recalled.
Working at a farm posed a bit of a challenge in the beginning, but Eugene was not only willing to work hard, he was willing to learn from those around him. “Tinuruan nila akong manalbos, mamitas ng mga mais, talong tsaka okra. Mahirap iyon sa akin, shempre; hindi naman ganon kadali yon, eh [They taught me how to harvest vegetables, corn, eggplants and okra. It was difficult for me of course; that kind of work isn’t easy],” he admitted.
Still, he persevered, and even though the work had not been something he was accustomed to before, he quickly picked up the skills he needed. “Hindi naman imposible eh. Matutunan mo naman lahat ng bagay kung matututo kang makinig sa mga nagpapayo sa iyo [It’s not impossible. You can learn to do anything as long as you listen to those who are willing to teach you].”
When it comes to fulfilling his academic requirements for the semester, Eugene had to face challenges on different fronts. The first was finding a way to lighten the burden of his sister. “Wala po ako sa comfort zone ko. Nakatira lang ako sa sister ko. Para makatulong, naglakas-loob po talaga ako, kahit alam ko na mahirap at di ko gamay ang pagbubukid. Sinubukan ko talaga para hindi ko maramdaman na pabigat ako sa kanila [I was out of my comfort zone. I was just staying with my sister. To help, I was determined to learn how to work on the farm, even though I knew it would be hard. I did this so I wouldn’t be a burden to my sister and her family],” he said.
But his bigger challenge came in the form of trying to keep up with his remote or online classes without adequate technology and resources. “Una po, since bukid yung area namin mahina talaga yung connection, pero naghahanap ako ng pwesto para malakas ang signal ko. Pangalawa, yung resources. Una ko pong ginawa sa phone. Super-hirap pag phone lang ako mag-e-exam o mag-a-activity. Madalas hindi malinaw yung pagkakaayos ng graphics [First, since the area I was in was a farm, the Internet connection was really weak, but I looked for a spot where the signal was strongest. Second, the resources. I first used my phone to take exams or join in class activities, but it’s so hard just using your phone. The graphics were often misaligned],” he revealed. One way he tried to compensate for the abysmal internet signal and his phone’s limited processing capacity was to wake up at 3:00 a.m. each day, when every other internet user in the area was asleep, so he could work on his academic requirements before heading straight to his job on the farm.
Laptop po at Internet connection, kasi ang hirap po. Hindi ako nakaka-sabay sa mga Zoom minsan kapag may online class dahil sobrang hina po ng signal. – Eugene Laganina
When asked what he needed to make remote or online learning much easier for him, he replied: “Laptop po at internet connection, kasi ang hirap po. Hindi ako nakaka-sabay sa mga Zoom minsan kapag may online class dahil sobrang hina po ng signal [A laptop computer and fast internet connection, because otherwise it’s so difficult. I couldn’t keep up with the online classes on Zoom sometimes because the signal was so poor].”
Aside from helping to support his parents and siblings during the lockdown, he is saving up for when things get better after the pandemic passes. “Kaya ko lang naman ito ginagawa para may maipon ako para may magamit ako kapag okey na ang lahat. At tsaka ayoko ring maging pabigat sa mga kapatid ko at magulang ko [I’m doing this so I can have savings to live on when things get better. And I don’t want to become a burden to my siblings and parents].”
Kaya ginagamit ko itong opportunities na ito para makatulong ako sa mga kapatid at magulang ko. Ginawa ko itong motivation sa buhay ko, na hindi lang magiging hanggang dito lang ang buhay ko. Kaya kapag naging okey na ang lahat, itutuloy ko pa rin ang pangarap ko sa buhay. – Eugene Laganina
Eugene is also aware of how the pandemic has made life harder for so many families like his, families who have lost jobs and incomes, who struggle to put food on the table. “Kaya ginagamit ko itong opportunities na ito para makatulong ako sa mga kapatid at magulang ko. Sa totoo lang, ginawa ko itong motivation sa buhay ko, na hindi lang magiging hanggang dito lang ang buhay ko. Kaya kapag naging okey na ang lahat, nawala na yung virus, itutuloy ko pa rin ang pangarap ko sa buhay [That’s why I’m taking all these opportunites to help my siblings and parents. Honestly, I made this my motivation, that there would be more to my life than just this. That’s why when things have become better and the virus is gone, I will continue striving to make my dreams come true],” he vowed.
One such opportunity that he intends to take full advantage of is the UP System’s Kaagapay sa Pag-aaral ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan fundraising project, that is, to make the most that he can of the generous help of donors willing to provide him with what he needs to finish his studies in UP, to make life better for his family and for families like his, and to make his life’s dreams come true. “Kung ako ay nakapagtapos sa pag-aaral, gusto ko ring makatulong sa mga kabataan na tulad ko na nasa probinsya na mangarap lang sila; huwag silang titigil sa mga pangarap nila [When I finish my studies, I want to help young people from the provinces like me to keep dreaming, and to never stop working to make their dreams come true].”
Wala namang imposible, eh. Habang may buhay, may pag-asa. – Eugene Laganina
Eugene’s optimistic, industrious spirit shines through in his face as he speaks of his determination to finish his studies at UP and make his dreams come true. “Wala namang imposible, eh. Habang may buhay, may pag-asa [Nothing’s impossible. As long as we’re alive, we have hope],” he said.
To support the remote learning needs of Eugene and other Iskolar ng Bayan, please visit http://kaagapay.up.edu.ph. #KaagapayUP
For assistance, contact the Kaagapay secretariat at 0916 723 1200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.