The Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) and the Board for Professional Teachers (BPT) announced that 34,010 secondary teachers out of 81,463 examinees (41.75%) successfully passed the September 2015 Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (BLEPT).
Iah Bantang Seraspi, 21, daughter of a fisherman and a Cum Laude graduate of Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED) major in Biological Science from Romblon State University Main Campus in Odiongan, Romblon placed second obtaining an average rating of 90.00 and made history as the very first BSED graduate of the University to land as a BLEPT topnotcher.
BLEPT rating for the secondary level is a composite of three subjects namely general education (20%), professional education (40%) and major subject (40%) where Seraspi scored 92, 88 and 91, respectively.
AN OVERWHELMING REWARD
“Passing the BLEPT is a blessing, topping it is a reward,” said Seraspi during the Testimonial Dinner on December 12 in honor of the new teachers of the University and in celebration of her glorious feat.
As a consistent honor student in elementary and high school, Seraspi aimed and worked hard to graduate with three-worded Latin honors in her name to recompense for the sacrifices of the people who helped her send to school, until she unexpectedly received a grade that disqualified her from vying for those honors.
“I was really broken. It shattered my dreams into pieces. But that same grade gave birth to another dream, to top the Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers!”
As she recollected that unfortunate experience, she emotionally sighed, “The dream I conceived in tears is now the same dream that is giving me tears of joy. This is really life-changing!”
She firmly believed that that fateful incident was God’s way of teaching her the value of forgiveness and of pushing her to be better, to do better and to find a new source of motivation.
BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS
Knowing that her new found goal was too big for her, Seraspi conditioned herself that it would demand a lot of sacrifices.
Immediately after graduation she did not accept any job offers but rather prepared a study plan to apportion her time to the different subject areas to be reviewed and whole heartedly committed her heart and soul to her target.
“I secretly wrote in my notebook these words: Goal: To top the BLEPT; Deadline: September 27, 2015. This is to remind me everyday that I have a goal to meet and to avoid procrastinating.”
She was already in Odiongan a month prior to the formal review classes doing a surface review, but when the diagnostic exams were already administered, she became anxious and challenged.
“I felt that I have so much to learn yet. Our formal review class was from five to nine. But only after that the real review for me has just began. The first thing I did upon arriving home is to read a book and that would also be the last thing on my hand before I sleep. There was never a day that I did not read books, even during my birthday and other special occasions. Even if I was using my phone, I was reading the review materials I downloaded from different sites. Whenever I was signed in facebook, I participated in on-line reviews.”
Herself-imposed review protocols became more intensive as the examination was fast approaching where night normally ended at the wee small hours. All these deprived her of enough sleep and many social activities. During the final pre-board, she felt she could not make it yet so she stretched further to great lengths, went the extra mile and stopped at nothing.
“I was able to read a total of 10 books from cover to cover excluding the hand-outs and materials I downloaded from different sites. I just can’t help but admire the capacity of my brains to absorb information even if it’s already supersaturated and despite uncomfortable condition. It was an extraordinary power unlocked only when the review demanded for it.”
FAITH AND PRAYERS
Seraspi was quick in attributing her success, which caused a stir in the academe and in the local FB pages, to God.
“During the examination, I really felt that God’s favor was upon me. I was so relaxed. It seemed that the examination was made for me. Truly, if we pray, God works.”
She also recounted the perfect moment when she learned of the BLEPT results.
“The time BLEPT results came out, I was performing a song number on stage in a large gathering of the faithful in the town of Odiongan. We were singing, ‘The Best Time of my Life.’ After the performance, I received a call informing me of the good news. It was more than my mind can conceive. Indeed, that was the best time of my life.”
She also mentioned of bargaining something with God.
“I am aware that topping the BLEPT comes with a cash prize. So in silence, I asked God that if He would make me a topnotcher, I would buy our church, Joshua Generation, an LCD projector out of the pot money I will receive.”
THE ACHIEVER AND THE PHILANTROPISTS
Seraspi is the eldest among the three children of Miguel RoaSeraspi, a fisherman and Susan Francisco Bantang, a plain housewife, both natives of Poblacion, Looc, Romblon.
She attended Looc Central Elementary School where she was a consistent honor pupil and finished as Class Salutatorian. She was the top qualifier in the special science class of Looc National High School, was consistent first honors and eventually graduated as Class Valedictorian.
“Many people were telling me back in my elementary grades that I was good. But I was wondering why I never became first honors. So when I was in high school, my elementary teacher introduced me to a generous benefactor, Ma’m Nieves Fiel-Alvarez, who unselfishly supported me and made my participation inmany extra-curricular activities possible.
One major reason, why I graduated on top of my high school class.”
Despite being an UPCAT qualifier, Seraspi chose Romblon State University because she believed that meeting the daily grinds at UP was something her family can bite off more than they could chew.
“Many knew how poor we are but not everybody will understand how it feels to be one. There are many worries. There are many doubts. There are many uncertainties. There are many ‘what ifs?’. So I chose the safest decision – to find my fortune here at RSU.”
After enrolling at RSU, a friend introduced her to the Esquejos of Looc who traced that Seraspi’s great grandmother was actually the family’s long time tenant of whom they never had a chance of helping back before she died. In return, the family pledged of helping Seraspi with her college education.
“It was Ate Deborah who sent me to college but the rest of the family treat me as if I were their little sister. They made my study in college more comfortable.”
Seraspi drew strength from the poverty she was born to and the harrowing experiences she had been through – from malnutrition, to the flood that almost took their everything, to the endless dark nights, and to their house which now stands on its last leg.
Towards the end of her speech during the Testimonial Dinner, the audience were almost reduced into tears as Seraspi bared more of her life to everyone’s surprise.
“I came from a poor family. I am not telling you this to humiliate my family nor to get your sympathy. I just want you to realize how blessed you are if you were able to live a life better than mine. Since I started schooling, feeling ko mayaman na kami kapag nakapag-ulam akong noodles sa agahan kasi usually ang ulam ko ay chichiria, kape, asin, asukal o kahit ano basta lang may lasa ang aming kanin. Imagine the nutrition I get from those foods yet I am an achiever in school. Di naman nila makikita ang laman ng tiyan ko but they will definitely see the capacity of my brains.”
“Siguro hindi rin kayo maniniwala kung sasabihin ko na, I was already 21 years old when we had electricity in our house. Literally speaking, I was really burning the midnight lamp for how many years of studying my lessons kaya napakapalad ninyo kung ipinanganak kayo na may liwanag na ang buhay. Napakahirap po talaga. So, make the most out of it to improve your education.
Seraspi thanked all her teachers from elementary to College, her friends, coaches, classmates, churchmates and the Carl Balita Review Center. She particularly took a stand on those who are doubting the quality of education the University provides.
“Never think that just because we study at Romblon State University, we have no advantage over prestigious schools. If you have doubts on the quality of education you are receiving, fix your mind on our University vision, RSU as a premiere institution of higher education in the MIMAROPA Region for a globally competitive province of Romblon.”
She also shared tips to those who are aiming to be the next topnotchers.
“Commit yourself and be ready to sacrifice. Have a strong motivation be it intrinsic or extrinsic. Try to bargain with God. Yes, He blesses us fairly without expecting somethingin return but He knows the intentions of our minds and the desires of our hearts.”
“And most of all, never doubt the power of prayers. God answers big time!”