Despite controversies surrounding policemen today, 29-year-old vendor Stephen Secretaria still wants to become a policeman.
It was a childhood dream for this differently abled resident from Camp 3 in barangay Jaclupan, Talisay City, Cebu.
Why? Well, just like all of us, Secretaria wants to ensure peace and order in all areas.
“Ganahan ko magpulis kay ganahan ko manghuli (manakop) og mga kriminal,” Stephen said.
(I want to be a policeman because I want to apprehend criminals.)
So Stephen tried to go to school and study like any other normal kid. However, due to differences, he had difficulty fitting in with other students.
Stephen’s mother, Josephine Paraiso, said that he was born with a condition called cephalohematoma. Stephen was expected not to walk nor talk but that wasn’t what happened to him. He has difficulty speaking but he still manages himself well.
Stephen went to Grade 1 three times but still, he was not able to go complete the level. This is when his teachers recommended to Josephine to send him to a school that offers special classes suitable for what Stephen needs. But since his family is financially challenged, this, too, did not pursue.
Because of this, his dreams of becoming a policeman was stalled. He, instead, decided to help his mom by selling selling different kinds of snacks in their village.
“Mutabang ko’s akong mama kay way kwarta akong mama,” Stephen said.
(I’m helping my mom because my mom has no money to spend for our needs.)
Growing up, Josephine said that Stephen did not cause him hardship at all. He behaves well until he went 15 years old and started to help his family. From the P200 he makes in a day, he spares some and gives his mother to help with their daily needs. As an older brother, he fought his own struggles to be the foundation of his family.
Because of this COVID-19 pandemic, his P200 went down to an average of P50 per day. But that did not discourage him.
Even though Stephen was not able to go to school and learn things, that did not stop him to learn on his own. With no background in counting off numbers, Stephen tried to learn it independently, but with the guidance of those people living in his area, his customers, his friends, he continues to learn day by day.
After a day of selling snacks, Stephen is happy enough that he can buy t-shirts for himself and spare an amount to help his family.
Stephen has a story to tell to everyone. He has the voice that needs to be amplified.
Stephen has dreams in life. But since being a policemen is quite difficult with his age, he said now he just wants a ‘sikad’ (a bicycle with a sidecar) and a sari-sari store to help him and his family.
It is this simple wish that shows simplicity and how family-oriented Cebuanos are.