LET 4th placer: Repairman, factory worker, call center agent
CEBU CITY, Philippines – One moment on Thursday, May 20, Allan Rey Cagadas was doing the laundry; the next, he was crying.
Results of the recent board examination for teachers released that day showed him placing 4th. He got an average of 89.90 in the March 2016 Licensure Examination for Teachers Elementary Level.
"I wasn't expecting they were going to release the results that day, I was alone at home doing laundry," he said. "Afterwards, my sister-in-law sent me a text congratulating me that I passed the examinations. At that point, I didn't know that I was in the top ten. So I went online to check the results. Then I saw my name in the 4th place. I scrolled up and down making sure, it was really my name. It was overwhelming. I was ecstatic."
It's been a long way for this 31-year-old, who started out as repairman in his native Valencia town in Bohol.
Cagadas is a graduate of Bohol State University with a degree in industrial technology. He majored in electronics technology. In his early years, he worked as a repairman fixing televisions and other appliances in his area. He then sought greener pastures and moved to Cebu City, working in a factory before becoming a call center agent in a BPO company, where he stayed for 8 years.
His colleagues encouraged Cagadas to become a teacher because of his ability to comprehensively explain work-related concerns.
"I thought, hey, why not make a career out of it? Why not try teaching? Besides, I like to interact and deal with kids also," Cagadas said.
In the summer of 2013, Cagadas enrolled in course in elementary education in Southwestern University in Cebu City. He had to stop working to focus on his studies. His savings from his previous jobs helped him fund his education along with the support of his wife. He graduated in October 2015.
Upon learning of the results, he called his wife of 3 years, Jea Lourd Riancho, who also just recently passed the board exam for certified public accountants in May. He tried pulling a prank on his wife and told her he wasn’t able to pass.
On the day of the examination, Cagadas, accompanied by his wife, was at the exam venue by 4:30 am. The nearly three-hour wait for the exam gave him and his wife a time to talk. "She always sees the positive side of all things even when bad things happen. She's very optimistic while I'm more pessimistic."
"I was so nervous. My hands were shaking. I couldn't write well. But I kept telling myself, 'You can do this. You've prepared for this, and God is with you.' That boosted my confidence.... Big part gyud ang tabang sa Ginoo. Blessing na gyud na ang pag-pasar, ang pag-top is a grace from God na gyud... Last Christmas, I completed all the dawn masses, usa sa akong gipangayu is 'Lord, mayta'g makapasar ko's exam pero mas lami gyud kung mo-top, Lord," said Cagadas.
(God's help was a big part. To pass is already a blessing, but to top [the exams], it's a grace from God. Last Christmas, I completed the dawn masses, asking for one thing, "Lord, please let me pass the exam, but it'd be better if I top it.")
Cagadas strongly believes that God has always been with him. He and his wife were in Bohol when a magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck the region on October 15, 2013. Though their houses were destroyed, they were able to survive the catastrophe and move on through God's grace.
Cagadas also thank his much younger classmates. He shared that it was tough being classmates with younger people.
"Murag ma-challenge ko nga ako tiguwang ko unya mauwaw ko ba nga I would perform poorly in class. I tried my best to do well. That's one of the things that helped me top the exams," he said. (My challenge was, considering that I'm old, it would be a shame if I'd perform poorly in class.)
Cagadas' classmates described him as very humble, helpful and as the "best Kuya (big brother) ever."
Dr Deletah Polinar, dean of the College of Education, expected Cagadas to top the exams, as he was a diligent student. She said that the university plans to reward Cagadas with a cash incentive.
"He's very humble, very diligent, all the positives are on him. He was doing well in school, especially in the reviews. I expected him to be in the top 10," the dean said.
Cagadas said the achievement was not his alone, crediting his mentors: "I was merely transcribing what all of them taught me. Of course, my family who's always been there for me."
"It's just one chapter, the board exam," he said. "But for now, I'm taking time off with my wife and focus on having a child. We've been waiting long to have one."
He plans to apply at a public school within the city.
Cagadas has a message for people of the same age or older who still want to become a teacher, "Age is just a number. Everything is possible as long as you put 100% in it. It's a combination of dedication, hardwork, prayers gyud dili na dapat mawala (never forget to pray)." – Rappler.com