Paolo Javellana’s story is one that reminds us to look within ourselves to understand what we truly have. As a man who lost his sight, he learned to find a deeper meaning into his life. Beautifully portrayed in Malaala Mo Kaya’s January 15 episode, “Magnifying Glass,” we followed Pao’s journey as a young driven man who lost his way, but ultimately found the path that was meant for him.
Pao (Carlo Aquino) grew up in a loving home, but it wasn’t perfect. His mother Tess (Irma Adlawan) was a single mother left by her husband and struggles to put food on the table for her three sons. On top of that, Tess is also visually impaired. She can still see, but has blurry eyesight due to a genetic condition.
Despite having a difficult life, Pao and his brothers appreciate their mother’s hardwork and found part-time jobs or activities to earn money to ease their mother’s troubles. Pao even fulfilled his promise to finish his studies to get a decent paying job.
After he graduated, he moved to Manila to find a promising career. With his determination, he landed a Customers Sales Officer position in a telecommunications company. Not long after, his satisfactory performance was recognized by his boss and Pao was kicking off his career at the ripe age of 21.
The story then takes a sad turn as we discover Pao beginning to get blurry eyesight in his left eye. Of course, he panicked, but proceeded to seek professional help. An optometrist recommended prescription glasses; however, that didn’t work, so he went to an ophthalmologist instead. The doctor referred him to a neuro-ophthalmologist because, as it appears, the sickness is stemming from a neurological impairment.
Pao’s world was beginning to crumble amidst all this news. Add on the fact that his own mother refused to be with him in this time of need. After the results of his diagnosis were released, Pao learns the pain crushing truth — his condition has no cure and he will eventually become legally blind.
Pao lived in denial. He continued to work despite not being able to see properly. Day by day, he struggled until it came to a point that he couldn’t take it anymore and had to face the truth. Scared and angry at his condition, his mother took him home to take care of him.
Feeling like a burden and without any purpose, Pao excluded himself from the world and locked himself in his room for over a year. He lost several opportunities, after all. His family tried helping him, but he would push them away. Failing to see any more value in his life, Pao attempted to kill himself. Fortunately, he didn’t go through with it, but it put her mother in despair knowing that her son tried to do so.
In this moment, we understand Tess' emotional struggle in all of this. When Pao was beginning to see signs that he inherited her mother’s illness, she couldn’t face him. Now that it has worsened, she is constantly eaten by her guilt, feeling that everything happening to Pao is her fault. With Pao wanting to put an end to his life, she cannot live with herself.
Pao now understands with clarity the feelings of the people around him. Pushing them away wasn’t helping his situation and didn’t allow him to understand that they were coming from a place of love. He realized his selfishness for only thinking about himself and not the people that care for him. At this point, Pao decided he needed to accept his situation and change for the better.
He began to live again. He began eating with his family, playing with his nephews, and living life as a blind person. Eventually, he started applying for jobs too. Although he received rejections along the way, it didn’t stop him. Given his headstrong attitude, Pao found a great job in sales where he performed amazingly. He was one of the best performers in his team and gained recognition. Because of this, he was invited to provide a life testimony to inspire his colleagues at work.
During his speech, he reflected on his life — his struggles, fears, and realizations. He told his rollercoaster of a story that led him to where he is now. It was enlightening, not only for the audience, but also for himself. After years of questioning why he had to lose his sight, he realized that it was so he could tell his story to others and inspire them to go on in life the same way he did. If he can do it, others can definitely do so as well. Pao found his destiny to provide inspiration and strength to others. He continues to enjoy life to this day and helps others as a motivational speaker.
MMK “Magnifying Glass” is a remarkably written story of courage and clarity. It showed how perspective is important looking at one’s life and there is a reason for all the challenges we face. Pao’s brave decision to accept his condition is also one that many will be able to gain wisdom from.
Carlo Aquino’s performance of Pao was an impressive feat too. He was able to let the audience truly empathize with Pao’s feeling of fear and worry. Irma Adlawan should also be commended. As the mother of Pao, she successfully showed all the complex and mixed emotions of guilt and sadness Tess was going through.