THE ANNOUNCEMENT of the recent results of the Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (BLEPT) highlighted many stories of triumph and determination. Among both the lucky and deserving passers, an exceptional individual stood out and she is Ms. Cyril B. Bergado, an alumna and pioneer of the General Academics Strand Class 2018 of the Baybay City Senior High School.

Despite living with visual impairment since she was in Grade 4, Ms. Bergado’s unwavering ambition to become a teacher shines brighter than the darkest obstacles she has faced.

Hailing from Mahaplag, Leyte, Ms. Bergado once again faced yet another hurdle during her review for the BLEPT, that is, the slow internet connection in her municipality.

To overcome this obstacle, she temporarily relocated to Maasin City, where she could access high-speed internet connection. Additionally, she and her cousins held additional review sessions to ensure they fully mastered the concepts.

Ms. Bergado skillfully utilized assistive technology, such as the Talkback Application on her mobile phone and the Nonvisual Desktop Access (NVDA) on her laptop. These screen readers enabled her to use her devices effectively by converting visual information into speech, providing her with the necessary tools for her college studies and BLEPT review.

During the board examination, Ms. Bergado had a separate examination room from other applicants. She took the examination at the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Tacloban Office, accompanied by her very supportive mother. The PRC provided her with a proctor who read the questions and shaded the answer sheet on her behalf. To ensure the integrity of the examination, a recording gadget was set up in the room.

Ms. Bergado received no special treatment in terms of time, as she was allotted the same time limit as other examinees.

Expressing immense gratitude, Ms. Bergado acknowledged the support she received from those around her. She attributes her success to her unwavering faith in God and the continuous guidance and blessings she has received. Ms. Bergado also expressed her heartfelt appreciation to her family, who stood by her side from the moment she lost her eyesight until she passed the BLEPT. She acknowledges the invaluable contributions of her teachers, from elementary school through college, for shaping her into the strong woman she is today.

Financial and spiritual support, meanwhile, came from Mrs. Riza S. Lopez, as well as a group of Filipino called Sinulog Group based in the United States. This group’s mission is to support Filipino students with disabilities, providing much-needed assistance to Ms. Bergado.

When she lost her eyesight, Ms. Bergado was introduced to Resources for the Blind Incorporated (RBI), an organization that taught and trained teachers in Mahaplag to teach the Braille system of reading and writing for the blind. After two years, she transferred to Baybay City SPED Center, where she studied for a year before being enrolled back into regular classes. Additionally, she participated in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) twice, enabling her to accelerate from junior high school to senior high school and became a classmate of her brother.

To further enhance her skills in technology, Ms. Bergado enrolled in a computer training program at Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) in Manila.

Throughout her college journey, Ms. Bergado received assistance from the Cebu Braille Center, conveniently located at Cebu Normal University. The center provided SPED teachers who transcribed Braille outputs and offered support during major examinations. Resources for the Blind, Inc. (RBI), a Christian non-governmental organization, played a significant role in providing services, training, materials, and equipment for vision treatment across the Philippines.

Ms. Bergado’s ultimate dream is to inspire students to relentlessly pursue their dreams, regardless of the size or magnitude of their problems. She wishes to be an inspiration not only to individuals with disabilities but also to those who have encountered similar situations in their lives.

Currently seeking employment to support her parents, Ms. Bergado also has her eyes set on pursuing a master’s degree for personal and career growth. By Rolex Gelig (EV Mail May 22-28, 2023 issue)