RAYMOND BERNALES REYES: DIFFERENTLY-ABLED
“Disability is not a brave struggle or courage in the face of adversity. Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.” – Neil Marcus
It was an afternoon at work in BPI/MS when Raymond B. Reyes noticed some abnormalities in his vision. After work, the blur in his sight became worse, that he could no longer see the traffic signs on his way home.
In 2006 Raymond was diagnosed with a pulmonary illness. His medications included an antibiotic “ethambutol”. After five months, his body showed some reactions such as numbing of limbs, and blur in his vision. When the symptoms attacked, Raymond did not bother himself, until it was already too late.
An Easter Sunday in 2007, Raymond woke up to a world of nothing, but blur and opaque.Troubled with it, he and his wife immediately consulted the doctors about his sudden loss of sight. He underwent a series of examinations. The diagnosis: Optic Neuritis due to ethambutol toxicity.
Hopeful to regain his sight, Raymond searched for the best Neuro-opthalmologists in town, only to know that all would give him the same diagnosis. No treatment was known yet. The world seemed to fall on him. At first, it was just a lung treatment; he never imagined that he would lose his sight, and will have other physical abnormalities such as electric-like pain in his muscles, known as Peripheral Neuropathy.
When Raymond lost his sight, his normal life went with it. He had to retire from work, and he had to stop doing some things. He felt helpless. He has a family to support, and his daughter Rency was only four. Worry and depression struck him, but he had to be strong, and he had to keep going.
Step by step, Raymond oriented himself to the world of sightlessness. He tried to live as normal as he could. He started to be active in his community, and he enrolled himself to Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired, (ATRIEVE). Raymond took up PC Operations Training Course. After the training, applied for work, but he was rejected many times due to his visual impairment. With perseverance, Raymond got hired at Price Solutions Philippines Incorporated (PSPI) as part of the Sales team. Raymond worked for seven months, until one of his former clients from Ayala Gen. Insurance asked him to handle their insurance requirement. That opened more opportunities for him. With his experience, Raymond was easily able to enlist himself as a BPI/MS insurance agent.
Raymond started working in the insurance industry as a data encoder in 1989. He then became a claims assistant, a claims evaluator, a non-motor claims supervisor, an assistant claims manager, respectively. In 2002, he worked under the Agency Sales Division of BPI/MS, until that awful end of career due to visual impairment in 2008.
As a believer of equal opportunities, Raymond started reaping the fruits of his hardwork. He became the BPI/MS Rookie Sales Agent of the Year in 2011. He actively participated in religious organizations, and organizations for the visually impaired. He also led to put up an organization called “Visionaries” where they conduct activities to empower the physically challenged in the community.
As Raymond goes through his life’s trials, he wants to share the Bible verse, “In everything you do, do it wholeheartedly, as if you are working for the Lord, and not for men” (Col. 3:23-24). He also wants his fellow office workers to remember the acronym BPI/MS on Be Proactive in Making Sales.
Before Raymond lost his sight, his life was “normal”, like millions of many others. Since that Easter Sunday when he woke up to a strange, blurry world, Raymond started to see the world clearer. Not through his eyes, but through his heart, with his courage and his passion to change the perception and the impression on the physically challenged, who may be differently able, but still able.
By Carlene L. Tacsagon, BPIMS Chronicles Newsletter
Note: Raymond received the BPIMS Titan Rookie of the Year Award for the second time in 2013. He was also elected as one of the Trustees of Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) in 2014 to serve a two-year term.