Ella Mae had a debilitating accident when she was just a baby, and became crippled. At twelve, her 14-year-old brother carried her to school every day. Because of his selfless love and devotion for his little sister, both siblings were able to graduate together. This touching story was posted online, went viral, and soon caught the attention of major media.
According to Definitely Filipino, Ella Mae Belida from the Philippines fell and injured her pelvic area when she was just 11 months old. After her injury, Ella began to suffer from irregular bowel movement, and fever; and she was unable to continue going to class. She had to stay at home, where her family could provide her with better care.
“She was still able to walk a few steps with a cane until she was seven. But after that, she couldn’t carry her own weight,” said Ella’s mother, Erlinda.
The Belida family is supported on the meager wages of the father Marlon, 39, who drives a tricycle, and earns only 300 pesos ($6US) per day on a good day, and only 200 pesos ($4US) on a regular day. Although the parents would have loved for both of their children to go to school, due to their financial situation, Erlinda had to keep Ella at home in order to better take care of her.
“It pains me to see my children suffer. But my daughter is a fighter and she told me, ‘Ma, I have to finish school so I can help you and father’,” her mother said.
Because Michael was aware of his parents’ financial situation, as well as his sister’s desire to attend school, the older brother did what he could to help Ella make it to class every day, saving his parents as much money as possible. Michael would tuck both their school bags under his arms, hoist his sister onto his back, and walk a distance of 1 kilometer to the Looc Norte Elementary School in Asturias town. Aside from her disability, Ella was otherwise a normal healthy girl weighing around 90 lbs.
“She’s heavy and it’s tiring, but I did it so that she could finish school,” he told SunStar Cebu. “I get angry when people look at her and call her names. But she always retaliates and tells the bullies off.”
Ella always made sure her brother did his homework too, and sometimes even reprimanded him when it was not completed on time. She would site her own example as model for him to follow, and say how she always managed to finish her homework despite her shaky hands and physical condition.
Ella and Michael were aware of the importance of education, and how it could change their lives for the better. Ella would often try to motivate her brother to work harder in school, so that one day he could become a successful seaman.
Although Michael was older than Ella, they nevertheless finished their schooling at the same time. Out of affection and dedication for his little sister, touchingly, Michael had skipped a year of classes, so that the two could graduate together.
It was during their graduation ceremony that a netizen Leonard noticed the inseparable siblings, and learned of their endearing story. It was soon posted online, and instantly it went viral.
Many were touched by Michael and Ella’s story; and help soon came pouring in from all quarters. People offered all manner of assistance: from medical check-ups, to wheelchairs, a pair of crutches, a bicycle and school supplies for both siblings.
Michael said he would still like to carry her even if they had to go to separate colleges; and he wasn’t planning to use the wheelchair or cycle to tow her along either.
“I will carry her no matter what. I hope someone can support her studies. She wants to take up a computer course,” he said.
Seeing the respect and love they have for education, as well as the selfless devotion they have for each other, we truly wish these siblings the very best on their journey through college, and afterward. We hope they will be able to make a better life for themselves, as well as for their devoted parents.