Harships polished this precious gem

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

“Precious gems among the ordinary stones.” These were the words uttered several times by Dr. Marcelo T. Lopez, SUC president III, during the Recognition Day of Cebu Normal University (CNU) last March 24.

He wasn’t referring to gems that can be pawned or sold. He was describing the honor students of the three CNU departments—the College of Teacher Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Nursing.

Rewinding this line repeatedly inside my head, I pondered: Am I really deserving to be called a precious gem? Or am I just one of the ordinary stones out there? Trying to figure out the answer, I looked back at how I arrived to this point in my life.


It had been my mama Tina’s dream to go up the stage to be recognized as an honor student. I grew up hearing her stories about how she was awarded the first honor in their elementary class and about how she dreamed of graduating even in high school.

Her dream (to graduate in high school) remained a dream. Because my grandparents were economically deprived, mama Tina didn’t finish high school.

Although she never told me how disappointed she was, I felt her pain, disappointments, and sadness. And as the eldest and her only daughter, I felt it was my duty and responsibility to reach what my mother had wanted to happen for herself. I knew that what she dreamed for herself was what she dreamed for me too. That is why, at three years old, I agreed to be sent to school.

My first steps in acquiring education at the Guibuangan Central School in Guibuangan, Barili, Cebu, were not that hard. My mother was always there to guide me despite all the difficulties she had in raising me and my three younger brothers alone.

Then came an unforgettable incident, which ignited my desire to be an achiever in the academic field.

I was selling banana cue in our neighborhood when I overheard my mother telling her cousins and other neighbors, “Pasak-on lang ko ni Gege sa stage, sulit na kaayo akong sakripisyo.”

I promised myself: “Pasak-on nako si mama sa stage kada tuig.”

And, yes, I did it. I was a consistent honor student from elementary and graduated as valedictorian in Guibuangan National High School. And every year, my mother never failed to come up on stage to hang a medal on me, or to pin me with a ribbon.

The 85th Commencement Rites of the CNU College Teacher of Education last Tuesday, was the first one that my mother missed to attend. She died on Oct. 23, 2012; my father passed away on Feb. 21, 2013.

On March 25, I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Secondary Education degree, major in English. But despite the absence of my parents, I was still happy because I proved to everyone that poverty is not a hindrance to success.

As I recall my hardships, from earning money for my allowance and projects up to the sleepless nights of burning candles just to pass our midterm and final exams, I can say that I am indeed a precious gem among ordinary stones.

And with the guidance and help of some good people like my employers, Atty. Pablo John F. Garcia and Karen Hope Flores-Garcia, I was able to shine despite the mud of poverty that molded me. And for those who are economically deprived like me, don’t stop believing. Believe that the Almighty God has plans for us.

Just like what the book of Jeremiah states in chapter 29, verse 11: “For I know the plans for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” Aim high. Dream big. (Note: The writer, 25, has been with the Garcia household since 2009. She is nanny to four-year-old Bluey, who topped his class, and one-month old Jack.) (Geraldine Bayno1)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2014.


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