Glorybeth Dano, 26, lives in a shared house in Davao City, Philippines with two female companions. She worships at her local Christian Church and in her spare time enjoys listening to music, singing along to her favourite songs, jogging with friends and reading real-life stories of people who have overcome their weaknesses. Glorybeth is a licensed social worker and in the process of completing her Masters in Special Education. As of now she is working with Genashtim innovative learning Pte Ltd and is responsible for handling the account of eCornell—the ELearning arm of Cornell university of New York. She aspires to understand people more, and hopes that her profession will be used effectively for a righteous cause. Glorybeth’s skills and achievements are outstanding, but what is truly exceptional, is the fact that Glorybeth is visually impaired. This is her story--
I was about 3 to 6 months old, when my family noticed that there was something wrong with my sight. I had blank stares and I couldn't find my toys whenever they were lost in my hand. My parents decided to take me to the Eyes, Nose and Throat (EENT) specialist. One year later I was diagnosed as having a congenital cataract. The operation was not possible at that time since I was so young. My aunt, through her congregation helped me to avail of a sponsored eye operation by the Philippine bank of mercy (PBM) at the Makati medical Center. They discovered that my blindness was caused by a retinal detachment. I now understand that detached retinas are caused when the retina becomes separated from the other layers of the eyeball. In my case, I was born with the retina located at the center of the eyes rather than at the corner of the eyes. It wasn’t until I was 7 years of age that I was operated twice atMakatiMedicalCenter. Unfortunately my operations were unsuccessful; the doctors were unable to move my retina to the side.
I have fond memories of my childhood, particularly my elementary years in DavaoSchool for the Blind where I studied basic Braille literacy, Daily living skills, and orientation and Mobility subjects. OnMarch 26, 1999 I graduated as the batch valedictorian.
Trouble began when I entered high school in an institution that wasn’t ready to accommodate blind students in a mainstream learning environment. None of the teachers were willing to accept me along with five other visually impaired students. They placed me at the back of the room and excluded me from exams and other classroom activities. I was a very sensitive and timid girl back then but I pursued with my studies. Can you imagine how it feels to be totally ignored? It was as if I didn’t exist. As a result, my sleeping and eating habits changed and I lost weight.
Things started to improve when we transferred to Talomo national high School. Once again, I started excelling and achieved the second rank in the class. However, internally I was struggling. Night after night I was haunted by the negative words and actions of my family. Nevertheless, I desired to please them with the hope that someday they might be proud of me. I also struggled to please my fellow blind classmates, “What’s the use?” they said, “When we’re sure to end up being jobless, giving massages or just singing on the streets.” According to them, I was “unfriendly”, “selfish” and a “teachers’ pet.” I now understand it was because they envied my optimism and intelligence.
While most blind students chose to be absent from school or cut classes; there was something in me that longed to meet the expectations of those who supported me, especially my teachers and the German benefactors. I was granted the first prize for the student Aid Award by the Ventures club of Young and Professional Women of America from local to international level in February, May and October, 2001; and as a result of my article in 1999 which described the problem of Filipino farmers as tenants of the land they never owned, including the experience of my parents, my sponsor, Ruth Fehlhaber of Heldesheimer Blindenmission HBM of West Germany (the funding agency of the Davao School for the Blind) rewarded my family on my behalf enough money to buy a piece of land. However, despite all my efforts and commendations, at the end of the day I always felt like I wasn’t good enough and my health kept on deteriorating.
Unfortunately during my third and fourth years of high school, I was prone to severe migraines to the point that I collapsed and vomited. I started taking more pain relievers than usual and I was brought to different doctors including a neurologist. Each one prescribed a different medication and I was induced to take them all. Finally our residential supervisor of DavaoSchool for the blind advised me to leave the school. It was thought that perhaps I needed a different kind of environment. Consequently, I finished my high school in Cebu with my brother. I hoped that his attitude would change, that he would share what I achieved and develop empathy. But it never happened. My fourth year of high school was very difficult physically and emotionally. I always felt like a burden to my brother and my teachers.
In April 2004, I began my college life at the University of Southern Philippines Foundation. Ms. Rosario Sequitin, chairperson of the Social Work department, was quick to inform teachers that they would be dealing with a blind student. On the first day, I asked a classmate to walk me around so I could familiarize myself with the campus. I appreciated the friendly environment. Although none of my teachers had first hand experience with a blind student, they were compassionate and willing to adjust to my needs. I didn’t have a guide, so I requested the aid of students and teachers to read for me notes and I also recorded all the lectures. In every class I brought my braille slate and stylus. By second semester of first year, I was allowed to use one unit of the computer in the library laboratory where JAWS- Job access with speech synthesizer, was installed and that’s how I learned to use the internet.
In second year I was experiencing depression due to financial and family problems that made me feel useless and hurt. The extent of the depression was so bad, I didn’t want to enter my classes and had suicidal tendencies. I lost my purpose for living. But somehow when God closes a door he always opens a window. The director of the Guidance office at that time- Sister Teresita Limsiaco and Ms Connie Payao became my counselors, and several teachers shows compassion and assisted me during that difficult time of my life.
I strived to maintain a place on the dean’s list, transferred to a new boarding house, and managed to apply for a scholarship through the alumni. To cut a long story short, I was able to finish college, passed the Social Work licensure exam and proceeded masters in Special Education in spite of the heartbreaks I experienced with my family, inconsistent guides, and financial struggles.
It wasn’t until 2009 after overcoming a severe depression that I truly began to accept and love myself. At a young age, I heard about the love of GOD for mankind and that HE sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins. But, I never understood what this really meant. It was only when others welcomed me into their homes when I had no place to go, and when people spoke words of encouragement to me in a soft tone and a smile in their voices that I saw the faithfulness of God and I realized that HE loves me.
