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‘THERE MUST ALWAYS BE DECENCY, EVEN IN POVERTY’ by Malu E. Gacuma / July 20, 2017

Yesterday afternoon, my daughters made a gentleman cry.

He heads the Engineering Department at the Provincial Capitol. As my 2nd daughter, Christienne Marie  and I entered their office to sell snacks ( e.g.Oreo Float, Yema Cake and Choco Moist), I was surprised how all of the staff and this gentleman welcomed my daughter with so much warmth and fondness! They looked for my 2 other daughters, Chickie and Claudia,who were in school.

I am so moved that they still remember my children who sold lunch and snacks to them every day way back 2014, when they forcibly quit from school due to monetary constraint, a problem hounding us since their late father had absolutely abandoned us  in 1999.

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2014: At noontime ,Angel and Claudia, with Chickie taking photo, while they were resting at the Bacolod Lagoon after a tiring endeavor.

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December 2001,Manila : Me with my 3 girls then aged 6,4 and 3.

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2014.During their food-selling days as out-of-school youth. They would often rest at the Bacolod Lagoon,adjacent to Provincial Capitol, and take photos of themselves as their past time.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2014: Coming home  at high noon after selling,haggard,tired but still those smiles were there.

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Angel doing her sideline,face-painting,in a birthday party.

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Chickie doing face-painting during Christmas Party.It was a sideline Angel found out and both of them earned from it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left without a choice, as their widowed mother, I opened their young minds that investing their time into selling and being productive will compensate for their lost days in school. It will teach them skills to survive without compromising the virtues and values taught to them. They were so obedient, enthusiastic, open-minded and determined.

They only sold to the employees of the Provincial Capitol, 5 days a week under any weather, with their baskets full of various menus we also cooked. Menus varied from ‘brunch’ to lunch to merienda e.g. Valenciana ( our best seller) , spaghetti, pancit bihon, ginataang monggo with langka, fried fish, chicken adobo, chicken curry, chicken with pineapple,  paksiw na bangus, fried bangus, eggplant torta, picadillo ( another best seller) , pochero, baguio beans and diced potatoes with pork giniling, sandwiches, burgers, banana cake, buko pie, even chicken Arroz Caldo with boiled egg.

We started our day at 2 am, sheer hard work!  We cooked until about 6 am and prepared everything by 8 am. At 9 am they were out to sell and usually came home at noontime, with empty baskets, so tired yet with happy faces! Oftentimes, they would bring extra food for street children they met at the Lagoon.

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2014-One of their selling days.Chickie sharing extra food for the homeless children at the Bacolod Lagoon, something they love to do until now

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2014: Claudia & Chickie, with Angel taking photo,  heading home after making good sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I gave them ‘commissions‘ for their daily income, which they saved and used as their fares and needs on Saturdays,when they studied for 10 months under Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) program for their acceleration to college.

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2014: The children’s very first ‘commission’ after bringing home empty food baskets on their 1st selling day!They took photo of it for remembrance!

 

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2014: Some of the ‘brunch’ and snacks they sold



 

 

 

 

 

 

It was timely that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( thru the Bacolod 1st Ward in Galo Street), where we are members, had a partnership that time with the Department of Education. My children were offered to be among the students and they went to  the Galo chapel classes under the tutelage of Mr. Leo Ceralbo, the assigned ALS teacher.

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2015: The children graduating from the Church’s ‘Perpetual Education Fund or PEF Program,which they took up on weekends, simultaneous with the DepEd-ALS program.

 

 

CHIGELAY GRADUATES 2015 - Copy

July 4,2015:
After a few years and an add-on of more 10 months of sacrifice, they finally graduated from high school thru DepEd-ALS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2015: Claudia as youth volunteer of Mormon Helping Hands during the ‘National Day of Service’ of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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2014: The children as youth volunteers for  the Ecological Society of the Phils. (ESP) whose events I organized in Negros.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 2017: Chickie’s recognition from her employer for reaching her 3rd year as regular employee inspite of being a full time student.

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2015: Chickie as youth volunteer for Red Cross

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2017,1st sem: Chickie,an Agri-Business major,here deworming a goat

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2017,1st sem: Angel, as lead actress, here in a scene from their school film titled ‘Hereafter’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning how my children are faring at the University of Saint La Salle these days, and reaching their 3rd majoring year,the Engineering Head suddenly paused in our conversation, then his staff fell in silence.

He was in tears, saying he was so deeply touched by my children’s struggle. He could not contain himself. It was a blessed moment! As we ended our conversation, he gave us a handshake each, which I could feel the respect he wanted to extend.

It pierced through my heart – his sincerity and empathy was insurmountable! Same with the employees around.

