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  • Trans Students Allowed By DepEd To March, But La Union Nursing Student Barred By School

    John Marcelino Rosaldo paid late for his graduation fee while Nicole, Kendi, Jade, and Rey had long hair. Did they deserve this?
    by RM Urquico .
Trans Students Allowed By DepEd To March, But La Union Nursing Student Barred By School
PHOTO BY FACEBOOK/Mela Habijan and TIKTOK/cyrosaldo
  • "Hindi ka pwede mag-march!" It was a student’s -- and parents’ -- worst nightmare. For many parents, being able to see your child graduate is the pinnacle of many years of sacrifice. For many students, it’s the culmination of years of hard work. But for nursing graduate John Marcelino Rosaldo and his mother, hindi natupad ang pangarap niya.

    “To walk up that stage and receive my diploma would have been the happiest moment for my mother and me.” He said in a statement released after the TikTok video describing his experience went viral.

    All for 2,750 pesos

    On June 23, 2022, Lorma Colleges forbade Rosaldo to march during the actual graduation ceremony because of unprocessed graduation fees, despite the student stating that he paid the said fees the day before. The amount was earmarked for his mother’s maintenance meds, but they complied with the requirement.

    “Yung graduate ka pero hindi ka pinaakyat ng stage para kunin diploma mo kasi di nakaconfirm payment mo sa grad fee.”

    This was the text on the the now-viral TikTok video, posted on his sister’s account. “My hands are shaking. Di naman masaket.”


    In his statement, Rosaldo narrates he had paid the fee via the GCash App to the accounting office, but needed to send proof of payment. He was only able to send it after 6 p.m. that day.

    PHOTO BY TIKTOK/cyrosaldo

    The next day, during the early graduation ceremony, he was pulled aside by one of the school’s Clinical Instructors (CI) and notified that he and a few other students would not be allowed to march. He reiterated that he had paid the fee and asked for reconsideration, but this fell on deaf ears. Despite the fact that the students were present, dressed and ready, they simply showed their photos on the screen when their names were called.

    watch now

    “The sadness and humiliation we felt while we watched our co-graduates walk up on that stage and have that special photo-op near where we were seated at the time was undeniable.

    He says the incident was humiliating and caused his family, especially his mother, undue distress. “...She was crying from rage. My mother is having a hard time moving on from this traumatic experience.” 

    With the two videos nearing almost 6.2 million views and 9.4 million views on TikTok, it seems that many people empathize with what’s happening.

    Let trans people march!

    This isn’t the only recent case of students being unable to march. Miss Trans Global Mela Habijan offered to do graduation shoots for four trans senior high students who were initially told they couldn’t march unless they adhered to the school dress code -  namely, to cut their long hair and wear male-presenting clothes versus the dresses they wanted to wear. The four graduating students - Nicole, Kendi, Jade and Rey - were informed of this before the graduation.


    She wrote to the Department of Education and said, “Why can’t they be themselves in an occasion they worked so hard for?” Fortunately, this story has a happy ending -- so far all four were able to March. Sadly, Jade was told to come in male uniform and put their hair up.


    The DepEd also released a memorandum allowing students to come as they are to school activities, including graduation.


    “To our DepEd and CHED leaders, when you let us become us, when you let trans people march, no one loses. Instead, all of us win!” Mela said in a Facebook post.

    “We have been widely prejudged.”

    On June 27, 2022, Lorma Colleges president Dr. Carolyn Lyn Macagba said that the matter was under review and that an investigation on the issue and school policies was immediately launched. They have tried to reach Mr. Rosaldo’s family but so far have not received a response.


    “We would like to affirm our belief in the importance and value of the graduation experience of family and student achievement and if there was ever any experience of humiliation, we do not wish this on any of our students” she said in the statement.

    Angry netizens in the comments disparaged the school as “money hungry” and sided with the student and his family.

    What should have been done?

    Rosaldo says that “they could have withheld my documents as insurance.” (Which is really the humane thing to do.) His sister’s close-up of his mother’s tear-streaked face tugged at the hearts of many people.


    In the case of the four trans senior high students, they had a champion invested in their story and ready to fight for their rights. But for many students, this isn’t always the case. Their fates are left up to the fickle mercy of the school.

    Rosaldo notes in his statement that he wasn’t alone -- there were other students dressed up and ready to march who were also not allowed to do so. Hindi lang sila nag-viral.

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