Despite being born with a cleft palate, Cebu-based Ryan Canda refused to let his deformity get in the way of life and chased after his dreams of becoming a world-class dancer.
Growing up, it had been particularly hard for Ryan Canda to live a normal life.
The dancer, who was first introduced on the reality competition ‘World of Dance’ this year, was bullied all throughout his childhood due to being born with a cleft palate. This physical deformity, which in turn affected his speaking skills, had alienated him from others and vice versa – the memory of getting picked on by his bullies because of his condition is still fresh on his mind. “Noong bata ako, kumukuha ako ng bubble gum tapos nilalagay ko sa upper palate para maintindihan ‘yung pagsasalita ko,” he recalls. “’Di pa rin nag-work.”
But the future had something better in store for Ryan, all laid out for him once he discovered his passion for dancing. He says, “Ang ginawa ko, naghanap ako ng talent na hindi na kailangan magsalita para maintindihan. Dancing talaga is my language.”
A self-confessed fan of TV host and performer Billy Crawford, it had been a longtime dream of the Cebu-based artist to showcase his dancing skills to the world by joining a competition show. Twice, together with his group, Ryan auditioned for the reality talent program Pilipinas Got Talent, but unfortunately were only able to get past the interview rounds. “That experience made us better po talaga as a team. Mas nage-ensayo po kami for upcoming competitions,” he shares.
Fueled by sheer hope, determination and love for their craft, the group then tried their luck at dancing competition ‘World of Dance Philippines’, where they would make their breakthrough just a couple of years later. Of their inspiring performance tackling the issue of bullying – something that personally speaks to Ryan himself – he says, “Gusto ko lang ipakita sa mundo na hindi hindrance, may kapansanan ka o ano ka man kaya mong abutin ‘yung mga pangarap mo.”
Unfortunately, his mother, who had served as Ryan’s main source of strength and inspiration, passed away a year earlier after being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, and was not able to witness her son accomplish his ultimate goal as a dancer. “Noong nalaman ko po na ilang months na lang si Mama, umiyak po talaga ako kasi graduating po ako that time. Kahit makita niya [sana] na naka-toga ako, kaso hindi po siya umabot. Ang dami ko pong pangarap para kay Mama,” he shares.
But Ryan kept on keeping on, as his mother certainly would’ve wanted, and soon received another unexpected blessing by simply touching other people’s life with his story – an offer of help from Operation Smile, a non-profit organization aimed towards providing free surgeries for people born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. “Ito po ang pinaka-malaking blessing na na-rceive ko po. Naging close po ‘yung relationship ko kay God. Mas naging motivated po ako to become a better person.
“’Di ko talaga makakalimutan ‘yung ABS-CBN kasi ang dami nilang naitulong sa atin. Aside from sharing my story to the whole world tutulungan kang abutin ang pangarap mo at mapabuti ang sarili mo,” he says.
Watch Ryan’s Kwentong Kapamilya here: