“Maulaw ko mugawas kay maulaw ko kung lantawon ko, pero bisan pa man sa akong kahimtang, nangita ko ug paagi nga manginabuhi agi sa kalisod…” (I feel ashamed of going out because I feel embarrassed when people look at me, yet, despite my situation, I find ways to earn a living due to poverty).”

Danilo S. Magtupa is a 51-year-old resident of Talusan, Zamboanga Sibugay born with Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD), commonly known as “dwarfism”. It is a condition caused by insufficient amounts of growth hormone in the body resulting in a short stature of the person.

In 2017, he became one of the beneficiaries of the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) Kabuhayan Starter Kit for Barber Servicing.

“Nalipay kaayo ko ma’am nga sa pagmiyembro nako aning asosasyon sa PWD, nahatagan ko ug mga hinabang gikan sa gobyerno.” (I am happy that I joined the PWD association because, through this, I was able to receive assistance from the government.)

He put up a little barbershop beside their sari-sari store and constructed a modified barber chair with a matching DIY stool so he can reach his customers. His regular customers are the neighbors and police officers in the area. Though his income is not constant, he is able to earn an estimated average of Php 1,300.00 per week with his current rate of Php 50.00 per person.

Other than hairdressing services, he ventured into other sources of income such as load retailing and activating virtual private network (VPN) connections for clients. “Atong niagi ma’am kay akong customer si Mayor, nalipay jud ko ma’am kay nisalig jud sila sa akoa. (Last time, the Mayor was my customer. I was so happy because he trusted me),” Danilo expressed.

Their efforts allowed him and his wife, Emelda, to have a sustainable livelihood. Not blessed with a child of their own, they decided to adopt. They are now supporting this child’s needs and school expenses.

“Dili babag ang akong kahimtang. Gidawat nako kay mao maniy gihatag sa Ginoo sa akoa. Gidawat sab nako ang pagka-officer sa PWD kay aside sa gibotohan ko, kaya man sab nako ang maong posisyon.” (My condition is not a hindrance. I accepted it because it is God’s will. I also accepted being an officer of the PWDs because I know I am capable of the position.)

With full confidence in his capabilities, Danilo is an active member of the PWD association. He engages in many civic activities that contribute a lot to their community.

He is also able to express his talents and passion for the arts as a remarkable sketch artist and an active member of the Iglesia ni Cristo Multimedia Bureau. He is the current Chronicler of the Locale Congregation of Talusan tasked to keep records of all the activities of the church and to trace back the history of their locale’s congregation since its foundation.

Danilo expressed his deep gratitude to the government for always looking after the welfare of PWDs like him, “Nagpasalamat jud ko ma’am kay galantaw jud pirmi ang gobyerno sa amo. Naay tabang nga ginahatag sa amoa nga mga PWD. Salamat jud kayo ma’am (I am thankful ma’am that the government is looking after us. They gave assistance to us, PWDs. Thank you so much).”

Though he honestly communicated his struggles being a PWD, he is full of life and enthusiasm. The Local Government Unit of Talusan acknowledged him as an inspiration to all other citizens of their municipality. The recent visit of the municipal mayor, Hon. Gilbert Edem and PESO Manager Rovelyn Adlaon provided him with added confidence and hope despite the challenges he is facing.

“Sa mga sama nako nga PWD, ayaw ninyo ikaulaw ang inyong sitwasyon. Dapat i-encourage nato atong kaugalingon sa pagpanginabuhi kay bisan pa ug lisod ang atong sitwasyon dili man ta pwede magsalig nalang sa atong ginikanan ug mga igsoon. Mag-ampo lang ta ug magdasig lang sa pagpaningkamot (For those who are PWDs like me, do not be ashamed of your condition. We should encourage ourselves to make a living even if our situation is difficult because we cannot keep on relying on our parents or siblings. Let us just pray and be positive as we strive),” Mr. Danilo tearfully expressed.END/With reports from DOLE ZSFO