Cemetery keeps painter with no hands alive
CEBU CITY—A man with no hands goes about painting tombs at the public cemetery in Mandaue City, Cebu province drawing amazement from curious onlookers and inspiration from fellow cemetery workers for doing the job using his feet.
Vicente Dahunan, 30, had been born without hands and to parents with a total of 16 children but with barely any source of livelihood.
At the Mandaue public cemetery, he had found a home and a source of income.
He gets paid cleaning tombs, trimming grass and painting tombstones.
On lean days, he would earn P200 per day. The income rises to as much as P1,000 per day during weeks leading to All Saints and All Souls Day.
Dalunan had been working since he was 10 years old because he needed to. His father had worked as a carpenter but the pay is too low for him to feed 16 children.
His mother earned a little by offering novenas for the dead, working with three other women.
Dahunan acquired the skill to paint tombs by observing other cemetery workers but it is more difficult for him. He has to use his feet.
Having no hands left Dahunan not pitying for himself, but being driven to survive.
“I have no choice,” Dahunan said. “I need to work because, if not, I will die of hunger,” he said.
As soon as Dahunan was able to paint using his feet, he literally scaled new heights—tombs piled on top of one another and known in most cemeteries as “apartments.”
Paint jobs in apartments would force Dahunan to seek help from fellow cemetery workers to get to the highest tombs.
Fellow workers would tie Dahunan to a rope and pull him up.
Many workers at the Mandaue public cemetery are amazed at Dahunan’s capacity to overcome the odds. Most important is the inspiration that the workers said Dahunan gives.
Jed Casarena, also a tomb painter, said Dahunan’s job becomes tougher when he has to do it on apartments.
“He has no hands but I never heard him complain,” said Casarena. “That’s why we admire him,” he said.
Dalunan said his desire to live makes him survive, pointing out that working among the dead gives him the courage to continue living.
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