by Cheryl Piccio – ABS-CBN News
HOUSTON, TX — 73-year-old Florencio Guinhawa’s story is one full of struggles: a 91-day hospital stay for colon problems, a Hepatitis C diagnosis, a year of chemotherapy, a major car accident, and in October 2009, a Stage-2 prostate cancer diagnosis.
But in 2005, he decided that he was destined to do something more. Searching to find a way to pay back kindness that was shown to him during his toughest times.
He established The Guinhawa Family Scholarship program, as part of his “Pay It Forward” philosophy, which targets students in the Philippines.
“Talagang Saludo kami sa kanya,” said Tess Tuazon, a Guinhawa Foundation Supporter. “Kasi ang kanyang scholarships galing sa bulsa nya derecho.
The foundation, which he manages from Houston, has since impacted the lives of hundreds of students.
Now, he has 253 students under the scholarship program.
“Nag simula sa Isa, tapos naging, lima, sampu, pagkatapos kinausap ako ng neda – Region 4 – Hanggang tumayo ito sa calabarzon,” said Florencio Guinhawa.
The Guinhawa Scholars Club,was established by scholars in the program and organizes outreach for the poor, and personal development workshops.
In these videos sent to BA, scholarship recipients say the program helps them achieve their dreams.
Thank you po kay Dad, Flor sap ag-tulong nya sa amin. Ngayong na-abot na naming ang mga pangarap namin,” said Maynard Romulo Austria, Mapua Institute of Technology scholar.
“Utang ko po lahat sa inyo kung ano man ang narating ko. Kung hindi po dahil sa inyo marahil wala ako sa kalalagyan ko,” said Jojo Untal, Lyceum of The Philippines scholar.
Florencio hopes that his scholars will continue the “pay it forward” tradition for as long as it is possible, and that he can motivate and encourage other Filipinos to start with their own programs as well.