Lacking limbs but full of hope Video Credit: Manuel Almario

  • Filipino mechanic suffers from abnormal congenital disorder called dysmelia.
  • He's got no hands and feet, but full of courage and determination to succeed.
  • Former Dubai mechanic found his true love in the Philippines.

Love led him home. He left Dubai to be beside his better half. He worked hard and struggled a lot, but when love beckoned, he followed. Now he’s happily building a future with his fiancée in the Philippines.

Juan Samujo Briza aka Buloy, 35, is a former Dubai auto mechanic, who lived in the UAE for three years. His is a story of the triumph of human spirit.

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Juan Briza is fixing the motorcycle at his shop in the Philippines Image Credit: Supplied

Living with determination

Born with dysmelia, an abnormal congenital disorder of limbs reduction or deficiency, Briza has hands that are not fully formed with fused fingers and underdeveloped feet. It affects one in 100,000 children worldwide.

Gulf News first met Briza in October, 2016. His courage and determination earned him respect and inspiration from our readers back then. And at that point, he had found the love of his life via Facebook. He was grappling with the decision of whether to go back to the Phillipines or not. Eventually, Briza packed his bags and went home.

Two years later, we caught up with him in the Philippines, to find out how his love story turned out.

“I used to earn more in Dubai, but am happy to be back in the Philippines. I am happy being with my fiancée Joanna Marie San Diego, my parents and siblings. Although life is tough here, we learn how to adapt and live a simple life. My salary is only Peso 300 (Dh21) per day, which is just enough to buy food and for house rent. As we cannot afford to pay P2,500 per month for rent, we pay in installments.”

Daily battles for survival

To cope with the cost of living, they moved from house to house to get cheaper rent and to be closer to his workplace.

Briza said: “I worked in different garages as a mechanic. I operated machines for wheel alignment, worked the automotive scanner and fixed auto electrical wiring to earn more.”

RDS 160905 JUAN-Story of Juan Briza at Al Quoz Photo Arshad Ali/Gulf News

San Diego helped him by selling fish balls and fries in front of the shop.

Recently, his brother Nomer asked him to manage his motor shop on Kenneth Road, Sandoval Avenue, Pasig City. Briza does that and also works there as a mechanic with one helper, and San Diego is in charge of the inventory. She earns Pesos 200 per day.

“My everyday routine is simple. Every morning, I watch news on TV, and then take shower at 7.30am and drive my motorbike to reach the shop. My whole day is consumed fixing motor cycles. We have five customers on a lucky day, but fewer on a slow day. I hope to set up my own motor shop one day, so I can give a better future to my own family. I will strive hard - I don’t want to be alone all my life.”

True love knows no barriers

Briza planned to marry San Diego in 2017, but postponed it due to lack of funds.

He said: “Kami ay isang kahig, isang tuka lamang [we only live from hand to mouth]... we struggle to survive on our own. We lead a very simple life. I want to give her everything. I want her to be happy. I believe that life is like a wheel, sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you’re down. So, we’ll get through this together.

“We hope to get married this April, even a simple wedding ceremony with family members. I dreamt of spending our honeymoon in Boracay, the beach capital of the Philippines. It’s going to be memorable and costly, but it’s free to dream.”

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Juan Briza with his fiancee Joanna Marie San Diego Image Credit: Supplied

San Diego said that she is finally happy.

She said: “He’s not far from me. I am not worried about him anymore. I feel that he loves me so much. He’s so kind, generous, understanding, talkative and humorous, and more importantly he’s so loving. My parents accepted him for what he is inside out. He takes care of me, and that’s more important for them.

“Some people asked me, are you sure about marrying him? Actually, whatever they say is not important to me because I’m happy and in love. I’m ready to marry him. Even a simple ceremony is okay, as long as our family is there. I wish to wear a white bridal gown, as it’s a family tradition. But if we’re short of funds, I’ll tie-the-knot in a white shirt.”

Future is welcome

But, does marriage and family raise concerns about the welfare of their future children?

Briza is not worried if he has a child with dysmelia. He said: “I will accept it and take care of him or her. If I can’t manage on my own, I will seek support from my parents and siblings. And to people of determination, my advice to them is be strong, be ready and be brave to face the challenges of life. Don’t lose hope. Keep on fighting. You are not alone in this battle. God will give you the strength to carry on.”

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Juan Briza with Joanna Marie San Diego Image Credit: Supplied

Similarly, San Diego is ready to accept their future, no matter what it entails.

“Whenever we have children, no matter what their condition, I will embrace them as they are a blessing from God. I will be proud of them just like my feelings towards Buloy. I am proud of him because he is working hard, he is very independent. What matters most is that he has a good heart. I always follow my parents’ advice to be happy - always follow your heart’s desire.”

Juan saw his fiancee Joanna on Facebook

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