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  • Writer's pictureLeonora Lo-oy

The plight of Agta student from Cagayan bullied at school and how she fought for her education


Despite the difficulties of going to school for the past years due to constant bullying, the 30-year-old Agta member from Cagayan remained steadfast until she successfully earned her bachelor’s degree on May 30, 2022.


Zeny Sibayan Cepeda of Santa Ana, Cagayan graduated from the Saint Anthony's College of Sta. Ana, Cagayan, Inc. with the degree Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education major in English after years of hard work.


Zeny attributed her success to several people serving as instruments, specifically acknowledging God who she said answered her prayers amidst the trials and discrimination that she had to endure.

“I want to thank the Almighty God for his guidance love and care for me despite the hardships, tiredness, disappointments, and even being rejected by other people, he is always there to let me know that I am not alone. He gave all my prayers and did not let me down. Thank you, Lord,” she wrote.


Zeny’s experiences of getting bullied at school


In her interview with PEP.ph, Zeny disclosed she has been the subject of bullying since she was young. She has been ridiculed every day when she was in elementary.


She recounted that she has been laughed at for wearing damaged or punctured slippers.

She added that in order to go to school and attend her classes, she had to wear oversized and used school uniforms given to her.


She recalled that when she was in 3rd grade, her schoolmates made fun of her by pulling her oversized skirt off her while they were on recess.


Zeny encountered repeated bullying even when she reached high school. But, by then, she already learned how to conduct herself against ridicule.


Zeny’s sacrifices in finishing college


The Agta student related that her life wasn’t easy as those of other students. She had to work on the farm at the rice field when she didn’t have classes to earn some money for food. She is the first child among seven siblings.


Due to financial limits, going to college was quite impossible. Fortunately, she met a community doctor, Zsa Zsa Meneses, who conducted an outreach program in their area. Meeting Dr. Meneses helped her get a scholarship for her college studies.

Although she didn’t have enough to finance her needs at school, some people helped her throughout her university years until she finally received her bachelor’s degree.

Zeny is set to take the Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers this coming March 2023.


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