MANILA -- (UPDATE) When Kevin Gamboa was only two-and-a-half years old, his parents sat in denial that their fourth son was deaf.
Luisa, Kevin’s mom, said she felt as if her world had collapsed when she learned that her son could not hear.
“Pina-check ko siya sa neuro. Sabi may severe to profound hearing loss,” she added.
(I had him checked with a neurologist who said he had severe to profound hearing loss.)
When Kevin started school, his parents sent him to a private school for the deaf in Manila.
A scholarship and financial assistance from New Zealand got Luisa through a difficult period of sending her son to school.
Luisa had to work in Australia to support her family.
“Naisip ko na i-enroll siya sa Granada Education Foundation sa Maynila. May nag-sponsor sa amin dun na private individuals from New Zealand. Sobrang laki ng tuition doon,” Luisa said.
(I thought of enrolling him at Granada Education Foundation in Manila. Private individuals from New Zealand sponsored us because the tuition was very costly.)
Kevin was eventually transferred to the Hebron Christian College in San Rafael, Bulacan, where he completed his entire elementary and high school education.
In his first few days in high school, Kevin felt disoriented because the school introduced him to a new language — the Filipino language.
Despite struggling, he did well and became a consistent achiever.
He then enrolled at the Deaf Evangelistic Alliance, Inc. School in Cavinti, Laguna for his tertiary education because of its programs for deaf students wanting to become teachers.
In 2015, Kevin graduated with a degree in Elementary Education.
On the same year, Kevin took the Licensure Examination for Teachers or LET but failed. He failed the exam not just once but six times.
He tried again in March 2019 and finally passed. Kevin, now 25 years old, is the only deaf candidate to pass the exam this year.
“Natutulog ako sa baba nun, sa lapag. Narinig ko nalang parang may umuungol. Pag-check ko, 'yung magkapatid nag-iiyakan na. Sabi ng babae ko, Ma, pumasa na si Kevin,” Luisa cried as she recounts the day they found out Kevin passed the LET.
(I was sleeping downstairs. I heard people crying. When I checked, it was the siblings. My daughter said Kevin had passed.)
She added: “Hindi siya talaga gumive up. Pinipilit ko na siyang magtrabaho, pero ayaw niya. Nag-push talaga siya.”
(He really didn't give up. I was telling him to go find work instead, but he refused. He really pushed himself to pass.)
“Talagang nag-research ako sa mga subject na aking ni-review. Kulang ako ng kaalaman, kaya nag-research ako. ...Naranasan kong mabagsak, mag-fail, so ipinagpatuloy ko lang,” Kevin said.
“Ang aking mga magulang at kapatid, natuwa sila sa aking pagkapasa. Sila ang inspirasyon ko,” he added.
(I really researched on the subjects I was reviewing. I experienced failing, but I just pushed on. My family was happy that I passed. They are my inspiration.)
The Philippine Regulatory Commission bared in May a total of 19,659 elementary teachers and 22,271 secondary teachers passed the LET given on March 24.
Only 27.3 percent of the 72,054 elementary teacher-examinees passed the LET.
For secondary teachers, only 25.9 percent of the 85,823 examinees passed the said exam.
The new teachers took their oath in Pasay City on Sunday.
Kevin hopes to land a job as a Special Education teacher in a public school.
He also hopes his story will serve as an inspiration to other individuals with disabilities.
“Sa mga deaf kong katulad, hinahamon ko kayo, huwag kayong susuko, huwag hihinto. Work hard lang and never stop dreaming,” Kevin said.
(To the other deaf people like me, I challenge you not to give up.)
Luisa is likewise hopeful Kevin’s story will serve as an inspiration to those with disabilities.
“May paraan ang Diyos at makakamit mo talaga ang pangarap mo kapag nagpursige ka.”
(God has a way. And you will realize your dreams if you persevere.)