Photos are frozen memories perceived by the eyes. But what if these photos are printed by someone who cannot even see them?
Visually impaired Flordan Porton can print magnificent pictures and leave smiles and astonishment on his clients’ faces as they explore Region VIII’s booth during the bazaar exhibit of the 2019 National Festival of Talents (NFOT) in Dagupan City.
Aside from photo printing, which he learned just last year, Flordan is also skilled in many other things: He started playing the guitar in 2009 and weaving rugs in 2017.
Supported and guided by his teacher, Marlon Maestre, Flordan operates the computer from which he prints the transferred pictures. Maestre customized his computer by putting a voice synthesizer and by sticking Braille on the tiles of its keyboard. Flordan started learning how to read Braille at the age of nine.
“When I was younger, I wondered how I am going to learn to read. But when I found out about Braille, I realized that nothing is impossible,” Flordan said.
Flordan is a student of a transition program in Oras East District Special Education (SPED) Center in Eastern Samar, and he dreams of becoming a teacher someday. He tried enrolling in SPED classes before but due to poverty, he had to stop schooling. However, a persistent Flordan still pushed through by going back to SPED school in 2006 at the age of 16. Now that he is 28, he is still working to build a brighter career for himself. He even had this rare opportunity of joining the NFOT.
“I was really nervous since photo printing is a new skill for me to showcase. I practiced together with Sir Maestre. I was feeling nervous, knowing that the judges were watching the things I do, but then, win or lose, I am still grateful that I had the chance of sharing my talents and inspiring others.”
Flordan was raised in a big family of seven siblings. He is the sixth child, and his father passed away when he was only two years old. In that same age, he suffered from measles which led to his blindness.
Flordan’s life was never easy. For him to go to school, he needs to ride a boat and embark on a 15-minute walk when he does not have enough money to pay for habal-habal ride. Despite the challenges, he is still eager to learn and finish his studies.
The money he earns in rug weaving and photo printing helps him finance his education. Fortunately, Maestre, a former scholar of the Resources for the Blind, has the privilege of requesting materials from the organization for Flordan’s books. Since he is now in a transition program or a mainstream class, Flordan uses regular books that were rewritten into Braille.
“I want to finish my studies and help others, especially those who have disability. All I can advise them is that if there’s a chance, they should grab all the opportunities given by the people with kind heart who are willing to help.”
Michelle Mina Felstead
Bonuan Buquig National High School
Schools Division of Dagupan City