DEFYING THE ODDS. Dennis Liwag, a resident of Barangay Entablado, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija defies the odds of having a mobility impairment. He works as a clerk at the Persons with Disability Affairs Office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office in the town. (Screenshot from an FB video posted by PTFoMS executive director Undersecretary Joel Egco)

CABIAO, Nueva Ecija – Disability does not translate to inability.

This stands true to 43-year-old Dennis Liwag, whose disability did not stop him from achieving personal success by being able to earn a living to support, not only himself, but also his family.

Liwag, who has mobility impairment, works as a clerk at the Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office in this town.

For four years, Liwag has shown that he can deliver what is expected from him, just like his abled co-employees.

He is one of those in charge of providing services and assistance to his fellow PWDs such as the issuance of identification (ID) cards.

“Kasama rin sa trabaho ko ang pagbibigay tulong sa mga tulad ko na PWDs (Included in my work is giving assistance to those PWDs like me),” he told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview on Monday.

Liwag said he rarely goes absent in his work except on some days due to unavoidable circumstances.

He drives some eight kilometers from his residence in Barangay Entablado to their office at the municipal hall building of Cabiao using a customized tricycle given by his two siblings.

“Dahil sa tulong ng mga kapatid ko ay napalitan ang lumang tricycle na ginagamit ko ng isang upgraded and customized (Through the help of my siblings, my old tricycle was replaced with an upgraded and customized one),” he said.

Prior to working at the local DSWD office, Liwag was a tricycle driver for four years in their community.

He also used to sell vegetables by going around the villages to help support his family.

“Nakakarating ako hanggang Pampanga to sell calamansi. Ayaw kong umasa sa mga kapatid ko. Kaya gumagawa ako ng paraan para suportahan ko ang pamilya (I went as far as Pampanga to sell calamansi. Because I do not want to rely on my siblings. So, I tried to find ways to support my family),” he said.

Liwag is married but he and his wife separated a few years ago. With him is their 15-year-old daughter while their seven-year-old son is with his estranged wife.

He said he was born a normal baby but got sick with meningitis when he was one-year-old.

“Sabi ng parents ko nagkasakit ako ng meningitis at unti-unti na-paralyze ang aking mga paa. Hanggang sa maging ganito na ako. (My parents said I got meningitis and gradually my legs were paralyzed. Until I became like this),” he said.

Despite his condition, Liwag said he never experienced “self-pity” even when he was a child.

He said he finished elementary and high school like a normal kid.

He then took up a computer programming course in a vocational school in this province but was not able to finish it due to the school’s lack of appropriate facilities for PWDs.

“Hindi ko natapos ang pag-aaral ko. Kasi ko na kinaya pang umakyat sa second floor na school naming nang step by step (I did not finish my studies. Because I could not go up to the second floor of our school step by step),” he said.

But according to Liwag, he has no regrets about not being able to finish his studies.

“May plano ang Diyos kung kaya nangyari yun (God has a plan why it happened),” he said.

Asked what his goals in life are, Liwag said he has nothing more to ask for himself, but for his fellow PWDs. He said he desires for all persons like him to become self-reliant and be able to earn for themselves and their families.

“Hindi hadlang ang kapansanan para hindi makapaglingkod sa kapwa at sa bayan (Disability is not a barrier to not being able to serve our fellowmen and the nation),” Liwag said. (PNA)