ROMMEL ARELLANO: The Truth about Choosing Faith over Fear

by Maj Ferreria

A Person with Disability in the Society

The society we live in is a very materialistic one. It quickly judges a person on their physical appearance and makes a simple idea about them. Little does the community help needy people; it refuses to accept a person who looks, walks, or even talks differently and considers themselves superior to the people with disabilities. But throughout history, various people have shown that their physical disability was not strong enough to break their willpower. Here I will talk about a man who proved that disability is not an obstacle to success. It can significantly change a person's life in many aspects.

Rommel Arellano's life story is totally heartbreaking, touching, and inspiring. He was born in Limay, Bataan. At a very young age of one, he was afflicted with poliomyelitis. He lost sensation and energy in both of his legs and grew up having only his arms and hands to walk with his slippers for support and to move around. Due to extreme poverty, unfortunately, he failed to get the proper medical treatment. Still, his condition did not hinder his dream of getting an education. 

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No Barriers to Education

His mother motivated him and encouraged him to remain hopeful despite the daunting situation. He said, "'when I was 9 years old in elementary school, my mother used to carry me and put me in a cart with my younger sibling to take us to school, which was situated up a hill." In some cases, he said, when his mother couldn't take them to school, he would crawl to cross the fields and the river just so he wouldn't miss school lessons. 

People in their barrio humiliated him. They would even say that there was a curse on the family. That's why he had that disability. He wanted to change the people's minds that his family has nothing to do with his condition. He said that discrimination was very rampant during his childhood. He crawled with his hands, so people often teased him and called him names like "bulldog or spiderman."

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God's Plan for Me

Rommel learned to fight his battle despite his situation and endured all the insults, pain, and teasing from people to finish school. He was socially isolated, with fewer opportunities to participate in community life.

There came to a point when he questioned God about his fate and why he allowed him to be handicapped. He said, "I could manage the physical pain, but the emotional pain of being ridiculed, humiliated, and rejected wasn't easy for me." Nevertheless, he also learned to defy the odds, focused on counting his blessings, and realized there must be a purpose to all his sufferings. Determined to fulfill his dreams, Rommel moved on.

He was reminded of the verse in the Bible where God says in Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

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He thought maybe this is how God designed him, so he will learn and depend on Him and grow his faith in Him. He carried on and eventually got used to people treating him poorly. He then realized there was nothing he could do to change his situation but to accept it, with the hope that one day he could raise his parent's dignity and earn people's respect.

"I choose not to put 'DIS' in my ability."

After high school, he planned to take up mass communication in college. It was his dream to become a famous radio DJ and broadcaster. In fact, his greatest dream was to become a voice artist. However, the course was not open in their town. Despite his parent's disapproval of his plan to pursue college, he pushed through and tried to seek ways to help his parents support his studies. He received a scholarship from the municipal government of Bataan by joining the university choir. He said one time in high school, he was rejected when he tried to enter the glee club to get a scholarship. The organizers said he's not capable of dancing due to his legs' impairment.

It can be challenging to accept one's disability. Acceptance can feel like giving in—throwing in the towel on one's life and future. But refusing to accept the reality of one's limitations keeps him stuck. It prevents him from moving forward, making the changes he needs to make, and finding new goals.

According to Rommel, he believes that having positive self-esteem taught him to accept his disability for what it is. This allowed him to view his handicap as one component of his life, not the ONLY component. He learned to focus on what he could do. What he hopes to do in the future is something he looks forward to. If he had not accepted himself and the sad truth about his condition, maybe he is still complaining and lamenting over this until now. 

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His painful experiences molded him into the person he is now. Earning respect from people had been hard, but he's proud to say that he hs crossed the border of so-called limited access. He honestly worked hard to earn respect from people and reach his goals. He firmly believed that God intentionally put him in this situation so He could use him to touch the lives of other people. God will use our circumstances to develop our character, shape us, build us, and mold us. To show us that He is God and that He is in control.

Activate Faith over Fear

His first inspirational talk in college made him realize his purpose: to help other people despite his condition. Influencing them to be optimistic despite problems and infecting them with a positive attitude and a profound sense of happiness. 

