Irene Garcia Opeña says being a Lopez scholar changed her life in many waysTwenty years ago, Irene Garcia Opeña became a First Philippine Industrial Park(FPIP) scholar. Today, she is back a sa First Industrial Science and Technology(FIRST) School industry program coach or mentor. She is one of the individuals who planted a seed of hope to achieve her goal. Here is another impact story of the good that aL opez Group company has done.
HOW did you get involved with FPIP? How did you know about the company?
When I was graduating from high school in 2000, FPIP in cooperation with Meralco Foundation Institute (MFI) launched a scholarship partnership with public schools within Sto. Tomas and Tanauan. My school, Sta. Anastacia-San Rafael National High School, was fortunately selected to send students to take qualifying exams for scholarship. I passed the exam and we were endorsed to FPIP; they assisted us to qualify for a summer training program at MFI. FPIP through Mr. Roger de Guzman provided assistance in terms of transportation service and allowance during the twomonth training. When I passed all qualification requirements, FPIP assisted me and the other scholars by providing allowances for our school needs, board and lodging and personal expenses. Starting in 2000, we reported to the FPIP office monthly to give progress reports and secure allowances allocated for our studies and personal needs.
How did you feel to be a scholar of FPIP?
I felt very privileged. Aside from the fact that they promised us sure employment after graduation, the company was generous enough to provide not just monetary support but also the interpersonal needs of every scholar. This kind of opportunity knocks only once in a lifetime, so I did not have any second thoughts and grabbed the chance that was given to me. I felt that this was one of the best ways to pursue my studies.
Kindly describe your early years—family, elementary education, high school, hobbies, etc.
I was born in a loving family. We are not rich but our home is a home with love and respect. Although my parents decided to live separate lives, my mother ensured that we were loved and provided us with the things that we needed. In return, I tried my best to work harder through my studies. Being the second eldest and only girl in the family, I needed to give my best so that I can have a better future.
My elementary days were not easy, but I was a happy kid. My childhood was fun and I had lots of friends and acquaintances since I studied in three schools to finish my six years. I was a proud honor student despite the difficulties of coping with the never-ending changes in environment. High school was the best years of my education. I attended two different schools and the last one led me to my FPIP/MFI scholarship journey.
School was fun. I had lots of experiences going out with friends, group studies, watching movies. Overall, I may not have the best life but I have grown to be a mature person, a great believer in love and life and a person with big goals and dreams.
What particular value guided you through the years? Was this a result of your exposure to a Lopez company?
I believe that a person should be true to himself or herself. Being natural and fair is one important thing. The thing which I also value is my being curious all the time. I always have the urge to know and to try things that might lead me to something tremendous.
I always see the good in the bad. But in all of this, I value being a responsible person. While coping with life, I require myself to be liable for every action, decision and word that I deliver.
My exposure to FPIP has been a big factor in being guided with values through the years. I learned to be responsible in most of my actions, including time and financial management, wise decision making and striving to learn and pursue more in life.
What were your responsibilities in your various jobs? In Sumitomo?
I was with the Sumitomo group for my OJT in 2002. I was an operator responsible for machine operations, something that is related to my specialization in school. I was then promoted to final inspector in charge of ensuring that items will not be delivered to a customer without the right specifications.
A good opportunity came after I was promoted to quality assurance staff in charge of ensuring that items inspected are within the required specifications. We were the ones checking the documents needed for shipments and technical drawings provided by our Japan partner. I was then transferred to document control. I was in charge of controlling registered documents for receiving, issuance and evaluation. I was part of the auditing team for processes and documents.
After receiving my bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, I was promoted to quality assurance engineer in charge of quality controls in the incoming inspection process. I made sure that this process is compliant with internal and third-party requirements.
What made you come back to a Lopez company, FIRST School?
I consider Lopez companies as successful, where employees are compensated and taken care of. I felt the need for a change in environment and careers and, also, to at least give back to the Lopez Group.
At FIRST School, I see myself helping and touching the lives of students, which was what I experienced from FPIP as a student. I feel that I can also be an important contributor to FIRST School, similar to how I felt at Sumitomo.
What guided you through all these years to be what you are now?
I am who I am now because of my goals. I have a lot of it for my family, myself, my friends and colleagues and my work. I strive harder to survive difficulties in life because of my goals. I was able to overcome my fears, walk through life and continuously believe that I can be anything because I never failed to do my very best and love everything I do.
What is the impact of having been a Lopez scholar?
Being a Lopez scholar changed my life in many ways. I was able to pursue my studies without too much financial burden since they covered most of my financial needs. It created a strong foundation in me which I used to push myself to be more proactive and responsible. It played an important part in my life so I was able to develop into a better person, a good family member and citizen of this country.
Opeña hopes to become a mentor and guide to her students at FIRST School