[Writing this article, which came out in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Inquirer.net on Feb. 2, 2010, was a joy as I knew the subject: Clarie Bontol.]
By Rex Godinez-Ortega
ILIGAN CITY–Her nickname alone can disarm you. It is Bogging.
And she made it clear right off that if we were looking for a blood-sweat-and-tears story, we came to the wrong place.
“I assure you, no family kalabaw (carabao) was sold to support my studies,” the 28-year-old Clarie Morales Bontol joked when interviewed Monday, hours after the results of the November 2009 nursing board exams were released showing she was the topnotcher.
“My life is so normal, no drama. My parents are not farmers,” Bogging, as she is known to friends and family, laughed.
Of the more than 94,000 examinees, less than 40 percent passed. Bogging got an 87.8 percent score.
There was no doubt the results of the exams made her happy, but it was a kind of happiness not unlaced with some sadness.
“I’m happy that I made a lot of people happy,” she said in response to the expected how-does-it-feel-to-be-No.-1 question.
“But I’m not that happy,” she added, “because I know many who did not make it.”
Bogging is the only child of Jude Bontol, a retired government employee, and Dr. Della Bontol, a well-known obstetrician-gynecologist here.
Dr. Bontol, in a phone interview, described her daughter as “diligent” in her studies.
Bogging said she had chosen to take up nursing after she hit a point in her life where she just had to ask someone for directions.
“I asked my Tita, who was a nurse in Texas, what to take up and she said ‘Nursing.’ At that time, it felt like a good idea,” she said.
Now, nursing seems to define her life.
“I’m proud to be a nurse,” she said.
Soon after the results of the board exams came out the other night, Bogging’s alma mater, Iligan Medical Center College (IMCC), offered her a teaching job.
Victoria Elizabeth Lepiten-Alagar, dean of the nursing college, said Bogging graduated at the top of her class last year.
As a student, Bogging was hard working, punctual in meeting requirements and always respectful of her teachers, Alagar said.
During the re-accreditation, or re-evaluation, of the IMCC, which raised it from Level 1 to Level 2, Alagar said one of the accreditors remarked that the school’s students should not go to Manila anymore because IMCC was a top performer.
Another high-performing school in Iligan, the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), posted an 86-percent passing rate, according to Dean Clowe Jondonero.
Despite her proficiency in Nippongo, Bogging has no plans of working as a nurse in Japan or anywhere else outside the Philippines for the moment.
She made a special request during the interview: that the article mention that she is “a proud member” of presidential candidate Nicanor Perlas’ Pangmasa party (Partido ng Marangal na Sambayanan).
She said she hoped to emulate Perlas by choosing to stay to serve the Filipino people.