Single mom among topnotchers of Agriculturist Board Exam

    Being a single mom in the Philippines is indeed challenging. These supermoms often have to bear the pressure of single-handedly raising a child and endure harsh criticisms from the public at the same time.

    Despite her complicated situation, a single mother from Davao del Norte proved that having a child out of wedlock is not a hindrance in attaining success. Gene Terri Casas, a graduate of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), placed 7th in the recent Agriculturist Board Exam with a rating of 84.50%.

    Single mom among topnotchers of Agriculturist Board Exam
    PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook/Gene Terri Casas

    Constant Failures

    Casa, the only child of banana plantation workers, was admitted to UPLB under the BS Agricultural Chemistry program in 2004. Even if she wasn’t interested in Science, she decided to pursue the course since she was able to secure a scholarship from the Don Antonio O. Floirendo Sr. Foundation.

    Although Casas worked hard, she could barely pass her subjects prompting her to shift to BS Agriculture, majoring in Entomology. Still, she failed to pass some of her subjects and eventually lost her scholarship.

    “I didn’t give my best, hence the constant failure. And because of that constant failure I succumbed into more self-loathing, self-pity and overall self-shaming,” Casas told ABS-CBN News.

    Luckily, her parents believed in Casas and were able to send her to school with their meagre income.

    Never ending Struggles

    But her struggles didn’t end there. Casas, who was about to give up on her dreams, then learned she was pregnant. Because of this, Casas was forced to stop her studies for a year to prioritize her baby.

    Single mom among topnotchers of Agriculturist Board Exam

    Instead of cutting their support for Casas, her heartbroken parents decided to be at her side the whole time.

    Her return to UPLB proved to be more challenging. Aside from the fact that Casas found Science courses still difficult, she had to endure being away from her daughter whom she left under the care of her parents.

    "Being a mother and a student at the same time, and being far away from your child, is very challenging. I still failed some subjects and finally I graduated in 2012,” she said.

    Following graduation, Casas returned to her hometown and worked as an entomologist in the same company where her parents are employed. She’s also taking her master’s degree in Agriculture major in Crop Protection at the University of Southeastern Philippines in Tagum City.

    Not “na-ano lang”

    Casas’ choice to be a solo parent didn’t make things easy for her. However, she believes the path she chose helped her become who she is now, a scientist and a mother. Furthermore, Casas is looking into a brighter future for her and her family.

    Single mom among topnotchers of Agriculturist Board Exam

    "Maybe it is not like the usual family setting wherein both parents are present but it is a family still. Being upset is not exclusively meant for single parents alone. It’s a general human experience,” Casas said.

    She added that she doesn’t hold any grudges against the father of her daughter.

    "I do not hate my child’s biological father. He and his family also provide support for my daughter and they love her, and for me that’s more than enough. To not be 'typical' is really a choice, and it’s not 'na-ano' lang.”

    --Mini, The Summit Express
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