BDA Dancers Graduation
With all the usual pomp and circumstance the graduation ceremony began for the graduates of 2013 at the Bohol Deaf Academy. The students dawned in their white cap and gowns marched in escorted by parents or siblings to a room full of proud teachers, families, visitors and flashing cameras. Six young women and three young men gave testimony to the hard work and sacrifice needed to create a hope and a future for a deaf person in the Philippines.
Giving voice to their words they signed as music played with songs that expressed their deep emotion and appreciation for all they had been taught, the friends they had made, and how hard it will be to leave it all behind. Tears mixed with joy and sorrow were a regular part of the event.
The Class Valedictorian, Erwin John P. Bautista shared the story of his journey. He had been placed in the regular elementary school in his town. He felt like he was stupid because he had so much trouble learning, he was eight years old before his classmates explained to him that he was deaf. They passed him along through elementary school with his peers and he even received honors for his artwork. At 15 years old he wanted to go on to High School and was told that no High School would accept him. He and his family found out about IDEA and a school for the deaf. Hoping he could just go to the High School he was told he would have to start in Prep and learn sign language before he could go on. So at 15 he was starting all over again in Kindergarten. He was embarrassed to be the oldest in the class but was determined to learn and studied hard. On this day at age 25 Erwin graduated with honors and finally had the High School Diploma he worked so long and hard for!
In order to get to this stage in life each student has had someone behind them who sacrificed greatly so that they would have this opportunity. Miss Cristina B. Alesna who received First Honorable Mention had her younger brother to thank. Her brother, Mr. Dhunhel Alesna stood at the podium and with deep emotion shared their story. When they were younger their father chose to leave the family because he was ashamed to have a deaf child. Their father went across town and started a new family leaving Dhunhel at 16 to be the man of the house to help care for his mother and two older sisters. They scrimped and saved and were able to get their older sister through school so she could go on and get a good job. She was able to do that, however she hasn’t chosen to send any money home. Cristina had to drop out of school for two years to help out at home. Finally Dhunhel was able to find a job at a resort in Panglao, he now sends 80% of his pay to his mother and sister and lives on 20%. This young man had stepped up in a big way and was so proud of his sister. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place!
What a joy it would be if every sponsor could come and be a part of the graduation ceremony to see how a life has been changed because of their willingness to give. Seeing their bright faces and bright futures makes all the work done here at IDEA worthwhile.
Miss Resurreccion Peligrino, Principal
“When was the last time you turned someone’s despair into joy? Gave hope to someone who felt hopeless?
Brightened one corner of the world?
You do that EVERYDAY through IDEA. It may not seem dramatic from your side of the globe but for the deaf children in the Philippines, it is totally life changing. You can almost feel the earth shake with every child helped. Through each life set on a positive road to a brighter tomorrow, you have literally changed the world.”