Visually-impaired Lumad searches for love, future with his songs

Larry Garame performs before an on the spot audience at the DXDB Lobby in Malaybalay City. Bukidnon News photo

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/14 February) It’s easy for Bukidnon
aspiring singer Larry Garame to gather a crowd. He sits in a corner,
pulls a chair, and sings his favorite song accompanied by the guitar.

That’s what this visually impaired person did on February 13 at the
radio station DXDB a day before Valentine’s Day.

As he started to strum the guitar for “Kahit hindi kita nakikita,
(Even If I can’t see you)” one of his original compositions,
immediately a group of reporters and bystanders gathered outside the
studio to listen.

Larry dedicated the song to an acquaintance way back. He was teaching
the girl how to play the guitar. But he hesitated to hold her hand to
demonstrate the chords. He was ashamed of his condition, but he liked
her. He apologized for his courtship despite the situation.

Larry had a hard time accepting his condition.

“It was not easy, it was a hard realization that I cannot be like the
others,” he added.

But he said he is thankful that despite his disability, he was given
the talent that he can share to others.  He started joining singing
contests when he was seven years old in

Bukidnon and in Agusan del Sur, where his family migrated once.

He said through the years he developed interest in singing and cited
that he sings better if he does not eat anything.

“I really wanted to be a singer to make both ends meet,” he added.

Larry, a villager from Busdi in Malaybalay City’s Upper Pulangi
district, has a promising talent.

He said singing is easy for him as it is God-given and his gusto for
singing doesn’t go down even if he performs before a crowd of
strangers.

What’s difficult for the 25-year old Lumad singer is finding means to
sustain his aspired career for his future.

He said he is from a family of small farmers. As the eldest child of
four children, Larry felt the responsibility to take care of his
family and himself.

“I am not sure what lies ahead of me because we are very poor,” he
added in the vernacular.
He said because of his denial about his condition, he also was not
able to go to school.

“I did not believe before that I can do what others can do because I
am blind,” he told Bukidnon News in an interview.

He said for now he has given up on going to school because it’s still
difficult.  Besides, he said, they cannot afford it.

When asked about the other persons with disabilities (PWDs) who went
to the Department of Education’s Special Education (SpEd), he said
they got used to studying because they got used to it since they were
younger.

But Larry said he does not see himself begging, too.
“I want to eat food from my earnings. I don’t want to depend,” he stressed.

When Larry heard of ABS-CBN’s Pilipinas Got Talent (PGT), he
auditioned in Malaybalay in April 2011. He said he went through the
long queues to be able to show his talent.

But Larry said after his sacrifices, luck was not on his side. Those
who auditioned with him told him later he was among those who
qualified but he did not show up.

Organizers could not contact him to announce his inclusion, his
friends said. By that time, he was in Busdi where there was no
cellular phone signal.

The news struck him. He cried hard. He thought it was his shot, and lost it.

“It’s really hard when no one can help,” he added.

He said it was not his worst experience so far.

About three years ago, he also joined an amateur singing contest in a
village in Impasug-ong.

He said he was rated 99 percent by one of the three judges. But he
lost the contest. The two other judges gave him zero. He later found
out that the person who invited him to the contest was a previous
political opponent of the sitting village chief.

“I felt sad but I did not feel bitter. I’m just glad that I know why I
lost,” he added. He said he did not mind the politics. In fact, he
added, he was not even experienced voting, which he said, is still
difficult for a blind man in their village.

He also composed many songs.  But he said he already forgot the
melodies and the lyrics he arranged for about 23 original
compositions. He added that aside from having no recorder, it was also
difficult to write down and memorize the lines.

The Bukidnon Visually Impaired Entrepreneurs, Inc. invited Larry as
its guest in their weekly radio program at DXDB Monday when he sang
on-air. The group is convincing him to study, at least Braille, an aid
to literacy for visually impaired using their sense of touch.

Larry believes that as long as one does good, God will never leave him.

He cited one experience with his family, which taught him to trust in
God and do well.

Larry recalled they barely ate that day. They survived on a meal of
boiled cassava. Then a neighbor arrived and asked if he want to join a
contest. He immediately dressed up, borrowed a pair of shoes, and went
to a ‘video cinco’ player (P5 coin music video player) to practice
Martin Nievera’s “Say that you love me” once. He said his father
discouraged him because the contest was barely two hours away. But he
was determined.

That afternoon he went home a victor with P500 prize beating 18 other
contestants.
“We were also able to buy rice and other food that day,” he added.

Larry said he hopes the government and other generous people will
continue to help people with disabilities like him, to survive, too.
(Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)

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