Dreams live on for ‘little teacher’ #28StoriesofGiving
Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento (The Philippine Star) - July 14, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Yolanda. The name alone brings countless tales of devastation that have been told and retold. When it hit – the world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall – it left death and disaster in its wake in wide swaths of central Philippines.

Ten-year-old Beverlyn Estonio, who like many others in the Visayas describes the typhoon as her worst nightmare, lost her home to Yolanda.

“I really thought it was the end of the world,” she recalls.

Heeding advice from disaster coordinators, she and her family had evacuated to her grandmother’s place for fear that their little house by the seashore would be washed out. This was two days before the super storm.

When Yolanda struck, true to their apprehension, their humble abode that had just been newly refurbished a year before was ravaged along with other sturdier structures that had no chance against Yolanda’s howling winds and torrential rains.

“I cried, thinking of our home that my parents had worked hard for,” she reminisced.

Her father, Berwin, works as a fisherman. He used to have a boat and net but lost them when super typhoon Yolanda battered the Visayas region seven months ago. Nowadays, he borrows a fishing boat and equipment from his brother and his friends to earn a living.

Ferline, her mother, is a housewife. She sells cell phone load to augment the family income. Beverlyn has a 14-year-old stepbrother, Alfred, and an eight-year-old younger sister named Babyline.

From the meager income they had, the couple managed to save for a minor renovation to make their home a bit more comfortable. Life for the family was getting better.

And then, Yolanda battered the Visayas.

For days, all the family could do was scavenge for food being carried away by the floods.

Beverlyn was old enough to understand that her family had indeed lost everything.

“I had forgotten how to smile,” she says.

But her mother’s words provided a balm of relief: “You are more important to me than material possessions,” she told her children. Beverlyn then uttered a prayer and thanked Divine Providence that her family was safe.

Days after the typhoon, she went back to school to check on their classrooms. She had one memento from her pre-Yolanda days: her school uniform, which she managed to save during the height of the unforgiving storm.

Together with friends, Beverlyn volunteered to clean the school, or whatever was left of it.

These days she is back as a consistent honor student of Legaspi Elementary School in Marabut, Samar - a school chosen by The Philippine STAR as a beneficiary of its adopt-a-school program and rebuilt in time for the new school year to help students pick up the pieces of their lives disrupted by Yolanda’s fury.

Beverlyn isn’t letting the opportunity go to waste.

Often called the “little teacher” - sweet and loved by all - she has been described as too small for her age and too young for her wisdom. Like most students her age, she dreams of becoming a teacher someday.

“I want to handle Grade 3,” she says.

While she is an achiever in school, she makes sure that her classmates are not left behind. When she accomplishes her tasks, she goes to classmates who have difficulty reading, and diligently teaches them. Beverlyn’s former class adviser and current English teacher Averyll Marie Caubalejo attests to her leadership skills.

“She leads the class but is not the bossy type. Her classmates follow her. Yes, she is small and strict but she earns their respect,” she said.

“She’s also very inquisitive and is willing to learn. She follows instructions and always volunteers. She is quite an achiever,” Caubalejo added.

Despite the family’s circumstances, Beverlyn hopes to continue being able to study and to graduate as class valedictorian. She is hoping to study at Osmeña National High School after graduation and to eventually pursue college in Tacloban City as a scholar.

She also encourages her own classmates to graduate with flying colors and to achieve their goals in life.

“Education is important for kids like me,” she continues.

Her teacher, Averyll, foresees her top student becoming a professional in the future.

“Maybe she could be one of us. I am willing to be her mentor,” she said.

With her consistently outstanding academic performance in class, her parents are confident that Beverlyn will deliver the valedictory address when she graduates. They also assure their daughter of their unconditional love and support in making her aspirations a reality despite their financial challenges.

Meanwhile, since the family is still temporarily staying with their grandmother, Beverlyn prays that their house will soon be repaired. They have yet to receive any donation or housing materials from the government.

She admits that she still feels fear whenever it rains, but Beverlyn continues to be strong with her family and remains determined to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher someday.

For the “little teacher” with big dreams, a better future awaits, one day at a time.

(Editor’s Note: The Philippine STAR’s #28StoriesOfGiving is a campaign that turns the spotlight on 28 inspiring stories of people and organizations who devote their lives to helping themselves or others. Everyone is encouraged to post or “tweet” a message of support with the hashtag, #28StoriesOfGiving. For every post, P5.00 will be added to The STAR’s existing ‘give back’ anniversary fund. For comments and suggestions to #28storiesofgiving, email contactus@philstar.com.ph follow @philippinestar on Twitter or visit The Philippine Star’s page on Facebook.)


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