How This Filipino Farmer's Son Made it to Harvard
“If they write about me, people will be happy to read my story for two minutes, feel good, be inspired, and then they will quickly forget. But if they talk about the kind of community I come from, full of hopelessness, poverty, and despair, and talk about how GreenEarth Heritage Foundation is addressing the problems, that will serve a bigger group of people beyond myself, I think that has more impact.
– Romnick L. Blanco, Green Earth Heritage Foundation scholar, International School Manila scholar Class of 2017, Harvard University Class of 2022
This is a story of hope. And, as with most remarkable stories, it started with a dream and many prayers—followed by hard work, patience, perseverance, and love. This is the story of Romnick Blanco, the seventh of nine sons of a farmer who grew up in a small municipality in the northern foothills of the Sierra Madre; a young boy who endured a long walk each day on unpaved roads just to get to school.
This is also the story of GreenEarth Heritage Foundation, an organization that believes in Romnick and has poured its resources in nurturing his talent with passion and prayer. It is a foundation that is dedicated to transforming lives through organic agriculture, in an area where the lack of farm-to-market infrastructure and sustainable countryside opportunities has perpetuated deforestation, illiteracy, and grinding poverty. GreenEarth Heritage Foundation’s holistic mission is “to preserve the environment, adhere to sound and sustainable agricultural practices and help in the alleviation of poverty through livelihood, education and community development.”
But Romnick now knows that hope exists and a better life for all of them is possible. He is dedicated to sharing his blessings so that others may experience the hope, too. “This amazing blessing that I have received will be looked upon by many as an achievement, but if I were to be very honest, I
Established in 2009, after receiving a land grant of over 100 hectares, GreenEarth Heritage Foundation quickly established programs in order to urgently address environmental destruction, lack of sustainable agricultural livelihood opportunities and poor quality education, in order to help farmers and their children in
In 2011, Romnick became a sponsored child of the foundation. His benefits as a sponsored child included receiving a monthly subsidy to assist with the ancillary costs of public school education as well as free access to English and computer literacy classes at the foundation's Learning Center, situated right in the middle of their reforestation site and an organic farm. The foundation noticed Romnick’s unwavering commitment to learning, and soon, he was outpacing the other farmers' children in English proficiency at the GreenEarth Learning Center. Through the foundation’s vision, dedication, and support, he gained a highly coveted five-year scholarship at the country’s oldest international high school, the International School Manila.
A member of the graduating class of the International School Manila 2017, Rom, as he is called by his friends and family, received acceptance and full scholarships to Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Wesleyan University, and New York University at Abu Dhabi. He has accepted the offer from Harvard and will be matriculating in the fall of 2018, following a gap year. “I selected Harvard for all that it represents. Its reputation precedes itself,” he shares. “I love its motto, ‘Veritas: I will go where truth leads me.’”
While he was originally accepted for admission this September, he decided to take advantage of a gap year, something that is becoming a popular choice for young adults today. In its admissions letter, Harvard University encourages its incoming students to take a year of deferral because of the benefits it has observed from those who have taken a year off before starting college. “Before I got accepted to any college, I prayed to be able to take a break after high school and so with Harvard’s outright encouragement, I decided to grab the opportunity.”
Over the next 12
In addition to planting, he hopes to be able to conduct a theater class for farmers’ children and fellow scholars studying in the homeschool program of GreenEarth Heritage Foundation as he loves to act and
As Harvard does not expect its incoming freshmen to choose a course of study before beginning their college education, Rom is keeping an open mind until he begins
For more information on the GreenEarth Heritage Foundation and how you can help, visit greenearthheritage.org.
This story was originally published in the August 2017 issue of Town&Country.