Christopher’s life was simple: he was an ice cream vendor, married, and had three children.
But one day, the wheel of his sidecar hit a huge rock — his ice cream cart toppled and its weight crushed his leg.
Christopher did not go to the hospital and shrugged off his seemingly "minor" injuries to save money.
“Hindi ko pinansin ‘yung pagkakapinsala ng paa ko, may bali po pala. Ang akala ko talaga okay lang kasi ang alam ko napilayan lang ako,” he said.
The swelling on his knee grew bigger each day, until eventually, it developed into a tumor.
In spite of this, Christopher ignored his condition and continued to work.
“Siyempre kahit na malaki ‘yung tuhod ko tiniis ko kasi ang inisip ko ‘pag nawalan ako ng silbi sa pamilya ko, papano na lang mabubuhay ang mga anak ko?”
For five years, he sold ice cream with a swollen knee, suffering and yet enduring for the sake of his family. Until finally, help came.
A woman named Jacqueline saw him toiling hard despite his condition. Moved by his determination, she sponsored his medical treatment so that he could finally get his knee checked.
Despite this, his knee continued to deteriorate until the doctors could no longer do anything to save it. His leg had to be amputated.
“Pakiramdam ko pinabayaan ako ng Diyos Ama saka Diyos Ina dahil lahat ng mga pagsubok dumating sa buhay naming pamilya. Halos dibdiban kong kinaya,” he said.
After the operation, Christopher had a difficult time accepting his fate. Since he was no longer working, there were days when they had nothing to eat but rice because they couldn’t afford anything else.
But Christopher couldn’t just do nothing. If he could continue peddling ice cream through the pain when his knee was still swollen, then he could still make it work with one leg.
Walking with a crutch in place of his right leg, he once again hit the streets with a styrofoam cooler filled with ice buko and pinipig hanging off his left shoulder. He shakes a small bell in his left hand to attract customers. Simply taking a jeepney to get his products is a challenge. He earns a meager sum of 500 pesos after a whole day of carrying five to 10 kilograms on his back.
“Ang pinakamahirap lang, sir, talaga, ‘yung maglakad. Pero sa paglalakad ko araw-araw, nasasanay din naman din ako eh,” he says.
Sometimes, a customer would ask him why he is still working despite his condition.
“May nagtatanong talaga, ‘Kuya, nagtitinda ka pa, putol naman ang paa mo.’ Eh ano naman ang gagawin ko sa bahay? Magmukmok maghapon? Kakain lang nang kakain dun, pakainin na lang ako?” he says.
“Minsan pa ang mga tao, ‘Naputulan ng paa, nagtitinda pa parang nakakahiya naman nang ganun.’ Sabi ko ba't ako mahihiya sa sarili ko eh hanapbuhay ko 'to?”
Even his children are affected as their peers would make fun of his disability.
“Laging nabu-bully ang anak ko, ‘Ah putol ang paa ng tatay mo!’ Parang s’yempre ang anak ko dito uuwi, iiyak, ‘Papa, inaasar ka nila, putol daw ang paa mo,’” he says.
His children, however, remain proud of having a father like him.
“Kahit naman putol ang paa ng tatay ko may silbi naman ang tatay ko. Hindi naman siya tambay, hindi naman siya nag-iinom ng alak,” his children would say.
“Halos lahat ng panlalait, alipusta sa pagkatao ko, halos nilulunok ko dahil unang-una alam ko basta wala akong ginagawang masama wala akong tinatapakang tao,” Christopher says.
Christopher said his faith in God got him through all the challenges of his condition. He carries a notebook with Bible verses so he can share them to his customers.
No matter what happens, he repays everyone with kindness. At the end of the day, he gives away his leftover ice buko and pinipig to street children.
Christopher’s story would eventually become viral when a woman named Geri saw him and took a video while he was working diligently despite his disability.
“Nakakabilib ‘yung taong ‘yun na may kapansanan and ‘yet, naghahanapbuhay siya na ganun, honest living,” Geri says.
The video immediately went viral, touching the hearts of many people who wanted to help Christopher.
Jacqueline, the woman who helped pay for his surgery, is one of the people leading the efforts to help him. An orthopedic clinic also offered a prosthetic leg for him.
“Ang masasabi ko lang sa mga tao na kung sakali man na kahit na magkaroon kayo ng kakulangan, huwag kayong susuko, laban lang. Dahil diyan malalaman ang katatagan ninyo. Tiis-tiis lang, ganun talaga ang buhay natin eh. Ipagpasa-Diyos na lang natin din.” — Marisse Panaligan/LA, GMA News