Got five minutes? Then watch Gawilan, a documentary about Ernie Gawilan, the Filipino swimmer who didn’t let his underdeveloped extremities (he has no fingers on his left hand and no legs or feet after his knees) stop him from achieving greatness.
An accomplished swimmer and Para Olympian, the 29-year-old has represented the Philippines in numerous international competitions, hauling gold, silver, and bronze medals in the process. (Read: SEA Games athletes are inspiring fellow Filipinos to be their own champions)
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t miss this moving short film!
Gawilan is by an award-winning director.
Gawilan tells Ernie’s inspiring story.
If you think you’re having a bad day, consider Ernie, whose malformations are due to a botched abortion. Apparently, his mother tried to end his life after his father left when he discovered she was having an affair. (Read: 5 Powerful Prayers for Marriage and Relationships)
Cared for by his grandparents at age 5 when his mother died of cholera, he endured years of bullying for his looks. It took swimming— and the encouragement of supportive coaches— for him to realize there was more to him than his deformities. “The water washes away my disadvantage,” he says in the film.
Gawilan will make you want to pursue your passion.
We all have our version of Ernie’s swimming. It could be cooking, art, volunteerism, leading a team, or managing a business. If you’re still looking for your passion, make sure it’s something that doesn’t feel like work; that gives you a reason to get up in the morning; and that you love doing even if it demands long hours or doesn’t promise material rewards.
Gawilan inspires you to see potential in people.
And we’re not just talking about Persons With Disability (PWD). Films like this make you realize that everybody— yourself included— has something special to give, a gift waiting to be discovered and shared with others, if you haven’t discovered it already.
Don’t give up on people or yourself if you haven’t found what that “something special” is. Trying and searching will eventually uncover it. (Read: These three films will inspire you to pursue your life’s purpose)
Gawilan will make you realize that you are instrumental to others’ success.
How did Ernie become the champion swimmer that he is? As the story goes, it was the prodding of a businessman that made Ernie’s grandfather enroll him at Our Lady of Victory Training Center in Babak, Samal Island, Davao del Norte.
At the facility run by Maryknoll sisters, Ernie, who was working as a houseboy, was spotted by swimming coach Jude Corpuz. It was Coach Jude who taught him the skill that would change his life. (Read: Croatia’s head coach clings to the rosary as team makes it to the finals)
It doesn’t take much to make a difference in the lives of the people around us. Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word, a job referral, or a helping hand—you’ll never know how far it’ll go!