I have learned to look at my blindness in a different perspective now. I have learned that all of us with or without sight have the same struggles which are the struggle of self and we all have limitations in life.
I have discovered that mere existence is not meaningful; but I have read in the bible that one must live with the purpose of sharing their life in the motivation of a Godly love is truly meaningful.
I have learned that my way of coping with life’s struggles depends on how I look at them.
I have learned that my world will not stop when a blackout occurs.
I have discovered that it’s not those who can see that are really afraid of the dark; they’re just disoriented and things and places become unknown. I have learned that those who wander through life are blind or being blinded. I have found out that it’s not the eyes that really see; it’s the mind.
On a final note, I would like to encourage others with visual impairment: Do not limit yourselves. Life is still beautiful and let us focus on the reality that darkness is everywhere, not only limited to sight, but life in general. So, let us strive to shine. Overcoming self is worth more than winning the highest prize the world can offer.
Editor's Note: This is unedited except for very little reformatting. Beth herself composed and typed this. :) Truly with God nothing is impossible.
On the afternoon of February 14,1999, the late Sis Alma Garcia saw me on a sidewalk towards our church, handed me a page of paper, gave a kiss and with her so sweet smile said “Share ko ito sa ‘yo, sis. It’s a very beautiful story for Valentine’s Day.” I respectfully smiled back and received it reluctantly.
But when she was taken to the Lord in 2003 after years of battling cancer, the copy of this story has become one of my most cherished gift from her. And I’m putting it here in my facebook notes, let it sleep for a while then share it away on Feb 14, 2010, Lord willing. May the beautiful lesson here be immortalized more and more in many a person’s heart.
A Love Story
John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform and studied the crowd of people making their way through the Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose.
His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name. Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She now lived in New York City.
He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photography, but she refused. She felt if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like.
When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting – 7:00 pm at the Grand Central Station in New York.
“You’ll recognize me” she wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” So at 7:00 he was in the Station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen. I’ll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:
A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were as blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive.
I started toward her, entirely forgetting that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips, “Going my way, sailor?” she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made a one step closer to her and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under her worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankle feet thrust into low heeled shoes.
The girl in green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something more precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.
I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. “I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell.
I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?” The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street.
She said it was some kind of test!”
It is not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell’s wisdom. The true nature of the heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. “Tell me who you love,” Houssaye wrote, “And I will tell you who you are.”
My 6 yr old nephew Warren is one chatty little fellow. Here are his latest stories…
Warren: Mom, bakit ba ang tao nagbabago ang mukha? Mommy: bat mo naman nasabi yan? Warren: kasi iba na mukha ko ngayon kesa dati… tingnan mo mukha mo—halos wala ka ng kilay! Mommy: (better stop shaving my brows! :) ____
Warren: Lola masaya ba sa heaven? Lola: Oo, dahil nandoon si Jesus Warren: ahhmm… Lola dahil matanda ka na mauuna ka na sa heaven Sabihin mo sa akin pagnakita mo na si Jesus ha… pero teka pano mo sasabihin sa akin kung invisible ka na?
(no more quote from the shocked lola :D ____
Ito naman talagang kakaiba…
I once taught him it’s wrong to say “Sus!” because this comes from the name of Jesus. One night, he shared…
Warren: tita , yung klasmeyt ko sabi niya “sus!” Sabi ko sa kanya “oi, bawal ang ‘sus!’
Tita: ano naman sagot ng klasmeyt mo?
Warren: Sabi niya di daw bawal ang ‘sus’ kasi ketsup daw yon.. ang sabi ko naman : “kaya wag ‘Sus!’ ang sabihin mo …dapat “Sauce!!!”
lesson? never underestimate kids hahaha!!! :)) _____
Oct 22,2009: he asked a few days ago: "mom, nagsisipilyo ba si God?" _____
October 28, 2009: "Lola ano baon ko mamaya?" "Fried chicken" "ahh.. dapat lola tatlo ilagay mo!" "ha? bakit? eh dalawa lang kayo ng ate mo?" "ang isa para kay teacher!!!"
(hmm... too early??.. di naman siguro.. bka generous lang hehe :D)
_____ December 9,2009
i told him "wa, pag may 100 ka sa exam bilhan kita ulit ng trolli candy" "magkano ba ang trolli hotdog?" he asked.. i answered "17"..
"ang trolli octopus?" "50 pesos... ay mahal yon!"
"ah.. ang trolli lizard?" "uhm.. 17 din"
"ilan ba ang 17 at 17?"
"may 34 ka ba???"
di na ako makasagot hehehe
------ August 22,2010
Warren's 7 now and he is growing up in a city where smoking is strictly regulated.
One afternoon as we ate in an enclosed resto, he suddenly exclaimed to my sis "hala mom!! Pwde pala magsmoke dito?"
"ha? Hindi!.." my ate mich answered, "Ba't mo natanong? "yun o!", then he read post , "this is a smoke free establishment" "haha, hindi, wa. Ang ibig sabihin ng free dyan ay wala, kaya walang smoking dito." i answered.
"Ahh.. Akala ko kasi pwde! Para bang sabi ng smoke: i'm free!!" he said animatedly. ____ October 13, 2010
He was busy doing something when he heard my cellphone sound, it was my msg tone- disney version of You'll be in my heart.
"alam ko san yan tita bb, sa tarzan.. Kanta ng mom nya nung una nyang nakita at kinuha si tarzan."
I envied his memory, knowing he saw d movie when he was about 4 or 5..
Then he said: alam mo ba sino kapareho ni tarzan? Si george of d jungle! Sya ung "george, george, geo-geo-george! Watch out for that tree! Uh-waaooh! Blag!" haha! Complete with action pa :-)