Barbecue vendor’s daughter graduates magna cum laude from IT course

By Aldwin Quitasol

BAGUIO CITY — Cherry Anne Verocil Realina, 19 — who graduated magna cum laude from her information technology (IT) course at the Data Center College of the Philippines — will soon be part of the workforce contributing to the country’s digital transformation.

While Cherry Anne is now riding the wave of the future, she never forgets that it was her mother Marianne’s old-school tenacity that fueled her success. Her mom made sure that she would graduate by selling barbecue. It was what sustained their family after her father Andres died in a freak accident more than seven years ago.

Cherry Anne and her mom Marianne

Andres, a security guard, died in October 2010 after he was pinned down by a pine tree that was uprooted by strong winds brought by a strong typhoon. The falling mature pine tree struck the guard house where Andres was staying at the Busol Watershed of Baguio City.

Andres, a security guard of Interlink Security, was tapped by the Baguio Water District (BWD) to be detailed at the Busol Watershed, which is as one of the top sources of Baguio’s water, servicing Session Road up to Barangay Pacdal.

Seeing the need for volunteers, Andres went beyond the call of duty. For years, he also served as guide of children in their exploration of Busol and in their tree planting and tending activities under the city’s Eco-walk Program. The program was recognized by the United Nations as an outstanding environmental awareness program for kids.

During his duty at the watershed, the diminutive Andres also supervised and monitored the work of youths assigned to tree-tending and fire lane establishment within the watershed under the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES). This program was backed by the city and the Department of Labor and Employment.

After Andres died, Cherry Anne’s family was driven out of their rented house. They ended up renting a room at Baguio City’s Aurora Hill for P2,500 a month. Marianne maximized the use of their rented room, setting up a mini sari-sari store there. Then, she would also cook some pork barbecue. Aside from Cherry Anne, she had two other children to support — Mary Ann and Michael Angelo.

Marianne faced the daily challenges of being a barbecue vendor with high hopes especially when her daughter Cherry Anne graduated from her high school as one of the top 10 students of her batch at Doña Aurora National High School.

After  Cherry Anne finished high school, she enrolled, with the help of friends, in an IT course at the Data Center College of the Philippines, which is located along Bonifacio Street in Baguio City. Those who supported her mother’s effort to give her an education were elated when told that Cherry Anne would be graduating at the top of her class.

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