Family Matters | Success of one, success of all

IT had been five years when Jessibel Kilam stepped into our house. A very quiet girl about 17 years old from the mountain tribe of Kiblawan. She came to stay in our house being the niece of our house help. Something about her determined look made us engage to know her better. Her grandfather was the chieftain of the Blaan Tribe. We learned so much about her people that knowing her made us know them as well. When she goes home, she sees to it that she has something for her neighbors, even just a piece of bread as long as they gather together and know how she was in the city. Initially, we thought that it would be good to save some for herself and need not buy so much for them. But later, we realized that we could be stepping on something cultural.

After some few months, we agreed that she should attend college since her drive to finish her schooling was strong. We tried to get IP scholarship from the University of Mindanao which to our relief was granted. A big amount was lifted from her shoulders as long as she maintains a certain grade until she graduates. Naturally, she could not keep up to be a full time student because of limited resources. But she diligently made sure that her studies were her priorities. She made sure that her obligations to her IP group in college as a requirement were not compromised. Her subjects in HRM, her chosen college degree slowly took shape as she tried to apply all that she learned at home as she baked for orders and cooking on other occasions. Last year, she had the opportunity to do her tribal dance in Baguio City, when she was invited to represent Mindanao in front of the City’s Mayor and Congressmen in a gathering of Most Outstanding Citizens of Baguio City.

On April 24 of this year, finally Belle, as we fondly called her culminated her years of hard work in her studies as she marched to receive her diploma. But behind all the preparations were her relatives and neighbors who contributed and raised for her graduation. Her mother came to the house to replace her obligations from us as she prepared for her OJT and graduation requirements. Although there were not too many graduates from their tribe, but Belle made it! On that afternoon during the graduation rights, she wore her traditional tribal costume with pride. Her relatives and neighbors waited somewhere celebrating her success as the success of Belle is their own pride and success as well.

Posted in Opinion