CEBU CITY, Philippines — How did a little girl, who has just graduated from Grade 6, made most of her classmates, her fellow graduates, and most of those, who attended the Canlambong Elementary School graduation ceremony, cry?
Cristia Fe Balistoy did nothing special. She just shared her heartbreaking journey that brought her to this moment in time this July — graduation day in this elementary school in Barangay Canlampong, Dimiao town in Bohol Province.
Little girl from Bohol tells her story
Balistoy, stood behind the podium on the school stage in front of her fellow graduates, and told her tale of family, happiness amid poverty, hardships, separation, tragic loss, desperation, and salvation, leading to her achievement on this special day.
Her voice was firm, but sometimes cracked when she cried in recalling the events that brought her pain, the tragic loss and the times of desperation that could have broken others when faced with those kind of dire situations.
Start of Bohol girl’s story
“Ako si Cristia Fe Mendoza Balistoy. Usa ka graduate sa atong eskuylahan, ang Canlambong Elementary School. Lumad nga taga Canlambong ug dunay unom ka mga igsuon,” Balistoy said as she introduced herself at the start of her graduation speech.
(I am Cristia Fe Mendoza Balistoy. I am a gradaute of our school the Canlambong Elementary School. I am a native of Canlambong and I have six siblings.)
Bohol girl’s family, tragedy
She then continued with her story of a father, a “coconut climber”, who worked hard to provide for his family, and a loving mother, a housewife, who took care of her children.
She talked about how difficult times were when her mother left them in April this year and her father a few days later tragically passed away.
This left her and her siblings in a dilemma on how they could survive.
Most trying time for Bohol student
“Patay na ang haligi sa among pamilya, ang pinangga namong amahan,” a grieving Balistoy said.
(The foundation of our family is already dead, our beloved father.)
She then asked during her speech, “Kinsa naman ang mopakaon ug magpa-eskwela namo?”
(Who will now provide for our food and our schooling?)
But in those times of desperation, helping hands reach out to pull them above water, and guide them to where they are now.
The saving hands of their second parents, her aunt and uncle, who took Balistoy and her younger siblings into their care, and they guided her to finish her schooling despite the tragedy.
Dedicate success to father
For her achievement of making it through Grade 6, Balistoy dedicated all of these achievements to her father.
“’Tay, kung asa man ka ron, ako ipahinungod nimo ning unang ang-ang sa akong kalampusan,” she said.
(‘Tay, wherever you are right now, I am dedicating this to you my first step to my success.)
In the same manner, she gave a short message to her mother, “Ma, kung asa man ka, among i-ampo nga mahinumdom ka namo.”
(Ma, wherever you are, we pray that you will still remember us.)
Love your parents while they are still alive
Balistoy then reminds fellow students to always love their parents, “Panggaa ug higugmaa ninyo ang inyong mga ginikanan samtang buhi pa sila. (Cherish and love your parents while they are still alive.)
She also encouraged fellow classmates to trust in the Lord and to keep moving forward, despite the challenges they would face in life.
And not only did the little girl from Canlampong Elementary School made most of those, who were at the July 2023 graduation cry, but she also probably made several netizens shed a tear or two.
This was after a video of Balistoy’s speech was uploaded by netizen Chelle Ching on July 13 and this went viral online. | Jellie May Mañacap /CNU Intern