“Success Against All Odds” by Reva Lachica Moore

Several years ago, I wrote “Abandoned But Not Forsaken” – the heart-wrenching story of Dorel Padilla, a young man born without legs. Dorel was given up for adoption because his poor mother couldn’t take care of him. Today I wish to share his story again but with a very happy ending.

Dorel Padilla, 25, tells his story….

Shaking and scared, I cried, “Inde ko gusto mag-upod sa ila!” (I don’t want to go with them!) I desperately clutched onto my mother’s arms. Some strangers came to our home to take me away, which I didn’t understand because I was only 3 at that time. Mother told me it was for my own good. My lips quivered as she wiped my tear-stained face. She was crying, too, because she didn’t want me to go. I was taken away to live with a foster family in Bacolod City.

You see, I was born incomplete. I was born without legs. I later learned that when my mother was pregnant with me, she got sick and took some kind of medicine that caused me to be born handicapped. It must have been a very sad time for my family on that day of January 7, 1981 when they first caught a glimpse of me.

As a child, I remember wondering why I was so different. Why I don’t have legs while everyone else did. I often imagined that I could walk and run just like other children. Of course, it became natural for me to scuttle and use my arms to move about. I could go from place to place quite fast.

When I turned 7, my adoptive parents sent me off to live in an orphanage called “Bacolod Boys’ Home for Orphans and Abandoned Boys.” They told me I have to go to school and it was the best place for me. The night before I left for the orphanage, I couldn’t sleep. I was terrified and worried. I wondered if the people there will like me.

At the orphanage, I cried for a long time because I was so homesick, and the kids laughed and made fun of me constantly. Finally, I was able to ignore their hurtful sneers. I seriously tried to be friendly and at last they accepted me. While there I also learned how to pray with the help of a priest. I lived in a cottage with several boys. There were around 300 of us who lived in the orphanage.

The orphanage gave me a skateboard to use so I could go from place to place. I learned to balance my weight on it while I pushed with my arms. The skateboard was all right except on rainy days; I couldn’t keep my clothes clean. When I reached 5th grade; the orphanage surprised me with a wheelchair! I was ecstatic. I loved it because I could keep my clothes clean. I used my arms to propel the chair. I moved about everywhere freely, except in staircases. I was on top of the world! I now have artificial legs!

I finished my elementary grades at the orphanage in 1996 with honors. I was in the top ten. I continued my high school there also as a working student, making cards with Bible verses and pictures using the computer. The orphanage sold the cards and the money was used to support the needs of the children. Finally, I felt needed.

All those years when I lived in the Boys’ Home, I wondered if I had parents, brothers and sisters. I was told that when I was much younger, my sister and mother came to visit me once, but didn’t come again. As the years passed, I lost all memory of my family. It must have been my way of coping with my sad situation. So after many years, the orphanage was the only home I knew. But still, I had flashbacks as if I have a home and family somewhere, so I started asking around. I was told my real family lived 4 hours drive away in the remote mountains of Kabankalan, Negros. I longed to meet them.

During my high school graduation in 2000, I was given a medal for being a computer wiz. I was so happy and felt like a ‘somebody’ in spite of my physical defect. After my graduation I could hardly wait to see my family. I sent word to them that I wanted to go home. My older sister came to pick me up and I was very happy to see her.

While riding in a jeepney going to our house, many questions raced in my mind: What does everyone look like? Will everyone accept me? When we reached home, my family embraced me with tears of happiness. It was so wonderful to see all of them. I found out that I was the 7th of 8 children. My mother said there was not a day when she didn’t think about me. She had agonized and prayed for me all those years.

Since I enjoy the computer so much, I wanted to go to college and take computer technology. However, my parents were so poor and didn’t have the money to send me.

My pastor told me about Central Philippine Adventist College where I could work and go to school. I told my parents that I wanted to go there. They worried whether I could manage on my own since they couldn’t support me financially.

I came to CPAC. I am staying in a cottage and I have been working in the Computer Laboratory for one and half years and earned enough money for my tuition for one semester. I dream of having a BS degree in Information Technology someday. I’m writing my story per chance someone could read it and help me financially so I could continue my studies.

Financial Help for Dorel’s Study

I sent out Dorel’s story to those in my e-mail list. Praise God, a wonderful sponsor sent help for Dorel after reading his story; he was able to stay in a special dormitory for handicaps and go to school full time. On March 21, 2011, Dorel graduated with a Bachelor of Information Technology degree. At that time, I went to the Philippines on a mission trip and while there, I went to CPAC to surprise Dorel on his Graduation Day. The audience applauded this young man for his big accomplishment. His mother and siblings attended and they gave their thanks for helping Dorel. I praise God for His lovingkindness.

After his graduation, Dorel worked for Negros Occidental Conference Communication Department under Adopt a Minister International. But, a few years later, going to NOC by jeepney (two rides) was very difficult for Dorel, especially during rainy season. Dorel asked if he could start a small business instead. Dorel’s wonderful sponsor sent funds for Dorel to build his house and start a little business. In 2014, Dorel got married to his wife Mercy.

Dorel has been blessed with an amazing sports talent and is a member of the Sitting Volleyball Team of the Philippines. He started playing in 2014 for the Philippine National Games.

Dorel has won many medals and was named Champion in these games:
His medals: Athletic shotput silver medal, power lifting silver medal, table tennis single silver medal, table tennis double bronze medal.

Named Champion and medals:
In 2015 – Invitational Local Sitting Volleyball at Cadiz City Champion and Provincial Sitting Volleyball Champion
In 2016 – Invitational Champion and Provincial Sitting Volleyball Champion
In 2019 – Philippine National Games Bulacan bronze medal.
In May 2019 – he became a member of the Sitting Volleyball National Team and started training on July 2019 for the Asean Para Games of 2020. Dorel was the Team Captain with majority votes for leadership, kindness, ability and God-fearing.

The 2022 ASEAN Para Games, officially known as the 11th ASEAN Para Games, and commonly known as Surakarta 2022 (or Solo 2022), was a biannual multi-sport event for athletes with physical disabilities in Southeast Asia. It was held from July 30 to August 6 2022 in Sumatra, Indonesia. All 11 countries in the region participated. The Philippines with 144 team members (Dorel was one of them) ranked 5th with 28 gold medals, 30 silver medals and 46 bronze medals.

Dorel and Mercy have 2 beautiful girls: Ellashaye, 8, and Eliona Hope, 3. Dorel is still a member of the Philippines Sport Commission.

I thank God for the wonderful sponsor who continues to send an amount for Dorel and his family today. To God be the glory!

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.” Orison Swett Marden

UPDATE: From Dorel today (2024):

“Hello Mom, Happy Sabbath. I am still in the Philippine team sitting volleyball. My eldest daughter is Ellashaye G. Padilla, 8 yrs old and the youngest is Eliona Hope G. Padilla 3 yrs old. I am a casual worker in the city for “People with Disabilities.” I organize and conduct community base rehabilitation because some PWDs do not know their rights and privileges. I speak in front of them together with the barangay officials sharing the experience I had in my life to inspire them that they are part of the community in order to face the bullying, and not get scared or be shy. We should accept first ourself and the reality. And always thank God that we are created unique and we have the right to live as a normal human being.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11