By Janessa Costillas & Aeryka Jurienne Dimaclid

CNU Communication Interns

NEW graduate Margie Pasay had to cross a river every day to attend classes in the Tagba-o National High School, in the mountain barangay of Tagba-o, Cebu City, located 35 kilometers from the urban center.

Zielvestra Añora, 15, is a graduate of the First High School for the Hearing-Impaired in Barangay Basak Pardo.

Pasay and Añora never succumbed to their education challenges; instead, they worked harder to be on top.

They are just two of the 241 valedictorians in Cebu City's elementary and high schools awarded with the Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. prizes for academic excellence.

“I'm so happy to receive this award because it makes all my struggles worth it,” said Pasay.

Añora said she worked hard to compete with the achievements of her sister.

Hard work

The award was given by the Cebu City Government and the Department of Education (DepEd) at the Mariner's Court yesterday.

“It would be hard work, a lot of sacrifice and determination to reach this level because only the winner takes it all,” said DepEd Assistant City Schools Division Superintendent Danilo G. Gudelosao.

Tara Ysabel Datan, an elementary graduate from Golden Success College Inc., said that she was bullied in school but that didn’t stop her from achieving her dreams.

She said that her parents and her teachers are her role models.


Xavieur Jomar Plaza, on the other hand, never thought he'd get such award after failing to crack the honor roll during his first four years in grade school.

“Grades one to four, effort kaayo ko unya wa man gyud ko nada, ni-accept nalang ko. Unya pag grade five naka-ingon ko nga dapat grabi akong effort nga bisag sa elementary life nako gusto ko naa koy madawat (From grades one to four, I worked so hard but it was never enough so I accepted that. But in fifth grade, I told myself to exert more effort so that I will get an award when I graduate from elementary),” Plaza, a valedictorian from the Cebu City Central School, said.

During his speech, Mayor Michael Rama also shared that he graduated valedictorian in grade school despite some challenges.

In high school, Rama said he worked as a help in a poultry and piggery. But he never complained.

“I went to law school in San Beda in Manila while selling RTW (ready-to-wear clothes),” he said.

Despite his achievements, Rama said he never forgot his past, and hopes that the recipients of the academic excellence award will do the same.

“If you reach tomorrow, please go back to where you come from,” added Rama.