"...I became aware that there are really different 'scales' of life here in Bagong Barrio..."
In September 2017, Br Doug Walsh interviewed Myka, an alumnus of BBEF, at her elementary school, Angel Presence Foundation School, in Bagong Barrio.
Myka was chosen to join the program because her family were living in a poor area of Manila. Following on from this, in 2014 she graduated from university with a BS Accountancy Degree. She is practising as a CPA in Manila, working as an Audit Supervisor for KPMG.
You can view the video here. Below is a lightly edited transcript.
Br Doug Walsh: Now, Myka… is that – that’s all the information – I’m certain it’d be correct because your good friend gave it to us–
Myka: Yeah, PUP stands for Polytechnic University of the Philippines. It’s one of the premier state colleges here in the Philippines – the largest public university in the Philippines.
D: And are you still working?
M: Yes, I still work for KPMG Philippines as an audit supervisor.
M: I’ve been with the company since I passed the word exam (final written exam). After I graduated, I had to take a six-month course in preparation for the Licensure examination as a certified public accountant. After I passed the boards – about three weeks after – I was instantly hired by KPMG. I’ve been with them ever since.
D: So Myka, how old were you when you came into the program?
M: Uh, I guess I was about seven years old.
M: Yes, I remember dearly that I was about Grade Four that I was introduced to Kuya James ("Mr. James", her Australian supporter) and that was also the first time that I saw you, Brother.
D: Okay, Grade Four…
M: We had a very young leadership group when I was with the program. Me and Mary-Joy used to be in the leadership group… Since I was in Grade Six, I was in charge of editing the letters for the younger children, conducting some tutorials and also handling the visitations from some Australian sponsors.
D: Now just for yourself, what did the program mean for you, personally, as you came through to finish high school, then going to university?
M: Hm, well it’s a lot. A lot of personal development and, well, my childhood friends were also in the program… but, if I could say the biggest change… First it was just the letters, because as a child, you don’t really know how you’re going to develop your English. The education here in the Philippines is not that well off, so the program started training me in writing and speaking fluently in English.
Then after that, we had personal development. Every first Sunday of the month, we’d conduct meetings for the program (with the leadership group) to update on the progress of the students. By that, I started being more social, being introduced to different people here in Bagong Barrio.
When I was in high school, I was in charge of handling the visitations of the sponsors. Prior to these, we would conduct home visitations, with the scholars as well, to understand and be updated on their standard of living and that is when I became aware that there are really different ‘scales’ in life here in Bagong Barrio. That triggered me to really invest in my education… because I’m not really that well off. The program awakened me to be more invested in studying because only education can be the key, so that I can improve my families lives –
D: And just on that, how many in your family?
M: I have (two) siblings.
D: Are you the eldest?
M: I’m the middle child. I have an older brother and a younger sister. My younger sister is currently studying but my brother has already graduated as well.
In high school, that is when there are a lot of visitations here from Australia and, from there, I learned leadership skills. We had to step up because there were changes in the organisation. The team back then – the organisers back then – wanted to involve more students in handling the leadership in the scholarship… so from that, I learned to communicate with the parents because, to be honest, some of the parents did not finish college. Just talking to them about the importance of how they should help their child in learning and studying; it’s a pretty hard communication process. That’s one of the things that we handled in the program.
D: And now I see you’re down as “advisor” of the leadership team, so you’re still playing a part in that? It’s a good friend, that!
M: …I do what I can, given the time that I have…
D: And how’s work going?
M: Work is going well. Since I’m in the audit (department), most of the time, I have to go to work even in weekends. For about eight months or so, I do have a continuous schedule in the company. Since I’m already a supervisor, I also handle client engagements with big companies – some are even in Fortune 500.
And also… it’s kind of embarrassing, talking about this… and I also have stuff that I need to handle as a supervisor; mostly in charge of bringing in the newer hires of the company. I handle at least fifteen engagements, as of now, in charge with: financial statements reporting, this caution of all the findings, and sometimes consultation on the taxation of the companies. That’s what I do.
Myka is currently working as a Senior Accountant in Brisbane, Australia until September. She is hoping to travel to other capital cities to meet with supporters and continue to share her story.