Diego shifts uncontrollably in the bamboo made seat, as he anxiously watches the cellphone battery blinking red. He is in a middle of a class discussion and he didn’t want Ms. Hazel Villa to get mad at him for interrupting the class. Nevertheless, he thought it was better to tell his teacher the truth instead of suddenly going missing from the class. “Ma’am.. I’ll be leaving the class.” Diego said. “Why?” the teacher immediately answered, hoping to get it over with and continue the class. “I.. I need to charge Ma’am”. Ms. Villa scoffed and said, “Then charge”.
Diego gulped nervously and continued on, “Ma’am I need to go downhill and walk for a kilometer to charge, I also need to go now to charge because I still need to make it to my other classes.”. Taken aback, the teacher asked why he was on the mountains. As Diego narrated his story, of how he had to go to a mountain to get better signal in order to attend his online classes, of how many students in Visayas and all over the Philippines were like him, Ms. Villa couldn’t help her tears. She expected the bare minimum from her students, not realizing how her normal is already a privilege that is simply not attainable by others. Her new normal was different from her students’ new normal. Diego’s journey wasn’t composed of likes and dislikes or of fame and followers on social media platforms, like his peers. His journey was in his tracks, creating a blue map of his hope and persistence to push through towards his dreams despite everything. Even though his one step at a time means kilometers of rigorous trek towards the mountains in order to attend his online classes. His online journey was not just a digital journey, it is a story of how adversity pushed resiliency, but resiliency shouldn’t romanticize suffering. While the education system often lacks, all the student’s hardships are often ignored, and it’s only the beginning for students like him.
3RD PLACE – SHORT STORY MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE DIGITAL WORLD
17 years old