Real People - Dennis & Sarah Decena

By She Said

On the 20th of November 1996, Mr. & Mrs. Dennis and Sarah Decena received heartbreaking news any parent would never want to receive. Their daughter, Debbie, then a fourth grade student at the De La Salle Santiago Zobel School in Muntinlupa was involved in an accident while on an amusement park ride during the School Fair. Debbie did not survive the accident. She was only nine years old.

One cannot begin to imagine the pain and the agony of losing a child, especially one so young.  Mrs. Decena recounts how she struggled with the loss of her daughter and the unspeakable pain-  "After Debbie was laid to rest, everyone was back to school and work. I remember the deafening silence and loneliness I felt while I was left alone at home. I would burst into tears. I wanted to skip all the holidays and birthdays." 

But God always has a way of turning things around, transforming their grief and sorrow into something beautiful. In 2002, Mr. & Mrs. Decena, in a admirable act of forgiveness and acceptance, formed the Debbie Decena Memorial Scholarship Foundation in cooperation with De La Salle Zobel.

The Debbie Decena Memorial Foundation grants full scholarships to deserving incoming and current high school students of DLSZ in need of financial assistance. They have since granted over 20 scholarships and have also grown to provide college scholarships in STI Colleges in Muntinlupa and Las Pinas.

 Auditorium at the De La Salle Santiago Zobel dedicated in honor of Debbie Decena

The Debbie Decena Memorial Foundation is a family initiative, with Mr. Decena as the President and ably supported by his wife and children Kate, Denise & Kim.  They are all closely involved in the screening and selection process of applicants.

Mr. Decena, an accomplished business executive, has held notable positions in companies such as Urban Bank, Roxaco Land, and New San Jose Builders. He currently serves as an Independent Director for several companies. Together with  Mrs. Decena, he is involved in various civic organizations. Mrs. Decena has actively participated in feeding programs and conducted values formation seminars for the Rotary Club of Makati West.

Not new to scholarships, he himself being the recipient of academic scholarships all throughout his high school and college education at the Ateneo de Manila University and extending even to his masters degree at the University of the Philippines, Mr. Decena is a firm believer in paying it forward. He continues to inspire his wife and daughters to spread love and kindness despite their tragic experience.

{I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. & Mrs. Decena for trusting me enough to share their story. My daughter is a proud recipient of the Debbie Decena Scholarship and we are forever indebted to their generosity and kindness and grateful for all the lessons learned.}

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