LEGAZPI CITY, Mar 9 (PNA) --Antonio "Tony" Esquilador Jr., 22, Grade 8 student of Southern Luzon Technological College Foundation Inc. (SLTCFI) is legless but he painstakingly goes to school every day.
Going to school, however, is a big challenge to him, as often he is experiencing road bullying from tricycle and jeepney drivers here.
Tony, the 10th child of couple Antonio Sr. and Adela of Sitio San Isidro, Puro village, Legazpi City, was born without legs – and his dream is to be a computer engineer or computer technician if he would not be able to take up an engineering course.
Adela, 55 and a widow, said Tony suffers from road bullying as some tricycle drivers in their area are inconsiderate.
“The physical condition of my son does not prevent him from going to school every day but the discrimination he is experiencing from ruthless tricycle and jeepney drivers is unbearable not only for him but more so for me as a mother. Many times, he is not permitted by tricycle drivers to ride in going to their school nor brought in front of SLTCFI, which violates his right as a person,” said the teary-eyed mother.
“Many times my Tony boy gets wet in going to school during rainy days because the tricycle drivers don’t drop him by the school. So, he is forced to crawl from tricycle terminal going to SLTCFI everyday — some 800 meters away from the ‘parada’ (parking) area despite his physical condition,” Adela lamented.
Tony was able to go to school at SLTCFI through the help of Fr. Bob Bellen of St. Raphael parish who shoulders his transportation allowance, tuitions, books and free meals at the parish during school days.
Without the help of Fr. Bob, Tony said he would remain an out-of-school youth with no good future ahead.
With the study grant given by Fr. Bob Bellen, Tony’s future has brightened and this compelled him to fight the challenges in his life.
He met the priest a few years back when Fr. Bob held a Holy Mass in their village.
“Immediately after the Mass, Fr. Bob joined me at home and talked to my mother. I’m so thankful with Fr. Bob Bellen because he helped me out to see the beauty of life and the good future ahead,” Tony said.
When the priest was transferred to another parish, he entrusted Tony to Fr. Benjie of St. Raphael Parish for assistance.
Tony is aspiring to become a computer technician someday to help his poor family.
When asked about the difficulties he is experiencing in his studies, aside from road bullying, Tony said he needs a laptop to do his projects and research work.
Adela works as as househelp earning P3,000 monthly.
Luckily they are among the beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program of the government receiving P1,500 monthly provided for the 4Ps beneficiaries.
Aside from Tony, Adela is supporting the education of his youngest son Arraldin, also Grade 8at SLTCFI.
Angel Calixto Valera, SLTCFI class adviser, said Tony is an average student and so eager and determined in his schooling.
He, however, is very prone to sickness due to his physical condition.
“He’s good at practical electricity. He can even repair cellular phones,” Valera said.
Tony also excels in extra-curricular activities in school, specifically in dancing, and was given a merit for best in values education.(PNA) PDS/FGS/RBB/CBD/PJN