CEBU CITY, Philippines — Brylle Samgel Arombo once had the world in his hands.
Young, athletic, ambitious, oozing with energy and good looks with enviable basketball skills. The then 24-year-old Arombo was on his way to conquering his dreams and claiming his place under the sun.
Until that fateful day of May 31, 2016, when a wayward SUV plowed through the tricycle he was riding on. The accident would change his life forever.
The young Arombo was on his way home at that time after buying a sack of rice from the town center in Argao, south Cebu.
It was around noon and he was riding on the sidecar of the tricycle that was used to transport livestock such as pigs. He was enjoying the gentle touch of the wind on his face as they were cruising on the highway when a black SUV strayed from its lane and hit them.
“We didn’t have the chance to avoid the SUV because it was coming very fast,” Arombo recalled.
An unconscious Arombo was rushed to the hospital where doctors decided to amputate his right leg.
Arombo said negative things filled his mind after finding out that his right leg will be amputated. Anger, uncertainty, rage, and hopelessness.
A normal reaction for a person who had his future, his potential, and his whole life put in an uncertain balance between sanity and unfathomable darkness.
“The first thing that came to my mind was my future. At that point, I did not know what to do. I was always staring blankly in the first week after the accident. I felt numb,” added Arombo from barangay Balisong in Argao.
After two months, Arombo came home. But everything became more excruciating for the young man. The pall of darkness worsened.
“I was still in shock in the first few months. I lost appetite, I literally gave up on life. My grandmother Lola Bed took very good care of me even if she suffered a mild stroke. My mom passed away in 2004 due to heart disease and my Lola Bed had been taking take of care of me since then.”
Before the accident, Arombo was very active in sports. He revealed that he could play basketball the whole day and would just go home to eat and change clothes.
“I play basketball every day. I only go home to eat and change clothes and I go back outside to play more, so it was not easy for me to adjust to my new life,” he said.
“I was very lonely, especially that I was the only one in my room compared to when I was still in the hospital where many people visited me,” he narrated.
However, that painful chapter of his life turned out to be the groundwork for a new beginning. A beacon of hope for his fellow amputees.
Thanks to the Philippine Accessible Disability Services, Inc. or PADS dragon boat team, Arombo got a new lease on life, a new anchor to pin his hopes unto for a better future.
Arombo soon realized that despite being an amputee, life still has much to offer. He watched one of the performance videos of PADS during their competition in Dumaguete City and in his hometown in Argao and got inspired to join.
“I saw one of their movies in their race in Dumaguete City and Argao. I was inspired by PADS members Owen, Kuya Jepon, Verniel, Captain Arnold, Enrique, and the other Arnold from Talisay City.”
Arombo signed up with the PADS team, less than a year after he lost his right leg.
He strongly believes that there is a very special purpose that awaits for him onboard a dragon boat, shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow amputees and PWDs, proving to everyone that no handicap is big enough to sink their determination and resolve.
“They have disabilities like me but they are engaging in physical activities that I never thought is possible for an amputee. I told myself that it is possible and it can be done.”
OVERCOMING LIFE’S ADVERSITIES
He was embraced by PADS with wide, open arms. In no time, he became one of their ace paddlers who has helped the team won numerous major dragon boat races.
He is part of the PADS dragon boat team that won back-to-back titles in the coveted Hong Kong Dragonboat carnival in 2017 and 2018.
Remarkably, he was also part of the PADS team that won the 16th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) awards in 2019 along with his teammates who are also amputees and PWDS.
“After joining PADS dragonboat team, I slowly gained back my confidence especially when we went toe-to-toe with elite teams in the Philippines and the whole world,” Arombo proudly said.
Arombo himself received their award at the GSIS Theater in Pasay City. He also represented PADS to receive another award at the Senate.
Today, there’s no trace of hopelessness and despair in Arombo.
“The changes in my life are very wholesome. I learned to value my life even more today. I feel like I have a more meaningful purpose in life.”
Despite what he’s been through, Arombo exudes tremendous positivity and optimism, a far cry from what he was five years ago.
“I have no regrets, anger, or dismay in my heart now. I am very happy and blessed with what is happening in my life right now. Maybe this is God’s way to redirect me to a more meaningful existence,” Arombo said.
He also revealed that his grandmother remains to be his sole inspiration and strength in this precarious journey called life.
Arombo is also aware of what people like him feel when confronted with a similar tragedy. And he wants to be their beacon of hope.
“Yes, life is unfair sometimes. We face inevitable struggles and challenges along the way, even if we think we don’t deserve them. But always look on the brighter side and always think that we don’t know our real strength until we face the challenging circumstances in life,” Arombo tells his fellow amputees.
When not racing, Arombo can be found mentoring and training young paddlers. He is also an inbound sales representative and a coffee barista in a local burger chain run by PADS members.
Arombo’s story is a piece of compelling evidence that hope is a powerful elixir that drives the mind to achieve the impossible. If only you put your faith and your heart into it.