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I am Adonis Porto Sulit and a member of the 3rd batch (1992), pioneer graduates of the Biga campus in Silang, Cavite. I once served as president of the ASMSI. I am a government lawyer working for the Legal Staff of the Department of Justice.
How was your life before you entered SMS? Why did you choose SMS?
We were one of the poor families which Fr. Al and the Sisters of Mary have helped. I am the third of the seven children of a welder father and a housekeeper mother. They were both elementary graduates.
Migrating from San Juan, Batangas to Batangas City, my father mustered the courage to establish a small welding shop where all of his children, regardless of age and gender, took part in helping him in the shop. We used to live on a rented lot where my father built some light structures thereon to serve as our house. Aside from taking care of us, my mother took all the odd jobs, from direct selling to being ďkubradorĒ of the illegal numbers game of jueteng. Despite their lack in education, my parents never lost hope and continued dreaming for a bright future, and in fact worked for it, for all their children.
The recruitment done by the Sisters of Mary during our time was taken as a scholarship for poor but deserving students. When that opportunity came, I went through the process of interview then conducted by Sr. Teresita Prudente. I vividly remember telling her I want to be a lawyer and she inquired why I wanted that.
For someone who wants to have a bright future, any scholarship offer is worth trying. That was our mentality during that time. At least, I am assured of free secondary education and will be ready to take it from there. When my parents brought me to the Sta. Mesa campus in June 1992, it was one of the most emotional moments of my life. That was the first time that I was away from my family.
What was your most memorable experience inside the SMS?
I know we all have lots of memorable experiences during our school days at the Sisters of Mary. In fact, when I get to talk with some batchmates and even contemporaries about our recollections of the past, we all end up in a hearty laugh especially when itís about our naughtiness when we were young.
I remember that I used to be the emcee whenever there are programs to treat our visitors. I remember the academic achievements, individually, and as a group, especially whenever we compete against schools in Metro Manila. I remember our award winning performances in choral recitations, besting other private schools.
I cherish the memory of Fr. Al and all the sisters that took care of us. Fr. Alís homilies are substantive and food for the soul indeed. Iíve seen him both when he was physically strong and when he was already weak prior to our graduation in 1992.
What did you do right after graduation? Did you work or study? How was it?
Itís fun to recall the reason why I chose to study than work after graduation. Actually, the choice was (made) easier for me. Since I was very small, I cannot take up the work meant for the big boys. Given the physical handicap, it did not likewise occur to me that I will work. Besides, my family has already scouted applications for some college scholarships for me. They have chosen a school where the Political Science course is offered and then again, take it from there, to proceed and take Bachelor of Laws after graduation. For me, the vision is and will always be clear that I want to be a lawyer.
Graduating as class salutatorian was an advantage because it entitled me to apply in colleges in Batangas City which offered partial scholarship to honor students. I took the qualifying exam for full scholarship under Presidential Decree No. 451, a program given to poor but deserving students. Itís a long shot, since only one scholar is chosen for every 500 freshmen enrollees. When the freshmen enrolment hit 1000, I was accommodated as the second scholar. With Godís grace, I qualified as a full scholar for the entire period that I was in college. I did not pay anything. I was active in school, gained popularity and respect for my good academic standing and writing for the student paper (and later served as editor in chief), until I finished AB Political Science cum laude in 1996. I made sure I did not shortchange the school or anyone for giving me the scholarship.
God is good for me and my family. While we were on stage during our college graduation, the college president offered full scholarship in the College of Law to the four (4) honor students from the College of Arts and Sciences. Only two of us took the offer, and my friend and I enrolled in the College of Law of the University of Batangas when the semester started. Itís four (4) years of hardwork that followed. Since law classes are held only during nighttime, I decided to take a daytime job in 1997 as a college instructor in the same school. I needed to support myself for the other expenses and at the same time, help my family in supporting my other siblings. I was again active in school, headed the student council as president and the law journal as editor in chief, maintained my good academic standing throughout the four years, while making sure that I teach my students to the best of my ability. I was successful juggling these activities. I finished Bachelor of Laws in 2000 as class valedictorian- second honors. My law school days are very interesting since the close competition for the highest honor was between myself and another friend, who is now my wife.
How is your life now? Tell us about your work? studies?
I could say that our life now is an example of total transformation. We started with an uncertain future, not sure of how we will cope up with the poverty of life. With Godís grace coupled with determination and hardwork, the seven of us are all degree holders. Modesty aside, my three sisters are all nurses while my three brothers are educator, computer professional, and dentist, respectively. My father died in 1999 and he was not able to see the fruition of all his hardwork. We have now a modest family home, no longer made of light materials, constructed with the help of my eldest sister who worked as overseas nurse. Our old neighbors could not believe that our family could be that successful considering our state of life before. At present, we still have some crosses in life to bear but we will never lose hope.
Regarding my profession, I took the Bar examination in 2000 and passed the same. From the academe, I joined government service in 2001 as Executive Assistant to the Secretary of Justice. Right now, I am a State Counsel in the Department of Justice. My job includes a wide variety of office work, rendering opinions, attending inter-agency meetings, representing the government in trade negotiations here and abroad, among others.
I got married in December 2006 to my girlfriend of more than 11 years. She is likewise a government lawyer working for the Bureau of Immigration. We are blessed with a beautiful daughter, Lara Ysabel.
What can you say about SMS? About Fr. Al?
The Sisters of Mary is a living example of charity at its best, giving without expecting anything in return. Without Fr. Al and the Sisters of Mary, I may not be the same person that I am today. I will forever say thank you to the Sisters of Mary. Whenever I go back to the compound, I realize and appreciate the sacrifice that the sisters are making for the children.
I will never forget that I was one of the poorest of the poor, materially and spiritually. My guiding principle is that Fr. Al has led us the way, he was Godís instrument in making sure that a poor kid like me will have a fighting chance to succeed and become a productive element of society.
Itís up to us, his children, to continue in our own humble way, in whatever capacity, to be the living examples of Fr. Al and the Sisters of Mary.