Gerry Gamez: The one-armed crusader

Do you think this finalist deserves to be the Pitong Pinoy "People's Choice" awardee?

Vote at Yahoo! PH Pitong Pinoy

Filipinos who complain about having only two arms yet being expected to do so much should meet Gerry Gamez, a one-armed man who actively promotes patriotism, constantly volunteers for community service and has built two classrooms in his hometown.

"Magsasaka po ang mga magulang ko at pinalaki po kaming nagsasaka habang nag-aaral. Noong 13 taong gulang po ako, naipit po ang isa kong braso sa rice thresher (My parents were farmers and we grew up helping them while studying. When I was 13 years old, my arm got stuck in a rice thresher)," Gamez, now 47, told Yahoo! Southeast Asia in a phone interview.

Surprisingly, however, Gamez sees the accident as a "blessing in disguise," as it forced him to go to Manila for treatment.

"Kung hindi ako nakapunta ng Maynila para magpagamot, hindi rin sana ako nakapagpatuloy ng pag-aaral (I wouldn't have finished school if I had not moved to Manila)," the Pitong Pinoy finalist said. He earned a degree in accounting and management.

Recalling his own plight as a student in Oriental Mindoro, Gamez in November 2010 gave up most of his savings--including what should have been his daughter's tuition money--to construct a classroom for children in the area.

"Nung nag-aral ako doon wala kaming grade five at six. Dalawang beses akong muntikan nang malunod sa ilog noon para makapag-aral ng ibang eskwelahan (When I attended school there, fifth and sixth grade were not offered. I almost drowned twice because we had to cross a river on our way to another school)," Gamez said.

Aside from his cash donation, Gamez physically helped in the classroom construction, prodding those who saw the feat to lend their arms to the cause.

Two classrooms have been turned over to Gamez's alma mater by March 2011, through the contribution of other organizations and private individuals.

"Naging bayanihan na kaya naging dalawa. Yung mga fraternities naman na nakabalita, nagbigay ng mga upuan (It turned into a concerted effort so we were able to put up two classrooms. Fraternities who heard about the plan also donated chairs)," Gamez said.

But he is not stopping there, as he still plans to build comfort rooms for the school.

Asked if he ever thought of his disability as a hindrance, Gamez said: "Iniisip ko na lang mas maraming nasa mas mahirap na kondisyon (I just think that many others are in worse conditions)."

"Gusto kong maging modelo sa may mga kapansanan (I want to be a role model for persons with disability)," he added.

“Sabi nga nila, anim na ang naging buhay ko at hindi naman sa pagmamayabang, lahat yun ibinuhos ko sa pagtulong sa kapwa (Some say I’ve lived six lives already and modesty aside, I’ve spent all of those lives helping others),” he said.

Aside from losing his left arm and almost drowning twice, Gamez also fell from a horse, almost broke his head on a plow and received death threats as a student activist.

Despite that, he has been actively involved in community activities such as feeding programs, medical missions, tree planting, relief operations, and youth leadership trainings.
   
Gamez believes that poverty should also not prevent Filipinos from helping each other.

Gerry Gamez“Nakasalalay ‘yan sa kagustuhan ng isang tao na makatulong. Kung mayaman ka at yung labis lamang ang binibigay mo, hindi iyon paglilingkod. Parang token lamang ito (It depends on a person’s determination to help. If you are rich and you only share what you have in excess, it’s not service. You are only giving tokens),” Gamez said.

As for himself, Gamez said he has set aside dreams of getting rich. He now earns a living by selling multi-purpose vacuum machines.

Gamez also hit individuals who make a big deal of their charity work, noting that the real heroes are those who remain nameless and faceless.

“Maraming Pilipino na tumutulong, di lang napapansin. Yun ang dapat nating tingalain, ang ordinaryong mamamayan na hindi naghahangad na maitanghal (Many Filipinos are dedicated to helping others but whose deeds go unnoticed. Those are the ones we should epitomize, the ordinary citizens who help without thought of recognition), Gamez said.

Asked about the Philippines’ biggest problem, Gamez said: “Hindi kahirapan, hindi katiwalian kundi kakulangan ng pagmamahal sa bayan (It’s not poverty, not corruption but lack of love for country).”

Gamez, who is usually seen wearing shirts inspired by the national colors even if it draws the ire of critics, says he hopes Filipinos will grow to genuinely love the country.

