From bitter to better: The story of “second chances” of Keitech’s Batch 14 Class Valedictorian

Twenty-two-year-old John Fery Torreon tried his luck, together with his friends, at the Keitech Educational Foundation in 2021. The results were released on his birthday – all of them passed, except him. This challenged him to apply again last year. To his surprise, he qualified and made it to the top 10 passers. After almost a year of training at the center, John Fery twisted his fate and turned it into a sweeter success. During the commencement exercises Friday, June 30, he was recognized and awarded as the Class Valedictorian and recipient of the Oscar M Lopez of the 14th batch of Keitech’s regular training program.


The inspiring story of John Fery is just one of the other 59 trainees who recently graduated from Keitech, a 14-year-old training center that offers values-based technical-vocational education supported and operated by First Gen-owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC).


For School Year 2022-2023, a total of 60 trainees have graduated and completed a rigid eight to nine months of in-campus skills training and three to four months industry exposure with Keitech’s partners and sponsors in Leyte and Cebu City such as  PASAR, Primary Structures Corporation, Freq It Solutions, and TESDA. 


Twenty-nine (29) scholars are residents of Kananga, Leyte, eleven (11) scholars from Ormoc City, Leyte and twenty (20) from Isabel, Leyte. These students receive at least four to five national certificates upon graduation. 


Life’s bitter reality


OML awardee John Fery recalled how life had been before entering Keitech. “My struggles began at an early age when my father died due to a heart attack while fishing in the middle of the sea. I am aware that my mother cannot sufficiently support our daily basic needs so I worked as a construction worker. A year after, I applied as a janitor in PASAR, anything to help my mother with our financial concerns,” he narrated.


But the challenges went on, and on, especially when he started his first day at Keitech.


John Fery shared how much he wanted to quit in his first week.


“Being away from home and being away from our families for the first time is one of the reasons why many of us thought of quitting. It got worse because of the no-cellphone policy and strict house rules like waking up as early as 3 o’clock in the morning to get ready, the military training, housekeeping, and the skills training itself,” he shared. 


Keitech President Allan Barcena shared in his welcome message that discipline, top-of-the-line skills, and purpose-driven values are “Keitech’s remarkable formula – training students to achieve world-class skills that are perfectly combined with a set of distinct values that make you empowered and sought after by employers locally and globally.”


Keitech was established to help underserved high school graduates become highly skilled and employable, particularly in industries with high demand for workers such as construction, metals and engineering.


In his inspirational commencement speech, Leyte 4th District Congressman Richard Gomez, DPA, shared this to the graduates: “One advice that I can give to you is to make learning new things a lifelong process. When you learn something new every single day, you will never get old.”


And, the Keitech graduates learned their lessons and realized why they had to experience that rigorous training and military discipline for more than 300 days – armed with knowledge, skills, discipline and determination.


For John Fery, he is ready to take more challenges in his journey outside of Keitech because he is confident that for every slight chance of success on the first try, there will always be unlimited attempts to make things better and sweeter the second time around. 


To date, Keitech has already produced over 1,200 graduates and has held the record for having a consistent 100% national certification passing rate among its trainees.


More than 90% of Keitech graduates are now gainfully employed. Keitech estimates a multiplier effect of more than 6,000 lives that have been touched, changed and uplifted, across more than 100 communities in EDC’s areas of operation—a truly impactful initiatives that shows the possibilities of nurturing self-reliant communities in line with the company’s mission of forging collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future.


EDC is First Gen Corporation’s 100 percent renewable energy subsidiary with over 1,480MW total installed capacity that accounts for 20 percent of the country’s total installed renewable energy capacity. Its almost 1,200MW geothermal portfolio comprises 62 percent of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity and has put the Philippines on the map as the 3rd largest geothermal producer in the world.