It is not every day that you derive inspiration from someone who you least expect would give you some form of uplift in whatever manner and in whatever form. For 23-year-old John Andrew Bandico, although life has not exactly been sympathetic to him, his disposition has remained bright and cheerful.
Used to fending for himself at an early age, he did not wish this situation for himself. Because of force of circumstance, however, the stars aligned in the opposite direction for Bandico.
A product of a public school for his Junior High School, he credits the school visitations that Foundation University through its Marketing Department has been doing through the years for its recruitment campaign. “A number of schools conducted orientations in our school. Among them, I sensed that I would fit in in the culture of Foundation Preparatory Academy (FPA), aside from the fact that I have heard about the school through some family members who studied here,” shared Bandico, adding that the Joint Delivery Voucher Program (JDVP) of the Department of Education, where FPA is a recipient, was a big help, he recalled.
Being a member of the pioneering batch of Senior High School graduates of the FPA in 2018, Bandico declares that it is the iPad program that he finds very useful. “In Grade 11, I paid a sizeable amount for tuition as I was yet renting an iPad. Fortunately, in Grade 12, I already bought and owned an iPad,” he said with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes. He admires the modern facilities and the well-ventilated and comfortable classrooms that made learning enjoyable and convenient. “The iPad program complemented our books and other audio-visual materials provided for us as the lessons were just there for us to browse,” he marveled. Consequently, continued Bandico, he and his classmates were able to learn more, enhance their skills, and explored their creativity.
Enrolled in the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL) strand, with Home Economics as his field of concentration, Bandico enthused that at FPA, “I got to be part of many activities that were not offered in my previous school.”
He tucked a National Certificate (NC) II in cookery and was exposed widely to the service industry where he did on-the-job trainings in some local restaurants in the city, thereby, helping him build a network of connections.
His interpersonal skills were displayed to the fore as he was elected public information officer of the FPA Supreme Student Government, which somehow was responsible for the self-image that he projects until now. He was a member of the dance club, the glee club, and the group that made the FPA garner the first place in a drama competition in the Buglasan Festival a few years ago.
But, not everything became smooth sailing after his graduation from Senior High School. Because his mother could not sustain his personal needs even if he went to a state university for a course in Communication, Bandico decided to quit school initially. Even if he was assured by Arch. Victor Vicente “Dean” Sinco, president of Foundation University, of two scholarships if he goes back to school, the day-to-day expenses are still beyond reach.
The CoViD-19 pandemic may have worked in Bandico’s favor as, although he was not in school, he found odd jobs to tide him over. It also became an advantage that he learns some skills real fast, like simply watching shows on YouTube (now being referred to as “YouTube University”) featuring artists doing skits, songs, dances, even applying makeup and mimicking famous and even ordinary people.
Transferring abodes courtesy of his relatives since he was in first grade, with his mother working overseas and his father leaving them when he was only a year old, has certainly not made Bandico bitter and unhappy. His father, a geologist now residing in Canada, used to call him and send him some package, but these all stopped when he turned 7. “That was the last I heard from my father,” he lamented, saying that he keeps longing for a father.
Bandico was quick to do a somersault of a rejoinder as he chirped: “But, it doesn’t stop me from being who I really am. I focus on the happy side of life.” Today, aside from his studies and being a work scholar, he keeps himself busy rehearsing for local competitions and, if plans do not miscarry, in Singapore in January by next year through his dance group, the Corps D’Elite.
Does he have any regrets that while most, if not all, of his schoolmates and classmates both in Junior High School and in Senior High School have graduated from college and are now professionals pursuing their respective careers, he still has some years to go to finish his Broadcast Communication degree at Foundation University?
Without batting his extension lashes, Bandico proclaims confidently: “I am sincerely happy, excited, and proud of all my classmates and schoolmates. I don’t compete with anyone. I know I have my own time, even as a transwoman. My best friend, who is no. 5 in the recent national licensure examination for nurses, told me: ‘Ikaw napud sunod (‘You’ll be next’).’ “
Bandico hangs on to that affirmation with the full and equal support of his family and friends. (Dr. Cecile M. Genove)