Rene Arpon, the 55-year old VSU Villaba graduate.

“Kung duna kay pangandoy, padayon lang.” [If you have a dream, just continue reaching for it.]

These were the inspirational words of #ProudViscan Rene D. Arpon, who received his hard-earned diploma at the age of 55 during the 44th Commencement Exercises of VSU Villaba held on July 24, 2023.

This hard-working father of six who also works as a Barangay Secretary at San Francisco, Villaba, Leyte finished his bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a special endeavor award bestowed to him from his alma mater.

An endeavor award is given to any student who exhibited determination, perseverance, and dedication to complete his or her studies despite the odds and many other personal challenges.

At his current age, Tatay Rene proved that nothing is impossible for someone who is a dreamer and who continues to work on achieving his dreams.

When asked about his drive for finishing college, he delightfully revealed that it was all because of his beloved children who have been his ultimate source of inspiration.

“Ang reason nako kay na inspire ko sa ahoang mga anak nga naniguro’g eskwela. Sa akoa sa’ng parte, elementary pami, gusto jud ko makahuman og eskwela bisan pa sa ako pangidaron,” Arpon said.

[I was inspired by my children who all did well in school. For my part, since I was in grade school, I really wanted to finish a college degree. That’s why I continued even though I'm the eldest in the classroom.]


He happily shared that his family, especially his children supported his dream regardless of the many hardships he previously encountered. He also proudly disclosed that his eldest is already a degree holder.

“Well, I’m very happy and thankful to God first and foremost. Nagpasalamat ko sa ahoang pamilya, nag-support gyud sila bisan sa among kalisod. Ikaduha, sa among kauban sa barangay kay wa ko nila tangtanga bisa’g nag-eskwela ko. Bisan busy [ko], nisabot gyud sila, ni suporta kanako,” he revealed.

[Well, I’m very happy and thankful to God first and foremost. I’m equally grateful to my family as they supported me in spite of our difficult situation. Second, I’m also thankful to my fellow barangay officials, since they understood my dream and did not use this to remove me from my post even if I’m also balancing it with my studies. In fact, they were very supportive of me.]

Arpon added that among the many circumstances he encountered, he struggled most during the pandemic when the face-to-face classes turned into modular learning where he needed to exert extra physical work to send and retrieve regularly his class outputs. Tatay Rene’s constant arthritis attacks were an added burden to him in fulfilling his academic requirements.

But since he is dedicated and inspired to complete what he started, he just continued and persisted until he finally gets to hold his most coveted diploma.

Tatay Rene’s next big plan is to take the professional licensure examination for teachers and if he passes, he will try to apply in the public school so that he can devote his remaining working years in public service.


One of his children, Antonet Arpon-Menoria posted a congratulatory message for her father’s achievement on a personal Facebook post. It reads:

“You are indeed a fighter, [a] well-determined person and bright. You inspired us to fight for our dreams as you showed us today with high hopes that you can also inspire other people to pursue their long-lost dreams. Indeed, nothing is impossible with having a strong faith in God if this is coupled with hard work.”

Arpon is truly an inspiration to us all as he proved that age does not limit someone to what he or she can do. Despite his age, he never gave up until he succeeded. His advice to all the students is to always value their education because it is a privilege and an asset that they can keep for continued self growth.

“Akong mensahe sa mga estudyante nga di magtinapulan og eskwela ba. Di sila magbugoy-bugoy. Kay sayang baya ang kwarta sa atong ginikanan. Mao na’y kuan sa akoa nga mangita og inspirasyon alang sa pagkugi sa pagpang-eskwela. Bisan sa akong edad, naningkamot gihapon para mahaw-as sa kalisod ug kinabuhi kay edukasyon baya mao’y foundation sa pagpanginabuhi nining kalibutana. Mahimo tang produktibong indibidwal, kapuslanan ta sa atong society. Mao na’y ikasulti naho para sa mga kabatan-onan karon,” he concluded.

[My message to the students is that they should be diligent with their studies so as not to waste the money that their parents are investing into their education. They should find ways to get inspired to go to school everyday. Despite my age, I continue to work hard with hopes that my family’s quality of life will soon become better. Education is our only equalizing leverage in life to get better opportunities. We need to become productive individuals who can contribute to the overall growth and development of our society. That’s what I want to tell to all the young people out there.]

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