Leader, athlete, teacher: Zambo runner sees brightness in the dark
DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines -- To humbly take the pain is not to die.
Even at 15 years old, Mike Daryl Ocol already had a strong and positive outlook in life and was always seeing the good in everything.
But on a cold April evening four years ago, Daryl's courage was put to the ultimate test.
Vomiting, shivering and writhing from an indescribable stomach ache, Daryl was brought by his family to the nearest district hospital in Labason, Zamboanga del Norte. With their son supposedly in good hands, Daryl's parents believed that he is going to get better soon.
But he did not.
After getting injected with three vials of medicine, he gradually lost his sight minute by minute as several wounds suddenly appeared in different parts of his body.
In less than an hour, everything went black. Those syringes were the last things Daryl ever saw.
"I don't really know what happened since the medicine she injected was prescribed by the doctor," Ocol told Rappler in an interview at Balugo National High School, a 45-minute travel from the main hub of Palarong Pambansa events in Dumaguete.
The runner from Zamboanga Peninsula felt like he was at the edge of a cliff. But he held on tight.
“Despite being blind, I still look forward to living my life to the fullest," he shared. "I didn’t see this [Palaro] coming but this is one of the most exciting activities I've done in my life."
First and last
“I just graduated from high school last March,” quipped the enthusiastic Ocol. “But I will never forget this experience because this is my first and last Palaro."
The 19-year old Ocol participated in four events in Athletics, Shot Put, 100 Meter Dash, Long Jump and Goal Ball. Though he wasn’t able to take home any medal, he is still proud of the fact that he was able to compete in the country’s biggest sporting event.
“I got special awards in Long Jump and Goal Ball,” shared Ocol, who placed seventh in Long Jump while grabbing fifth place in Goal Ball. “Even though I didn't win a medal, I still had fun here at the Palaro."
Daryl admitted that this experience is one of the many things he is thankful for in his life. Even if he's not really an athlete and had only joined only a handful of competitions, he pushed himself and went beyond his limits for this competition.
"I just started running when I got blind," Daryl quipped. "That's why I'm still thankful. If I didn't get blind, I wouldn't be able to join the Palaro."
Aside from the intense training and games, what Ocol will always remember about the Palaro is the friendship he has fostered with teammates and fellow athletes in his stay here.
Not a hindrance to success
In life, pain is inevitable. But suffering from it is a choice. Daryl chose not to suffer and simply make the most out of what he has.
Despite being visually-impaired, Ocol attended regular classes at Ubay National High School, where he would join his classmates in studying while using braille books.
Not only does he participate in regular classes, Daryl was also an active student-leader, heading the Supreme Student Government as its president and finishing as the fifth-best student in his batch.
He doesn't want to stop there. Daryl intends to be an English teacher, just like his mother was, and will hope to start his journey to the teaching profession by enroling at the University of Southeastern Philippines this June.
"This is the first time that USeP is catering to the visually-impaired that's why I'm going to try it there," he said. "I really want to finish my studies so that I'd have something to be proud of."
"Being blind doesn't mean I wouldn't be successful."
Ocol also related he is fond of writing poems and short stories. And with excitement apparent in his face, Daryl shared with Rappler one of his favorite masterpieces, aiming to inspire not only people with disability but also those who look down on them:
When the shadow of ever untamed death had shaded my most innocent childhood,
in struggling from a first-born solitude, I tightly held my uncommended breath,
unconquered by the hatred raven spy that been to separate our flesh and soul.
The fatal venom of my youth age then, had never taken my Master's gift when,
confronted by my fate and self-control to humbly take the pain is not to die.
What an unexpected journey I had been. The painful journey between life and death
but was directed by the Master's breath, Showered with a might of strength to win,
the rarest battle between such that the threat which unremindingly came on my prime,
an eye that had never been passed by time, would never been to any anguish yet.
“There was a time when I already gave up," Daryl said. "But I believe that there is a reason why the Lord allowed this to happen to me. It's a matter of acceptance and doing something about it."
Even without his sense of sight, Daryl saw and still sees how beautiful life is.
That optimism has brought him not only here in the country's biggest athletic stage, but to places far beyond he has ever imagined. - Rappler.com