NEVER TOO LATE
SAN JACINTO—As freshmen college students in PHINMA-University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City were eyeing new faces in the classroom, one particular student stood out and got the curiosity of most.
After all, the student was in full standard uniform unlike everyone else were in civies, and he looked like even a few years older than their grandfathers.
Naoe, 75-year old college freshman. (Philstar Wire Service)
He’s 75-year-old Benjamin Naoe from Barangay Sta. Maria of this town, who enrolled for a degree in Political Science.
Naoe realized he was the oldest college freshman and anticipated the curious looks not only of his classmates but in the entire campus. “I don’t mind it,” he said. “It’s never too late to be educated”.
Excited for his first day in college on June 10, Naoe said he left his house 5 a.m. for his 7:30 a.m. class in prescribed uniform (light green polo with a white undershirt, black pants, and black shoes) only to find out later that students were not required to wear their uniforms till a week later, he recalled with a laugh.
Naoe, a widower since 1985, said he struggled to have four of his six children to earn college degrees before he decided to pursue his own dream – to earn a college diploma.
They have since earned degrees in Dentistry, Architecture, Business Management and Civil Engineering.
He retired two years ago after almost 37 years as an OFW in the Middle East and he said he’s eager to go back to school since he only finished first year in high school and one-year vocational course in auto mechanic.
Last year, he enrolled in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) at the Mangaldan National High School since Education Secretary Leonor Briones has announced that ALS graduates can enter college. He passed it this year.
Naoe, who took a full load, said he wants to pursue Political Science “which gives me a broader knowledge about life… and deals with governance.”
“When I decided to go to college, I knew I have to ignore negative things that people might say about me,” he said realizing that his classmates would be, mostly teenagers.
“I tell them that education to me is like a torch that gives light,” adding that he can consider his journey a success if he’s able to inspire others who are similarly situated and pursue a college degree.
Naoe, who already has 13 grandchildren, said one of his apo is also a freshman college in Davao City so he expects to graduate at the same year like him.
Despite his age and modern technology, he said he can cope with the demands of college life. “I’m physically and mentally able, including use of internet and walking up
to third floor of the building every day,” he said.
In fact, he said he is ready to give his young classmates an advice that he says: “If you graduate today and you stop learning, tomorrow you will be uneducated… and education is a continuing process and one only stops learning when he dies.”
More importantly, he said he will always remind his classmates “to value the money their parents are giving them to support their education”. (PhilStar Wire Service)
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