Graduation day brought joy and gratefulness to the students of Bohol Deaf Academy (BDA). On March 28, 2018 sixteen young men and women and their parents celebrated the long-anticipated day with a graduate procession, Moving Up Ceremony, and Recognition Rites. A roller coaster of emotions flooded the graduates, their families, and teachers as they remembered the past and felt hope for the future.
Merry Jane Cabasag, second class honors, welcomed everyone to the ceremony and expressed her gratitude to all who shaped the future of the graduates. Jenny Rose Gratula, first class honors, thanked her teachers for teaching her new things, for encouragement from her parents to do her best, and for IDEA and her sponsors for giving her the opportunity to grow into the person she is today.
One of the parents, Mrs. Carmen Madelo, shared her gratitude to BDA for teaching Deaf children the skills to make a living. She recalled how disheartening it was for her son, William, to be rejected several times from attending other schools because of his situation. Without BDA, William would have never received a quality education. Mrs. Madelo said she can’t help but feel proud of all of the children for accomplishing this milestone in their lives.
Mrs. Marilou Hinlo, the Guest Speaker and a teacher for the Deaf in Jagna SPED Center, felt honored by the invitation to speak at the ceremony where eight out of sixteen graduates were once her elementary students. She inspired the graduates saying, “You are all capable. You are all deserving. It is in belief, courage, patience, and hard work that we surely lead you ahead and give you a bright future.”
One of the remarkable things about this graduating class is that it has two sets of brothers and sisters graduating together – Charlie and Cheryl Mae Wahing and Eric and Eva Besinga. The siblings are among the students who excelled at BDA. Charlie received the Mayor Leadership Award, Service Award, and Athlete of the Year Award while Cheryl was the seventh honors in class. Eric was also an Athlete of the Year, Performing Ambassador of BDA, and Service Awardee while Eva was the fifth honors and an Artist of the Year.
While every single person should have access to a quality education, not all Deaf in the Philippines receive one. These 16 Deaf graduates certainly feel privileged and blessed by the opportunities they have, and for the people who support IDEA to make a difference in the lives of children. IDEA will continue to support many of these students even after graduation as most of them will be employed and trained by IDEA-supported organizations.
Way to go, graduates!