Sunday, Aug 09

Cataract surgery ensures a long-lasting livelihood

February 05, 2017 | Luisa Cabato and Jonas Trinidad

David Racines, Jr. can already copy the hand gestures of Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) ophthalmologist Dr. Carlo Nasol after the success of the cataract surgery. For almost a year, he has endured poor vision as he made a living as a taxi driver. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

Story Highlights

  • For almost a year, David Racines, Jr. struggled with driving his taxi with his left eye blind from cataract. Through Tzu Chi’s intervention, he was finally back to making a living for his family.


For almost a year, 59-year-old David Racines, Jr. has been making a living as a taxi driver with just his right eye. Along the hectic avenues of the metro, he struggles to ferry his passengers to their destination without incident. He pulls through the day most of the time.

As February 2017 passed, the cataract on his left eye deteriorated his vision on that side. His hours on the taxi were cut short, lest risk getting into an accident. Driving at night or inclement weather grew to become a major hindrance, often forcing him to pull over or call it a day. This change in schedule cut deep into his daily income, from Php1,000 on a good day to just Php300.

“I don’t want him to get hurt in an accident. So I try to make ends meet, between our food on the table and for our grandson’s education,” narrates his wife, Ester, who makes a living as a street sweeper.

David is even unable to fix broken things properly due to his cataract. At their humble abode in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, one of their doors refuse to close and the plumbing is still leaking precious water.

Their grandson, 14-year-old Jericho Ciriaco, goes to school with a colostomy bag due to a condition. The elderly couple took him in after his father left him and his mother died three years ago. Despite such woes, the couple struggle to keep their grandchildren alive.

After hearing about a neighbor who had his eyesight restored by Tzu Chi, the couple decided to seek the foundation’s help.

“We went to Tzu Chi because we want his eyesight restored. We still have children to send to school, too,” Ester adds.

Under the care of Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) ophthalmologist Carlo Nasol, David underwent surgery on November 27, 2017 at Perfect Sight Eye Clinic in Quezon City.

Thirty minutes in the operating room saved a livelihood 24 years in the making.

Tzu Chi volunteers revisited the Racines on February 5, 2018. David is at home, unable to drive because his taxi isn’t allowed to go out as per number coding. He has been driving to his heart’s content after a month of rest following his surgery. Driving at night and inclement weather is no longer a hindrance to him, now that he can use both his eyes.

“I thank Tzu Chi for the surgery. If not for them, I may still be blind on the left,” says David.

During the visit, the volunteers also put forward Jericho’s condition for assessment.

#HelpTzuChiHelpOthers.With your help, you can get people like David Racines, Jr. back to making a living for their families. For more information, visit

  • David Racines Jr. finds it hard to read books and other reading materials due to his poor eyesight. A taxi driver, David’s condition also forces him to cut his driving trips to avoid accidents. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • Jasmen Anne Curiaco, David and Ester Racines' five-year-old granddaughter, is close and affectionate to her grandparents. The couple took her and her siblings in after their father left them and their mother died three years ago. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • Jerico Ciriaco, 14, suffers from an open colostomy since he was five months old. Due to poverty, the family was not able to bring him to a hospital back when treatment was still possible. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • Before sunrise, David Racines, Jr. is already busy preparing his taxi for his rounds. He wakes up as early as 4:00 a.m. to earn enough money to support his family's needs before the day ends. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • David Racines, Jr. drives around Metro Manila looking for passengers. He also maximizes the daylight since he cannot drive safely at night anymore due to his cataract. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • Eye patient David Racines, Jr. and his wife Ester are patiently waiting for the former’s cataract removal operation. Ester took a day off from her work as a street sweeper to accompany her husband. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • Because of David Racines Jr.'s poor eyesight, Ester takes charge of filing up the forms at the Perfect Sight Eye Center in Quezon City. David can no longer read small text. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) ophthalmologist Dr. Carlo Nasol performs the surgery on David Racines, Jr.'s left eye. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • The cataract removal operation on David Racines, Jr.'s left eye was successful. Ester helps him walk out of the clinic after the surgery. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Lugenia Macaraeg (left) checks up on David Racines, Jr. on February 5, almost three months after the latter’s surgery. He says he can now drive properly again. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Upon learning about Jericho Ciriaco’s open colostomy, Tzu Chi volunteers immediately write an assessment report for the foundation to review. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】