TAGBILARAN CITY — A member of the Badjao community in Barangay Totolan in Dauis town, Bohol was among those who passed the nurse licensure examination (NLE) last November 2022.
For Carla Mae Telmo, part of her success was due to being a Badjao and she wants to repay the community.
Telmo, 22, is the first registered nurse in the Badjao community of Barangay Totolan.
“I am very thankful to God who heard my prayers. This success is not only for me but also for my family and my Badjao tribe. I am very proud to be a Badjao,” she said.
The Telmo family was overjoyed over Carla’s success.
“I am very happy we have a nurse now. His father and I are happy that she passed the board. We thank the Lord for granting our prayers,” said Telmo’s mother Merlinda.
Badjao tribe is an indigenous population whose culture and livelihood are tied to the sea.
Mario Coham, the chieftain of the Badjao community, said the whole community was proud of Telmo’s achievement.
“She serves as an inspiration to all Badjao kids here,” said the 62-year-old chieftain.
Proud of her roots, Telmo said being a Badjao was the reason and bridge for her to study and qualify in various scholarships from the government and private sectors.
“Because of being a Badjao, I was able to reach my dreams. And now I was able to make them proud,” said Telmo, who was also a former beauty queen who joined beauty pageants.
Telmo said her childhood dream was to work in an office, but an incident in February 2017 changed that goal.
That year, at least 21 Badjao children were rushed to a hospital in Tagbilaran City due to gastroenteritis.
“That incident opened my eyes,” said Telmo. “I told myself I hope I can do something if it happens again. Right there and then, I decided to become a nurse. I want to help them in the future.”
Telmo said she went through hardships just to be where she is right now.
Her father, Carlos, a carpenter, and her mother Merlinda, a housewife, supported her throughout the journey. She also found inspiration from her two two siblings: Joana, 17, and Maria Cathlyn, 12.
Telmo, like most people from her tribe, suffered discrimination and financial problems.
She finished her elementary education at Booy South Elementary School and graduated high school from Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School. She painfully reminisced how she almost quit school because of lack of money.
But getting a college degree drummed into Telmo’s head. Fortunately, the Badjao Bridge Philippines, a non-profit organization helping Badjao people, became instrumental to Telmo’s success. The organization helped Telmo overcome her financial struggles.
She fervently studied and passed the exam.
Telmo was grateful to everyone who helped her throughout her journey. In return, she promised to work to help her fellow tribe.
“I would like to apply in a public hospital because Badjao people often go there to seek health care. I want to be able to serve them in any way. I can accommodate the Badjao people. Of course they will also see that I did not leave them even after I finished my education,” she said.
As granddaughter of the chieftain, Telmo knows too well why education should be integrated in their culture.
“I hope education will be appreciated because it is really the key to our success. I hope our Badjao people will value education.”