The palace floors glistened as he walked on it slowly and surely. The chandeliers above sparkled like diamonds of forever. Everyone threw stares at him, but this time, he is certain that those were not stares of prejudice and mockery, rather it were stares of awe and pride. He finally reached the platform where the petite president of the Republic of the Philippines was waiting. He was definitely shorter than the honorable lady but he did not mind it. He prided his barong much more than his sense of insecurity and self-pity.
Now, the president has handed him his plaque, he shook her hands with jubilee, and the crowd was just speechless as they gave him their wildest applause.
Four years ago when the Malacañang Palace, through the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, conferred this man, Richardson Estrella Navor, as one of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. Just like a mere student, his dreams were shallow—to finish a degree, help his family, land a job. But something in him, which he thought at first as a curse, changed the course of his fate.
This person, whom I met before on a seminar called ‘The Outstanding Students of Philippines’, had a cane on his right hand and a techy gadget on the other. He stood inconveniently behind a pulpit and talked about leadership and success, but him sharing his personal life gave me goose bumps and a wide grin. Let me share his story.
At an early age of two, Richardson Estrella Navor, or Chard by his friends, was diagnosed of what sounds so familiar to all of us—cerebral palsy. He could not stand up straight, for both his legs aren’t as brawny as those with the normal people. His limbs are small, and at one glance, one could say that he will never survive life’s cruelty. He surpassed an operation, though, and had a cast at both legs for six straight months. He grew up in the loving arms of his family but teases and taunts were also present in the picturesque. He was mocked during his childhood. “They were piercing stares at me,” he said.
During his high school life, he tried to live as normal as possible. He even tried to court a girl, but this was her reply to his reverent confession. “You are not good for me.” Painful was it indeed, yet he did not wallow in his failures and disability. He did something for the things that he has, and did not resort to asking his Creator a million times about how and why he looked like that.
Amidst life’s rocky roads and winding paths, he was convinced that he would never succeed if he continues to cry at his failures every now and then. He learned to stand up, and lived a normal life of a student, as much as possible.
Fate absolutely did not fail him, for he has indeed proven his worth. Both in elementary and high school, he graduated as valedictorian, aside from the clubs and other extracurricular activities he became engrossed with.
In college, he took up Accountancy, though he so wanted to be a civil engineer. But since his favored course involved drawings and he has no artistic abilities, according to him, he gave up the idea.
Fruitful were his years in college despite being a PWD (Person with Disability). He won many excellent awards and had performed at his best that at the graduation day of April 17, 2008 in the grounds of the University of the East, he became the first UE graduate to earn four titles—Magna Cum Laude, Outstanding Graduate Awardee, Leadership Awardee for Men and College Distinguished Graduate Awardee.
On the 17th of July of the same year, he was awarded in the Malacañang Palace as one of the Top Ten Students of the Philippines (TOSP), as what has been aforementioned.
“Being outstanding is not being good. It is because of the good people around me,” he noted with humility.
The day for him to take the CPA Licensure Examination came. That was on the 8th of October, still on the same year. Little did he know that it became his Calvary, for after the results were posted, he discovered that he was not on the list. He did not pass. A Magna Cum Laude? An Einstein? An awardee of the TOSP? And a failure in the CPA Licensure Exam?
Word spread all over his school, and he felt a bit ashamed. Yet, “I learned acceptance,” he said. Of course, he retook the examination the next year, on May 9, and finally passed.
At the end of the lecture, he gave a wide grin and raised both eyebrows for encouragement. “It’s not what I’ve lost that matters…what matters is what I do with what is left,” he ended.
Just like Richard, each one of us has struggles and problems that we ought to face. School works are definitely a bustle and teachers could just be so boring and uninteresting. Student life could be a humdrum cycle of projects, lectures, Midterm examinations, and INCs. Boyfriends or girlfriends could be annoying at times, even your own siblings or parents. Life could seem to be a never-ending loom of misery.
But try to think of it this way. Richardson has found his way out of the tough maze of college. Even with his disability trying to hamper his chance of excelling, he did not stop getting up every time he trips and falls. He did not look at life the hard way. He strived, persevered, and outstood many other students even if he was branded a PWD. Surely, a man like him is worth becoming an inspiration.