Erwin Valmoria Macua: BEEd, Cum Laude
Now an instant celebrity, security guard Erwin Valmoria Macua was all smile amid the applause as he marched on stage yesterday during his graduation rites at St. Theresa’s College (STC) in Cebu City.
He was one of the college’s 97 graduates who received their diploma for a baccalaureate degree in elementary education (BEEd), cum laude, at the STC Auditorium.
“I am so happy that finally all my sacrifices paid off,” Macua told reporters before their graduation rites started yesterday afternoon.
Erwin, who is a security guard at the STC campus in General Maxilom Avenue, Cebu City, for 17 years, became an internet sensation after his story became widely shared on Facebook and on the websites of Cebu Daily News and other news organizations.
On CDN’s website (http://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/), Macua’s story was shared nearly 30,000 times since it was published early on Saturday until 8 p.m. of the same day.
On the CDN Facebook page, Macua’s tale of triumph reached 692,031 netizens and had 2,117 FB shares as of 8 p.m. yesterday. It also garnered 13,000 reactions (like, love and wow).
Macua arrived yesterday the STC Auditorium for the 3 p.m. graduation rites in the company of his wife Irenea, 38, who carried in her arms their 10-month-old daughter Chenise May; and of his mother Aproniana, 60.
Aproniana, teary-eyed as she watched her son receive his diploma, said she felt sorry that her son needed to come to Cebu City just to pursue his dreams. Erwin’s parents are small farmers from Trinidad, Bohol, who had no means to send him to school.
“Nalipay ko kay naningkamot siya. Naguol jud ko kay wala koy natabang niya (I am very happy that he worked hard. I am sad because I was not able to help him),” the mother told Cebu Daily News, holding back tears.
Aproniane said Erwin graduated valedictorian both in elementary and high school in the public school in Trinidad, and she was happy that he was smart enough to get himself through college even when at times, he would confide to her that he was so tired juggling work and study while raising his own family.
But she said she would always tell her son, “Anak, kaya nimo na. Fighting spirit lang g’yud dong (Son, you can do it. Hold on to that fighting spirit)!”
Macua’s family has no plan to hold a party to celebrate his graduation, according to Irenea.
She said a simple family meal would suffice to commemorate this momentous moment.
“I am so happy and proud,” the wife said of her husband of two decades.
Erwin earned his BEEd degree by working the night shift at STC — from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. — and attending to his classes from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, without fail.
He, who is a security guard at the Catholic-run college since 2000, got help from the STC school administration by granting him a 50 percent discount on his tuition, which would normally cost from P25,000 to P35,000 a semester.
The next step
Erwin has no plan of resigning from his job and will continue to work on the night shift since he still has to review for the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) scheduled this September.
More importantly, he said he could not leave STC yet as he wanted to give back to his alma mater.
“STC has given me the opportunity to study. Dako ko og utang kabobot-on (I owe them big time),” he added.
The 38-year-old security guard thanked the school administrators, his family, workmates as well as his sponsors.
Erwin revealed that in several instances, he would just learn that his tuition had been paid by anonymous donors.
“I am so thankful to all these people. They made my dreams come true,” he added.
It took him 20 years to finish college, and Erwin said it showed it is never too late to achieve one’s dream.
Erwin enrolled in STC’s BEEd program in 2013 after the former all-girls school decided to accept male students.
He needed to adjust to having very young classmates, but Erwin was a cut above the rest since he was a consistent dean’s lister.
He also is a confirmed hard worker. In fact, he was still doing the night shift, donning his security guard uniform, on the eve of his graduation.
“Dili ko katuo nga makaabot ko ani nga point. Naglutaw pa ko karon (I could not believe that I would reach this point. I am stlll on cloud nine),” he told CDN in a phone interview close to midnight on Friday.
He was still on duty at the entrance gate of STC Cebu since his work as a security guard is important to him and his family.
His reason was simple — he did not want a salary deduction.
“It’s no work, no pay. My salary here has been helping support not just my studies but as well as my family,” he added.
Edwin has three children to support: Jean Vincent, 17, who is taking up Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at the University of Cebu, as a Cebu City scholar; John Clifford, 16, a Grade 10 student at the Ramon Duterte Memorial National High School in Cebu City; and Cherise May, who is only ten months old.
His wife, Irenea, runs a sari-sari store at their home in Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City, to help augment the family
Before he became a security guard, Macua studied civil engineering for a semester in Divine Word College of Tagbilaran (now called as Holy Name University) in Tagbilaran City but was forced to drop out due to poverty.
He had always dreamed of finishing college even after he got married and started raising a family.
Macua said he decided to take up BEEd since he wants to inspire the young people to study and change their lives.
“I want to inspire them; that they need to give back to their parents. That will be the best reward to them,” he added.
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