The janitress’ son who made it to the top


MANGALDAN—A son of a janitress graduated class valedictorian of the first batch of K to 12 graduates –all 1,087 students – of Mangaldan National High School, the biggest high school in Region 1.

Eighteen-year-old Kenneth Clauna, who took up Humanities and Social Sciences of the K to 12 program, said he is dedicating his accomplishment to his mom, Ma. Cristina Clauna, “because this is the result of her hard work”.

Her mother attended the graduation rites.

Accomplished son with proud mother

Kenneth said her mom did the biggest sacrifice when she decided to work as janitress in a multinational company in Laguna to sustain their family.

After his dad became critically ill afflicted with brain tumor, her mom had to leave the family for her employment and only saw her family during Christmas because she wanted to save every centavo of her earnings for her family.

Meanwhile, even in his poor health, his father took over household chores and looking after his two siblings (Kathrina Paula and Leira Flor, now 14 and 12 years old respectively).

His family became penniless, their house and lot were sold to cover his dad’s medical expenses that amounted to almost P1 million over the years. Cristina took odd jobs in addition to her regular employment as janitress.

Kenneth said they used to live a comfortable life when his dad worked as an overseas worker in Saudi Arabia until he was diagnosed with brain tumor in 2012 and had to return home.

His father Ariel recovered but could not no longer find employment.

“This is the fruit of her hard work. I want to show to her that her sacrifices did not go to waste,” he said.

Kenneth said he is never ashamed to tell the world that he is a son of a janitress.

“I tell others that I am extremely proud of her,” he said.

“There were times when we had very little food, went to school with no baon, no new school uniforms,” because they had to live with the P1,500 sent monthly by his mom and some help from her aunt”, Kenneth recalled.

“It was really hard,” he said. But he said he believes that life offers chances and choices. He earned extra cash doing errands for his classmates, i.e., photo copying of lessons or assignments in books. He earned P0.50 for every page of photo copied material.

Being the eldest in the family, he missed enjoying his childhood. He had to juggle his time between taking care of his siblings and their dad, his studies and Church duties. Kenneth is an active youth leader of a Born-Again Christian sect in their town.

Kenneth was also the editor in chief of their school paper, Tambuli from 2015 to 2018. He was also a back-to-back champion of Division Schools Press Conference in Feature Writing in 2016 and 2017.

Throughout her absence for over six years, Kenneth said there were times when he felt letdown by his mother because she was never around to pin medals on him or to be around during card days that showed his grades all in the 90s.

Pero yung tampo ko sa kanya naging amazement. How could she manage being far working and alone, missing her family” he said.

His highest grade as senior high school graduate is 99 while his lowest is 90. His average is 97. “It was really my choice to be good at my studies,” he said.

Kenneth will pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Communication course possibly at the University of the Philippines in Baguio City to further hone his writing skills. He wants to be a good journalist someday. (Eva Visperas)

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