Pint-sized CTU cum laude grad overcomes giant struggles to top teachers board

Photo by Mike T. Limpag
Photo by Mike T. Limpag

MOALBOAL -- Life has not been kind to Chabelita Gallarde-Incipido, so when she learned that she had placed eighth in the recent Licensure Exam for Teachers, the eldest daughter of trisikad driver Roger experienced a flashback to everything she had to go through.

"This is it, Lord," she recalled in Cebuano.

"This is why you made me go through all those trials," she added.

The 23-year-old graduate of Cebu Technological University (CTU)-Moalboal Campus Bachelor in Elementary Education has already had enough experiences to last a lifetime or two.

"We had no permanent home. I remember growing up that we would be shuffled off to our relatives houses while our father was in Manila," she said.

She attended CTU for her senior year of high school after completing her junior year at San Juan High School.

She then entertained thoughts of taking up college in Cebu City, but her family’s financial status prevented her from doing so.

So, she decided to try her luck at taking elementary education at CTU.

"I was inspired by some of my teachers to take up education," she said, while quipping, "with my height, I'm suited for elementary education."

At 4-foot-8, she'd barely stand over her students but her small frame belies the strength that allowed her to survive the one-two punch that life dealt her during the pandemic.

Due to lack of funds, she found it impossible to buy the necessary technology for the program as classes moved online.

Her father and sisters Christine and Vivian were also unable to provide for her needs due to the lockdown, .

"Isang kahig, isang tuka mi. Unsa makita sa akong papa, mao among gastuon. Pero pag pandemic, nabuhi mi sa mga hinabang (We are one scratch, one peck. We spend what my dad earns. But during the pandemic, we relied for support)," she said.

They made it through, and her grades didn't suffer.

But she still had a life to live.

After her defense, she received a call about yet another issue, and since she was already coping with the stress of graduation and financial difficulties, she fell.

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.

She wished for it and prayed for it but not for the glory that would accompany it, but seeing the lives of those who topped the board changed for the better.

And she wanted that transformation for her family, especially for her hard-working father.

"I asked the Lord to make me understand why He was making me go through all these trials," she said.

She also received a few favors, graduating with a Cum Laude and taking first place in her class, only 0.08 points away from being a Magna Cum Laude.

She was offered a scholarship during her conversation with Dr. Bien Gurrea, the Carl Balita Review Center franchisee in Cebu, who also predicted that she would be the next topnotcher.

In order to ensure that her father is acknowledged, Chabelita Gallarde writes Chabelita Gallarde-Incipido as her name on official documents.

She prayed to be a topnotcher and even adopted the traditions of topnotchers, down to the color of the clothes they had to wear during the exam and even downloading the study keywords that they used in their review.

She did all that only to have a dreadful experience during the licensure exam last March at the Cebu Institute of Technology.

She was feverish and was sweating a lot, and even had snot fall into the test paper.

“It was a good thing it didn’t end up on the answer sheet,” she remarked.

Because of the expanded coverage, she had concerns prior to the examinations. She was already anxious from her experience on D-Day, so she decided to become an ESL teacher to help her forget about the outcome.

She knew she had passed when her phone began to vibrate in the middle of the lesson.

“No one will message you if you failed, right?”

The messages kept coming, then a call.

She told her class that she had to take it. Then someone told her, “You are no. 8!” “Are you sure? Check the name!,” she replied.

Then all the emotions hit her. All the struggles from all those years that she had to grab a co-teacher came rushing back.

What also came back was an inkling of a prayer that would be answered.

The typo she found was in the 13th item, her birthday, a superscript No. 8 that should have come after the 13th item but came before. She was praying to be a topnotcher and looking over the keywords of one topnotcher when she discovered it.

“Imong gi-tinuod Lord, imo kong gi-number 8!.” And the first to receive her call was her father.

She told him, this is the moment when our lives would change.

Her father simply told her, “Gitubag gyud ang imong pag-ampo (Your prayer is indeed answered).”

Her next dream?

To fulfill a desire she had since she was a child growing up in other people's homes—to construct a home for her family.

She concluded by saying, “Mao gyud na akong pangandoy, nga maka-pahimu’g balay namo ni Papa nga para gyud sa amoa (That's really my dream, to be able to build a house for me and Dad that is for us).”


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