Hi! I’m your Ate Mitzi—sometimes known as the first sunshine club scholar who is smart and good and maybe some think I’m lucky. But to my family and friends, I’m just Mitzi Festin—a daughter, a friend, or a classmate who strives hard for my dreams.
My life so far, has been one of a kind roller coaster ride. I know it sounds cliché but it really is like a 'roller coaster ride' that lets me experience what to feel whenever I’m on the high peak of the ride, and what it feels like going down the rail from that peak. For me, my recent journey that has ended was really difficult, full of learnings and miracles and was memorable to me. I never thought I’ll be able to experience what I have been through, let alone finish college. I know some of you may think, “wow, she’s so amazing, I hope I could be like her”, or “she’s really lucky because she is an achiever, or smart, or she has a lot of people on her back”. Before I agree with your opinions or thoughts, I want to share you a bit of my life. I hope you all will be inspired, motivated, and learn something from it. So here goes my life.
Mitzi is one of the first Sunshine kids that joined the club in its early years. She had always been, and still is, a perfect role model, inspiring many Sunshine children that followed after her. She is a dedicated student, intelligent, diligent, and one whom you can trust and rely on. We wish to extend our heart-felt congratulations to Mitzi - we are so proud of you, and may the future bring you happiness and success!
I was born in Manila from my parents, Wendell Festin and Rowena Mato. I am the oldest—along with my sister, Charmaine, and brother, Justin. I grew up at first from a broken family because my dad had an affair in the past. However, my mom raised me never to hate my father, but instead, she taught me how to pray to God, so my family can be fixed. While waiting for that to happen, my mom also taught me how to dream big and pray for it fervently. From there, I was molded to be the kind of person with strong faith, hope, and to live by the grace of God. However, life is not fair.
There was a time when my mom almost committed suicide due to her depression from my dad, I was shown first hand miracle through that experience. We were saved by the missionaries from Baguio. There, my mom was healed and my faith became stronger. As time passed by, we heard news that my dad had a stroke, and that was how God showed me a second miracle. My family became complete. But I think… life is not supposed to be easy. We struggled financially since my mom is the only one working, and she needed to feed all the four of us (Justin was not yet born). Since I was just in elementary that time, the only thing I could do to help her was to study hard - really, really hard. That was the time I was shown another miracle, I was chosen to become a part of Sunshine Kids’ Club on my last year in grade school.
Before I got to Sunshine, I came to a point where I thought I was carrying the world on my shoulders because my mom’s income is not enough. We were starting to have a lot of loans from different people. So, that time, I was really thankful to God, to Ma’am Bolaños, to Ate Nelia, and to Tita Nini’s family. I was able to enjoy my grade school life with arts, parties, and lessons I’ve learned from them.
After I graduated from elementary, I had a dilemma where to go to high school. I graduated with honors at that time, but I still don’t have any concrete plan on what to do next. My friends invited me to go to an entrance exam for a science high school and that was my fourth miracle. I passed the entrance exam without really knowing how a big deal it was to pass in that school. Later on, I learned about it and appreciated it. My high school life was fun, but was also full of pressure, since, I needed to make sure I pass my exams and to never fail in that school. Whenever I thought of giving up, I always went back to Sunshine Club and participated in club meeting - there I became more motivated and inspired to continue my journey.
So, I was able to endure 4 years, learned a lot of things, got to know a lot of friends, experienced new things, and finally finished high school. I was overwhelmed but I am worried for my next journey which is full of uncertainties. I already had a slight idea on what I want to be, but the source of my anxiety was mainly about whether I’ll be able to enrol in college or not. And there came my fifth miracle - through Tita Nini Veloso and Tito Nap Cruz. Tita Nini recommended me to Tito Nap, who, at that time, was looking for someone to support with his/her studies. I was beyond grateful and happy that I had a sponsor! In addition to that, my best friend told me I was able to pass the university exam which had a really good reputation with my dream course! Thus, my 5-year-long journey to become a Physical Therapist began.
As I entered college, I was excited and at the same time nervous, because I knew that this journey will determine my future. College gave me a lot of experiences that I never thought I’ll be able to do - such as, participating in medical missions, which brought out my compassion to help others; and going out to different places with classmates and friends, which taught me how to socialize with people. However, college is not just about having fun and experiencing new things, but also learning the reality of the future I want to have. Some of you may think I did a lot of things successfully with hard work but the truth is, I also experienced failures during a written and practical exam. But I told myself over and over again to never give and not waste this opportunity that God gave me to have a good future. I am always hopeful that I will be able to achieve my dreams and that kept me going no matter how difficulty it gets. I remember Tita Nini’s advice to me when I thought I can’t do it anymore, and it was so so hard that I kept getting tired to get up and fight again; she told me that the difficulties I encounter and face in life will make me a stronger version of myself, because God will never put a challenge that we can’t handle, and that some challenges are in front of us not because God wants us to suffer, but because He has prepared something great for us but we need to be 'molded' before getting to it. And I believe it’s true. I have never be as brave as I am if I had not faced all that. It made everything worthwhile, and I know this for sure because just this June 2020, I graduated from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. I am overwhelmed and ecstatic by the fact that I really did it! I finished college and I can almost grasp my dream. I am already preparing for my board exam and I am ready for the next chapter of my life.
So this concludes almost my entire life up to the present. I hope that all of you got something from me that would help you guys. And for all the kids out there who may be able to read this, 'Sunshine Kids’ or not, I wish you will never be scared to dream of something big because as my mom’s saying goes, “Dream big because it is the only thing that’s free in this world”. And of course, never stop believing in God and in yourself because I know you can do it. And a little secret from me, all you need for your big dream is a bag of courage to take a step forward, a cup of perseverance and of course, a whole lot of prayers. Last but not least, whatever situation you have now, know that it will pass and you’ll soon find yourself achieving dreams and goals you never thought you would!