SECOND Lieutenant Jerome Jacuba lost his eyesight when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off during a combat operation in Maguindanao in southern Philippines in May this year.
Still confined at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC) in Quezon City, he asked his commanders recently to allow him to join the Heroes Run organized for the benefit of the families of fallen and injured soldiers who gallantly risk their lives in answer to the call of duty.
To be held on October 30, the 5th Heroes Run is the biggest get-together for men and women of the AFP well as the general running public on their quest to aid the fallen and injured soldiers’ dependents.
It is an annual fund-raising event spearheaded by the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc.
Jacuba said despite his condition, he will run in the 5-kilometer category.
He cannot see anything except for glimpses of light.
Jacuba said he is determined to run and be an inspiration, not just to his fellow soldiers, but to the people.
“Joining the Heroes Run is a self-reaffirmation that I can still do something for the Philippine Army and for the families of my fellow soldiers in spite of my present circumstances. I also would want to set a good example to my daughters,” he pointed out.
Jacuba is a loving father to two young daughters.
His youngest child, turning two years old this year, was only 22 days old when he last saw her.
“I will be running because I want to inspire the people and tell them that anyone can be a hero,” he said.
Jacuba’s brother Pfc. Joevanny Jacuba, also an enlisted Army personnel, will be assisting him when he joins the run.
According to Col. Benjamin Hao, Army spokesman, it has been six months since Jacuba lost his eyesight and he still have scars from the IED shrapnels, and grains of sand are still embedded on his skin.
“But, with the fortitude he has shown, his heart and soul is healing fast,” Hao said.
There was a brief but powerful encounter between President Rodrigo Duterte and Jacuba when the President visited the AFP Medical Center in July.
It was a moving sight when the President embraced Jacuba as he thanked him for the sacrifices he has done for the country.
Hao said Jacuba had finished a 6-week short course on Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA).
The Army man can now use basic computer features, such as Word, Excel and Power Point.
He is using a laptop, installed with NVDA features, given to him by the President.
The 5th Heroes Run 2016 will be held simultaneously in Manila, Iloilo and Davao on October 30 and in Baguio City on November 13.