Rommel Edusma, 25, who topped the licensure exams for Certified Public Accountants (CPA) is a Yolanda survivor. But Yolanda is just one of the many storms he encountered through life, as he detailed the story of a poor kid who worked his way through school, dependent on the generosity of relatives and other people.
Rommel scored an impressive 94.57 average grade in the recent exams, bringing pride and honor to the Asian Development Foundation College (ADFC) in Tacloban City that was badly battered by super-typhoon Yolanda.
A daunting journey
The 6th of 10 siblings, Rommel said he graduated from college late because they would have to wait for an elder sibling to graduate, find work, before the younger siblings can enroll or continue schooling. There were years when he had to stop schooling totally.
His father, Rustico, 58, is a retired soldier while his mother, Flores Cacubio, is a housewife. His father retired from service early, and since then, it was a hard life for them. The family’s current official address is in Pinabacdao, E. Samar, where the couple tends to a small farm.
With the help of his older brother, who also joined the Armed Forces after graduating, he eked through college.
His life was literally a journey, with his quest to finish college taking him places. He took his first year at the Eastern Samar State University (ESSU) in Borongan City. Then, he transferred to the Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) in Tacloban City.
In Tacloban, he said, he lived with his aunt Maria Fulseda Carolino at V&G Subdivision, who was kind enough to give him free room and board.
He would then qualify for a CHED scholarship and decided to enroll at the ADFC. While it was a private college, he said, he liked their class schedules because it allowed him to more freedom to study. It was also nearer to where he lived. There were days, he said, that he had to walk to school to save up transportation money for some school project. He sometimes would skip lunch, he added.
Mayor Federico Carolino of Capoocan, Leyte, on the other hand, took him as his scholar and supported his allowance.
Rommel is not ashamed to admit that he is where he is now because of the help of relatives and friends. When it came to his school needs, he said, he felt no shame in approaching them to ask for help or borrow money. “What is important is you pay them back,” he said.
He even admits to have looted a grocery store nearby their house in V&G, “but I only took food. The owner told us it was okay to get food. There was a chance to get expensive gadgets but I did not. I only took food because we needed it.”
He also thanks his mentors and the ADFC for helping live his dream. Rommel said he really aspired to be on the top 10. With the support of his brother, his aunt, Mayor Carolino, ADFC and the review center, he took review classes twice before taking the test. But emerging on top of the Top 10 still came as a surprise to him.
“I fell happy. I almost cannot believe it,” he said. He added after the results came out last August 1, he’d been busy getting texts congratulating him and interviews from various media outlets. He would also be joining SGV and Company soon.
As for paying back the people who helped him and whether he believed in “paying it forward,” Rommel said one should help others if given the opportunity. Definitely, he said, he will not forget the debt of gratitude to the people who’ve helped him.
A silent student
Leticia A. Bartolome, ADFC department head for business courses, described Rommel Edusma as a “silent student.” He was not the flashy type but they already saw the gem in him, plus his determination to succeed.
Seeing his potential, they fielded him as their participant in various accountancy contests. He would always emerge winner.
She said Rommel could have graduated with honors, except that he had some low grades in the previous schools he attended. He was an exceptional student, she noted, surmising that some hardships may have hampered him from getting excellent grades.
She added they were very happy with the honor they brought to ADFC. “It is very timely because we are celebrating our 20th anniversary on October”, she said. They have requested the CPA topnotcher to be present on their kickoff activity on September 25, “to be an inspiration to the students and the teachers, as well.”
Dr. Edward Chua, ADFC president, on the other hand, said they had a thanksgiving mass on August 2 after learning of Rommel’s feat and a simple unveiling of a huge tarpaulin congratulating the topnotcher.
Dr. Chua said despite Yolanda, it has been a bumper year for ADFC. “We’ve had 100 percent passing rate in our other courses like Criminology. We had the highest passing rate for our Education graduates in the region,” he said. By Lalaine M. Jimenea