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Teacher's Son From Bangsamoro Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Yale University
PHOTO BY courtesy of Nathan Wayne Ariston
  • Nathan Wayne Ariston was just a little boy in his sleepy hometown of Upi in southern Mindanao when he began taking an interest in all things science.

    He’d put a thermometer inside the refrigerator to see what happens. He’d wonder about physical phenomena and the universe. He’d sometimes ask questions that his elementary teacher, mother, and farmer-father had no answers to.

    Pisay graduate heads to Yale University

    Now 18 years old, Wayne, as he prefers to be called, has accepted a full scholarship for a Physics degree at Yale University come September 1, 2021.

    “Hindi pa settled kung kanino ako nagmana,” Wayne joked in a telephone interview with SmartParenting.com.ph, noting that both sides of the family had their own share of intelligence.

    He said his paternal grandfather, Diosdado, was among the first teachers in the area and even started a school there. He was definitely an influence on Wayne’s interest in learning.

    Wayne belongs to the Class 2021 of the Philippine Science High School-Central Mindanao (PSHS-CMS) campus, located in Baloi town, Lanao del Sur.

    At 12 years old, Wayne uprooted himself from family and all that he’s known to relocate to the mountainside PSHS-CMC campus over 200 kilometers away.

    “My parents were supportive. They know I loved it, and I’ll do well there,” Wayne said.

    Constant learning with unconditional support

    This unconditional support from his parents, Erwin, a farmer, and Aimee, an elementary school teacher, has been a constant in his life (he also has a sister, Gwen). They answered his questions as much as possible, supported his passions, and provided him with books to further tickle his mind.


    He is also allowed to indulge in other teenage passions like playing the guitar and the piano, playing racing games on his computer, and spending time with friends who are as passionate as him in their own interests.

    Wayne said his parents never lost patience despite his deep curiosity and constant questions.

    “When they don’t have the answer, they’d say go ask your Tito,” he said, explaining that he has pharmacists and engineers for relatives.

    Wayne was a constant honor student but noted there he never felt pressure from his parents.

    “They just want to see me do the best in what I want and they’ve never decided for me,” Wayne said.

    But despite a supportive family environment, there were challenges that Wayne had a face alone.

    School stress

    Not even a teen, Wayne lived by himself at the PSHS-CMC dormitory among strangers who spoke Bisaya while he spoke Tagalog.

    Wayne also had to contend with other challenges like unpredictable power outages when he had to come home to Upi and study via an online platform. He recalled that he was competing online at the International Chemistry Olympiad in Istanbul when his electricity got cut off for several crucial minutes.

    “That was very stressful,” he laughed at the ordeal.

    Nevertheless, Wayne brought home a bronze medal in that competition. He also won a silver medal at the International Earth Science Olympiad in Daegu.

    Education opportunities for all in Bangsamoro 

    Overall, Wayne acknowledges that he’s “privileged as a student that I am exposed to these opportunities.”

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    “That’s why I hope more Filipino students pa ang ma-expose sa ganito katulad ko,” he said.

    Wayne’s personal advocacy is for the PSHS system to open a campus in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), where his hometown is located.

    “Imagine, I had to travel so far away. If there was a campus here, then more students would have the same opportunity that I did,” said Wayne.

    The Bangsamoro is the new name for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and was the culmination of decades of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels.

    According to PSHS, Wayne is the first graduate of PSHS-CMC to be accepted at Yale University. He graduated from Nuro Central Elementary School in Maguindanao. His full-ride scholarship at Yale will cover the yearly estimated cost of attendance.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Nathan Wayne Ariston

    Wayne did not experience displacement due to violent clashes between the military and the MILF, but he’s heard of stories.


    “There is a building in (Nuro Elementary School in Upi) that was never renovated. It still has bullet holes,” he recalled.

    He’s also heard how bad it was in their town, especially in the 1980s when his parents were still young. Local houses had basements where residents would hide when the firefights began.

    “The lesson in all that for me is we really need peace. I’m so tired with all the hate,” Wayne burst out.

    “I hope people realize it’s hard to develop in science and technology if there’s no peace. Importante ang kapayaan at pagkakaisa tao.”

    Read here another story of a Pisay graduate who is headed to Duke University. 

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