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June 2015: My children wearing their University of Saint La Salle uniform for the first time.Here they posed for remembrance.

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2017: Claudia, as current News Editor of The Spectrum ,La Salle’s official media publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2017: My Facebook wall post congratulating Angel being granted a full scholarship as member of La Salle’s Maskara Theater Ensemble

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2016: Claudia as  Bacolod team leader/ reporter for Rappler.Here she was reporting about the elections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Facebook wall post congratulating Chickie for her high grades, despite being a full time employee of Focus Direct call center  and having a 29-unit load in school

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2016 : My Facebook wall post congratulating Claudia for making it to the University of St. La Salle’s Dean’s List

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Manila,2016: Claudia as youth Climate Reality Leader,during Al Gore’s int’l leadership training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The children with their respective sash for being chosen as “DeMolay Chapter Sweetheart” by Int’l Order of deMolay-SVAC.Chickie is the current ‘Sweetheart,2017’.

Of course, needless to say, he also bought the snacks we brought. This time, not out of sympathy but to celebrate the meeting we had with him.

Such will always be a very memorable day for me as a mother.After all the deprivation,humiliation sacrifices and discrimination I had to endure for them, these were all worth it.  It was a moment that made me understand what ‘Lord’s blessings’ truly mean.

This was the unspoken message I have proven from the tears of joy from a good-natured gentleman, who –as a parent himself– shared my views that there must always be decency, even in poverty.*

 

(NOTE:  Originally posted over my Facebook wall  at 7:51 pm, 20,2017 then published thru Negros Daily Bulletin, July 24-25,2017 issue ,page 5, ‘The Diarist: On Love and Life’ column)

(ADDENDUM: The good-natured  Engineering Head’s name is Engr. Erwin Mapa.)

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L-R Christienne Marie, Claudia and Chickie Gancayco

L-R: Christienne Marie (Angel), Christiana Claudia (Clay) and Christa Lou (Chickie) Gacuma Gancayco

 

 

 

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‘A ROLE NOT MINE ALONE’ (A Father’s Day Reflection) by Malu E. Gacuma , June 18, 2017

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As Father’s Day arrived a minute past midnight earlier today, my 3 girls greeted me “Ma, Happy Father’s Day!“, considering I have raised them single-handedly for 18 years now. They see me taking the role of both mother and father not only by provision but even with some physical tasks a father is expected to do, e.g. carpentry, carrying heavy things, staying up and sleepless to guard the house in times of danger , braving the worst of weathers and the threats of some chauvinistic men.

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Some of our countless roles  in life! (Thanks to my eldest daughter, Chickie, for this 2012 collage)

 

 

 

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December 2016- Doing the usual house painting task every Christmas (Thanks to my 2nd daughter, Angel, for this candid shot)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the hardest father’s task to do is coping with the financial demands of raising the children for them to be educated, decent and God-fearing individuals. It is not done with ease but more with pains, sacrifices,self-deprivation and countless tests of faith and endurance.

How many times have I been humiliated for asking assistance from people when there was no last recourse at that moment? How many times have I been subjected to verbal bullying for not being able to cope with deadlines of paying our rent? How many times have I been insulted and debased for trying so hard to cope with the deadlines and demands of the schools? How many kilometers have I walked back and forth, literally, to save every cent that I may be able to go home—as a provider– with food for the table? Countless times. Despite all efforts, it seems like there is always not enough. It takes blind faith to keep going on.

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December 26,2001 in Quezon City : Our 2nd Christmas without their father. With my daughters, Chickie, Angel and Clay ( then aged  6, 4 and 3 yrs old, respectively).

As a once abandoned-then-widowed wife, I may have all the reasons to take pride that today, Father’s Day, I deserve my children’s greetings to validate that I have lived up to the manly role far more better than my husband.

However, that mindset is not what I am instilling to my daughters’ individual character. I always remind them that Father’s Day belongs solely to their late father, Christopher. Regardless of his shortcomings or absolute negligence as he battled his own self when he was alive, he now remains –even in memory– as their father, in essence. Nobody can or must take away that role from him. Not even I. My children got the point.

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For this, I will still, with the least respect due him and his memory, greet him today, “Happy Father’s Day, CTG, wherever you may be.”

