A Filipino boy has turned himself into a poster child of taking a huge responsibility at a young age — and triggered a social media uproar after he brought his younger brother to class.
The reason: No one was home to look after his younger sibling and he didn’t want to skip school.
Unbeknownst to him, Justin, 7, has unwittingly shot to fame as he and his one-year-old brother became a figure of siblings taking good care of each other.
Justin is a Grade 1 pupil in a rural government-run school in Salvacion village, Magallanes town in the Philippine province of Sorsogon, some 600km south-east of Manila.
The teacher, only identified as Ma’am Lei, took a picture of her pupils doing some class work and posted it on her Facebook wall, with a caption.
She didn’t give the boys’ family name.
“Habo ko pag-absent ma’am, digdi ko na lang alingon an tugang (1 year old) ko may trabahoon po si lola (guardian/grandmother) sa bulod, dai ki mabantay,” the teacher quoted Justin as saying in the local Bicol dialect, according to the post.
(Translation: “I don’t want to be absent, ma’am. I will carry my one-year-old brother here because my grandmother has to work in the farm and no one will take care of him.”)
It’s the face of innocence pulling at one’s heartstrings. The young boy’s words struck a sensitive chord among netizens.
Bloggers and Filipino news sites picked up the heart-warning story.
The post — and stories about it — had since become viral.
Justin drew plaudits on social media after the post was picked up by KCMP News, and later replicated by other bloggers.
Many commenters wished the boy success in life: “He’s an example of being responsible, despite his tender age,” said one.
“He knows his priorities,” stated another.
It kicked up a storm on social media: comments ranged from rants about the absentee parents and against lack of family planning in the Philippines.
Many others commenters had a field day bashing college students of a state-owned university who walked out to protest against President Rodrigo Duterte, while one said: “I want to meet this boy.”