HERE is the story of one of PhilAsia Assistance Foundation Inc.’s (PAAFI) successful scholars, engineer/professor Jay Tumanda. It took weeks to get hold of him as he was quite busy. Finally, when he responded to our email, he was on his way abroad for a seminar. PAAFI, one of Lopez Group Foundation Inc.’s member foundations, was started by the late Roby M. Lopez, then continued by the late Presy Lopez Psinakis with the support of friends in the Philippines and abroad. PAAFI is now chaired by Maritess L. Lopez, wife of Lopez Group chairman Manuel M. Lopez.
How did you learn about PAAFI? How did you become a PAAFI scholar
I discovered PAAFI during my grade school days through my dad who applied for me at the organization. During that time, I was not yet familiar with PAAFI’s goals and objectives. All I knew was that a good Samaritan chose me to become his scholar, and all I needed to do was study and excel in my academics.
Can you say something about how you were brought up, the values you were taught, your family circumstances?
My parents always remind me that education is the best gift that they can give because life will never be fair for the likes of us who were born below the poverty line. My dad and mom said that education will be my stepping stone to a better understanding of the ways of life.
At my young age, this confused me because of my limited knowledge of how life works, but as time went by, I realized that education does not make someone’s life better—education makes someone’s perspective in life better.
With education you see things from a different perspective. With education you will never be afraid of failing because you believe that life is a never-ending process of learning and failing, and getting hurt offers a lot of pain and wisdom. With education you will never look down on the less fortunate because you know the value of morals and character.
Education gives you the power of focus, understanding and analysis. Education if put to bad use can destroy the world or, on the other hand, create a new one.
My father who is illiterate was able to embed in me these ideals. Why? Because they never had a chance to change their world because society did not let them due to their lack of education.
How did you find PAAFI? Did you face any challenges there?
PAAFI pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. They offered a lot of seminars and workshops to improve one’s communication and socializing skills. As an introvert, those kinds of seminars put me in an awkward situation because I never knew how to express myself.
What did you do after PAAFI? How did you persevere?
After graduation I worked as a software engineer in an insurance company. I also took my postgraduate degree in engineering through a DOST [Department of Science and Technology] scholarship. After years of hard work, I was promoted to business analyst and finished my postgraduate degree.
I worked as a full-time business analyst in the morning and a part-time professor in a state university in the evening and on weekends. During this time, I was so hungry for knowledge that I never stopped studying. I read books about science, technology and engineering. I became obsessed with looking for answers regarding the unknown and unanswered questions of the world.
The vigor of youth has made me realize that I don’t need to become a politician or an influential person to change the world. I simply need to take my rightful place at the right time. My wisdom in the industry combined with my sphere of influence in the academe helped me to venture in a world where change is possible regardless of your race, status or ethnicity, a world where our future rests on students.
I was able to train a few gifted students of mine and establish an organization called Teknolohiya Inc. This organization aims to use technology to integrate different systems and processes. We used this organization’s goals to focus on improving our academic processes in state universities. We are using artificial intelligence to make learning more interactive and fun.
We are currently serving a total number of 10,000 students in the Philippines and will extend to Singapore and Japan, we hope, by Q4 2020.
I am currently a full-time senior business analyst in one of the major telecom companies in the country. I also work as a university professor and an integrator and influencer of technology for good use.
What are the lessons in coping that you learned through the years? What inspired and motivated you to strive for success?
Life is a never-ending process of failure and learning. Let us not be scared of failure because learning starts there.
My parents motivated me to become successful, but as they always say, “you don’t need to become successful to become victorious.”
What advice would you give to your fellow scholars? How are you paying your blessings forward?
The world is a harsh place. People will respect you depending on what you have achieved or what you have finished, but always remember that being part of the minority is not a disadvantage because it always gives us more opportunities to grow and move upward, onward and forward for success.No matter how small the steps are, we will achieve it. The spaces in our hands are made so that someone may fill the gaps.
Never stop feeding your brain knowledge, because knowledge will be our stepping stone in this world full of hate, prejudice and false promises. I never stopped learning because I wanted to know the unknown and discover what more this life has to offer.