Istorya: A PWD’s journey to the Paralympics

Aileen Cerrudo

Joey Eriga De Leon readies himself. Using his feet, he lifts one of the balls and throws it as near as he can to the white ball on the ground.

The goal of Boccia is to have as many balls possible to the target ball.

Joey is rigorously training for the upcoming 2020 ASEAN Para Games where the Philippines is the host country.

Having born with cerebral palsy it was all rough roads and limited opportunities for Joey.

Luisa, his mother, recalled how she fought numerous battles with her son.

She didn’t know any special education (SPED) schools then and they lack the money to provide a more comfortable life for Joey.

His first wheelchair was made of wood which his father made for him. Because of his condition, Joey had trouble making friends, so Luisa would take his son to the mall.

But she did not stop paving a better road for her son. She smiles now as she remembered when Joey was just joining the tryouts for Boccia.

“Sabi niya ‘Nay papasok ako dito. Maglalaro ako sa international tandaan mo iyan’ (He said, ‘Ma, I will qualify here and I will play internationally, remember that)” Luisa said.

Joey cannot control his hands but he didn’t mind. He picks up another ball with his feet and throws it.

Despite the wheelchair, his movement embodies a true athlete—no more self-pity.

Ever since Joey was introduced to the Cerebral Palsy Association of the Philippines, he became more aware of his potential.

He gained friends, he became a board member of the Cerebral Palsy Association of the Philippines, serving as their treasurer.

Joey continued paving the road started by his mother.

“Kapag mino-motivate ko siya, mino-motivate niya rin ako. Tulungan kaming dalawa, (When I motivate me, he also motivates be. We help each other)” Luisa said.

Watch their full story in Istorya on November 9 at 5:00 p.m.

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