Joseph B. Gonzales, 26, only dreamed of providing for his family and giving them a better life. Working overseas as a seafarer has given him that chance. But his dream was shattered when he met an accident at work.

He was working as a deck trainee for a maritime company for nearly two years when the incident took place in 2017.

While en route to China, Gonzales was cleaning a tugboat as part of his job when he suddenly heard a knuckle in his neck followed by a tinge of pain in his back. But, he didn’t mind it thinking that it was just a normal muscle pain he used to feel when he is exhausted.

However, as the ship was nearing their destination, the pain became severe. So when they reached China, he immediately consulted a doctor. And, what he thought what just a normal muscle pain was actually a cervical spine injury. Shocked, he didn’t know what to do.

Due to his condition, Gonzales was advised by his employer to go back to the Philippines for treatment. He agreed with the hope that he would soon be healed and back to work for his family. But, things didn’t turn out the way Gonzales had imagined it to be as his employer didn’t support his medical expenses. Gonzales has never been this devastated. Almost empty-handed, he decided to just go back to his hometown in Iloilo City.

There, he was assisted by the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) in claiming his EC benefits worth P113, 658.  He also availed the rehabilitation program of ECC and enrolled in skills training and entrepreneurship seminars where he acquired new business skills and received P20k-worth of meat products as a starting capital for his meat shop.

“Sobra-sobra ang pasalamat ko sa ECC sa lahat ng tulong na binigay nila sa akin. Malaking tulong po ito sa aming pamilya,” he said.

ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis said, “We are happy to know that ECC brings change to the lives of persons with work-related disability (PWRD) like Joseph. It is not only our mandate to help workers who meet work-related contingencies, but also our moral responsibility.”

Reporting by Stephen Barredo; Editing by Carlo A. Katigbak