Sunflowers must be the first image that comes to mind when someone mentions the Yamang Bukid Farm in Bacungan village, Puerto Princesa City. People who come here must have initially intended to have their pictures taken with the flowers, more than any other reasons. But nice as it is to look at these yellow-rayed flowers, isn’t it only right to give respect to the man behind these blooms?

Meet Sonny Tesado, a.k.a “Sunflower Boy.” When you see Sonny, you’ll probably be surprised and amazed to behold a humble-looking man whose right arm is shriveled and paralyzed. Yes, he sows and maintains the sunflowers and other farm plants with only one hand! If he only has a social media account, he would see the extent of the effect and the happiness the fruit of his hand gives to people. Still, he timidly says he is happy to know that many appreciate the sunflowers.

Sonny, 37, has been working at the Yamang Bukid Farm for a year already. A motorcycle accident during his younger and reckless teenage years made him lose the feeling and function of his right arm, leaving it paralyzed.

Nevertheless, he said this circumstance which made him regret his disobedience to his parents, had taught him to persevere despite being a person with a disability or PWD. Having limited choices in life, he worked his own land farming rice and corn only to lose money and profit because of pests and bad weather conditions. Sonny and his wife Inday had to resort to illegal activities like illegal logging, and making uling (charcoal) and pawid (nipa thatching) to make ends meet and raise a family with three children.

But like the sunflowers that look towards the sun in order to grow and be beautiful, Sonny’s life took a brighter turn since working for the Yamang Bukid Farm. Both he and his wife are a blessing to the farm as they wholeheartedly work hard in the fields and in the kitchen, respectively. Very early each morning, they begin to do their tasks with perseverance, shy smiles in their faces, and more hope for their lives.

Now, Sonny enjoys the stable income from the farm and was even able to settle his family’s debts to other people that accumulated in the past. Through hard work, he was also able to improve their house, buy washing machine and TV, send their children to school, and dream for their future.

When asked what could be the message of his life, Sonny remarked, “Yung pangarap ko po sa anak ko na lang. Kasi sinasabi ko sa kanya, yung dapat. Pinaaral din po ako ng magulang ko, kaya lang nagloko po ako. Parbol. [Yung aksidente ko po] ay dahil sa kalalayas. Hindi po ako pinapayagan ng magulang ko pero naglayas pa rin ako. Kaya yung sa anak ko, sinasabi ko na lang sa kanya, huwag akong tularan.” This is the advice he would always give his eldest child, who is now in senior high school and is in the honor roll.

Sometimes, the tragedies we experience are the ones that lead us to improve how we view and do things. These will, in turn, change our lives for the better. What is important is that, like Sonny Tesado, Yamang Bukid’s Sunflower Boy, we learn our lessons well and keep on going.

The famous Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sun and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.”

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