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Let one story inspire us to make another story, better.

Tatay Mariano Ominga, 65, Tondo

“Inabot ko ang 60 na taon na hindi ko kinakailangan ng salamin, kaso nagkaroon ako ng katarata kaya na-obligado akong alagaan ng mas mabuti ang mata ko, di ko inaasahan na may magagawa pa palang paraan...”

“I reached the aged of 60 years old without having the need to wear eyeglasses until I had an eye cataract.  I was obliged to take care of my eyes more seriously, I didn’t know that there still can be done about it…”

Tatay Mariano was a factory worker during his younger years.  Vibrant, energetic and very hardworking, his only way to fend for his family is through the little income he gets from cutting cloth fabrics used to make t-shirts.  

“Talagang mahirap ang trabaho ko sa factory dati kasi bukod sa paulit-ulit ang trabaho sa facory, yung paligiod ay madaming alikabok na nasisinghot ko at nakakairita sa mata ko.”

“Working in a factory is very difficult as the work is repetitively tiring at times and the environment is dusty.  I inhaled dust and it also caused irritation to my eyes.”

One day he woke up and noticed that his vision is not clear.  

“Parang may mga ulap-ulap, Malabo ang paningin ko at hindi ko maaninag ang mga tao. Natakot ako pero wala naman ako masabihan.kinabahan lang ako.

“My vision is cloudy I couldn’t see well. I can’t recognize faces so I got really scared but I didn’t tell it to anyone, I just felt nervous.”

During one of the mission of SPECS, Tatay Mariano met a SPECS volunteer MS. Maritoni (surname) who helped him through referring an eye specialist, Dra. Santos to Tatay Mariano after finding out from the screening that he needs further eye check up.  It was then soon concluded that Tatay’s eyes needs to be surgically operated.

Since Tatay Mariano is a senior citizen, and his family members are busy working, SPECS’s Maritoni went out of her way just to make sure that Tatay Mariano is able to process his papers for the PHILHEALTH to cover his cataract surgery.

“Maganda, magaling, magaling. Ako ay nagpapasalamat sa SPECS dahil natulungan nila ako na gawan ng paraan ang paggaling ng aking mata. Kinabahan na ako nung una, hindi ko alam na nakakabulag pala talaga ang katarata.

“Very good, brilliant, brilliant… I am truly thankful to what SPECS did to me.  They helped me do something about my condition.  I was scared at first and then I found out that I really have a reason to be scared as my eye cataract can seriously cause blindness.”


Mang Rodrigo Bucabo, 59, Tondo

In October 2012, Mang Rodrigo had a stroke which affected his motor activities.  He went to the Eye Train Clinic with a relative as he needs to be assisted with a walker.  He can’t move fast unlike before he had stroke which gives him frustration.  But what is more frustrating for him is that even his eyesight has been affected by the stroke causing a damage to his left eye’s nerve.  The damage though mild is irritating and causing him pain.

“Laging masakit yung kaliwang mata ko, nhihirapan tuloy ako makakaita. Bukod dun, lagi pa itong kumukurap, nahihirapan ako talga.”

“My left eye is always in pain. I am having difficulty with it. Aside from that my left eye blinks too often that makes me irritable.”

Mang Rodrigo hopes to find a solution with this eye condition as he tries his best to overcome the negative effects he had due to stroke.  He tries to live healthily now by changing his lifestyle and hopes to be able to work again as a jeepney driver.  

“Nung nalaman naming na may ganitong clinic, din a akami nagdalawang isip pa para ipacheck up yung mata kong laging kumukurap. Natutuwa ako kasi hindiko an kailangan pang pumunta sa malayo para ipatingin mata ko.

“When we learned that there’s an existing eye clinic here, we did not hesitate to have my eyes checked. I am happy because I do not need to go far for my eye check up.”


Kelvin David, 15, Tondo

Kelvin David is a special child and he has a Down Syndrome. Due to this condition, his vision is affected.

Kelvin goes to school in Jose Rizal where Special Education is offered.  He is now in Grade 2 level. According to his caregiver, Kelvin is kind, cooperative and is eager to learn.  However in class, he is not able to participate very well due to his poor vision.  