And as Father’s Day will end tonight, I can sleep soundly. For a day well-defined and well-remembered. ❤

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‘THE FAMILY THAT LAUGHS TOGETHER…’ by Malu E. Gacuma, May 12, 2017 ( Friday, 11:58 am)

Sometimes, our family conversations can abruptly shift from sensible to insensible or vice-versa, depending on everyone’s mood ,which usually borders to the crazy mode! But it always leaves me dumbfounded with my kids’ surprising lines! Consider these instances:

*(When I suddenly received little surprises from my 3 girls as they arrived home)*

ME: (happily) “Where do you get money to buy all these?
ANGEL (Christienne) : (naughtily) ” Don’t worry,Ma! No matter what happens, our kidneys will always be intact!” (*winks*)   (laughter)
———————@——————

*(Last night, while overhearing Chickie’s song playlist, mostly R&B , all of which are totally unfamiliar to me -both the songs and the artist/s, my curiosity heightened what made her so inclined to such genre)*

ME: ( giving Chickie a quizzical look) ” How do you ever find them? Why do you like those kinds of songs?”
Before she could answer, Claudia butted in:
CLAY: “Ma,don’t worry! Manang Chickie is a girl who is attuned to her own century.”
———————@——————
*(One morning, we overheard Chickie, who is petite with her 5 ft. height, sigh in relief, as she hung some washed clothes on the clothesline at our front yard.)*

ME: (teasingly) “Finally! You reached it! That’s a sign of progress!”
CHICKIE: (replies jubilantly, raises eyebrows) “ Well,that’s easy,Ma! If I can reach my dreams, how much more that simple clothesline? ”

 

See?
To think I just taught these girls their ABCs!!

 

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My daughters Christa Lou ( Chickie), Christienne Marie ( Angel) and Christiana Claudia (Clay) Gacuma Gancayco

 

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(Note: Originally posted on my Facebook wall, 11:58 am May 12,2017 ,Friday)

‘OUR NATION IS GRIEVING’ by Malu E. Gacuma , May 4, 2017 (12:10 pm ,Thursday)

This country we love so much is now grieving.

By not confirming yesterday the staunch environmentalist,  Ms. Gina Lopez , as DENR Secretary, the public servants comprising the Commission on Appointments give more importance to their personal agenda and the vested interest of mining firms in the guise of technicalities and legalities. They disregarded the more important aspects of the ecological hazards now endangering our lives as we near the tipping point.

Super Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath

Scene of devastation after the unprecedented ‘super storm ‘ Yolanda that hit Tacloban in Leyte. (credits to photo owner)

Our nation that we love so much is now grieving,

For the humiliation of our women , our struggling and defenseless single , female parents who are perceived as just being ‘knocked up’, seemingly just like those female dogs on the streets. That’s the debasing perception of a Senator who speaks in haughtiness as he prides himself with all the power and authority vested upon him by the people he is supposed to serve with humility, integrity and utmost respect.

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(photo: abs-cbn news /online)

We are not watching the slow death of our national values being corrupted not only by external influences thru social media, but by errant leaders who are devoid of good breeding and manners

We are now witnessing the victory of corruption, greed, apathy, selfishness and deceit..

While we stand in silence , or choose to stay at the backseat, or sit on the fence, we leave our next generation- our children– to confusion.,

There they are, watching us muted in a corner. What do we do next? How do we fight for our right to live decently? How do we save our environment from abuses?

Why are we standing in silence? Are we helpless lambs being discreetly dragged to the slaughterhouse, in subservience, with our consent?

Are we trying to repeat our nation’s history of being lorded over by the corrupt and the abusive?

Our ancestors shed their blood to save our country and bestowed us our freedom . They were and are heroes !

How should our children consider us then? Should we just keep our silence and as the dawn breaks tomorrow, forget these all happened today?

Then, this nation we love has a good  reason for grieving!

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(photo by Malu E.Gacuma, 2016)

 

 

‘A QUESTION UNANSWERED’ by Malu E. Gacuma (April 17, 2017 / Monday, 3:50 pm)

In 1978,Google or internet was still unknown, I was barely 12 yrs old . One summer day, I was euphoric to have finally outwitted my late father, Dr.Oscar D.Gacuma (a very well-read man of science) when I suddenly asked him:

ME:” Dad, how do you call the shape of the Earth?
DAD: “Simple! It’s round!”
Me (shaking my head) “Nope!Another guess?”
Dad: “Aha! Trying to outsmart me,ha? It’s circle!”
Me: ( this time grinning):“Wrong.Give up?”

The rest of our family started laughing. First time my Dad conceded.

Me:” It’s called OBLATE SPHEROID. Like a dead potato.”.
Dad:(validating) “ Really?! Let’s see. Where did you read that?”
ME: “New Book of Knowledge.” ( I cited the page of that Grolier encyclopedia). The rest of the family teased Dad! 😀

Since then on,Dad would coax me to outwit my uncles or his ‘scholarly’ patients or his ‘nerdy’ buddies. I always won and  took pride!

