Against all odds

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Friday, July 4, 2014

DISABILITY is not a hindrance for a person to be successful in his chosen life’s journey.

This is proven by the story of 44-year-old Jonathan Espanol, a visually-impaired person, who brought glory and honor for Davao City in the just-concluded 2014 Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled (PHILSPADA) National Paralympic Games last May at the Marikina Sports Complex.

Espanol along with his two teammates emerged as overall champion in the game of goal ball.


But before he actually reached this point in his life, he faced several adversities especially for him, a visually impaired individual.

At the very young age of 19, Espanol became blind. He shared that it’s in their family bloodline and aside from him, his other three siblings also has similar disabilities.

"From the start we already knew that something is not normal in our family's genes," he said.

He admits the adjustments he had to go through was tough due to his condition. He became disappointed with himself especially because he was too young back then and a lot of his dreams were yet fulfilled.

"It was a life-changing stretch for me. I was only 19 years old when my eyesight left me. It's like the end of the world for me with no future," he said.

Español admitted that he attempted to take his own life because of depression. But then he realized that God gave him this challenge for a purpose.

He started to attend bible lectures, masses, and slowly he became closer with God. He often reads the bible verse of Matthew 7, 1-7; which states, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

"Each of one of us has a mission to fulfill and mine is to empower other PWDs out there," he said.

Through sports activities he wants his fellow PWDs will be empowered to be more positive in life. God is there for us, he can be our best friend who can help us during our difficult times, he added.

His brother, Noel Español, also inspired him to be a role model to PWDs as well. His focus right now is how to involve PWDs into sports.

The game of Goalball was introduced to him when he was still 25 years old and until now he became a solid piece of the team during competitions. Ateneo de Davao University and UCCP fields serves as their practice venue for goal ball. Aside from goal ball, other PWDs are representing chess, badminton, table tennis, and wheelchair basketball.

The City Government of Davao became an instrument for the PWDs as they were supported in various competitions in the past years.

Although there are discrimination with PWDs even in sports, they just learned to neglect and just focus on the task which is to compete in different sports.

He hopes that discrimination for them PWDs would end and instead they should be welcomed because of the recognition they bring to the city

"Bisan naa mi kapansanan nagaenjoy mi sa among ginabuhat na nagadula mi sa sports (Despite of our disabilities, we are able enjoy and at the same time compete in different sports)," he added.

Español, meanwhile, is set to compete in the Asian Games Paralympics.
Presently, Español is working as a massage therapist in a Blind Massage outfit in Gaisano South Mall along Ilustre Street.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 05, 2014.


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