Parang kumukurap-kurap lagi ang mata nya, pag nasa bahay nakikita namin. Nasasabi din ng mga teachers nya na sumasakit daw ulo ni Kevin kapag nasa klase” as told by Kelvin’s caregiver.

“His eyes are always blinking especially at home.  According to his teachers Kelvin also complains having headaches when in class.”

During his check up at the Eye Train, Kelvin was so excited wearing his new pair of glasses.  His caregiver was just as excited to bring Kelvin home with a hope that Kelvin would do better at school with no headache to complain.

“Maraming salamat po sa SPECS, yung ganitong tulong ay nakakagaan ng pakiramdam lalo na sa mga pamilya ng may mga special na bata.”

Thank you very much to SPECS… this kind of help lightens our burden especially that in our family we have a special child that needs special need.  


Melody Mendoza, 29, Tondo

Melody is a young mother whose husband works as a warehouse man.  Their income is only enough for their little children’s milk and their everyday supply of food.  She went to the Eye Train after eharing about it I their local baranggay. According to her, she did not hesistate to go because it is an opportunity for her to have her eyes checkled as shee noticed she’s having difficulty recognizing faces from a far.  

“Kung wala po itong clinic, hindi din po ako makakapagpatingin sa mata. Ang alam kop o kasi, mahal yung ganito at wala anman po kaming extra na pambayad para ditto. Ngayon po may salamin na ako kaya talagang Masaya po ako kasi mas nakakakita na po ako ng malinaw. Matagl na rin po pala akong nagtitiis.”

“If this clinic is not here, I wouldn’t be able to have my eyes checked.  I know because going to eye clinics is costly and I do not really have the money to pay for consultation. Now I have my own eyeglasses, I am truly happy because I can see clearly now.  I just realized I have been living with it for a long time.”


Clinic Assistants: “we only have little, but we can give a lot.”

The story of Jimmy and Justin

Jimmy C. Labadbad, 18

Jimmy is one of the clinic personnel who have been actively assisting the marketing director in spreading information about the clinic to nearby barangays through leafleting and barangay announcements and coordination.  When he is not doing fieldwork, you can find him in the clinic cueing patients and assisting the eye clinicians and interns especially on days when the clinic is full and busy.

He smiles and communicates effectively with patients and doctors making clinic coordination effective and smooth.

Looking at Jimmy, one may notice a deep sense of dedication to the amount of work he puts in for the clinic, what is surprising about him perhaps is that this young boy from Zamboanga, (Southern part of the Philippines), actually went to Manila to help his parents earn a living for their family, especially his three siblings. He studied a vocational course (electrician) in TESDA but he initially worked as a subdivision cleaner/janitor and also as a “pulot boy” (one who assists tennis players) in the tennis court of the said subdivision.  

SPECS Founder Andronica Roma noticed the dedication of this young man with his simple job and offered him to work as a warehouse staff. Jimmy’s resilience and dedication in his work were commendable hence he was offered to join SPECS Foundation to assist with the doctors and patients full-time.  

“Iba pong kasiyahan sa trabaho ang nabibigay sakin ng SPECS. Dito po kasi, hindi lang ako nagiging parte ng pagtulong kundi ako po mismo yung sarili ko nakikita ko natutulungan ko rin. Natuto po akong kumausap sa tao.

“There’s a different kind of happiness that I get from this work. At SPECS, I have not just become an instrument of helping people but I, myself, I can see it, (that) I am learning. (For example) I learned now how to communicate with different people.”

Jan Justin Valdez, 20

Justin worked as a warehouse staff before he was invited by SPECS Founder Andronica Roma to work with Jimmy as a clinic assistant.  According to Justin, his job at SPECS was one of the rewarding experiences he had in his life considering that he is able to serve patients who are less fortunate and need their assistance.

Since Justin had a background training as optician he sees his work in SPECS as an extension of that training.  Only that at SPECS he has come face to face with people who actually need their help.

“Yung kahalagahan ng trabaho ng pagiging optician, mas naintindihan ko ngayon. kasi nakikita ko na madami yungmay kailangan ng serbisyo na ito. Mas Masaya ako na andito ako sa SPECS kasi madami ako natututunan.”

“The value of the work of an optician becomes clearer to me now. This is because I can see the magnitude of help needed in this kind of service. I am happier (now) that I’m part of SPECS because I am able to help a lot of people.”

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