Erlinda Ubod, a young mother expecting her third baby, told her husband Noel to hurry and get the midwife. Her contractions were getting stronger and closer together. She knew it was time. Having normal deliveries with her first two children, she was full of anticipation and excitement. However, that morning nothing prepared her for the biggest shock of her life!
“Susmariahosep!” the midwife exclaimed. Hearing the alarming remark and seeing the look of shock on the midwife’s face, Erlinda suddenly forgot her pain. The young mother instantly knew something was wrong with her baby.
“Push! Push!” said the midwife, tears welling in her eyes. Her jaw dropped as she pulled the baby out. Nothing prepared the midwife for the big shock that day either.
A baby boy with half a body was born that day! No arms, no legs. Under his torso are small, deformed feet pointing sideways each with two toes, and hanging from each shoulder is a shot stub.
The young parents, though still in shock called him “Retchi.” Their shock did not wear off right away. Questions came flooding in. Why did this happen to us? Will Retchi survive? What kind of life will Retchi have? Though deeply hurt and saddened, their religious convictions made them accept their baby’s disability, hoping that God has a purpose for everything.
At first, little Retchi didn’t realize he was different. He enjoyed the attention. He was spoon fed, bathed, cleaned up, picked up and carried around. It was not until he was 5 when he started to realize that he didn’t look like his siblings and the other children. He probably was wondering when he would grow hands and legs.
At seven, Retchi started first grade. His mother took him to school and picked him up in the afternoons. In school, he was the center of attention. Naturally, the other children stared and laughed, especially those who would see him for the first time. Afraid of other children’s reactions, Retchi stayed in his corner hiding until time for his mother to pick him up.
Retchi was brought up knowing Jesus. Going to church was a big part of his family’s life. His grandfather and uncle were pastors of his church.
Today, at 21, Retchi is quite independent and able to do most things for himself. His mechanical yet artistic way to eat, drink, write, work the computer keyboard and other things could fascinate any spectator. He can go up and down short steps of stairs, walk and run quite fast. He’s quite intelligent, too. Last March, Retchi graduated with a Computer Technician certificate.
I heard about Retchi Ubod from Pastor Jimmy Sabandal two months ago and sent him a list of questions and here are Retchi’s answers:
When you were young, did you have someone besides your mother who took care of you? How about today? My sister sometimes helps me and often, my brother helps me.
Can you dress yourself? I need someone to help me. In other things like bathing, I need someone to take off my clothes, but I can bathe myself.
How do you eat and how do you hold your spoon? Between my jaw and shoulders.
Do you eat in restaurants? Only one time. Is it uncomfortable for you because people are looking at you? Absolutely yes. I get embarrassed.
Describe a typical day for you today when you are not in school. What do you do at home? I sweep. I clean. What is your favorite hobby? I like to “text” using my old cell phone.
How do you travel to faraway places like the Computer School? I ride a motorcycle for P150 ($3) fare. I stand in front of the driver who protects and prevents me from falling.
Did you ever use a wheelchair? No, there’s no use for a wheelchair. I have no hands. I might fall. I can move around much faster walking.
Do you wear shoes? No. Flip flops? No. Can you walk faster without shoes? Yes
Do your shorts get dirty when you walk? Yes. What do you do to keep from getting muddy? Let someone carry me.
How do you use the computer keyboard or how do you “text”? My right shoulder has a short stub with a small fingerlike protrusion.
Is it difficult for you to write? No, I can write fast putting the pen in between my teeth or putting the pen between my jaw and right shoulder.
What is the hardest thing for you to do? Taking a bath. Other things? Brushing my teeth. Going to the restroom, but I can do them myself.
How old were you when you realized you were different from other people? 5-years-old.
How do you feel when people stare at you and laugh at you? When I was young, I got upset. Today, it doesn’t bother me. I have already accepted my disability.
Did you ever question God why you were born like this? I blamed Him when I was 7-years-old. But now I am already close to the Lord and have accepted who I am.
What is your number one wish in life? What are your other wishes? I wish to ride an airplane, go to different places, especially Manila and Boracay. I wish to be an inspiration to many people. I wish to meet Willie Revillame of Wowowee.
Was there ever a time when you wished you were someone else? I had wished to be an attorney, but being poor, my parents couldn’t afford my schooling. Besides I think my mental ability is a little slow on certain things.
Do you have many friends? Yes, I have lots of friends.
Were you taught about Jesus at an early age? Yes. Do you talk to Jesus and rely on Him? Yes. In my situation I fully believe that only Jesus is my Best Friend
Do you feel sorry for yourself? Yes, especially when I watch basketball. If only I have hands, I can play better than them. How often do you feel sorry for yourself? Only sometimes.
What can make your life be so much better (with something that could be bought)? If I have a motorcycle of my own, I can go anywhere with my driver.
Would you like to get married someday? I don’t even think or dream about that, but still it depends on God. Besides, the girl might just get tired of me and leave me.
What makes you the happiest? Knowing God and having Him in my life.
Do you believe that Jesus is coming again to take you home to live with Him in heaven? Yes, I believe. Do you believe that you will be a normal person with limbs when you are in heaven? I strongly believe.
Do you believe that God has a special plan for your life? Yes. By God’s grace, I want to share Jesus to many people.
Would you like to help other helpless people someday if God gives you the opportunity? Yes, if God gives me an opportunity to be a channel of blessing, I will be happy to do it, even with my shy personality.
Today what makes you the saddest? I’m always happy. What makes you the happiest? Being with God
Our organizations: Adopt a Minister International and Help the Needy, wanted to help make Retchi’s many wishes to come true. On April 11, Retchi could hardly contain himself. He was taking his first plane ride with his brother and Pastor Jimmy Sabandal to Manila. Once in Manila, Retchi had a chance to be on the Wowowee Show broadcasted by ABS-CBN where he met the host, Wilie Revillame.
Accompanied by Pastor Jimmy, Retchi went to the mega malls, took a train ride, toured many institutions and gave a talk in church. Two days later after Retchi went to the TV Show, the ABS-CBN crew of Ted Failon went to interview Retchi where he stayed in Pasay City. They want to tell the fascinating and inspiring story of this young man who beat the odds.
God has a great purpose for Retchi Ubod. He will be a big inspiration to many. God says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you.” This same message is for all of us. God created us for a great purpose for His honor and glory. It will be up to us if we want to be an inspiration or a frustration to those around us.