“I have personal experiences of being underprivileged. Yet today I feel, together with my fellow students, that we are no longer underprivileged,” stressed Emily Labistre, president of student council of Iloilo City Community College (ICCC).

The 17-year old head of League of Leaders (LOL) party led the 220-pioneer student, school management, faculty and staff in giving cheers during ICCC inauguration Thursday.

“I feel God is smiling on us and on you – our guests and benefactors because today we have a future that is much brighter, full of hope and expectations,” Labistre told audience in between tears of joy.

She was thankful the ICCC donated by Edgar “Injap” Sia II would prepare the youth to become successful professionals someday.

“Our dream for a better life for ourselves and for our family is now within reach because of ICCC. We are truly blessed – we are special for being the first batch of students to avail of your generous gift of education. We will always treasure this precious gift and be thankful of it for the rest of our lives,” said the excited Labistre.

“Our elders always say that education is the only wealth that cannot be taken away from us. They also say that education is the key to success and that the success of each individual redounds to the progress of the nation,” she exclaimed.

But not everyone is given the opportunity to obtain or pursue their education, especially college, Labistre said.

Thus, the ICCC envisions being the leading educational institution where quality and affordable tertiary education is provided to the underprivileged youth.

“I and my fellow students are indeed financially underprivileged – for most of us have fathers who are trisikad drivers and mothers who wash clothes or lavandera for our neighbors or vendors of native delicacies and street foods to help augment the family income,” Labistre shared.

Her father is a jeepney driver while her mother has to stay at home to take care of her younger siblings and a brother who is a special child.

“Some of us have to work as housekeepers, construction workers or janitors so that we have some money to spend for our transportation and school projects,” she said.

“Others stopped from schooling for some time for lack of financial means to support our college education. I myself have to quit for a year so I could help my parents while they are at work by taking care of my siblings,” Labistre recalled.

“In behalf of my fellow students and our parents, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all our guests, benefactors, government officials and friends of Iloilo City,” she said.

“We pledge to live up to the expectations of our elders, professors, benefactors, and Almighty God, to become competent and dignified professionals who attain success for the service of our community, our country and specially our city – our pride,” avowed Labistre.