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Rita Gaviola aka “Badjao Girl”

    “The Badjao girl”  Rita Gaviola a typical 13 -year –old, grade six pupil, still can’t believe that she would be famous after her photo had gone viral on social media.

When Rita and her family were ‘working’ for a living in Lucban Quezon during the Pahiyas Festival on May 15, 2016, Topher Quinto Burgos and his girlfriend spotted the morena beauty of Badjao girl. Their appreciation of the true Filipina beauty led them to take a photo of her. A photo that was worth a thousand words for some netizens, with an angle that illustrated a pure bloomed Filipina beauty. Her overall physique captivated not just the netizens  but also the son of President Rodrigo Duterte. “A true Filipina beauty,” presidential son Baste said.

Good things came to her from that camera shot, “I am so very thankful with Kuya Topher, dahil sa kanya kaya I have this kind of opportunity. It seems like a birthday gift to me because that was the day  after my  birthday when I knew that my photo had gone viral.  At first, it has frightened me because I thought that I will be arrested”, said Rita.

It was then when netizens became curious about the true identity of the Badjao girl.

Rita Ibnuasi Gaviola is a Sama Badjao girl who lives in Barangay Barra, Lucena City. She’s second to the eldest among her siblings. They are rooted from Zamboanga and forced to move from one place to another because of poverty and war.

Gaviola’s mother strongly believed that education would uplift their living condition. It is the reason why they chose to live in Barra, Lucena City. When Rita’s photo became viral, chances and opportunies would be at hand .

The Local Government of Lucena City offered a job  for her father Danny. In that matter, they were not forced to beg anymore. Moreover, TV Program “Rated K” gave her a scholarship grant.

 She said that her ultimate dream  is to finish her college degree . Like her mother, she  believes that education is the flame of her fame that never stops. Her ambition is to be like her teacher, help her siblings and encourage her tribes to go in formal education.

“I thank Allah for what I am receiving now, and Kuya Topher and my teachers that brought me in this situation,” Rita said.

Badjao girl’s transformation from timid one to a  bloomed flower is just one of the chapters in her astonishing unknown-to-fame story that makes the Badjao tribe even more proud. Their chieftain took this as an opportunity for their culture and community to be recognized.

For her teachers, Rita is just a typical pupil inside the classroom who is eager to learn and with strong determination to pursue her dreams.

Joann P. Maaño
Teacher 1, Barra Elementary School, Lucena City

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