GRADUATION is in season again, and always shimmering stories of triumph and perseverance catch our eyes. Narratives of people who fought through dire circumstances just to finish a degree.
This year, we highlight the tale of Janryl Judilla Tan, a barangay tanod from Kalubihan, Cebu City who completed his five-year civil engineering course with a feather on his cap—he graduates as cum laude today.
Tan became a village tanod in 2015. He worked at night and attended school during the day.
Barangay Kalubihan Chief Rex Millan saw Tan’s diligence and industry, his willingness to finish his education despite the often demanding work of securing the barangay’s peace.
Millan also appointed Tan to man the barangay’s Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) monitor since Tan knew how to operate it. In cases of neighborhood trouble, Tan was the go-to person to have the CCTV footage reviewed.
Unable to tuck himself permanently in any semblance of home, Tan was allowed by the barangay to stay in a room in the village hall. There he also held office as treasurer of the village’s Sangguniang Kabataan.
The trickle that he earned from all these tasks went to his education, said Millan.
Tan’s story throws us back to another tale of triumph—that of Erwin Macua, the former security guard at St. Theresa’s College who also had to juggle work and schooling. He took up General Education and earned his degree as cum laude.
In the same campus where he manned security from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., he also went to class from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., surprising not a few classmates of his room presence.
Macua had children to raise, frequently beset by thoughts of giving up, but his family pushed him. He was consistently in the dean’s list through the years.
There will always be stories of this kind, most of them certainly modest and escaping media limelight, but no less moving and worth celebrating. The few on which we have trained our attention we hope will set ideals for the rest of us.
While the state had instituted mechanisms of free education for the underprivileged among us, it is still doubly hard for not a few to scale the rungs of success because life’s circumstances are more complicated for them.
We congratulate Tan for that part where he turned himself particularly—by demonstrating the unbreakable line between grit and graduation—an inspiration.