‘Inulila po ako ng pandemya’: Batch valedictorian reflects hardships in life during graduation speech


During his graduation last June 30, 2022, Rey Matthew Volante looked back on the hardships he went through towards his success.

Volante received two scholarships in college. He was so excited to start his college journey.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic happened, where he faced the biggest battle of his life.

“Just when I thought everything was according to my plans, things started to fall apart. COVID-19 pandemic happened. And just roughly two years ago, it killed me twice,” Volante started his graduation speech.

“The first time was when my twin brother had fallen victim to a broken justice system. He was unfairly detained for a crime he was in no position to commit. The second time was when both of my parents died during the pandemic. Opo, inulila po ako ng pandemya. Pinatay po ng pandemya ang aking mga magulang,” he continued.

In June 2022, his brother was proven innocent. However, their family did not have time to celebrate his twin brother’s vindication after their mother was confined in an ICU due to existing illnesses.

“I know my mom will die anytime soon kasi alam mo ‘yun na parang mararamdaman mo naman as a child. Parang she can no longer fight the battle. And parang at that moment, I thought to myself na parang hindi ako pwede magpaapekto. Kailangan hindi maapektuhan ‘yung mga pangarap ko. So, the whole time I was outside the ICU ward. Nag-aaral ako, kino-comply ko lahat ng requirements,” he told The Philippine STAR.

They later found out that mommy Vilma succumbed to COVID-19.

“Nag quarantine kami, walang time mag grieve. We really had to tap other family members to really fix my mother’s funeral papers,” Volante recalled.

Volante thought it was the end of his suffering. However, after mommy Vilma’s death, Volante accompanied his father, who had kidney problems, to the hospital.

“Siguro a month after, yun na yung parang tatay ko naman yung sumunod. And like my mother, biglaan. Hindi rin kami nakapaghanda na parang biglaan nalang talaga na namatay si papa. Ako din ‘yung nagsugod sa ospital kasi alam mo ‘yun ako lang din naman ‘yung parang naaasahan sa pamilya before. Eh ‘yung brother ko may sariling pamilya, y’ung brother kong isa may work. So, ako talaga ’yung sumasalo ng burden ng lahat,” Volante said.

Despite all the challenges, Matthew used these setbacks to attain his dreams.

“Pinagbutihan ko lang talaga na parang kahit anong mangyari, ginamit ko ‘yung pain ginamit ko ‘yung lahat ng sakit para to really help me,” he said.

He graduated as the batch valedictorian and summa cum laude at FEU Manila, where he took B.S. Biology.

Volante took time to express gratitude to his family and friends who helped him after all that he went through.

“So parang the whole time talaga nung nangyari ‘tong  mga trahedya na ‘to sa family namin, tinatandaan ko lang talaga ‘yung mga sinasabi ng magulang ko na kahit anong mangyari, magpatuloy kami, parang wag kami magpaapekto, parang ‘yun nga kapos kami sa buhay. So kung parang magpapaapekto pa kami, mawawalan na talaga kami ng parang gana mabuhay. And that’s something na parang I really allowed me to fuel. Parang to keep moving forward. ‘Yung parang it was really my parents’ dying wish to see me move forward,” he explained.

Volante hopes that his parents are in a better place now.

“Sana proud kayo, mama at papa,” he said.

Janelle Lorzano
Janelle Lorzano
Janelle Lorzano likes long walks on the seaside and listening to people about their lives. When she isn't writing, she travels and discover new places.