By KERRY TINGA
Among the immeasurable losses in this health crisis is the foregoing of celebrations for major milestones in our lives. It may seem like something small in the grand scheme of things, but the emotions young people have over their lack of proper graduation ceremonies are valid. Once-in-a-lifetime moments have come and gone with no ceremony, and their parents and their community also feel a sense of loss and frustration.
At least the students in Cauayan City in Isabela were given a graduation ceremony, even if it was not what they would have thought it would be like if you had asked them two months ago. But hey, it is something interesting they could tell their children one day!
Mayor Bernard Dy told Manila Bulletin Lifestyle that the mobile graduation was an initiative of the Cauayan City Division Office, headed by Schools Division Superintended Fred Gumaru.
“It was intended to give the students in the far-flung barangays the experience of having a graduation,” says the mayor, proud of the hard work, creativity, and camaraderie of the people of Cauayan City even in the middle of this health crisis.
The improvised graduation stage was conducted on an elf truck that went from house to house, visiting each of the graduating students. Following protocols, the students would be given sanitizer before they individually went on the mobile stage, and everyone was required to wear masks and practice social distancing. In front of their homes and their families, the Class of 2020 was finally able to pose for their graduation photo.
“Unusual awarding but same emotions,” wrote one netizen who posted photos of the mobile graduation of his alma mater Cauayan East Central School. Marvin Tuquib Alicaycay, whose photographic documentation of the unique event has now gone viral, was amazed.
“Masaya po (It was fun),” Marvin recounts. “Pinapakita ng [School Divisions Office] SDO ng lungsod ng Cauayan kung gaana sila ka-creative and ka-galing mag-isip ng kakaibang pamamaraan para sa pagtatapos ng mga mag-aaral (The SDO of Cauayan City demonstrated how creative and talented they are in thinking of a unique way for the graduating students).”
Maybe it wasn’t their dream graduation, according to Marvin. “But they should be thankful that they experienced the mobile graduation ceremony,” he said. “The school authorities were able to think of a new solution to provide a wonderful and unforgettable experience for them to move to the next step.”
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on the student you ask), the mobile graduation meant that the students did not get the full graduation ceremony experience, including listening to speeches from their fellow students or a commencement speaker.
So we asked their city mayor for some words of advice to the Batch of 2020, anywhere they are in the world, in lieu of the long-winded addresses students would ordinarily sit through.
“During this time of uncertainty, we still give great importance to the milestone in everyone’s life. It’s not just for the students but parents as well,” says Mayor Bernard Dy. “I encourage the graduates to use this pandemic as an inspiration to be better citizens. Let this be your motivation to create positive change in your community, starting from your own homes. Congratulations and good luck on your journey!”