By Rusela Rubin, BCBP Makati
It was like God fixed everything to be able to come up with this article. Nobody knew I was traveling to Cebu, and yet I was asked to do a follow-up article on the Grand Winner of the BHOC National Competition. So I visited Abby Niles Cuenco and his parents, and this is his story.
Abby’s Early Years
Abby Niles Cuenco is the only child of Dr. Edwin Y. Cuenco, a Pediatrician, and Dra. Marissa G. Cuenco, a Family Physician, both working in the Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City. I was amazed when his mother told me how Abby came into this world. The parents waited for 6 long years before Abby arrived. They actually went to Manaog and prayed really hard for a child. After they went to Manaog the first time and returned to Cebu, she had a pregnancy test, and it was positive. Being a doctor, she told herself, probably she was already pregnant even before their trip to Manaog. It sounded like she doubted Mama Mary with her promise of a child. Not so long after, she had a miscarriage.
Still persistent, for the 2nd time, they traveled to Manaog, prayed very hard, and promised not to doubt Mama Mary’s miracle. True enough, when she got back to Cebu, she was again diagnosed as pregnant! She can’t stop thanking Mama Mary for the gift of a child. Indeed, Abby to his parents was a miracle baby.
From an early age Abby was already talking about HONESTY. He proudly remembers that as early as Grade 2 (around 8 years old), he was asked to do a declamation entitled “I will Always Tell the Truth”. Since then, he had wished that someday, he would become a National Champion of an Oratorical Competition. A gifted student, he graduated Valedictorian in Elementary – a very outgoing person, who was always very active in school activities always being asked to Sing , to be an Emcee but never to join any Oratorical Competition.
His High School Years
In high school, Abby again graduated Valedictorian last March 2009. From 1st year to 3rd year, he was always volunteering to join competitions, but was declined all the time. He was told to give other students a chance to shine. Why? Because he was always seen singing, being an Emcee, and all other extra curricular activities, but never to represent the school in competition.
To his surprise, in his 4th year, he was asked by his English teacher to represent the school in the oratorical contest, when their school was invited to join the BHOC Competition in Cebu. He said that he was literally jumping for joy inside the classroom like a little boy. “At last, I have a chance to represent the school and probably my dream of becoming a national champion can come true’” he shouted. He wrote his piece, his English teacher edited it, and then the practices began. He had to win 3 times before he could represent the region, so he was determined to do well, to be able to reach the national competition. Finally, he was on his way to Manila to represent Cebu and subsequently emerged as the BHOC National Champion !
I remember that when I interviewed the finalists before the National Finals, I asked all the 11 contestants if winning was important to them. It was only Abby who gave a straight answer….he was the only one who said – YES – because he said he always aimed high, that he wants to do good in everything that he does. According to him, of course he wanted to win, but didn’t actually expect that much because it would be hurting if he didn’t win. What he put in his heart and head, he told me, was just to do his best and let God do the rest. If he wins, well then, it’s a very big bonus.
Abby with his parents
After the Competition
What has Abby been up to after the competition? What’s next? Was the Oratorical piece stored on a shelf where it gathered dust? Was it framed and displayed for people to know it was the piece that made Abby the BHOC National Champion? What about the essence of the competition? Has someone ever wondered what Abby is still doing after the competition?
Well, it’s not over yet … not for Abby. He is a different kind of specie…. Immediately after winning the National Competition, he was asked by BCBP Mandaue Chapter to deliver once again his Oratorical Piece. With much gusto – he did it. After that, in a school assembly in the Sacred Heart School, Mandaue City, which he represented during the competition, his principal presented him the medal and the trophy that he had won in the national finals and Abby delivered his piece again. He was so proud when he lifted the trophy in front of all his schoolmates. He said he felt like a big NBA star lifting the trophy for the best NBA player for the season.
Was this the end of it…noooooooooo…. In a reunion of more than 100 doctors and friends that his parents attended, the children of the doctors were asked to showcase their talents. Some sang, some danced or played instruments (these were the young kids). After hearing all these children, Abby approached his dad and asked if he, too, could show his talent – by delivering his oratorical piece. His dad, who according to Abby, is his exact opposite, agreed. So off Abby went and recited his Be Honest piece with much pride. His mom told me that in that gathering, there were many businessmen, too, who were touched by his piece. Afterwards many of the attendees were just all praises for Abby.
Up to now, Abby volunteers to orate in front of visitors, friends, relatives. As a gift to Abby, his parents and Abby traveled to the USA for a holiday in May 2009. There he recited his piece again not once, but twice, at a reunion of his family members. The relatives could not believe how good he was and how sincere he was as he exhorted everyone to be HONEST.
Abby Makes Honesty His Way of Life
Now, Abby is a first year Med Tech student of Velez College in Cebu City. I asked him how he could promote honesty in school? I was not surprised anymore when he said that he had already recited his piece in their classroom when they were asked what talents they had. To Abby, the words of his Dad always remain in his heart. He was reminded by his Dad to use his talents, because as it is written in the bible, if we don’t use the talents that God has given us, he might just take them away from us. Abby’s objective now in school is to deliver his piece in one of the class assemblies in a bigger venue. Maybe even for the entire Velez College!
Abby indeed is making HONESTY his way of life. He is a living example of a student who once joined a national competition and continues to spread the word. You don’t need to remind him to do it, because he enjoys doing it with gusto.
It is so easy to write and deliver any oratorical piece in front of a crowd, but making it a way of life is a difficult task to do. Not for Abby! He feels it is his responsibility to make people – especially the younger generation, aware that HONESTY is very important, that a simple lie if not corrected can be a wrong foundation for a child’s life. He firmly believes virtues are developed at an early stage, and if we don’t start this with our children at a young age, then it will be difficult for them to plant, nourish, and grow HONESTY in their hearts.
Like the Parable of the Sower, Abby represents the seed that fell on good soil, that grew and produced fruit a hundredfold. We may not know how much Abby has touched the hearts of the people who listened to him, but one thing is sure, the BHOC Competition surely planted a good seed, and from the good seed that Abby represents, more seeds are being sown in the field, hoping to multiply a hundredfold.
Thanks to the BCBP!
The family is so grateful to our Makati Chapter for hosting them during the competition. Abby has even promised himself that as soon as he becomes a professional – (after graduation), he will join the BCBP because, as he says, “I wholeheartedly embrace your mission.” I told him “one day, when you become a BCBP member, then you can certainly use all those talents that you have for His Greater Glory”. He is just so excited as he looks forward to joining BCBP. And I know he would be very welcome – there are certainly so many services in BCBP that need an enthusiastic and talented someone like Abby!