Francisco Arca: No fingers, no toes, all heart
This 15-year-old athlete from Region 8 wants to prove his physical disability won’t stop him from excelling on the national stage.

LAGUNA, Philippines – A 15-year-old athlete from Region 8 wants to prove his physical disability won’t stop him from excelling on the national stage.

Jane Bracher reports.


15- year old Francisco Arca didn’t think his physical strength would change his life. But it did.

Born without most of his fingers and toes, Francisco had a tough life before he was spotted lifting copra in Eastern Samar. He also struggled with his disability.

FRANCISCO ARCA, REGION VIII WRESTLER: Pag tingin ko po sa sarili ko, normal lang po ako. Pero tulad po ng maraming tao, nahihiya rin po ako. Kaya tinatago ko po. (When I look at myself, I see I’m normal. But like many others, I still feel ashamed. So I hide it.)

When he thought things couldn’t get worse, Super Typhoon Haiyan struck.

FRANCISCO ARCA, REGION VIII WRESTLER: Wala na po kami nakikita kundi malakas na hangin at malakas na ulan. Kahit yung katabi ko po di ko na nakikita. Hindi naman po ako natakot sa sarili ko, yung pamilya ko lang po iniisip ko. (We couldn’t see anything except strong winds and rain. I couldn’t even see the person beside me. I wasn’t afraid for myself, I was afraid for my family.)

After the typhoon, he’s devoted most of his time to wrestling. He endured days away from his family when he competed in Metro Manila. He sees amateur wrestling as his ticket out of poverty.

RUBEN TAMAYO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEYTE SPORTS ACADEMY: Yung pangarap ko talaga sa kanya makatapos ng pagaaral sa college para makatulong sa pamilya niya, na matulungan after high school dahil sa performance niya. (My dream for him is to finish college so he could help his parents, to help them after high school because of his performances in competitions.)

Palarong Pambansa is Francisco’s dream come true.

FRANCISCO ARCA, REGION VIII WRESTLER: Sabi ko po kapag nakapag Palarong Pambansa po ako, gagawin ko po lahat dahil ito lang talaga ang makaka-improve sa sarili ko. (I told myself when I reach Palarong Pambansa, I will do everything I can because this is the only thing that can improve myself.)

But he doesn’t plan on stopping there. He says he plans on traveling the world.

Francisco shows us one doesn’t have to be physically perfect or wealthy in order to live a better life. You can come from humble beginnings and still be someone who makes a difference. What athletes like Francisco really need, is a chance.
Jane Bracher, Rappler, Laguna.  –

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