To the tune of the marching hymn, this ‘Isko ng Bayan’ made history as he was handed over with the symbolic ‘sablay’ while on his ‘bahag’ during the graduation rites at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Manila.
Norman Cosme King, claimed to be the first Aeta graduate of the top university in the Philippines, finished Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Sciences under the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Behavioral Sciences is a multidisciplinary course- anthroplopology, sociology and psychology, all of these in a four-year course but I took it for five years and one semester,” the Aeta ‘Isko’ said.
King, 27, hails from the elite Aeta group in Porac and is now residing with his family in Macapagal Village in Mabalacat City, Pampanga.
“King is not just an ordinary surname for us. It is in the lineage of Aeta leaders, it signifies who are our forefathers. During the American period, we do not have surnames and General Mark King named our ancestors after him,” he added.
Eldest among the seven children of Roman and Perlita, he was the lone child to finish schooling.
King finished his primary and secondary education at Marcos Elementary School, Mabalacat and Angeles City National Trade High School, Angeles City.
King emphasized that being an ‘iskolar ng bayan’ was never easy.
“There were times that I have to borrow money from professors, and other colleagues. Especially in my third and fourth year, magastos dahil sa researches and thesis and other paper works. But thanks to the Diwa ng Magdalo Foundation and Association of Parents and Counselors, UP Manila for helping me out all those years,” King explained.
On being asked if he had experienced bullying and discrimination, he stressed out that he has not heard ’even a piece of discrimination’. Instead, it was an amusement to the people surrounding him that he is an Aeta.
Currently, King is doing community visits while attending to press and media interviews after his graduation rites video went viral in social media.
He said that his lead priority is to motivate the young Aeta to pursue their studies.
Planning and formulating resolutions to the concerns faced by the IPs in Porac is next among his plans.
“As of the moment I am dealing with the responsibilities left by my father as he was a former chairman of Barangay Inararo in Porac. But I am not closing my doors to other opportunities,” he said.