Rising Above the Challenges through Spontaneity and Hard Work: Featuring Hershey Bulawin

By Tram Panaligan and Darren Bautista

Almost a month after SISFU’s 4th Senior High School Commencement Exercises, which were done virtually via Zoom, we’ve decided to catch up with the recipient of the President’s Merit Award, Hershey Bulawin. She has risen to the challenges by being spontaneous and hardworking—words that she has used to describe herself. Hershey’s openness to experiences have allowed her to foster lifelong memories, and the time and effort she has poured throughout the academic year prove so.

As a child, she has always wanted to be a part of the media industry—specifically in mass communication—which rooted from her trait of being talkative as a child. Through this she was able to see herself reporting the news, interviewing people, speaking in TED (Transformative Education) talks, or being a travel writer in the future. This was also proven through her love for documenting and doing travel vlogs using her mother’s phone until Junior High School. Her friends and colleagues coining her as the next “Kara David” has bolstered that dream as she carried those words through the years. This is a dream she continues to pursue since the fire for writing and speaking remains in her.

What has constantly driven her to achieve, albeit the many challenges, will always be her family who fuels her to study and work hard. Hershey, who moved from Bulacan to pursue her Senior High School education, always looks forward to going home on Fridays or the surprise visits she receives from her family. This energises her to carry on the work she has started; and in addition, has really helped her throughout the shift to online learning. She does this by spending time with them during her free time and screen breaks. As her strongest motivator, her family always made sure that she knows that they all believe in her.

What Hershey would say to her past self—although she no longer wanted to remember that specific point in time— would be to go out more often and have more fun. Also, she wanted to tell her that she’s young and shouldn't fear failing school and whatever people would think about her. She should take time to discover herself and the world around her. The reason behind her statements is because she currently does not have that opportunity to do those to the fullest because of the ongoing global pandemic. However, while she tells Grade 7 Hershey to enjoy life, she stressed that she should remain mindful.

When asked if there was anything she could have changed academically, if given the opportunity, she mentioned that she wouldn’t change anything because every habit and every plan she did worked best and well for her. The reason to how she was able to master the art of balancing her work and personal life was because she never overly dwelled on her tasks and was raised in a family that never puts pressure on their children to excel in school.These factors allowed her to learn and make sure that she had enough time for her family, friends, leisure, hobbies, other personal priorities and of course, herself. What she does is not only something she does in school, but instead is building a lifestyle with an ultimate power to have: a healthy work-life balance and the trait of self-control.

Graduating in the midst of a global pandemic has taught Hershey two valuable lessons: to be more grateful and the value of self-care. By being grateful for the simple things and little moments in life and learning which people to value and to distance herself from, this has allowed her to learn to value and take care of herself more—and through this—build herself to become the best version of who she can be.

But before we ended our interview, we asked a few fun questions that showed the more relaxed side of her.

Fun Facts, From Fun Questions:

1. Favorite Food made by a Family Member?

“Pinangat na Sapsap” (Ponyfish and tomato stew)

2. Least Favorite Dish?

“Anything with liver in it.”

3. Favorite TV-series of all time?

“I have a lot. But, [it would be] Gossip Girl and Elite.”

4. Celebrity Crush (Real or Fictional) that you’d want to go to dinner with?

“Tom Hiddleston.”

5. Personal Pet Peeves?

“I hate it when people bite popsicle sticks. I even hate the thought of myself biting it. It makes my teeth grit so much.”

6. Any Historical Person, Dead or Alive, that you’d want to have a conversation with?

“John Lennon of the Beatles. For sure.”

7. Who would you want to portray you in a biopic?

“I don’t know, ‘cause I don’t know [a lot of] artists, but Joey King*?”
“Maybe, Joey King. ‘Cause I just feel close [to] her personality.”
*Star of Netflix Hit Movie, The Kissing Booth.

After the fun questions, Hershey ended the interview by giving advice to the graduating batches. She emphasised that:

“I don’t think there are perfect pieces of advice for every student, but here’s what I have based on my experience...”

1. Try to discover yourself and what you really want to do.

“Try to take this final year to discover what you really love doing, what your dislikes are, what your strengths are, [and] what you’re really good at—because these will not only help you find your passion but [allow you to] become more passionate about your dream. I guarantee you it will make you truly happy.”

“If you are that type of student who’s genuinely sure of what step to take after graduating—then go for it! Mark it, conquer it!”

“If you’re the type of student who is unsure—which I was before—it’s okay, you owe it to yourself to take your time… but again… keep in mind that taking your time doesn’t mean taking it too easy.”

2. Never forget to celebrate your small victories.

“I think this is common advice, but it made more sense to me during the online setting. Day to day, I began to celebrate the small accomplishments I rarely paid attention to before; and it helped me a lot in moving forward with the day.”

“You should start doing it, too. You should start celebrating them because this will eventually lead you to your bigger goals. You first have to achieve the smaller milestones before you can achieve the bigger milestones. For example: getting a perfect score in a quiz, answering your recitation confidently, receiving a positive comment from your teachers, even feeling enthusiastic about a project… these are some small victories that you should celebrate… because celebrating them feels like you’re rewarding yourself for every small step you take towards your bigger goal.

“Small accomplishments are not ‘basta-basta lang’ (mundane) - be proud of them, ‘cause this will inspire you and will show you how close you’re getting to your bigger goals—for instance: your graduation day.”

Hershey’s enthusiastic energy and vivacious personality was very infectious, and we appreciated the time she shared with us.

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