Nothing encapsulates the vision and mission of IDEA more than the graduation ceremonies at the Bohol Deaf Academy. This year we had one young man and 7 young women graduating.
As is the custom here in the Philippines the ceremony included all of the necessary pomp and circumstance and attention to detail. What an honor it was to be able to march in the processional with the students arm and arm with their proud parents and be seated in the front row.
Each graduate was rewarded with their certificate/diplomas and smiles beamed from ear to ear.
The Commencement Address was given by our own Chady C. Guivencan who was BDA’s Class Valedictorian in 2011 and currently works as a waiter at the Chico Café in our Dao Diamond hotel.
He shared how grateful he has been for IDEA and all that he has been able to accomplish through our help. Through his earnings he is now able to provide food for his family and money for medication for his father. He is so pleased that his brother’s actually come to him for help. He loves being able to help provide for them. He encouraged the students to work hard and to be a good example to their family members and to the community.
One of the parents of the graduates, Josephine P. Ontong shared her story with the crowd. She had contracted German measles during her pregnancy with her daughter leaving her daughter with a hearing loss. She was a bright and responsive child and a joy to be around. Her daughter then became ill and the medication took the rest of her hearing leaving her deaf. Her daughter, frustrated with the inability to communicate soon become rebellious and often wandered off. One day a teacher from IDEA’s Sagbayan Special Education Program came and visited with Josephine and told her of all that was available for her daughter. At her wits end she gladly enrolled her hoping it would help. She was overjoyed to see her darling daughter happy, communicating and actively pursuing her education. With tears in her eyes she expressed her gratitude for all that IDEA had done to give her daughter back to her and to give her a hope and a future.
The graduates did an interpretive dance to show their gratitude to their parents and presented them with their awards and ribbons. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place!
As with any good Filipino gathering there was also plenty of food for all to enjoy. It was a perfect way to revive the passion for why we do what we do. All of the graduates already have jobs lined up, for a country with 30% unemployment that is amazing!