Wednesday, Nov 25

Faith, hope, gratitude: A scholar’s fuel of persistence

February 14, 2016 | Denice Benosa

Tzu Chi Scholar Glenn Isanan, 21, studies in his room with magazine pictures of the foundation's milestones and its founder Master Cheng Yen. The pictures serve as his inspiration to persevere in his studies. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi scholar Glenn Isanan, 21-year old, uses his faith, hope, and gratitude as his motivation to finish college. Despite their family’s difficult life, the young man did not see it as a hindrance to chase his dreams and graduate from college. He became a Tzu Chi scholar since five years ago.


On a Sunday morning when most students are taking their time off from school, 21-year-old Glenn Isanan of Malanday, Marikina City just arrived home from his night shift as a service crew. After taking a few minutes of rest, Glenn starts to fix a damaged rice cooker which his neighbour asked of him. Fixing broken down appliances earns him Php50 to Php 100, which serves to add to his siblings’ allowance.

Glenn is now on his fourth year as a student on Industrial Electronics at the MarikinaPolytechnicCollege. He is the second of ten children, who depend on the Php10,000 income that their shoe-maker father earn monthly. Acting as the eldest son, he takes the responsibility of helping his parents toil for their needs.

The school year is approaching its end and graduating students like Glenn work on their thesis as a requirement for graduation. Amidst the pressure of school works, he manages to work part-time as a service crew in a food chain. Whenever he has spare time from school and work, he also accepts on-call services as electronic technician.

“I want to help my family because we live a difficult life. But I don’t see our life’s difficult situation as a hindrance to reach my dreams. I use it as my motivation to carry on and help my parents,” says Glenn.

Glenn’s mother describes him as a persistent and optimistic son. Whenever they would be anxious about the future, Glenn is the one who tells them not to be anxious for he will graduate soon. He plans on doing business someday and invest on his skills on electronics so that he can send his younger siblings to school. After helping his siblings finish their studies, he plans to be a full-fledged electrical engineer someday.

Sometimes, it surprises his mother to hear of Glenn’s serious dreams for them because he often takes things very lightly.  When faced with dilemma, she always sees her son brimming with hope.

“Glenn, thank you for being persistent to graduate and for helping your siblings despite how difficult it takes. I hope you will not change in the way you treat us and your siblings,” Wilma Buenavente says to her son, Glenn.

His optimism in life is drawn from his strong faith in God. Despite being busy juggling his studies and work he would always find time to go to church. “God is my motivation because his teachings give me strength. Despite all hardships, I know God is behind me, giving me strength to handle all the struggles in life,” Glenn explains.

He also mentions how Tzu Chi Foundation even more strengthened his will to move forward. Since he became a scholar five years ago, he never misses to attend a single Humanity Class, the scholars’ monthly gathering, being held every second Sunday of the month. In this assembly, scholars hone their morals and values in life.

It is through the humanity classes that he discovered more about Tzu Chi Foundation’s humanitarian efforts. From his experiences in joining Tzu Chi activities, he became more grateful to be part of the foundation’s scholarship program. In fact, he made a collage of Tzu Chi’s milestones in his room. Photos of Master Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi Philippines’ Chief Executive Officer, Alfredo Li, people he considers as his inspiration, can be seen in his room. He also uses one of Master Cheng Yen’s aphorisms as his mantra.

“Before I go to sleep, I look at this collage and read the aphorisms. One of these says: ‘We need to work harder to inspire love in people.’ It is my inspiration behind my hard work. Through hard work, I make my loved ones feel that I care for them though I can only spend a little time with them,” he shares.

When Tzu Chi volunteers had a home visit to Glenn, they laud the young man’s disposition in life. They became even prouder to discover the collage of Tzu Chi’s accomplishments and Master Cheng Yen’s aphorisms.

“I am so impressed with Glenn because young people his age usually post pictures of celebrities in their room but he is different; he posted about Tzu Chi instead, to remind and guide him to choose the right path.  He really puts Tzu Chi in his heart,” says Tzu Chi volunteer Hedeliza Hina.

“Despite being poor, he doesn’t make it a reason to be weak but a motivation to be stronger,” describes Hina’s fellow volunteer, Evelyn Montabon.

Glenn became a scholar when Tzu Chi Foundation opened the educational assistance program in MarikinaCity after typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009. He first began as a community volunteer then became a scholar when a volunteer from their barangay referred him to Tzu Chi.

“First of all, I want to thank Master Cheng Yen. Because of the scholarship that Tzu Chi has given me, I have learned so many things in life especially through the humanity classes and the never-ending support of the donors. May God bless you all,” he says.

“I never expected that Glenn can reach college due of our poverty. He is graduating soon. Tzu Chi did a lot to help us,” adds his mother.

  • Glenn shows other cut-outs of Tzu Chi magazines that he posted on the walls of his study area. Every night he would read it to stay motivated in fulfilling his dreams. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn reads his favorite Jing Si Aphorisms. It says: "We need to work harder to inspire love in all people". He uses it as his mantra to always work hard to show his love for his family. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers conduct a home visit to Glenn Isanan to know how he is doing with his studies. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn shows to Tzu Chi volunteers the collage of Tzu Chi's pictures which are posted on his wall. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn Isanan fixes the damaged rice cooker of their neighbor. Glenn practices the skills he learned from being an Industrial Electronics student. He accepts on-call services for electronic technician. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn reassesses the rice cooker which he just fixed. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn's neighbour is picking up the rice cooker that Glenn has fixed. By fixing broken-down appliances, Glenn can earn Php50 to Php100 when he is at home. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn in his uniform as a service crew in a food chain company proudly pose for a picture with his mother. Aside from his side-line as on-call electronic technician, he also took a part-time work while he is studying. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn is not only an outstanding son but is also an outstanding student. He is a dean's lister from his college. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn is having a brainstorming session with his groupmates for thesis. They are completing an undergraduate thesis as a requirement for graduation. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn makes use of his vacant time at school to study. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn is also active in his class. Despite juggling so many responsibilities from home and work, he still manages to maintain a good grade. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn never misses to attend their humanity classes with Tzu Chi Foundation. It is a way for him to hone his values and morals. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • Glenn donates for the victims of earthquake in Tainan City, Taiwan. 【Photo by Denice Benosa】

  • LAST UPDATED: March 26, 2018 11:03 AM