Ted may not have eyesight, but his heart can see

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‘Reading’ is a skill his capacity would no longer allow, but Ted Ponferrada was able to do it nonetheless.

Ponferrada, blind since he was 11, was able to participate and even help the blind get involved in the Lenten tradition “pabasa,” thanks to his persistence and to the people who believed he could. Well, he didn’t ask for a miracle to get his sight back—all he needed was determination and good Braille skills.

“I help fellow blind and I’d like to inspire people. For me, being a handicap is nothing. We are normal people who just lost our sight. Blindness is a mere inconvenience, not a handicap,” the eloquent Ponferrada told Yahoo! Southeast Asia.

Ponferrada said he turned blind when he was in Grade 5, when his grandmother applied herbal medicine that just made his sore eyes worse. He slowly lost his eyesight, but instead of lamenting about his fate, Ponferrada moved forward.

He later studied in a school for the blind where he met a friend who led him to his current advocacy.

How it all began

Back in 2007, Ponferrada spearheaded the creation of Braille “Passion of Christ” and spread it in Legazpi City. He wanted to give his time to God during that Lent and join the “Pabasa.” Through the help of the Rector of Aquinas University and a philanthropist, Dr. Ofelia Vega, Ponferrada was able to print the reading’s Braille version.

“Braille paper is imported, and you also need proof reading,” Ponferrada describes. He noted that from P50,000, he was able to print only 20 copies. But this is no small feat: now the blind in his community can be taught how to read and can even participate in the Catholic tradition.

Interestingly, Ponferrada said if he wanted more donations he could have had more.  But he is cautious when it comes to donations, especially during the election season.

“Many politicians are sponsoring. They wanted to help but these people from different political parties want a picture with us,” Ponferrada said.

After the 2010 polls, Ponferrada continued the yearly Braille “pabasa” tradition and expanded it further. This year, he shared the readings to the blind of Manila in a “pabasa” in Pasay City.

“Last Lenten season, 16 blinds have read with me,” related Ponferrada.

A good father, husband

Gerry and his youngest son, Patrick.

The 53-year-old is not just a blessing to his community—he’s also heaven-sent for his family. Despite his inability to see, Ponferrada was able to provide for his three children, one of whom is a graduating BS Mining Engineering student in UP Diliman.

“Hanggang ngayon, mag isang kinukuha pa rin ni Papa ang panggastos para sa buo naming pamilya at para na rin mismo sa aming pag aaral, mula lamang sa pagmamasahe [Until now, he supports the family thru his job as a masseur],” Shin Boo Ponferrada said of his father.
He said his mother also couldn’t work because she has to accompany his father. And this inspires our blind idol to work harder.

“My wife always accompanies me, always there for me,” said Ponferrada who works as a masseur in a mall in Ortigas. On Mondays, he plays the rondalla at Duty Free Philippines.

When told about his nomination as Pitong Pinoy awardee, Ponferrada was thanking us non-stop. But we think it was him we should thank for—for the inspiration, and the extra-ordinary story he shared with us.

Read about the other Pitong Pinoy finalists here.
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