TABACO, Albay – Remember John Angelo Ortiz?
He was the picture of perfect happiness when he met “Lolo Kiko” at a gathering of families a year ago in Pasay.
He still is.
Thousands, perhaps millions, were moved to tears by that brief encounter as the Holy Father took time admiring the framed cross-stitch work—a Madonna Dolorosa—he’d made especially for him using nothing less than his own two feet.
“I will never forget Pope Francis laying his hand on me, making a cross on my forehead. It’s like God Himself doing it. I have received many blessings ever since. I thank the Lord for allowing me to see Pope Francis and to personally give him my portrait of Mama Mary,” he said in Filipino in an interview.
A chance to meet Pope Francis was only a wish at first until he found himself together with his family and other delegates of the Archdiocese of Legazpi on a 15-hour road trip to Antipolo, where they spent the night, then a few hours more to the Arena the next day.
“I miss you, Lolo Kiko. I want to see you again,” exclaimed Ortiz, who’s turning 29 in February, when asked about what he intends to tell the pontiff if given another opportunity to meet him or send him a message.
Prayers for auntie
The only thing that saddens this generally jovial young man is when he remembers an aunt of his who suffers from breast cancer.
“I will also ask Pope Francis to pray for my auntie so that she’d have more years to live,” he added.
Recalling that blessed papal moment, the cerebral palsy patient from Tabaco, Albay could only wish for a repeat, but he knows it would be asking too much.
Since then, Ortiz has become an inspiration to others like him by proving “people with disabilities” (PWDs) are not as “disabled” as some think they are.
In fact, he earns his bread from his handiwork and is currently finishing a portrait of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
“Despite my cerebral palsy, I never lose hope because I know the Lord is always with me. I may be like this but I still can do something that gives me joy,” he explained.
Ortiz told fellow PWDs not to despair and to remember that God keeps them company.
“Know your talents. Cultivate your talents. Show others your talents. Don’t be ashamed of your condition. And never blame God because of it. He has a reason for everything,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)