Josephine Amante Villatema, a 62-year-old senior citizen, has just graduated junior high school from the Alternative Learning System (ALS) at Timoteo Policarpio Memorial School, located in Norzagaray, Bulacan.
A recent trending Facebook post of a photographer named Glenn Mendoza shared Villatema’s graduation photos with the caption, “Walang edad ang edukasyon,” which garnered 57,000 likes and 45,000 shares on Facebook. Josephine and her class' graduation ceremony will be in July.
In an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe, Josephine shared her experiences while studying in ALS. She mentioned that she was juggling both her studies while taking care of her six grandchildren.
She also added that at first she felt shy studying because all of her classmates were younger than her.
“Nahiya din ako kasi ‘yung mga kaklase ko, puro mga bata, puro mga teenager, ako lang pinaka matanda sa lahat. Pero mabait sila, ginagalang nila ako,” Josephine said.
Shiela Flores Castillo, the adviser of Villatema, shared how thoughtful and hardworking Josephine was during her time in ALS. She asked Josephine why she wanted to finish her education despite her age, and Josephine answered that she wanted to pursue her dreams.
“Gusto kong maabot mga pangarap ko na magkaroon ng diploma kahit may edad na at kapag umabot man sa punto na malapit na akong mawala, masasabi kong naabot ko ang mga pangarap ko at maipagmamalaki ako ng mga anak ko,” she said.
According to Shiela, Josephine or “Nanay” as they call her, became the inspiration of the youths in the ALS.
There were also challenges that she faced during her stay in ALS—and financial was one of them. However, what motivated her despite this challenge was to achieve the goal of her parents to finish her studies and to pursue her dream course, which is culinary arts.
Talking about the future, she said in an interview that she would apply at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to enroll in a culinary course after finishing senior high school.
What advice would she give to people her age who still want to continue their education. “Education has no age limit,” she said.
“Sa lahat ng mga tao, wala sa edad kung gusto mo talaga mag-aral para makapag-tapos ka. Ang pinag-aralan mo, walang makakaagaw niyan sa’yo kaya naman importante ang edukasyon sa isang tao at sa bawat Pilipino,” she added.
Banner photo by Glenn Mendoza