He said, "I'm honestly grateful that God has given me this condition as I regard this as a miracle in my life, ironically how other people perceive it." He could not imagine how his life would be if he was not handicapped. 

He said his greatest blessing is having a family of his own. He happily married his best friend, a church member where he was also an active member and is a proud father to his 3 wonderful sons.

"Your faith must be greater than your fear." is his motto in life. (Hebrews 13: 6 )

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Fear is a normal human emotion, but it can quickly spiral out of control and hold us back from trying new things. Whether it's fear of facing the future, fear of rejections, fear of trying out something which we know is beyond our capability as a handicapped person. No matter how difficult things seem, you can overcome your fear and move forward if your faith is more significant than your fear.

God will never give us trials that we can't handle. He uses our adversaries to show our weakness so we will come to Him, to find strength in Him and rely on Him for help. (2 Corinthians 12:10 "For when I am weak, then I am strong.")

Live life! Go on and Move on!

"I am a miracle of God. My life is a living testimony of His powerful work designed to touch the lives of those who are in the same predicament. I was born to motivate and reach out to people and help them understand what life really is. I can tell my experiences again and again without resentment, without bitterness but with pride and hope that this will inspire other people to change their lives. This is not my story, but the story of God in my life. When I look back to my past in a positive way because I will be able to learn from them and develop my faith in the Lord and overcome my Fears." Rommel shared.

If he could talk to his past self when he was young, he would tell himself that we were all created with a good purpose in this life. God is God, and He makes all things work, including your life, according to his purpose. Nothing can happen without God ordaining it. However, our choices and actions also really matter. Start focusing on things that really matter. You have a bright future ahead of you. Just cling to the promises of the Lord our God, who created us. There might be no miracle that can change your current condition right now. Nevertheless, there is a miracle that God has put inside your heart. Real miracles happen based on the amount of faith you have in your heart. Live life! Go on, move on! God has given you particular gifts and strengths. He purposely allows you to discover your talents and then determine how to use them. It also connects you with people who want to help you find your purpose.

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Success is Measured by the Obstacles You've Overcome

With this great man's determination, he could land different jobs. Rommel was the former President of the Board of Trustees at Limay Senior High School. He's a corporate speaker, an active, inspirational speaker to mostly young audiences, and a PWD advocate and adviser for the Persons with Disability Federation in Bataan. He's also a resource speaker with various topics on mental health awareness to schools in Bataan, department trainer at the DepEd. 

Rommel Arellano is a talented scriptwriter and a director for stage plays, a musician, and a recording artist. He's a musical director at Limay Baptist Church, a former dub artist, scriptwriter for radio, and a DJ at 98.3 FM, Smile radio.

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In 2012 he received recognition as the Happiest Pinoy 2012. This search is a flagship campaign of Cebuana Lhuillier. It aims to find and recognize the country's most optimistic and resilient Filipinos to inspire other people to do the same despite life's challenges. With this, Rommel is embodying the character of the Filipino people that even despite his disability, he was able to rise up from his complex condition. He maintained a positive outlook and was able to influence other people. Happiness was Rommel's constant companion in his uphill and arduous journey. He said, "The power to overcome any obstacles, hardships, or trials is simply facing them with a happy heart. And from a happy heart, you can draw strength and resilience. If you face the world with a smile, the world will smile back to you."

 Today, Rommel still works as a counselor at the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, providing guidance and advice for abused, neglected, battered, and persons with disability.

After graduating from CVAP (Certified Voice Artist Program), he could get back to his career as one of the program hosts at VG8 radio Voice for PWD, a talk show aired every Friday. Rommel Arellano hopes for more and puts his complete trust in God to lead him to another exciting phase of his life with CVAP. 

Fast Talk answers

Coffee or Milk - Coffee

Radio or TV - Radio

In Work - Fast or Slow - Slow

School Setting - Teacher or Student? - Teacher

Food - Sweet or Sour - Sweet

Pen & Paper or Microphone - Microphone

Book or TV - Book

Actual Book or E-book - Actual Book

Favorite Vacation Destination - Beach, Road Trip, or Camping - Road Trip

Tackle task- right away or cramming - right away

Work Best Alone or in a Team? - in a Team

A meal you could skip? Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner? - Breakfast

Optimistic or Realistic - Optimistic

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