Kapampangan youth gets bronze in South Korea abilympics

For 21 year old Bryan Manalo, things can only get better. He recently came home the recipient of a bronze medal from the 8th International Abilympics held in Seoul, South Korea.

His medal came from his floral arrangement and waste reuse entry at the competition entered into by 57 countries. His third place win was duplicated by another Filipino, Emmanuel V. Tagalicud, from Region XI, and like Bryan, also orthopedically impaired. Tagalicud’s category was on basket making and waste reuse.

Looking at this young man now who was struck by polio at an early age, it is not at all discernible that he had any handicap, physical or otherwise. With an easy smile, he recounted the path that led him to his recent feat.

He seems to have been born a natural florist. His “affair” with flowers first came to the fore when he would make floral arrangements for the annual “undas” or All Saints’ Day observance.

His family and relatives would spend much less for flower arrangements because he would do them himself. Then when he became a clerk at the City Treasurer’s Office of San Fernando, his talent did not go unnoticed by his co-workers. He was sent to trainings before he got into competitions through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Council on Disability Affairs.

In 2008, he got a gold medal under the same category at the district level of the abilympics, and then gained more gold medals in the regional and national levels.

He was then sent to Manila for one-month training with the support of Mayor Oscar S. Rodriguez. This paved the way for his inclusion in the 23-man delegation to the International Abilympics in South Korea.

In a letter to Lovely Rose Romulo, head of the Philippine delegation, Boik Hwang, secretary-general of the IA 2011 organizing committee, he referred to the abilympics as the “world’s greatest festival for persons with disabilities” (PWDs).

He further described the competition as an opportunity for persons with and without disabilities to “share the stage in the skills contests, international symposium, exhibitions and tour” while continuing to “challenge the world beyond their disabilities”.

Manalo described his entry in the contest as a hand-tied bridal bouquet of fresh paper roses and a wall décor candle inspired by the world-famous Pampanga Christmas lantern. For the bouquet, paper roses referred to fresh roses given the color violet while the wall décor made use of such materials as used CD tiles, abaca mats, empty mussel shells, coconut shells, bottle crowns and aluminum foil.

He said that the first placer in his category was from South Korea while the second placer was from Thailand. He expressed confidence that given more opportunity in the future, we can surpass what has been achieved because “there is no denying the creativity of the Filipino”.

His first trip abroad made a mark on Bryan with Korea’s cool weather, disciplined yet friendly people as foremost in his mind. He, however, mentioned the language barrier as a downside of their trip, making it a must for every visitor to bring a Korean-English dictionary to get around.

His recent schedule forced him to take a leave from his BS Management course at the East Central Colleges (ECC). He, however, intends to finish this course because he believes that a college course is a crown for every young person.

“My parents will be happy if I finish my college course and it will help me in realizing my ultimate goal of putting up my own flower shop.”

He is grateful to all those who have supported him in his undertakings, including the city and provincial government officials, who have provided financial and moral support, especially Governor Lilia G. Pineda and Mayor Rodriguez.

His experiences have resulted into exposure enough to merit offers from parties interested in getting his services, including a big hotel in Makati, a flower shop in Manila, not to mention local florists and events organizers.

His parents, Alejandro and Francisca Manalo, and his two sisters are certainly very proud of Bryan’s accomplishments. It is for them, anyway, that he pursues his path to progress, Bryan assures. If only more of our young people showed so promising a future, then we should have high hopes for Pampanga. (Pampanga PIO)

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How to get to this fine-dining restaurant in Clark Philippines? Once you get to Clark Freeport, go straight until you hit Mimosa. After you enter Mimosa, stay on the left on Mimosa Drive, go past the Holiday Inn and Yats Restaurant (green top, independent 1-storey structure) is on your left. Just past the Yats Restaurant is the London Pub.

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