Last Good Friday, I got invited to participate in the “Seven Last Words” program that aired on ABS-CBN. I didn’t realize how much people were able to see that.
I was at mass yesterday when after the mass finished a lady approached me to tell me she saw me on T.V. during the program. It was nice to hear the kind words she said.
I’m posting the sharing I made for that program. It was for the fifth word “I thirst”.
Fifth Word: I Thirst
Despite being born with a very rare genetic disease called Pompe Disease, I consider myself blessed.
I come from a middle-class family. I was fortunate to have two wonderful and supportive parents, the best brother a person could ever want and now I also have a wonderful sister-in-law as a new addition to our family.
Throughout my 20 something years of battling this disease, my family has loved, supported and cared for me. I was able to finish school, get a job and be productive. I don’t think I could have asked them for anything more.
From my immediate family all the way to my extended family and friends, I’ve always felt loved and accepted. However as I grew older and got exposed to the world outside my family and friends I learned that the world or at least some parts of it is not as accepting.
I realized that I was different. My disease has caused great disability and that disability made it difficult for some people to accept me as their equal.
From the moment I step out of the door of our home, I venture into a world that does not automatically see me the way my family and friends do. There’s a stigma or a perception that is associated with someone in my situation.
I was taunted and teased as a kid. As I grew up the taunting and teasing lessened. However other things replaced it. Some people would look at me with pity. They think that just because I’m in a wheelchair and can barely move that I am a person who has very little worth. All they see is the disability and not the person inside.
One of the things I feel bad about is that sometimes when I am outside, whether it’s in the mall or just out side the place I live, some people would look at me and instead of talking to me ask the person I am with “uy, ano sakit niya? Kawawa naman”. They automatically assume that I am not able to converse with them or answer their questions in a rational way. But I can. I am probably the best person to ask about my condition. Also I think I am smart enough to answer their questions.
Sometimes society has certain stereotypes about people. People with severe disabilities should be looked down with pity.
I am proof that society shouldn’t.
Despite my challenges and with my family’s support and tremendous faith in God, I’ve grown up to be someone that I can be proud of. I’ve managed to finish school. I graduated from college. I am gainfully employed and contribute to society. I’ve done things that most people haven’t.
It took a lot of hard work but I managed to make something of myself. God showed me through the countless blessings he has bestowed upon me throughout, that he does not see me any differently from his other children. He loves me just the same.
Apart from my physical challenges, I am no different than most guys my age. I feel and want the same things most “normal” people do. I want to be a productive member of society. I want to be a good Christian. I want to love and be loved. I want to have a family someday. I want to make a difference in other people’s lives. I want to grow old and during my final moments in this world, say to myself that I have lived a life worth living.
I know that like other people we have all the things we want in life. I know that and accepted it as such. But like most people all I ask is the opportunity to try and pursue my dreams.
In a way some parts of society right now are like the soldiers who gave Christ sour and cheap wine as he yearned to satisfy his thirst while carrying the cross. Some parts of society treat people such as myself as those soldiers treated Christ, by offering them half-hearted gestures.
I look forward to the day wherein our society doesn’t look at a person such as myself and see his or her disability. Instead society looks at him or her and sees the person and what he or she truly is, a gift from God who deserves the same respect and love like everyone else.
I look forward to the day wherein society treats us like equals and offers us not cheap wine but the same wine as what they would have for themselves. Our lives are as valuable as anyone else. It might not be apparent from the surface but when look past the shortcomings you will see the true value that is in everyone.
Each person has a unique gift that is his alone. No two people are alike. Each one of us carries a beauty that is all our own.
I am not alone. There are countless people such as myself who either suffer from a disease or something else that changed their lives, people who walk this earth a little different from most. We all want to be accepted. We all thirst for love and empathy as you would give others. We ask not to be treated special but to be treated as equitably. We understand we are different in some aspects and need consideration for those things but for the most part, we are like every other person. We will continue to carry our cross, bu we thirst for your love.