Beyond Mere Funding by Mert Loinaz & Millette Ocampo

Since its inception in 1996, the SSAP Scholarship Program has graduated 986 scholars, the primary funding source being proceeds from the annual Francisfest concert. With the objective of helping indigent students learn skills that will help them obtain employment as quickly as possible, primary target beneficiaries are those who want to enrol in two-year vocational or technical course. In addition to tuition fees, scholars are provided with transportation and food allowances and upon graduation, assistance in job placements. In recent years, with the help of generous parishioners, the program has been able to accept applicants who are in the last two years of their college courses.

But, the SSAP Scholarship Program does not stop at merely providing financial assistance. A distinctive characteristic of the program is that it aims to build a Christian community composed of scholars, members of the scholarship committee, SSAP social worker, the Parish priest, various other volunteers PLUS all past graduates of the program.

A condition for acceptance into the program is that the scholar must agree to come to the Parish on two Saturdays of each month during the school year.

Thus, on two Saturdays of each month, the parish life is animated by the presence of around 50 students who benefit from enrichment programs, which include tutoring in English, sessions on how to prepare for job interviews, tips on good grooming, values formation workshops, small-group consultations with individual Committee members, and recollections. In the afternoons, the scholars render some kind of service to the parish, thereby getting to know the parish staff.

It’s not all serious business, however. Fellowships are formed among students, with committee members and with the social workers. This bonding takes place at the annual picnic, during rehearsals for the yearly Buling-Buling show, singing at special Masses, and during preparations for the big annual Christmas party to which all past graduates are invited.

Thus, even after they graduate, scholars know that in Santuario de San Antonio Parish they have a community to which they can always return in order to experience God’s victorious love.

SSAP Scho. Prog. Comm. / Mert Loinaz & Millette Ocampo