How a graduation photo inspired thousands

When a young man posted a graduation photo taken by his parents' grave on Facebook, he only hoped to show the world how much he loved his late father and mother.

The photo, which showed Kevin Villanueva, 21, wearing a toga, was captioned: "Akala nyu kayo lang ang may picture kasama parents nyu ha :)) (So you think you're the only ones with graduation photos with your parents?)"

"pero ma pa this is for the both of you i hope that you are proud of me :))," the caption further read.

Little did Villanueva know that thousands of shares and likes later, he would be the one overwhelmed with touching and inspiring messages and expressions of support.

"Sobrang thankful ako sa maraming taong nagpaabot ng message nila sa akin online (I'm thankful to those who extended their messages online)," Villanueva said in a phone interview.

He even added that his friends think the widespread reaction to the photo he posted was his parents' way of showing him their love.

Related story: Education, not wealth, makes you richer, business tycoon says

Villanueva was 10 years old when he lost his mother, who took her own life after a series of nervous breakdowns.

His father died due to cardiac arrest in 2009, when Villanueva was an information technology freshman in Colegio San Juan de Letran Manila.

"At first it was hard. But as the days passed, I stopped thinking of it as a sad thing," Villanueva told Yahoo! Southeast Asia.

"Instead of thinking of my situation as a burden, I considered it as an inspiration to strive harder," he added.

Villanueva, who said he thought he would have to quit school to work after his dad died, said he owes much to his maternal aunts who supported his studies.

During his first year in college, Villanueva lived with his aunt in Pasig. He transferred to a dormitory near his school on his second year, however.

"The pension I got from my dad paid for the dorm fees, and I lived off the P600 a week I earned while working at my aunt's dance studio in Shangri-La," Villanueva said.

Also read: Student's death sparks education debate

Young Filipinos in difficult circumstances as his, Villanueva said, should never feel desperate or helpless. "Maraming taong handang tumulong (Many are willing to help)," he said.

His aunts, for instance, put other students apart from him through school, Villanueva said, even as he urged needy students to "forget about pride."

Aside from his family, friends were also instrumental in helping him get by, Villanueva said.

He recalled how his friends in the dormitory often offered to share their food or pay for his meals without asking to be repaid.

More than filling his stomach, those simple acts of kindness reassured him that "life was worth living," Villanueva said.

In other news: 'Doomsday' forecasts for state education budget slammed

With a college degree under his belt, Villanueva is determined to move forward and is in fact excited to try "adventurous jobs that are surely out there."

He said he may pursue a career in IT but is also looking inclined to try his luck as an events host, a radio DJ or a music channel VJ.

Villanueva also hinted at giving a singing a shot, even as he remembered how his mother died while he was performing a song at a school program.

"The night before she died, I asked her what song I should sing in school. I don't remember the lyrics but she sang it to me; that was my best memory of her," Villanueva said.

He held on to such memories and resolved to see a better future, Villanueva said, adding that so should other Pinoys in similar situations.

"They should not think that they don't have money and instead build determination to not stay where they are right now," Villanueva said.

"They should not lose hope because, however cliche it may sound, everything happens for a reason," he added.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • 15 wounded in 2 explosions in restive southern Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least 15 people have been wounded in two separate blasts that hit a police camp in a restive southern Philippine province where Muslim militants operate, police said Saturday. …

  • 15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp
    15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp

    Fifteen people including 10 police officers were wounded in an attack on a mosque at police camp on a remote Philippine island long plagued by Islamic militancy, officials said on Saturday. Successive blasts targeted the mosque inside Camp Kasim on the island of Jolo early evening Friday -- an initial grenade attack followed by a bomb explosion less than 10 minutes later that was intended to target police who rushed to the scene, local authorities said. "It seems the (first) explosion was set …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options