We could, and we will, always find a way to find light and bring back the hope.
Hi! I’m Philip John Valenzuela. You can call me Phil or JV and I am from batch 13 of the Virtualahan digital skills training program. I currently reside with my parents here in Davao City.
I am already 26 years old though I don’t look like my age and that’s because of my condition. Looking young is one of the perks of having Osteogenesis Imperfecta also known as “brittle bone disease”.
It is a disorder that causes bones to break easily. This means that most of us who have this condition could not walk, play or do activities like normal people do since our actions are limited. This condition comes at birth and is there to stay with us until our lifetime.
When I was about 1 or 2 years old, I have already experienced bone breakage but I managed to walk, run and do other activities anyway. I was able to enjoy normal mobility before the sickness fully took place.
In fact, I always took part in our school activities. I was frequently chosen to represent my school in many events especially in boy-scouting. I also won the hip-hop dance competition in Cebu City back in high school. But the greatest break I had was joining the 21st world scout jamboree in London, UK in 2007. Everything was paid for since I was part of the Philippine delegation.
Being there was surreal for me. Never in my life have I thought that I would get to experience that but I was lucky enough to be given the chance. I had so much fun there. The world seemed so little after meeting many people from different places. I had the time of my life there.
But like any other story, in happiness comes sadness. The following year in May 26, 2008, a major accident happened that totally changed everything.
I was traveling home from our scouts’ leadership training when I accidentally tripped in a big rock. I instantly fell and broke my left femur.
And I thought I could walk again after all the treatments were done, but the reality I was dreading for unfolded really quickly. I could not walk anymore.
Since then on, I became impaired. It felt like as if my feet are taken away from me like a bird without wings. I was still in high school then. I was in my 4th and last year. That was supposed to be the most amazing year for me but it did not turn out to be, at all.
On my high school graduation, I did not have any choice but to get my diploma on a wheelchair.
It may be unfortunate to think but optimism fueled me that I was still the luckiest because among all the graduates, I was the only one who was able to be on stage with my wheels (literally).
But kidding aside, I was seriously affected with the changes that took place. I have seen and felt the inconvenience of commuting and doing things. Commuting is a serious challenge for me and my mother (who is my constant aide) especially if we take the jeepney. In most cases, we opt to take a taxi since it would be a lot easier than other transportation options. But the problem is, taxi fares are very expensive. Taking the taxi all the time would definitely drain us with our money. These were the very reason why I chose not to continue in college.
At some points, I got tired and wanted to give up. I had thoughts of wanting to die but every time I get discouraged the Lord gives me hope through people. I am a Christian and I know that these are just trials that I must learn to overcome.
Finally, I got to be awakened from my long despair and decided to get on with life. I have to start on where I left off. That was when I decided to start my reloading business. I used all my savings and started my reloading. I also joined different trainings in Liliane Foundation and Virtualahan to refresh my knowledge to grow so I could achieve more in my life.
People lose hope along the way especially when big circumstances cloud their future and break their dreams. A lot of people with disabilities, like me, experience the same discouragements and hopelessness but even in the darkest of times, hope lingers. We could, and we will, always find a way to find light and bring back the hope. And this is what I want to let the others know.
Philip John Valenzuela