By Poyen Ramos on October 5, 2016
There aren’t too many people who can say they’re working in the corporate world from their wheelchair. But Vibert Calderon is one of the special few.
Despite being born with cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects muscle movement and motor skills, Vibert is one man that definitely defies the odds. After finishing school at AMA Makati with a degree in Computer Science, Vibert thought he needed to get serious and started looking for a job as a computer programmer.
He admitted that job hunting with his condition took him longer than expected. Most of the companies he applied for didn’t call him for an interview, and those that did were too far from his home. Difficult as it may seem, this didn’t stop him from pushing on, even if it took him months to get his first job.
“My first job was as a data encoder in Taguig, so it’s not very far from what my course is. I worked there for about a year and seven months,” recalled Vibert who was nervously sitting at the corner of the TaskUs interview room. He went on to work for different companies in the course of his career—some for just a few months, others, for years— and today he’s working as an email customer support representative for TaskUs.
The opportunity in adversity
Vibert admits that discrimination was present in some of the companies he applied for. Fortunately, it wasn't in most of the ones he's worked with. In fact, they were openly supportive with his situation and treated him as an equal.
“Some of my teammates would even joke about my situation, asking me if I was really handicapped because I acted like I wasn’t,” said Vibert, laughing as he remembered the times when he and his peers would go out for drinks.
When asked about how he was welcomed when he applied to TaskUs, he said that it was a very quick process. “I applied, then a day after I got a call for an interview. And right then and there, I got hired on the spot!” When he first stepped into the TaskUs BGC office, he remembered the vibe and environment to be very warm, welcoming, and fun—which still holds very true today.
“Working here is pretty relaxing, people are friendly, the workload is manageable, I’m taking everything one step at a time. I’m just grateful that I have a job and that’s what’s important,” Vibert said.
On failures, redemption, and finding fulfillment
“You’re not human when you don’t experience failures,” said Vibert when asked about challenges and overcoming them.
“It’s really about how you cope up with those things that makes a person. I just keep a positive spirit, figure out how to solve [my problems], and move on.”
Gesturing to his wheelchair, Vibert said with a smile that since he’s already living in a difficult situation, he can definitely deal with any challenge in the future.
Moreover, Vibert's condition hasn't stopped him from trying out new things. He enjoys traveling a lot in the Philippines. He was also able to climb a mountain in Antipolo, with a little help from his friends.
“My fulfillment with traveling is the fact that I am able to travel even with my condition. Other people out there, even if they’re 'complete,' haven’t gone to the places I’ve been to. So I’m proud of that,"said Vibert.
"And of course, when I have a family of my own, it would be great to tell my children about the places I went to,”
On not letting circumstances stop you
Vibert explained that the key for him was realizing that he was more than just the circumstances of his body, and that he can still achieve the dreams he has for himself. Like working in a corporate setting and traveling.
“My advice to everyone is to just keep pushing forward. To continue being positive, always think that you can do it because you can. I can and I did," Vibert said.
"If not, just drink a few beers, and start over again. Every day is a challenge, and every challenge is an opportunity for you to learn.”
When asked what was next for him, he excitedly said that he wants to focus on work and hopefully get promoted sometime soon. He paused as if waiting for the right words to say, then let out a quiet laugh.
"Of course, I’d like to have a girlfriend in the future. I want to start a family someday. As you know, I’m not getting any younger.”
Indeed, Vibert is an example of a man who beat his physical odds and learned about his own incredible strength in the process.