We have heard of bananas being made into banana bread, banana split, banana-cue and many others.  But banana being used as pad paper?  Read the following English translation of the narration of Jhessa Balbastro of Barangay Bonotbonot, Buenavista, Bohol. Her story was used as part of the recent 3rd and final presidential debate.

“We are poor and always scrounging for food. I help my parents do the daily household chores. I belong to section 1 (Grade 5) and 8th in the roll of honor. My dream is to become a teacher. I want to teach. Once we had a spelling test. My parents did not have the money to buy a pad of paper. I used the leaves of the banana as my answer sheet. I was ashamed to borrow a piece of paper from my classmates. They laughed at me when they saw the banana leaf as my answer sheet. I want to finish school to help my parents”.

Maria Ann Doroy was Jhessa’s teacher. She took the video of Jhessa using the banana leaf as pad paper and posted it on her Facebook timeline. In a radio interview, Doroy said that “my intention of uploading the video and describing it as “very inspiring” to my Facebook account was to show her as an example to all those who are struggling to get an education”. I totally agree.

Deep within every human being is an indomitable spirit that carries each person through even the most difficult of times. If you drive your own car to and from work, take a moment to see all the other people who are crowding in buses, jeepneys and the MRT for their daily commute. You were probably at one point in your life like them too.  While I hope this will not happen, if fate were to lead you to once again take the public transport, you will be more than capable to endure the same hardships once more.

There is a tendency to look at the cost of children’s education as somewhat of a cross that parents need to bear. I know this firsthand because when people learn that my last child had just graduated from college, they congratulate me for not having to worry about tuition anymore, more than for the achievements of my children.

But guess what, children’s education does not have to be a cross.  And the most common suggestion of not making it so is to plan ahead.  Paying as you go, which is no more than sourcing funding for education expenses only when they are already due leads to a lot of stress.

More importantly, since education expenses are sizeable, they should be factored into thefamily budget. Since a household has a limited amount of resources, budgeting for education will necessarily lead to a sacrifice in other household expenses and expenditures. Many refuse to accept that need to sacrifice and simply add on education expenses, thereby bloating the household budget and inevitably leading to an increase in debt.

With the month of June upon us, nothing much can be done with respect to planning for schoolyear 2016-2017.  But there is great opportunity for planning for the succeeding school years.

Start planning now by including education expenses in the family budget, and not by bloating it. You can do it. Just think of Jhessa Balbastro.

(Originally written by Efren Ll. Cruz, RFP at http://www.savingstips.com.ph)

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