Bicolana amputee to debut in 2020 ASEAN Para Games
A nightmare turned out to be a life-changing reality for 26-year-old Jhona Peña.
On Nov. 23, 2010, at the age of 17, a tragic accident left Peña with just her left leg.
It was 8:00 PM. Peña was heading home riding a tricycle with seven other passengers when a speeding Toyota Fortuner hit their trike hard.
Peña was the lone survivor of that accident.
“Nasa tricycle po kami nun, sinalpok kami ng Fortuner, lasing po kasi yung driver, Namatay po lahat ng mga kasamahan ko pati na po yung driver. Ako lang po yung nabuhay.” Peña said.
She was rushed to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) in Legazpi City.
Because of the severity of the impact, her right leg was amputated above the knee, while her left leg was also shattered.
She was confined for three months. When she was finally released, she had to make frequent visits to the hospital for therapy, monitoring, and continuous medication.
Just like that, Peña’s dream to become a beauty queen was snuffed out.
But life must go on for Peña.
“Acceptance lang po talaga yung pinaka-unang process para po magpatuloy sa buhay. Focus na lang po ako sa positive kaysa sa negative. Mas marami pong blessings kung positibo ang ating perspektibo sa buhay.” Peña said.
She lost a leg but not her drive.
She used her disability, to live as normally as she possibly could. She got up where she fell and now stands stronger than ever.
Peña still realized her dream of joining a beauty pageant when she joined a contest for the differently-abled land in 2019 and won the crown of Ms. Amazing Albay.
Having perfect fair skin, charismatic charm, and an alluring smile, Peña did not let the opportunity pass to achieve her long-time dream.
She did all her best in the talent competition where she performed a monologue.
She did stage acting, showed her grooves in dancing, and she also played the ukulele and the violin.
She even carried herself confidently during the sportswear category sporting a complete golfer attire.
In that same year, Peña also worked hard at her studies at STI College – Legazpi to finally graduate with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.
Peña’s amputated leg might be a weakness for some, but for the pride of Malinao, Albay, it actually became her strength to dream and do more.
“Nagkaroon po kami ng ability games sa De La Salle College of Saint Benilde para po sa mga persons with disability (PWD) at doon po ako nadiscover nung friend ko na si Kuya Paolo, who by chance introduced me to national para table tennis Head Coach Louie Eballa. Doon na po nag-start yung table tennis career ko,” Peña narrated.
In 2018, her table tennis career started.
Less than 2 years later, Peña will have the privilege to wear the Philippine tricolors when she debuts at the upcoming 10th ASEAN Para Games, which the country will host.
“Sobra pong blessed dahil isa po ako sa napili para i-represent ang Pilipinas. Nakaka-proud po bilang isang PWD. Gusto ko lang po ay maging inspirasyon din sa mga kapwa ko PWDs.” Peña said.
Though a first timer in the games, Peña is training well to perform at par with more seasoned competitors. “Kahit beginner pa lang ako, ayokong magpahuli sa mga magagaling. Dapat laban lang ng laban. Determinasyon at tiyaga lang po talaga. Kung may pangarap ka, kailangang i-push mo lang yan.” Peña added.
The Bicolana para-athlete also thanked the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for giving equal opportunities to all differently-abled athletes like her.
“Maraming salamat po PSC, dahil sa inyo po, hindi po naging hadlang sa paglalaro ko po ng table tennis ang nangyari sa akin kasi may tulong po kayo at suporta na ibinibigay po sa aming mga players so maraming-maraming salamat po. God bless you all,” said Peña.
Indeed, life shall continue to be beautiful for as long as you hold on to your dream and let it light your path to success. (PSC)
Jhona Peña, 26, of Malinao, Albay, has a degree in Information Technology and she is one of the athletes who will represent the country in the 10th Asean Para Games this year.