DAVAO CITY – An accident 14 years ago changed the life of Teacher Gilbert Lagod, but it did not stop him to pursue his dreams of being able to help his family.
Lagod, 33, is a senior high school teacher in Tanglaw National High School in Braulio E. Dujali town in Davao del Norte. His story went viral last week after the Department of Education Region 11 posted about it on Facebook.
In an interview with Manila Bulletin, Lagod, the only son of a farmer couple in Kapalong town, shared how he lost his arm in an accident in 2007.
“Nangyari yun nung kalagitnaan ng huling semester ko sa college. Every time na mag-harvest kami tumutulong kasi talaga ako kasali ako dun sa laborers na nag-ooperate sa thresher (It happened in the middle of my last semester in college. Every harvest season, I would really help out, I was one of the laborers operating the thresher),” he said.
Lagod was then wearing a long-sleeved polo and was taking out rice straws from the thresher when his shirt got caught in the machine before it was turned off. He lost his arm on the day that he skipped his classes to help out his parents on the farm. Lagod also lost the chance to attend an interview for on-the-job training abroad.
“Sa una medyo masakit sa pakiramdam kasi mataas yung pangarap ko. Yung parents ko maawa ako magtingin kasi naawa sila sa akin (At first it was really painful because I have big dreams. I felt sorry looking at my parents because they pitied my condition),” Lagod recalled. However, Lagod went back to school after only two weeks’ rest.
“Na-shock yung mga teachers ko sa college pero na-manage ko naman yun. Kasi kung magtatagal pa ako sa bahay, magmukmok na lang ako, kasi hindi pa tapos yung sem, may exam pa ako nun, binalikan ko agad (My teachers were shocked but I was able to manage it. I thought if I just stayed home I will just sulk at home. The semester has not yet ended and I still have exams then, so I went back to school immediately),” he said.
‘One-armed wonder teacher’
Soon enough, Lagod finished his Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Mindanao in Tagum City. He became a freelance event organizer and caterer in their town.
He worked for the municipal government’s social work and development office for three years and became a focal person for persons with disabilities of the local government unit. Lagod also served as the Davao del Norte President of the Pagasa Youth Association of the Philippines and was the recipient of the 2012 Young Outstanding Leader of Davao del Norte award.
Later on, school principals in local schools hired him as a trainer and choreographer for various school competitions.
Lagod became a teacher in 2018 and is currently teaching senior high school students of the technical-vocational-livelihood (TVL) track. He teaches several courses such as Cookery NC II, Bread and Pastry Production NC II, Food and Beverage NC II, applied economics, political science, and subjects related to social studies.
Farmer and teacher
Lagod said even if his dreams did not turn out the way he planned them, he was still able to help his family in financing the farm. Lagod’s parents have been tenants for over 50 years.
He said he continues helping on the farm on weekends.
“Pag may kailangang bilihin sa farm, ako yung bumibili (If they need anything on the farm, I buy it),” he added. He said he hopes his students will learn to pursue their dreams.
“Dapat magpatuloy sila sa pag-aaral at huwag gawing dahilan yung kapansanan at kahirapan para hindi makamit yung pangarap sa buhay. Kahit ano yung challenges, alam ni God na may solutions dyan (They should continue studying. They should not allow disabilities or poverty to be a hindrance from reaching their dreams in life. Whatever challenges there maybe, God knows a solution),” he said.
Lagod’s story has become a source of hope for his colleagues and students.
“Ito yung school na napuntahan ko nakaranas sila ng isang trahedya noon and ako ang naging motivation nila na despite my personal handicap nagpatuloy sa buhay (My school experienced a tragedy and I was able to motivate them that despite my disability, I continued living),” he added.
Lagod also said that even to his students, he would tell them that they can do anything if they work for it.
“Shini-share ko sa kanila yung story ko, walang mahirap sa buhay basta maging pursigido ka lang. Kayo pa na kumpleto kayo (I share my story to them. There is nothing difficult in life as long as you are determined, what more for you who are complete),” he said.