By: Dhaztine Shaenuel T. Gepana
True friends never leave one another. And they come in threes.
Seeing the bond between friends Juries Mel Ribo, Nissan Ribo and Enzo Batayola as they walked the streets reveling in the “Lamhitanay”, one can only wonder what binds them together, what’s their story.
Amid the heavy foot traffic during the Dinagsa Festival last January 25, the trio were spotted along the Abelarde Street, standing out in the crowd.
With bright smiles that cannot contain their excitement, Enzo and Nissan were seen pushing a wheelchair that carried Juries Mel. Anyone in the crowd would take a second, lasting look at the trio who seemed oblivious to the struggle of pushing a wheelchair in the crowd.
13-year-old Juries Mel, a child with special needs, can neither walk nor talk secondary to Cerebral Palsy.
While Enzo and Nissan, also13 years old, are grade 7 students of Banquerohan National High School and Dr. Vicente F. Gustilo Memorial National High School, respectively.
Ser-Alvin Iraula, a photographer by passion from Sagay City, videographed the three friends passing by him.
When asked why he took the video of the three teen-agers, Ser-Alvin said “Na-touch lng ko nga despite sa disability sang nka-wheelchair, makwa nya pa malagaw. Tapos, todo support ang ga-tulod sa iya nga duha ka-bata. Nga sigue man estorya sa iya samtang ga-tulod. Nga daw gina pamangkot kun ok lng sya”.
Ser-Alvin was using his smartphone camera to record the three and from the video clips he had, this rare shot cannot be seen everyday. A screenshot was posted on Facebook the same day.
Ser-Alvin’s post on his Facebook account, entitled “True Friendships Really Do Exist”, enjoyed about 6000 reactions and 5000 shares.
Vench Ong, a photographer of the City Government of Cadiz, also posted the same Ser-Alvin’s inspiring photo on February 2, it collected about 900 shares and 1000 reactions.
Mayor Salvador G. Escalante Jr. who was inspired by the story, invited the trio to visit his office on February 6. Mayor Escalante Jr. who is empathetic towards the young minds’ plight and welfare, gave cash gifts to them.
The official page of the Information Management Division – City Mayor’s Office posted the same inspiring photo, along with other photos taken during their visit with the Mayor on February 6. The post harvested a total of 1,700 reactions and around 400 shares in just two days.
On February 24, Mayor Escalante Jr. provided Juries Mel with a brand new wheelchair.
According to the trio, their inseparable friendship started when they were 8 years old. Enzo and Nissan said they love and care for Juries Mel who is their neighbor at Sta. Cruz Heights, Barangay Banquerohan, Cadiz City.
Enzo and Nissan also mentioned that during weekends, they usually grab Juries Mel from his residence and include him as they play games they most enjoy.
The trio are children of three different parents who are tricycle drivers and a fisherman but for them, poverty can’t part them away. In fact, it makes their friendship stronger and mightier.
Theirs is a classic show of inclusion advocated locally and internationally and it only takes these three to show us it can be done./*