It was quite a journey when Vilma Bonifacio won in Talk ‘N Text ( TNT) tipid sulit idol. Before we went to Manila to receive our prize, I can’t imagine how many times we cannot contact her. In the first place, she did not know that I voted her. When I received the call from Talk ‘N Text Manila by 12 midnight informing me that Vilma is a semi- finalist and they need to interview her within three days, it left me restlessly excited. When we cannot contact Ms. Vilma, and there’s only one option left for TNT people, they tried to go to Biao. On their way, the TNT coordinator were restrained by the army telling them that the lost commands are heading there. So, for short, I was the one who the interview questions. I actually left many personal questions blank .Good thing my documentation mates Tata, Liz, Arrah and Dudz took very nice videos and pics during last Biao graduation.
the TNT called back and told me my nominee won. I can remember how puzzled Vilma was of her victory when we tried to let her come down from the mountain. All these years she is teaching then someone would just tell her to come down to receive a prize in Manila.
We shared many first times and funny experiences together. It was our first time to ride a plane (..and experience the turbulences). After our arrival in NAIA terminal 3, we experienced being robbed. Vilma lost her Nokia 3310cellphone in her bag and the snacks in my bag were gone too. When we arrived at the hotel, Vilma headed for a video and photo shoot and we haven’t prepared for it. Most of the winners wore their shining shimmering outfits and lipsticks and on their heels while Vilma just wore a polo shirt and a slipper. Not fighting for Vilma, she was unpreparedly splendid. Her qualities of strength can be seen in her eyes. Each pose she had was never tainted with an inferior spirit. In the awarding all wore their dresses, some gowns except for Vilma who splendidly wore her slacks and violet blouse.
A woman of strength and inspiration
Vilma rarely smiled during the awarding. Had not artist Robin Padilla by chance stood at her side, I wouldn’t know she is fanatic too. I saw her eyes widen and her face burst with smile as she tried to get my attention for a picture with her idol. After the ceremony, the winners went for a press conference. That time, as other winners told me, Vilma got emotional. I did not know that she had not seen the graduation videos I submitted for her documentation. She had only the chance to see it during the press conference where they were introduced one by one by videos before an interview. While she cried, she saw others from the crowd laughed at her. Vilma picked herself up and apologized and told the crowd how it moves her heart to see many children in their village are uneducated and being undermined by the lowlanders. This urged Vilma to start teaching back in 2008 being the first in their community to graduate in high school and trained in a speed course teacher’s training in Mindanao State University. She went on telling the crowd how hard their life is in the mountain until PASALI reached out. When she mentioned how they have been forgotten by the government, someone from the crowd who is a government employee objected her notion. The artist Robin Padilla rescued Vilma and affirmed the neglect of the government to rural communities. Even the2009 CNN Hero Efren Peñaflorida identified with her in her hardship having the same vision with Vilma to give education to those who have less in life.
After the press con, everybody’s eyes was on Vilma. Some teary , inspired. Many of the people we met since the day we arrived didn’t care to associate with us until the press conference finished. Everyone was like shaking hands with her and began looking at her with esteem.