Monday, August 02, 2021

A father’s love raised to the power of two

IN A life that’s filled with wonder and awe, there are things- and events- that humans will never be able to grasp an answer for.

Call it unique, weird, bizarre, and in some cases a miracle, people-- if lucky-- will live to see something extraordinary that’s something worth telling.

In today’s article for Father’s Day, this father is nowhere near “ordinary.”

At the age of five, Pepard Bagares lost his sight due to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome which is a rare, serious disorder of the skin and mucous membranes.

To some people, living a life without the ability to see may be daunting, but this never stopped Pepard from living his best life and enjoying his gift-- the gift of being a “human calculator,” a “human calendar” and being a wonderful Papa to two kids.

“Wa gyud ko’y training. Pagkamatngon nako og buot, sige ko’g duwa og tansan... Didto ko sa tansan nag Algebra, pero wa pa’y pangan; wala koy ‘ngan nahibaw-an. Akong mga uyo-an nalang nga engineer ang ni ingon nga ‘Algebra na’,” Pepard shared as he recalled the earliest joys in his life which was solving math problems using bottle caps.

According to Pepard, nobody taught him these things. Despite having other toys to play with, his favorites were the bottle caps which allowed him to immerse in a world of numbers and solutions. He even had his own terms like “gamay” for decimal points.

At the age of 14, he traded bottle caps for a comb, where he used the comb’s teeth to compute millions.

“Nag gamit ko og sudlay, makuyawan man ko og maayo. Nadugay ako nalang gilabay ang sudlay, kadugayan na kat-on ra man ko,” he said.

When Pepard became a teenager, his friends who were engineers admitted to him that he was extraordinary with mathematics, but added that “it wasn’t practical.” Instead, they told Pepard to try playing the piano.

He did give piano a chance, Pepard said, but he couldn’t let go of doing maths.

“Labi nag maguol ko, magsolve-solve dayun ko aron ma-ulian ko. Kung wa pa ni siya, dugay ra kong naguol; kani siya akong counter sa kaguol,” Pepard said.

While the world of Mathematics became Pepard’s comfort zone, love was something he couldn’t put into equations and solutions.

In December 1984, he left Tagbilaran, Bohol to come home to Mandaue City.

“Di man ko magsilbi nga ako rang usa. Mao tong ni ingon si Mama nga ako sang hulman ang maid (helper) ni Lola Sensiang.”

And that’s how he met Helen Gelasque, the woman who became Pepard’s eyes and later became the one who held his heart.

“Siya akong kuyog, kung asa ko magsuroy-suroy. Lipay kaayo ko kay moagak gyud siya nako. Unya, hinayang pud nako kung moagak gyud nako, ganahan na hinuon ko mag sige og kuyog,” he shared.

Pepard recalls missing Helen even if she just went to the market for an hour or two.

“Naka-detect man sad ko nga ganahan siya nako, mao tung kami na dayon nadugay.”

In order to provide for his family, Pepard ventured into various small businesses like setting up a boarding house, money lending, and even selling pork. Through these investments, he was able to send Mary Joy and her older brother to school.

“Ganahan kaayo ko anang mga negosyoha kay kwenta-kwenta man na.”

Aside from being a math wiz, Mary Joy, Pepard’s daughter, shares that her father is loving and caring.

“He’s a good father kay bisan man sa iyang disability, wala niya nakita iyang disability nga hindrance siya sa pag-provide namo og good education, food, and everything kung unsa ang responsibility sa usa ka Amahan. Wala siya nagkuwang namo,” Mary said.

Among Mary’s treasured moments with her Papa, she said that something she’ll never forget is how her Papa will always “spoil” her by buying whatever she wanted.

“Katung bata pa ko, naka-think ko nga bisan og dili makakita si Papa, willing kaayu siya mu provide sa iyang anak og unsa’y gusto, unsa’y ihatag; kay mao may kalipay sa anak,” Mary shares.

In return for her father’s affection, Mary uses her Mass Communication degree to slowly make her Papa’s wishes come true.

“Dili nako ganahan nga course (ang MassComm) but na see nako ang purpose. Maybe gipa-MassComm ko para ma-recognize akong Papa. So, mao na akong wish nga pina-agi sa mga gihatag nga means sa Ginoo, nga mahitabo ang iyang wish nga ma-recognize siya ug karon, nagkahinay-hinay na (og katinuod),” she said.

Mary considers her Papa as a friend, an inspiration, and an “epitome of hope” because he never fails to give advice and be there for his children. He also uses himself as an example to stay “hopeful” even if things don’t turn out to be the way one would want them.

Before the interview came to an end, Pepard shared some words of hope for everyone especially those who share the same plight as him.

“Kamo, di gyud mo pa wa og pagla-um kay ako wa man ko nawad-an og pagla-um bisag magul-anon ko. Kahibaw ko tanan disabled magul-anon gyud na but at least, maningkamot gyud ta. Kamo, kitang tanan duna man gyud tay talent. Tinuod man nang saad sa Ginoo nga kitang tanan naay talent. Ang problema lang nato, di ta ka-detect sa atong talent; paningkamoti ninyo nga ma-detect ninyo inyong talent.”


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