The Story Of AllanGonzales
Raymond Allan San Pedro Gonzales
To See With the Eyes of the Heart
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people” - Ephesians 1:18
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”.
-Antoine de Saint Exupery,The Little Prince
Raymond Allan San Pedro Gonzales was born on 2 August 1988, the fourth in a family of 5 boys. Although his parents would have preferred a girl, they found this angelic baby boy such a joy to behold! A few weeks from birth, however, Allan was found to have congenital cancer of both eyes. One eye had to be taken out when he was merely 45 days old; and in an effort to save the other eye, the boy had to undergo two operations and a series of chemotherapy and radiation therapies. To no avail. By age 4, the remaining eye had to be taken out as well, in order to prevent the cancer from spreading to the brain.
Shortly afterward, Allan’s health started to improve. Aside from periodic check-ups, all treatments had stopped, which was a huge relief to his family, both emotionally and financially. Though he lost his sight, Allan was of sound mind and body. At age 11, he was declared cancer-free.
Growing up, Allan constantly amazed his family with his heightened senses and acute perception. His quick wit and humour was a delight around the house and among family relatives and friends. Most especially, he inspired everyone with his ever-pleasant attitude and disposition.
When he was merely 2 years old, Allan started showing his musical inclination, tinkering with the piano and other musical instruments. At age 6, he took to singing. By age 9, he was enrolled in piano lessons. He would come home with a recording of a musical piece that his piano teacher gave him to try. He would play it to the teacher on the next session, with little flaw. The voice lessons would soon follow. He skipped the singing when his voice started to crack at puberty, but continued with the piano lessons.
Allan finished high school and decided to forego college. Instead he pursued his passion - music. He studied piano, including classical and jazz improvisation at UP, and took up voice in UP and UST.
In between, he began entertaining at family parties an get-togethers. He would also jam with family friend Jimmy Bondoc.
In 2006, a big break opened for Allan. He was engaged to work weekend gigs as singer-pianist at Promenade in Greenhills. The opportunity helped Allan earn good income and build his confidence as a performer. Moreover, Allan saw it as a two-way ministry, realising that while his music served a blessing to random people walking around the mall, he was also blessed to meet people through whom he would get event bookings and develop new friendships.
In the years that followed, Allan gained more professional exposure. In 2009, he performed a duet with Kyla for her birthday production. In 2012 to 2013, Allan was Top 12 performer in the reality singing show Kanta Pilipinas.
The challenges and the trials, however, were far from over.
In 2010, good news came of the approval of family’s petition for immigration to the United States. Ironically, as Allan was now over the statutory age limit for family migration, he could not be included. His parents and younger brother moved to the US in 2012, leaving Allan out of his comfort zone, without his parents. With God’s grace, Allan was able to see the challenge as an opportunity to become more independent and manage his affairs on his own. Fortunately enough, he could lean on his older brothers and their families back home.
Leading a normal life, Allan could use a computer, browse and post on Facebook, take photos and post on Instagram, go out with friends and even take in a movie! Surprisingly, his friends would sometimes even ask him to explain something about the movie they had watched.
In 2013, he trained for public speaking.
Though he was precluded from his family’s US migration, the time came for a visit visa in 2013. That was when another tragedy struck. In the course of a medical test, Allan was found to have a rare type of bladder cancer.
Allan went in for a procedure to remove the tumor. The two weeks that followed seemed like an eternity, which left Allan and his family scared, sad, and dismayed. Once again, Allan turned to God in faith and prayer. The cancer was malignant. But it was not the progressive type. In March 2014, part of Allan’s bladder was removed by operation. No recurrence has been found since then.
Allan has survived cancer yet again!
And for Allan, it is another great occasion to give praise and thanks to the greatness of God!
In all circumstances, trials, and tribulations, Allan has been blessed with the grace to see things, not for what they are, but for what he could become. As Saint Paul had prayed for in Ephesians 1:18, it is like with Allan “the eyes of the heart” being enlightened, so that he may know the hope to which he has been called, “the riches of His inheritance in His holy people.”
Allan and his brother were able to enjoy a happy reunion their parents and close relatives in New York.
Today, Allan continues to be a part/volunteer voice teacher at Right Start, a community centre for underprivileged children. He is also a volunteer of God Is Able Foundation International, a para-church organisation who helps persons with disability, or PWD; and persons affected by disability, or PAD, and persons around PWD.
Allan holds a certificate in Pastoral Counselling from the Asian Theological Seminary (2015) and is a worship leader/inspirational speaker often called to share life testimony and life as a visually impaired person.
Says Allan, “Truly, I have been ‘fearfully and beautifully made’, and through all the things I have learned and experienced, I believe God will continue to use me for His glory.”
Allan did not have the gift of natural eyes. But as Antoine de Saint Exupery, echoing Saint Paul, has famously said in The Little Prince, “It is with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye”.
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