“Noong bata ako, hindi ko napapansin na may kapansanan ako. Noon na lamang po na lumalaki ako hindi na ako sinasali sa mga field demonstration. Nakikita ko ‘yung mga kaklase ko sumasali sa street dancing,” narrated the 34-year old Mc Dommel Aldaba of San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro.
Mc Dommel was stricken by poliomyelitis or polio, an infectious viral disease that can cause foot deformities or worse permanent paralysis, at nine months old. Being the firstborn of the family, his parents feared for his condition. They were clueless how it happened and why it had to be their son to be affected. They weren’t prepared for the medication. More than that, they were never emotionally prepared for the possibility of their son being bullied in the future. “Hindi naman po ako nakaranas ng sobrang pambu-bully. Noon na lamang po na nag-highschool ako, hatid sundo ako ng tatay ko. ‘Dun ako nakaranas na ma-bully. Kaya ‘dun ako nag-aral magbike. ‘Yung tatay ko kasi laging nasasangkot sa gulo dahil nawi-witness niya ‘yung pambu-bully sa akin. Nakakapanakit siya ng estudyante kaya nagpursigi talaga ako mag-aral magbike,” said Mc Dommel.
Mc Dommel started to feel the effect of polio during his adolescence period. “Hindi na po kinakaya ng binti ko ‘yung upper body weight kaya nananakit na mga tuhod ko ‘nun,” he narrated. He consulted a doctor if he needed to use crutches, but his doctor did not allow him since it may cause muscle buildup, leading to heavier upper body weight. Instead, he was advised to continue biking as a form of leg exercise. He has already traveled using his bike from San Teodoro to Puerto Galera, which has a distance of approximately 21 kilometers. “Sinet ko na sa isip ko na kelangan patuloy ko gamitin ‘yung binti ko. Na-res earch ko na ‘yung mga nalulumpo dahil sa aksidente kaya lumiliit mga binti nila kasi hindi nila nagagamit. Nagkakaroon ng muscle loss. Para ma-delay ang process, kelangan mag-exercise. Biking lang talaga hanggang maaari every three days na long ride. Malaking bagay. Dati nakakarami ako ng pahinga then eventually nakayanan ko na derecho na walang pahinga dahan-dahan lang para ‘di mabigla,” he said.
Mc Dommel completed a two-year course in Calapan City, an associate degree in Technology major in Electronics. “After gumraduate, nasimulan naman po itong aming negosyo kaya kulang po ang maghapon para makapag-entertain pa ako ng mga repairs,” he narrated. “Actually hindi po ako aware na may ganyang program [skills training] dahil abala po ako dito sa kabuhayan namin, sa paggawa ng pork barbecue. From morning to evening, gawa lang po kami ng gawa dito. Bukas po ang tindahan namin sa hapon,” he shared. Then one day, the secretary of the focal person of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in San Teodoro informed him that there was an opening of training on electronics. He applied for it and successfully became a trainee.
Mc Dommel, along with 26 other participants in the first batch, trained for 33 days under the Wellcare Institute of Science and Technology (WIST), the official partner and service provider of SLP. His skills expanded when he became a trainee of SLP. He learned product assembly, power supply, troubleshooting, and CCTV installation. “Nung nag-aaral po kasi ako more on troubleshooting lang kami. ‘Nung nag-EPAS ako, dun lang po ako na-expose. Mas nahimay po sakin ‘yung detalye. Although may background po ako sa electronics bago sumali sa SLP, marami pa din ang naging bago sa aking experience dahil matagal din akong hindi nakapag-practice,” he shared.
Student-Turned-Instructor in an Instant
Mc Dommel recounted how he felt before graduating. “Noong matatapos na po ang training namin, ibinalita na po sa amin na lahat ng trainees after makalusot sa medical exam ay made-deploy as OJTs sa Laguna. Nalungkot po ako noon dahil ‘yung mga classmates ko made-deploy as OJT tapos ako balik dito,” shared Mc Dommel.
Right after receiving his Electronics and Product Assembly Servicing National Certificate II (EPAS NC II), WIST offered him a teaching position as an assistant instructor for the succeeding batches of EPAS which he gladly accepted. He did not expect this kind of opportunity to come his way. “Naging napakabilis ng flow of events kasi trainee biglang naging instructor. ‘Nung una may kasamang kaba dahil first time ko po made-deploy sa malayo. Sa Mansalay. Bale mga 100 kilometers po ang layo mula sa San Teodoro. Ang training period ay 33 days,” he narrated. His first teaching class included out-of-school youths, undergraduates, and housewives. After this batch, WIST offered another assignment to him in Pangasinan where he worked for almost four months.
Mc Dommel expressed his sincerest gratitude for giving him the opportunity to grow in his chosen career. “Napakalaking bagay po as experience aside po sa nagkaroon ako ng additional skills ay nagkaroon din po ako ng pagkakataon na makapagturo sa mga bata, mga out-of-school youth, nagkaroon po ng mga bagong kaibigan sa ibat-ibang lugar, at higit sa lahat ay nakatulong sa pamilya,” he said when asked on the impact of the program to his life.
More that these, he became more involved in the community. He has explored his leadership skills. “Hindi ako aware sa samahan, hindi talaga ako mahilig maki-involve sa mga community activities hanggang sa na-appoint ako na president ng PWD dito sa barangay namin. Lately lang ako nagiging active. Nayaya ako ng focal person namin na umattend sa Calapan sa assembly ng mga PWD sa kapitolyo,” he said.
This opportunity helped Mc Dommel to save some amount of money. Also, he was able to buy things he needed for his condition such as cane. “Yung tungkod na ginagamit ko po ay pahiram lang sa’kin ni Madam Makiss [DSWD staff]. ‘Nung nakaipon-ipon po nakabili na din ako ng sarili kong tungkod,” Mc Dommel narrated. He was also able to save some money since he started as an instructor.
Sustainable Livelihood Program provides access to employment opportunities to people like Mc Dommel who belongs to the disadvantaged sector of the society. Mc Dommel represents people with disabilities who do not succumb to their condition, rather push their limits to become better at what they do. ###
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