MANILA, Philippines - "Disability does not mean inability." This was the message shared by a Pinoy who not only has a regular job at Accenture Philippines, but also runs various race events using a home-made stilt instead of crutches.
As the world celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities today (December 3), Ernest Carual shared his story of overcoming his disability on Accenture Philippines' YouTube channel.
Carual, a project control associate manager at Accenture’s Technology operations in the Philippines, recalled how he was diagnosed with osteomyelitis or an inflammation of the bone marrow at the age of 3.
"It started out with a plain fever. Just imagine a 3-year-old with a fever, so I almost died during that time. They decided to open me up but it was too late. Part of my bone was basically gone and it was all eaten up by the infection. Good thing the operation was successful," he said.
However, due to the infection, Carual's right leg did not grow at the same pace of his left leg, leaving a 15-inch difference.
He used crutches for most of his life, through college and when he started working at Accenture in 2007.
Ditching the crutches
In 2009, Carual, who was working with the BPO group at that time, decided to join the CCAP battle of the bands with his friends.
Since it would be difficult to play bass guitar while on crutches, he created a "home-made stilt" to use while performing with the band.
"I was the one who drew it and the father of my wife was the one who built it. I was able to use it during the gig and right after the gig, I thought, Paano na ito? I’m just going to use it every time there’s a gig? What if I pursue the band thing," he said.
Then while on night shift, he decided to use the stilts at work.
"I tried walking with it on the floor and I got this thought that, 'Hey I can use this for every day.' I tried to tweak it every time I use it to make it more comfortable. For you guys who are asking what this is made of, this is made of wood, rubber, and some strap from old bags. Design ko talaga," he proudly said.
Since then, he stopped using crutches and has been able to walk freely.
"Both hands are now usable so I can bring some stuff. And at the same time, I had my kid in 2010, so I can carry my kid," he said.
Finishing the race
Carual is also a runner, having participated in more than 19 race events since last year.
"If you were in my condition, do you think that I would be able to run a marathon or even a 32-kilometer race? Because I did. Because for me, disability does not mean inability... I will not stop running as long as I can. That’s my message for everyone – disability does not really mean inability," he said.
In one of his races, Carual tried to tweak the stilt a day before the race. But during the race, he realized there was something wrong with it after running two kilometers of the 21-kilometer route. The stilt was damaged but he continued the race with his wife and friends.
"What I did, instead of me dwelling na nasira siya and how can I basically proceed, I looked at the positive side. I still have my wife, primarily, and, I still have God, and, I still have this stilt," he said.
Despite the pain, he pushed himself to finish the race.
"At the 18th kilometer of the race, so it’s like the last 3 kilometers, it was really painful for me. I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. But then my wife was there supporting me and she said that, 'It’s the last 3 kilometers, ngayon ka pa ba aayaw?' We ran, walked and ran, until I reached the finish line," he related.
The lesson here, he said, is not about finding your limit.
"You will really need to find ways, you will really need to push yourself to the limit. Because for me, strength does not really come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things that you, for once, you think you couldn’t," he said.