She probably got a very early Christmas gift – winning the International Student of the Year Award 2016 – and now happy Abigail Aguilar expresses her hope that the Yuletide season will also bring blessings to underprivileged students in the Philippines.
“My Christmas wish this year is for all underprivileged children to experience a wonderful Christmas even if it’s just once a year, at least they will experience that feeling of happiness and joy brought by people with kind hearts,” Abby tells AK as she relates the challenges she faced growing up in Manila.
Abby won the NSW International Students Award organised by Study NSW within the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. The awards celebrate the outstanding contributions made by international students to communities in NSW.
Abby is a Year 12 student from Hunters Hill High School. She received the prestigious award in a ceremony held in October in Sydney.
She came to Australia two years ago to join her NSW-based sister. She believes Australian schooling is a lot stress-free than in the Philippines.
“There is a massive difference between the Australian school community and Filipino school community. In Australia, there is no pressure on the students to do their schoolworks, or have a really high mark – passing mark in schools here is 50% while in the Philippines, it’s 75% – also, students have a more flexible schedule,” she relates.
“There are days that you don’t have to get up early because you don’t have a class in the morning and classes do not start until 9am, compared to schools in the Philippines, they start at 7:30am!”
She is full of excitement that she will be coming home to Manila this Christmas.
“As a child who grew up in the busy streets in Manila, I can definitely say that, I really miss the Christmas in the Philippines especially the preparations and being able to see every house lit with lights that definitely gives the Christmas spirit.”
Abby is an active student who is also interested in sport and music.
“I have been playing Volleyball since Year 7 and became a varsity player when I was in Year 10. I only stopped when I came in Australia. I have been playing the guitar for four years now and piano for two years.”
Her favourite subject is Science, Chemistry in particular – “people look at me as if I’m crazy!” – and with a passion to care for other people, she is keen on taking a medical profession.
“I plan to take a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and later on, continue my studies to become a doctor.”