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My late father, Dr.Oscar D.Gacuma,Sr. in his dental clinic, as Resident Dentist of the Foundation Hospital in Sagay City during the late 1970s to mid-1980s.

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Decades passed. I became a parent. One day, Dad was with us at our sala when my youngest and 4-year-old daughter ,Claudia, suddenly asked me something that floored me down.

Clay: “Mama, why do dogs have whiskers?”
Me: ” Ah…er…” (No answer at hand! Incidentally, I was with Grolier at that time).

••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜

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Me with Clay, who was turning 4 in this photo.

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At the corner of my eye,I saw Dad laughing silently. When our eyes locked, he naughtily winked at me, as if saying: “We’re on the same page now,kid!” And he started explaining to Claudia the answer.

That was the day my wayward pride was put back to its proper place!

Thanks to you, Dad!  I loved you more for that!  

••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜˜”*°°••••°°*”˜

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Claudia, now at 18, reading (her passion) at The Spectrum office of the University of Saint La Salle, where she is currently its News Editor.

‘REMNANT OF HOPE FROM AN EASTER CANDLE’ by Malu E.Gacuma (April 16,2017 @ 9:00 pm , Saturday)

What significance does Easter have in my life? Looking back,during the most tumultuous chapter of my life as a newly- abandoned, jobless wife left to raise 3 young toddlers, how can I forget that evening of 2003?

We were in Manila then but I couldn’t be employed because no one can tend to my children, then aged 7, 5 and 4. So I did sales. Despite all the emotional hurt, I did all best to tackle both parental roles.

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With my 3 children,namely: Christa Lou  (then 7,in blue blouse), Christienne Marie (5, middle) and Christiana Claudia (4) .

One day, due to sheer hard work, I  fainted on the street and got bedridden for days.


Consequentially,as sole provider, it led to unpaid electric bill,so we suffered several nights in the dark. I couldn’t even afford to buy candles! With a storm preempting, I struggled to get up and took my kids to the nearest Church (since I was not with the LDS fold then) and sought help. I needed to protect my children that very evening!

The kindhearted seminarians gave us groceries ( from their own supplies). and candles,among them a big or life-sized EASTER CANDLE! Seeing me pale and thin, they even took us home.

That night, while my children were fast asleep, I stared at their innocent faces.The Easter candle, with all its intricate design in green, yellow-gold and red, kept us company. Its muted presence lorded over the small house where we stayed.

 

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A candlelight in our home in Bacolod City.

It symbolized HOPE! It was a cue from the Lord for me to accept that I was a solo parent already.I did and profusely thanked the Lord for the realization,that it was time to keep the fighting spirit! I spent that night praying,in tears yet in peace, talking to that Easter candle , as if it was the Lord himself!

The next day, I applied for for a job and was immediately hired to work in a radio station. We eventually transferred and the struggle keeps on until now, for a better,more decent life for my children.

But a life that has a semblance of Easter in every passing day.

That Easter candle may have long been gone, but its light of hope will always burn in my heart

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 2017, our family after attending LDS Church Sacrament .

 

‘PANGANGANINAG’ (Reflection), a poem by Christiana Claudia Gacuma Gancayco (at 17 yrs.old, 2016)

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Noong inimulat ko yaring mga mata

Sa mundong ito, aking ninais

Mataglay ang isang panata

Ukol sa buhay na walang hinagpis.

Sa aking murang isipan, isang tanong

Ang laging lumulutang sa ulap

Na parang lambanang ayaw magpakulong

Naghahanap ng kasagutan,

nguni’t  walang makalap.

☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸

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☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸

Tila may kulang na isa

Sa ating pamilya na dapat ay lima

Ang haligi ng tahanan, bakit nawawala?

Nguni’t nananatiling matatag pa rin ang ating pamilya.

☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸

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☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸

Maaring kulang sa paningin ng iba

Nguni’t sa wari ko ay totoong sapat na

Dahil sa iyo, aking Ina, na nagsisilbi na ring ama

Ang loob  ko ay mapayapa.

 

Pinagsanib sa iyong katauhan

Ang giliw ng isang Ina

At tibay ng haligi ng tahanan

Ikaw ay higit na sapat sa tuwina.

gan
Sa gitna ng anumang unos, tapang ang nakikita

Pilit ninyong ipinaglalaban ang nararapat at tama

Ang lambanang tanong sa aking isipan

Ngayo’y nasagot na

at aking pinakawalan.

☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸

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☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸••°°*”˜˜”*°°••☸

(Note: Claudia is  currently a 2nd Year Mass Communications student of  the University of Saint La Salle-Bacolod and the  News Editor  of its official media publication, The Spectrum.

She wrote this poem late 2016  as her tribute to me , a gesture I will cherish eternally. )