Campus Features


John Philip Bravo, a 25-year-old graduate from the University of Makati is a witness to the Philippines’ problem in providing access to free education.

/ 4 January 2021

In the Philippines, education is more of a privilege than a right. In 2020 alone, the Department of Education (DepEd) revealed that there will be about four million out-of-school youth for school year 2021-2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

For public and private State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local colleges and universities (LCUs), there are only 23,078,394 students who enrolled this year compared to the 27,770,263 who enrolled last school year.

Among these,  21,484,841 are from public schools while only 1,554, 482 are private school students. Meanwhile, only 333,382 students applied under the alternative learning system (ALS). Last year, the program had 739,872 students.

With these numbers alone, it is evident that the country’s problems with education persist every year.

John Philip Bravo, a 25-year-old graduate from the University of Makati is a witness to the Philippines’ problem in providing access to free education. At a young age, Bravo has experienced working in different fields just to provide for his daily needs. 

Bravo always dreamt of being a journalist but he always feared it would not come true because of his family’s financial problems. 

Gusto ko maging manunulat, gusto ko maging reporter [I want to be a writer, I want to be a reporter] But the reality is that most people cannot afford college,” he said.

“Laging problema ang pera sa aming pamilya. Walang araw na hindi kami nakadama ng pangamba. Dumadating kami sa point na wala na kaming maisaing na bigas at problema na naman ang bukas,” he added.

[Money has always been a problem for my family, there was no day that we did not fear. We have reached the point where we could not even afford to buy rice]

In 2013, Bravo had to stop studying because his parents could no longer send him to school. During this time, he worked as a fast food crew, an encoder in a local internet shop, an event host, and choreographer just to get by.

When Bravo entered the call center industry in 2015, he realized that he is already earning more than he used to before. But it did not stop his yearning for knowledge. 

In 2017, Bravo gave himself another shot and pursued his Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Production. “I still did not leave my job. it [studying] was a long and tiring journey–I broke down so many times. I remember myself crying all day kasi di ko na alam ang uunahin ko. I questioned myself a lot of times.”

With nothing but his dreams of being a journalist, Bravo braved the challenges of working while studying at the same time.

Hindi ko na nakakausap ang pamilya ko. Wala nang mapaglagyan ‘yung tulog at aral for the next class. Madalas 45 minutes lang ang tulog ko sa buong 24 hours. Hindi ko na din maasikaso ‘yung mga sinalihan kong organization,” he said.

[I was not able to talk to my family, I could not even give myself a break..I only slept 45 minutes a day and I was not able to manage the clubs I joined during college]

Sobrang hirap kasi my work demands me to be active, dapat alive and energetic ka during your calls at dapat mahaba ang pasensya mo. Wala talagang choice, hindi din puwedeng sumuko. And I could not afford to fail, my family needs me. It’s tough. It really is tough,” he added.

[My work at the call center demands me to be active. I should be alive and energetic when taking calls. I had no other choice, I could not give up nor family needs me]

In December 2020, Bravo finally achieved his dream. After six years, he finally graduated and he is now ready to venture into the world of reporting. 

“Being a full-time working, full-load Broadcast Production student was definitely challenging; it gave me a chance to invigorate and prove myself; it helped me prepare in dealing with the real world and the people I will meet in the future,” he said.

Bravo’s story–while inspiring–mirrors the reality of many Filipinos who have to run an extra mile to achieve their goals. 

We could only hope that in the future, no one else would undergo the hardships Bravo has experienced. May our leaders be reminded that in the Philippines, education is a right, not a privilege.