A road less taken; a life worth living
FOR Mark Joseph ‘Aga’ Casidsid, 31, being visually impaired was not a hindrance to living and doing what he enjoys most, which is to run races.This disability, while it may have ended the will of many people to live and enjoy life, has allowed him to see just how beautiful and worth living life can truly be.
His calvary began in 2003 when he lost his eyesight to Retinopathy of Prematurity or Retrolental Fibroplasia, a condition caused by premature birth, which results to gradual blindness.
In fact, his running partner Edgardo Pelingo Jr., fondly called as Coach Gado, a former Architect/Design and Construction Head from Primer Group of Companies, said that Aga even contemplated taking his own life.
“Gusto na nga niyang mag-suicide eh,” said the 33-year-old Gado, who has been running since 2007. “But his father was concerned about him. Sabi niya, baka raw pwede kong tulungan si Aga na tumakbo.”
Though the request seemed challenging, Gado took up the task of training him. He started running with Aga, who, despite his vulnerability, braved the steep terrains and, more importantly, the darkness that surrounded him.
“It took me about two weeks bago ko naturuan si Aga,” Gado said. “Hindi ko in-expect na madali siyang turuan. Nag-worry lang ako nu’ng una kasi baka hindi kami magkarinigan ‘pag nandu’n na sa race, namawala ‘yung communication namin. Sinasabi ko pa kung kakanan o kakaliwa para ma-guide ko siya.”
Both Gado and Aga use 1-2-3 and a-b-c-d as their running codes to guide them through the marathons they participate in. The codes one, two and three refer to the speed, while a, b, c and d refer to their position (left, right, front, back). Aside from these codes, Gado ensures that they are mentally and physically ready before the gunstart.
Gado said: “Before, sabay pa kaming tumatakbo gamit ‘yung codes. Para mas maalalayan ko siya, nakatali siya sakin. Pero nu’ng nagtagal, pakiramdaman na lang kami. Siya ‘yung tumatakbo sa harap ko.”
With this, the Center for Outdoor Recreation and Expedition (CORE)—the advocacy arm of Primer Group—acknowledged the collaborative effort exerted by coach Gado in training Aga to run. Now, they are officially recognized as Team Posible, bearing truth that even the most unfortunate circumstances like blindness may give birth to moments of triumph.
In fact, Gado and Aga recently joined the Salomon City Trail Manila 2015, a loop run that provides unconventional challenges like running up the stairs, bridges and ramps, in the historic Intramuros in Manila. This run aims to elevate the running experience by bringing the trail to an urban landscape.
The Salomon race is just one of the running events that Team Posible joined in. To support their running adventures in and outside the country, CORE has been partnering with The North Face and the Recreational Outdoor Exchange—the largest outdoor sports and recreation superstore in Southeast Asia—for their needed apparel, footwear and other supporting equipment as well as their race registrations.
According to Tin Villaflor, program manager of C.O.R.E., Team Posible opens possibilities for individuals who want to beat the odds, for people who want to go beyond the limits as they participate invarious kinds of sporting activities in and outside the Philippines.
“Team Posible originally refers to the relationship that coach Gado and Aga have. With this campaign, we hope to also enjoin the most vulnerable Filipinos to find their own adventure for themselves and have a renewed zest for life and personal adventure,” Villaflor said.
For his part, Aga asserts that running has become his outlet to feel alive again, proving that regardless of his condition he will be able to make his every run an adventure in life.
“Para sa mga katulad ko, sana lumabas sila sa box, ‘yung malaman nila ang purpose nila kung bakit nagpatuloy parin ‘yung buhay nila. Sana ma-enjoy din nila ‘yung buhay nila dahil nakakapag-inspire sila ng ibang tao,” Aga said.
Aga concluded: “Ang race naman talaga is challenging, pero ang adventure manggagaling sa start hanggang sa finish line. Sana mahanap rin ng iba ‘yung adventure nahinahanap nila kasi ako, nakita ko na.”