DAVAO CITY – A survivor of the Roxas night market bombing in Davao City accepted his college diploma on Saturday, in a step forward from the trauma of a terror attack.
Steven Raeyan Tagadaya graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the Ateneo de Davao University on April 1. He attended graduation rites despite difficulty in walking.
Tagadaya and his sister Sheena were getting a massage at the Roxas night market in September last year, when a bomb exploded. Shrapnel hit his left leg and liver. His sister's spine was injured.
Tagadaya was hospitalized for 54 days, and underwent six operations.
His injuries did not hinder him from finishing his studies. He is now preparing for the accountancy board examinations in October.
According to Tagadaya, his classmates also helped him when he was having difficulties in school.
"Tinutulungan po ako ng mga classmates ko sa school work, tapos nahihirapan ako maglakad kaya nag-aassist sila sa akin. Despite what happened, kailangan ko magpursige para sa pamilya ko," Steven said.
His family also inspired him to work hard, he said.
"Just don't let the circumstances that you are facing define what you can and cannot do. Believe in yourself and have faith in God," he said.
His father, Roy, a police officer, retired early to take care of his children.
"Mixed emotions kasi andun na kami sa finish line…sabi ko sa kanila, hindi tayo mayaman, tanging mapapamana namin sa inyo ay makapagtapos ng pag-aaral," Roy said.
According to Paul Medina, the head of the Ateneo de Davao University accountancy program, Tagadaya did his best to pursue his studies while undergoing treatment for his injuries.
"Hindi siya naging pabaya ever since…desidido si Steven na makatapos at ga-graduate na kasabay iyong mga ka-batch nya. In the second semester, he underwent surgical operations…so siyempre iyung anesthesia…iyung struggle ni Steven on how to retain the lesson, hindi siya pinanghinaan ng loob," Medina said.
Meanwhile, Steven's sister Sheena said she plans to study at home, because she wants to finish college like her brother.
"May plano na ipa-home school ako para maka-cope sa studies, mag-focus lang ako sa recovery ko and hopefully ‘pag fully recovered na ako, pwede na ako magbalik sa school," she said.
The Tadaya family thanked the Davao City government and President Rodrigo Duterte for help and financial support for the medication and therapy of the siblings.