The story is nice when you hear it, pero kasi, tapos na.
First time kong makakita na ang mga medal na dapat sana ay isinasabit sa valedictorian ay INAGAW ng graduate at isinabit sa kanyang mommy.
Very symbolic. Very heartwarming. Very touching. I am proud that a leader molded by my Alma Mater is very thankful and gratuitous to her parents.
She is Joan Gatapia, the valedictorian this year for the Laguna BelAir Science School secondary level 2014. I do not really know her personally, I am just telling you the story as to what I heard among the teachers and her valedictory speach.
Consistently an honor student. I know the feeling. Dumaan ako sa ganun. Oo, mayabang ako, blog ko to. Pero this time, ipagyayabang ko sa inyo ang valedictorian namin sa school year na to.
It was during the school year 2013-2014 when her dad died. Sabi niya, she fell figuratively. Ikaw na bigla kang nawalan ng gabay at sandalan, kahit gaano ka katalino at katapang, magbi-break down ka. I can just imagine tears and lonely nights from her. Naramdaman ko yun nun namatay ang lola ko. Masakit. Parang hindi mo alam kung san ka lulugar. Parang hindi mo alam kung anong oras ka dapat kumain. Wala ka na sa huwisyo mo nun.
She was about to recover from the emotional pain when something physically bad happened. Na-injure siya. Femural something. Kinailangan lagyan ng turnilyo ng mga buto niya para hindi kumalas. Fragile ang katawan, oo. Pero ang pagkatao hindi.
Our principal, Ms Michelle Zeta, told me na sinet niya na ang mind ni Joan, saying na since 20 days siyang wala sa klase, mahirap na maging top. Ito siguro ang naging drive ni Joan. Being very passionate, nahabol pa rin niya ang grades niya. She still ended on top.
Here is a copy of her valediction:
To our beloved Director, Ms. Mercedes Contreras-Dannenberg, our principal, Ms. Michelle Zeta, the chairman of the Board, Atty. Anthony Charlemagne Yu, our special guest of honor Congresswoman LeniRobredo, teachers, school personnel, parents, fellow graduates and friends, good evening.
Passion. It is what drives us to go on. This is what drove me to be here and stand with no more injured leg and crutches, with no more words left unsaid to my father, and with no more grudges from the past.
As a student, we all have those moments when we lose our way. I lost mine the moment I entered my last year in high school. You might be thinking, “What does a consistent honor student have to say about losing her way when her path has always pointed to the top?” I can assure you that my path has faltered like anyone else’s has. You see, despite my grades, I am like any other student, any other human – I commit mistakes, I doubt my abilities, and I fall. And I have fallen literally and metaphorically.
Falling metaphorically. What happens when a strong pillar of a structure falls? Like one post of the covered walkway breaks? The structure won’t be as stable as it once was and most likely it will fall. This is what happened when my family lost one of its strongest pillars – my father. I have always pictured myself with a family so strong and happy that nothing could ever break it. But like I said, I am also human. I am like any other human.My family and I were not able to escape the reality of loss. When my father’s inevitable death came, our family fell and with it… I fell.
I lost the urge to wake up in the morning to face the reality of a father gone. I lost the will to walk the school corridors with a liveliness of a teenager. I lost the drive to learn, and more importantly, I lost my passion to become the best person I can be.
Falling literally. Three months passed and I slowly accepted my reality. Life goes on, whether I pick myself up or not. I chose to move on and find my happiness with my father guiding me from heaven. I slowly regained my once cheerful disposition and enthusiasm. People even commended me for my strength. However, due to the turn of significant events, I fell. As in bumagsak.Yung tipongtumatakboka, taposnabunggoka.Taposnahulogka.After that, I found myself yet again in a familiar territory – the hospital.
Standing in front of you is a girl who had a fracture in her right hip and femoral joint. She had to endure an operation; she had to had screws implanted in her body. Without those metal implants, she wouldn’t be able to stand and walk ever again. Yes, I was absent for almost a month and I knew I missed so much – all the lessons, quizzes, tests, and projects. I had to go to school riding a wheelchair, using a walker, or having a cane in my hand. It was very embarrassing to be honest. My faith was tested and I doubted Him.I did not know God’s purpose but I still believed that everything happens for a reason. Eventually, I did see and realize what He wanted to tell me. I had to slow down. Just this moment, slow down. Give time for yourself and appreciate the little things you have, and be grateful of the people around you. One of the best things this accident taught me was to how love my family, most especially my mother.And the same goes to my class, to those who pushed the wheelchair for me, to those who picked up my pens when they fell, to those who volunteered to pass my test papers and notebooks to my teachers, to those who listened when I had something to say, to those who stayed… THANK YOU.
Falling twice, I knew what I had to do. At first, I only wanted to stand here because my path pointed toward that direction. But my last year in high school taught me that there is much more reason for me to stand here. Despite everything, I wanted to be here, standing with two strong legs and to be able to say that this success is worth everything my parents have done for me. And this also goes to every student in this ceremony. Our success is not only measured by the numbers we are given. It is not measured by how many times we get a perfect score, a very low score, or a barely passing score. But it is how and why we arrived at those scores.
My journey in Laguna BelAir Science School would not have been this fulfilling if not for the people who accompanied me in this journey. They are my classmates who were with me for 7 memorable years, who went to my father’s wake. Isipinniyo, paanonagkasyaang 23 nataosaisang van?Hanggangngayon, hindiko pa rinalam kung niyonagawayun. But you did, for me and my family.They are my batchmates, who went with me through thick and thin and through sleepless nights especially last Friday night during our recollection. Who shared with me all the triumphs and defeats. Be it Dramafest or the Field Demo.Kahit mag fourth place sa competition, okay langsaatinbastamasayatayo.We’re graduating. No more escaping fromKuyaRockyduring dismissal, no more sneaking to the canteen, no more stressing about the dress code, no more clinic visits for White Flower and no more hell weeks.Yung moment nanapa-bookbindniyonayungSciResniyo..atsasabihinnatin..YES!! GRA-GRADUATE TAYO!! But as we bid goodbye to these things, we also say goodbye to the people around us.
To my teachers who guided me when I lost my way, I cannot thank you enough for all the patience, the support, and the faith that you have given me especially through my toughest times. They were even those who knew I would be standing here against all odds.
Mom, do not think that I gave you the medals because I’m not allowed to put extra weight on me. I handed them to you because I believe that you deserve them as much as I do. To my father, how I wish you’d be here celebrating with us tonight. Dad, this is for you.
At the back of it all are our parents. This night is not solely our success but also the success of our parents. If not for their love for us, they would not spend those stressful hours at work, lonely hours overseas, and painful hours in the hospital bed just so they can live to see this day to see God’s blessing grow to be the person they are destined to be.
I lift up all of these – the teary eyes that hold the wonder of this night, the bittersweet smiles that show both happiness and sadness of the reality that is college, the grateful hearts that baskin God’s glory.
Thank you everyone and once again, a fruitful evening to all.
Congratulations Joan. Congrats to your mom and to all parents who raised their kids well. The alumni body is very happy to welcome such a character.