Blind men’s vision

December 28th, 2009

If you are blessed to see, walk, hear and talk, think about how your life would be if you lose one of these abilities. Most people who are even perfectly healthy with complete senses and abilities have so much fear and pessimism. Over the years, Go Negosyo has come across many people who have been a source of inspiration. And, we have come across the stories of two gentlemen who have lost the ability of sight. They are truly an inspiration to me and many other people.

Despite not being able to see, they did not succumb to depression and pity for themselves. They wanted to prove to society that they are worth what God has created them to be. Despite the odds, they worked at doing the best with their skill and succeeded.

The story of Tony and Marx – two blind men who fought poverty and continued to be a source of inspiration to many others…

Antonio “Tony” Llanes Jr. was born partially blind. When he reached the age of 28, he completely lost his eyesight.

Tony Llanes

Tony Llanes

Tony is one of the well-respected founders of ATRIEV, a computer school for the blind. After previously serving as president of the school, he now focuses on being a mentor and enabler to his students.

Growing up, Tony identified himself as an “ugly duckling” brought up in a hostile environment. He remembered people wanting to help but didn’t know how. Back in high school and college, he also rallied in the streets against imperialism, capitalism and other sociopolitical issues. When he was 18, he also spent his time as a Sunday School teacher, sharing his passion for community work.

For a lot of people out there, they would consider blindness, among many other reasons, as a concrete wall keeping them from success. For Tony, he never regarded his circumstance as a disadvantage in life.

After college, as he slowly moved on from his activist days, Tony started a small business providing computer delivery and maintenance services. He recalls when he used to literally burn his eyebrows in repairing computer parts when he was still partially blind because he needed to be close enough to see what he was fixing.

When Tony completely lost his eyesight, he started hating the world. But, because of the help of family, friends and organizations such as Resources for the Blind, he knew that he could not just simply give up. He discovered his niche in talking and in presenting his Powerpoint slides. This was the beginning of a new page in his life.

With the help of his friends and family, Tony started a computer learning center in his very backyard. They all bought computers, and with the help of a portable hardware that converts computer operations to audio output, they started teaching the blind about computers.

Aside from his teaching in ATRIEV, Tony is also an ordained Reverend of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. He is very active in also serving as a mentor and enabler in his Church.

The story of 29-year old Marx Melencio also never fails to amaze and inspire people in our Go Negosyo events.

Marx Melencio

Marx Melencio

Marx lost his eyesight in 2003, when a drunken man shot him point blank – twice. The second shot cost Marx his eyesight, as his shooter stuck the gun right at the back of his head. It caused permanent damage to his optic nerve resulting to his total blindness. He spent two months drowning himself of self-pity and depression as the doctors told him that his condition is irreversible and cannot be cured. Marx tried to figure out reasons for what happened to him. He gave himself the space and the time to feel down and depressed.

Inspired and supported by family and friends, he finished his college degree as the first graduate of UP Open University who is totally blind. After finishing an employment training program at the Resources for the Blind, Marx was employed in a writing company. From there, he put together his self-learned computer skills and his technical writing skills. For a few months, he studied productions systems and observed marketing strategies. He realized that he can start small with his knowledge with computers fused with his writing skills.

With a wife and a five-year old daughter and with a disability that most would consider as a hindrance; Marx manages his very own Grayscale Business Consultancy and Management Services which provides research services to offshore software companies, incorporating technical research writing with information technology. He employs almost a hundred skilled workers, with some who are also blind, wheelchair-bound and with other disabilities. From his company’s foundation, Marx expanded their services into web programming, phone and email support, telemarketing, customer support, among many others.

Marx was a former student in ATRIEV under their medical transcription course. Although he did not finish the course because he realized that it was not his line, he felt that ATRIEV helped him to deal with his situation. It was in that school where he was exposed to the blind community. He learned the importance and advantage of using a walking stick and shades, especially in keeping them safe. Marx will also definitely keep in mind all the friends and mentors from his former school.

Aside from ATRIEV, Marx had inspirations and mentors that enabled him to achieve his present tagumpay, such as Stephen Hawking, Resources for the Blind and Intelligraph – his former employer. Presently, Marx also serves as a mentor to others through his own business. He implements employment programs for persons with disabilities that provide them with employment and training at the same time.

Remember, God blesses those who work hard to attain success. While prayer is important, especially when we face great odds and challenges in life, prayer will not be the only thing that will get us through life. We need to be determined and have the right attitude.

To those who would like to help Tony and Marx fulfill their dream to help others in their community, we would gladly refer you to their organization. You may also contact ATRIEV through (02) 725.4191, atriev.inc@gmail.com or through their website www.atriev.org.ph; and GRAYSCALE through (02) 9120909 or through their website www.grayscaleservices.com.