“Kung lahat—lalo na ang mga pulitiko—may pagmamahal sa bayan, mababawasan ang katiwalian. Ang pera dun, magagamit sa edukasyon at iba pang serbisyo sa mamayanan. Uunlad ang kabuhayan kaya mababawasan ang krimen at ang gulo, at lahat ng maganda para sa bansa, matutupad (If all Filipinos—especially our leaders—love the country, corruption will go down, freeing more money for education and basic services. This will lead to improved living conditions and thus lower crime rates and violence),” Gamez said.

This, as he noted that love for country also involves sacrifice. “Kailangan may magtiyagang magtanim ng maliliit na butil ng kabutihan (Someone has to toil to plant small seeds of kindness),” Gamez said.

“Kaya tinawag na bayani dahil bayan ang aani (Heroes sow the seeds; the country reaps the harvest),” he said.

Read about the other Pitong Pinoy finalists here.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Mayweather picks off Pacquiao to join greats
    Mayweather picks off Pacquiao to join greats

    Floyd Mayweather's emphatic win over Manny Pacquiao sealed his status as a boxing great, but triggered an outcry in the Philippines and divided opinion amongst the sports legends. Feinting and dancing his way to a unanimous decision, Mayweather comfortably picked off Pacquiao over 12 rounds to extend his 19-year unbeaten record to 48-0. Yet the jeers could not obscure a clear win for the skilful Mayweather, with judges awarding him the decision by margins of 118-110 and 116-112. Mayweather, …

  • PSC sports venues deteriorating – COA
    PSC sports venues deteriorating – COA

    The Commission on Audit (COA) has noted the sorry state of the country’s sports venues despite supposedly receiving sufficient funds from the government. It reported that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) got an additional budget of P626.563 million in 2013 alone but failed to maintain and upgrade the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) in Malate, Manila and the Philsports Complex in Pasig City. This, according to the COA report, is already a disadvantage to the country’s athletes. …

  • Taguig bettor wins P39.2-M lotto jackpot
    Taguig bettor wins P39.2-M lotto jackpot

    A player from Taguig City won the jackpot of the 6/42 Regular Lotto’s May 2 draw, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced yesterday. PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas said the still unidentified winner guessed the six-digit winning combination, 12-42-16-04-11-08, which has a jackpot of P39.2 million. At least 80 other players won P11,420 each after they guessed five digits of the winning combination. The 6/42 Regular Lotto online game is drawn every Tuesday, …

  • Tropical depression spotted off Mindanao
    Tropical depression spotted off Mindanao

    A tropical depression hovering over the Pacific Ocean is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday and may bring much-needed rain to the country later this week, the state weather bureau said yesterday. As of 10 a.m. yesterday, the weather disturbance was spotted at 1,615 kilometers east of Mindanao with maximum winds of 45 kilometers per hour near the center, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said …

  • Phl to seek Mary Jane’s return
    Phl to seek Mary Jane’s return

    The Philippine government is exploring options to extend the temporary reprieve granted by Indonesia to Filipina death row convict Mary Jane Veloso, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday. De Lima said they would look into the possibility of asking the Indonesian government to allow Veloso to return home to testify in the human trafficking, illegal recruitment and swindling cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against her alleged illegal recruiters Ma. …

  • Sadness, disappointment in Philippines after Pacquiao defeat
    Sadness, disappointment in Philippines after Pacquiao defeat

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Sadness and disappointment gripped Filipinos after Manny Pacquiao's defeat in his much-anticipated fight against American Floyd Mayweather Jr. but they still considered the boxing icon a national hero. …

  • Philippine rebels kill most wanted Islamist militant in south

    The Philippines' most wanted Islamist militant, who escaped after a raid in January that killed 44 police commandos, was killed on Sunday in firefight with Muslim rebels, officials said. Protracted police operations to arrest three Islamist high-value targets had become the biggest political crisis in five years for President Benigno Aquino and put at risk his government's peace efforts with Moro Islamic Liberation Front. A proposed law creating a new autonomous government for minority …

  • Disappointed Filipinos cry foul as Pacquiao loses
    Disappointed Filipinos cry foul as Pacquiao loses

    Boxing fans in the Philippines cried foul and groaned in bitter disappointment on Sunday as national hero Manny Pacquiao lost to American rival Floyd Mayweather in the "fight of the century". Filipinos filled gymnasiums, cinemas and bars as the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people stopped for Pacquiao's battle with Mayweather in Las Vegas, which he lost in a unanimous points decision. A devastated Pacquiao said immediately afterwards that he thought he had won, and many at home agreed …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options