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  • Writer's pictureErlinda Pantanilla

How I Finished My College Degree


I came from a poor family. As is usually the case in our extended family, the mothers are more inclined to do small cottage industries to help their spouses provide for comfortable living. I learned from my mother how to be confident and resourceful. But unluckily, she died at the early age of thirty-six. I was fourteen and the eldest in a family of three. My father was only a minimum-wage earner at that time.

It was only in 2007 that I came across the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. While I was reading this book given by my friend, I realized that, unknowingly, I was already practicing the law of attraction. I read various books related to this topic and from these readings, I started to enrich myself with regular meditations, mind reprogramming, and positive affirmations that helped me a lot with improving my life.

Going Back To My Teenage Life

At that time, I was already writing down my plans. How I would be able to change my life and that of my sister and brother. I wrote down what I wanted to be and the steps I’d do to realize these plans. My father was a very good man but I sensed that he can’t stand on his own. I believed that he can only be effective if there is a woman behind him to motivate him. So when he decided to remarry, we his children, although with a trace of hesitation, accepted his decision without regrets. Thanks to my aunties and uncles who made sure that the three of us are safe and fit in our home. Thanks also to our stepmother who helped my father and his family to become one happy family.

I was enrolled in an exclusive college for girls. I was motivated to study in that school because I was learning from my classmates who are well-off. I was deeply rooted to stay in that school but my father told me that he could no longer be able to support me in college. The bad news: I stopped for a year, helpless and clueless about what will happen to my dream plans.

Saving For My College Education

At seventeen, I decided to apply as a seamstress helper in a nearby baby-dresses cottage industry. I sew buttons and did the hemline stitching at first and I gradually learned how to become a sewer by myself. Because I was still very young and didn’t know the craft so well, I didn’t earn much. I was being paid piecemeal. So my income is based on the finished product. I couldn’t do much to save.

One day, despite being motivated, I told myself that what I was doing was not for me. I realized that no matter how hard I work, my wage could not even support my own food, much more support my college education. I did not stay long in that situation. Before I sleep, I made sure that I made my plans to ensure that I will go back to school. In my thoughts, I figured out that the college where I took my freshman course, was the answer to my problem. I know that the school is accepting working students to help poor girls support their studies. I didn’t know how to get there but the first thing that came into my mind was writing a letter to the Treasurer of the college, a nun, who knew me pretty well because of the usual promissory notes my father tendered to give me the exams by paying later my dues. At that time, there was no digital technology like now where communications are done very quickly. So I decided to make a concrete request where all questions I believed will be asked were all answered in advance.

In my letter, I gave my introduction and the situation where I am in. In the next paragraph, I reminded the Sister that I am one of those students who always visit her office to allow me to get the scheduled exams and just pay later. Then came the nuts and bolts of my request. I applied as an intern working student. I itemized my terms. I admitted I was penniless. My father didn’t know that I made this decision. It was just my idea. The idea came out on succeeding nights that I was meditating. Even the exact tenor of my letter vividly came from those thoughts. After writing the letter in my own handwriting after three revisions, I mailed it right away through the post office nearby. I placed the letter the night before under my pillow and claimed that my request for a scholarship-working-student request will be granted.

Then, one rainy day in May 1973, after thirty days more or less of waiting, I received a letter from the school. I didn’t know whether I was successful or not in my request but the fact that there was a response made me very happy immediately. As I was reading the letter, my tears fell. Tears of joy. I’m not yet so sure what is in store for me. Just the thought that I was instructed to visit the Sister in her office with my father already gave me a hundred percent hope that I would be admitted. On my prodding, my father got a day off to accompany me to school. We waited for a while and when it was our turn, my knees were shaking. I couldn’t be wrong. What I knew then was to be truthful and stick to my real story. No fake confessions. All my answers in the interview revolved around making a fortune for my siblings with the only capital I have, my person and my intelligence. The interview lasted for thirty minutes. I was not able to hide my excitement because of my joyous reactions.

The following offers were discussed with us.

Free tuition fees and miscellaneous fees

Free board and lodging in the college dormitory

Monthly Allowance of Php 40.00 for personal hygiene

Once a month home overnight vacation

My work would be a rotation in the laundry to wash the habits of the sisters, and in the kitchen to cook the food for the sisters, and the paying and non-paying interns. My father was teary-eyed to let me go but I told him that I am very glad to be accepted into this scholarship. The college really helps poor students get their way to a college education.

Because of the trust given to me by the congregation, in my last year in Accountancy, I was hired while on scholarship, as the accountant of the school’s outreach program for Vietnamese refugees. I had a salary of Php 400 a month which has a present value of Php 27,104 a month which I used to finance my two siblings. This was really a steal. By being grateful and true to myself, my poverty turned into wealth without hesitation doing a decent job.

The Law of Attraction

Looking back, as I read a lot about changing one’s life using the Law of Attraction, may I summarize how this law changed my life. I will incorporate in this story the teachings that I never knew then but I learned unknowingly because of my desire to make things happen. I will give credit to Dr. Joe Dispenza, a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, researcher, and educator. He specializes in teaching people to rewire their brains and recondition their bodies to make lasting changes. His focus is the intersection of neuroscience, epigenetics, and quantum physics, and is driven by the conviction that each of us has the potential for greatness. I also give credit to the late Louise Lynn Hay, who, among others, had contributed a lot to my transformation. She became famous as a motivational author and established a publishing house, Hay House in 1984. I was inspired by her books. One best seller was “You Can Heal Your Life.” I learned a lot of life-changing teachings through reading and watching videos.

According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, when people begin to ask themselves about what their intentions are, and they write these intentions, they’re telling their brains that they need it. It is a direction that you’re moving and it has to be ongoing. He further said that it is best to identify what your sponsoring thought is.

What do you want as a result when you think you want to be healthy? If you’re healthy, you may have more vitality. You may want to look better. If your sponsoring thought is wealth, then you want freedom. So when your intentions are defined, think of the sponsoring thought and why you want to attain that. It gives your body a taste of what the future will be like. Once you’re done identifying your intentions and their sponsoring thoughts, you’ve got to plan your actions. Master your day one at a time. If you do this, you are dismantling the old part of yourself. Entertain the thought that you are a genius so you accomplish everything. Believe that the Universe provides for you and it stays in your favor.

Another influence on my ability to manifest my goals is the late Louise Lynn Hay. I remember this line from her. “Every thought we think in every word we speak is creating our future.” This is very simple but most people don’t understand.

When I learned about this, I made sure that I watch my words because what I say is a clear signal to the Universe of what I want to happen. Let us accept the fact that every time we think of a thought and every time we speak a word, we are literally painting our future. We are creating our own life. Let us be aware of what we’re thinking of. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking? Would you like to experience the result of what you’re thinking?”

You can start with a small level to be aware of your thinking and start to make changes. Do the affirmations. Make positive statements about yourself in the morning when you wake up and at night before sleeping. You can write them down. You can write them on the wall, or just say them aloud. In my case, I stand in front of the mirror and tell myself my affirmations. I know what I am doing is right because I am a living testimony of how I changed my life. If I, as a teenager, was able to make things happen, then all of you who are watching this and who believe that change must start from you, will definitely get out of the situation of poverty. When you are still in the same old belief that you are poor and there’s no way you can get out of it, then, don’t expect that you will experience abundance. You are what you think you are.

After watching this, examine yourself if you have not changed your habit. Today is the best day of your life. I hope it is now clear to you that poverty is a choice. It is not destiny. What you think you are is what you’ll be.

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