THE scholarship issue has become so important and so vital to recipients who rely mainly on the grants extended to them by the government in pursuing their elusive dream. No wonder why on the eve of the May 10 elections not a few of those who were awarded scholarships are concerned that their educational scholarship grants might be cut in the event that Mabel Sunga Acosta will win the congressional race in the 1st District.

I only recently realized how serious is the anxiety of the scholarship grantees and their parents the other night when a sudden rain forced me and my media friends to take shelter in a make shift talipapa, which was home to a family of durian vendors. So what else do you do in a durian stall where the aroma of the fruits of the gods is a veritable opiate to eternally hungry journalists? Our companion who looks like Kiking Quimpan negotiated for a good bargain our dwindling money can afford. The vendor noticed something familiar in his voice. "Kaboses mo lagi tong announcer sa Radyo Ukay."

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Realizing that she was indeed talking to Kiking, she obliged to bring down the price by P5. Later she was even overwhelmed that five other radio personalities were in fact inside her talipapa. She urged her husband to sell their Arancillo durian at cost. The wife was bubbly but as the rain recedes to a drizzle she begged the radio anchormen to help her.

She confessed that she has a son who is a Nograles scholar. She said that she is afraid that if Karlo Nograles will lose the elections the scholarship grant enjoyed by his son will also be terminated.

I commiserate with the poor vendor in her predicament. What worries me is that there are thousand others who might be suffering from this anxiety. The vendor is lucky we chanced on her by accident of rain. Quimpan advised her that she has nothing to worry at all because the scholarship grants are funded by government money and not coming from the personal pockets of politicians.

"Mao ba diay sir?" the vendor pleasantly remarked in surprise.

That encounter with that simple vendor prompted me to call Councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta to ask her what her position is on the scholarship issue.

Promptly, she responded that all students who were awarded scholarships must continue to enjoy the privilege. She stressed that politics must not come in the way of the students education. Whether the scholarship grants are coursed through Nograles or the city government, they must continue to enjoy the privilege so that their studies will not be hampered.

"If I win, I can assure the students that their scholarships will continue. After all this is not my money, not Nograles', not Duterte's but taxpayers' money," she told me.

I have to ask Mabel the question because she is running for congress in the 1st district versus Karlo Nograles who, as chief of staff of his father Prospero, was the one dispensing the scholarship grants. The scholarships by the way came from the President Arroyo's social fund, which in turn was sourced from the proceeds of the controversial Expanded Value Added Tax or e-VAT. Members of Congress and heads of local government units avail of this president's fund. The scholarships are actually program of Tesda. To the misfortune of President Arroyo however, many congressmen and local officials claimed that the program is theirs when in fact they merely acted as conduits. The president is forgotten along the way.

Well, that's what PGMA got for the pack of associates she maintains. TESDA is one of the excellent programs that the president had but rarely do you hear her subalterns talking about its merits. The rabid opposition had been assailing Arroyo for all these years but hardly do you hear her teammates talking about the many projects that she has accomplished. She is lost in the magma of criticism and in the silence of her party mates.

If the scholars have anyone really to thank for it is PGMA. But woe to the president as it is not fashionable to do so.