Girl graduates high school with honors despite condition

·6 min read

“FIND your light and grab into it. Don’t ever let go of it. Make it your inspiration to continue and don’t make your disability a hindrance.”

Such were beautiful, inspiring words coming from an 18-year-old person with disability (PWD), Shaine Mick Gilig, who graduated high school from the Mambaling Night High School in Cebu City with flying colors.

Shaine said she could not help but reflect on her hard work and sacrifices just to finish high school despite her disability.

Disease

She has what doctors call as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), which according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is “one of a group of disorders that cause damage to the peripheral nerves -- the nerves that transmit information and signals from the brain and spinal cord to and from the rest of the body, as well as sensory information such as touch back to the spinal cord and brain.”

CMT can directly affect the nerves that control the muscles and because longer nerves are affected first, “symptoms usually begin in the feet and lower legs and then can affect the fingers, hands, and arms.” Nearly all cases are inherited, said experts.

In Shaine’s case, the affected parts of her body are her feet.

She said her condition is inherited because her sister and aunt also have it.

"We found out our condition name is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease kay amo auntie nga ing ani pud sa amo sitwasyon sa United States kay nagpacheck up man, then mao na ang gi-pangalan. Kami sa amo igsoon kay wala pa man gyud mi nagpacheck-up og utro," she said.

Her mother, Mary Mica, said that of her father's nine siblings, six have the disease.

She said she has been worried that her two other children would also get the condition.

"Ilahang sakit man gyud kay kalit kalit lang mu apekto sa ilaha. Mao nang nabalaka ko, naa na koy duha ka anak nga naay sakit, dili na lang unta madugngan pa," she said.

Despite her condition, Shaine said she was so happy that her hard work “is not fruitless and that I can make my parents proud of my achievement through their help in supporting me ever since I started going to school.”

She said graduating with honors was also her gift to her parents.

"I am very happy and excited as this is my step forward in helping my parents. I am happy to see my parents proudly walking me onto the stage," she said.

Shaine aspires to be an example and inspiration to younger generation, as she considers education as important especially for the youth.

"Importante gyud mahuman makaskwela hilabi na run panahona nga kinahanglan gyud naa kay educational attainment para makakuha og disente nga trabaho ug sweldo," she said.

Challenges

In her past years, Shaine said she had faced several challenges just like everybody else.

"Ang pinakasakit nga akong kaagi is that time nga sige gyud wala mi makaon lugaw ra tas ning eskwela lang gihapon ko bisag gakutoy pa sa kagutom ang akong tiyan. So akong gipromise sa akong parents na paningkamotan gyud nako malampos sa pag-eskwela aron ma haw-as mi sa kalisud ug dili na gyud mi magutman," she said.

Her parents admitted that they had asked Shaine several times to stop schooling due to financial problem, but the 18-year-old was persistent.

"Proud kaayo ko niya kay naningkamot jud siya og eskwela bisag naglisod na siya’g lakaw... Bisag amo na siyang pug-ngan kay lisod man magpa-eskwela nga wala kay mahatag sa bata pero mueskwela gihapon siya bisag walay baong kwarta o bisag lugaw lang ang kan-on. Proud kaayo kos iyaha. Honor student pa jud since elementary to high school," Mary Mica said.

Shaine also recalled being bullied due to her physical condition.

"My experience in bullying is when I was in elementary. They would constantly look at my appearance and make fun of the way I walk. There was that time that I was just happily playing catch with my seatmate pero gibugaw ko nga dili ko dapat makigdula tungod lagi kay sa akong sitwasyon nga maglisod ko og lakaw. But that time, dili pa grabe ako paglisod sa paglakaw," she added.

Shaine said she continues to experience pain in her feet, especially when walking.

"Dili gyud lalim. Naay time karon high school nako nga makahilak ko sa ka sakit pero tungod kay naa koy supportive parents and classmates nga andam mo tabang nako, nakaya ra. Sometimes if di gyud nako madala ang kasakit, naay schoolmates and classmates nako ang mo alsa sa akoa," she said.

Shaine was also grateful to her uncle who brought a bicycle that she and her father drive every day to school to get her learning modules.

She had to climb the stairs, though, up to the fourth floor where her room is located. But her classmates have helped her bear the pain by helping her climb the stairs to make sure she attend their classes.

Her school adviser, Eleonor M. Ty, said she admires how persistent and resilient Shaine despite her difficulties and the Covid-19 pandemic.

"When we had limited face-to-face classes, our class is on the fourth floor of the building and I was thinking if she can climb the stairs, so I texted her and she said yes I can attend. With the help of her classmates, they guided Shaine to climb up to the fourth floor," Ty said.

Dreams

Now that she was able to finish high school, Shaine wants her parents to decide what course she would be taking in college.

“Ang ilang gipili is that mahimo ko na accountant para naa ra sa office. Dili ra kaayo sige lakaw and barog kay mao man gyud ang weakness nako...Mao akong mama ako gipadesisyon sad kay siya ug ang ako papa wala ka human eskwela, so I want them to feel my success as totally theirs,” she said.

Her mother, Mary Mica, said she wanted her daughter to find a job where she can just sit down so she won’t feel pain on her feet.

Aside from finding a job for herself, Shaine said she wanted to build a shop for her mechanic father, Ramel Ortega.

Ramel said he is very proud of his daughter.

"Nalipay ko nga ang akong anak kay naay panglantaw sa kinabuhi. Unta mahimo na namo puhon," he said.

Message

Shaine thanked her parents, teachers and classmates for their unending support.

"Message nako ni mama and papa is salamat sa tanang sakripisyo nila ug wala gyud ko nila paundanga bisan unsa pa kalisod sa amo kahimtang. Akong mapapromise nila is ako gyud suklian ang tanan ila gibuhat para namo," she said.

"I want to say my heartfelt thanks to all the teachers, classmates, schoolmates and friends ila bi na nila Kate, ate Jenny, Decime og Queenee sa walay hunong nga pagtabang kada adto nako sa eskwelahan. Sa mga teachers nga dili gyud mi pasagdan kami duha sa ako ate samtang nag-eskwela," she added.

To fellow PWDs, Shaine urged them to keep on fighting and not to lose hope.

“I believe God made us into this because He has a purpose on why we are like this and that is our mission, to find that purpose and don't ever lose hope,” she said. (Ryan Megabon and Irish Delima, CNU interns)

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