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Thursday, March 2, 2000

Poor eyesight
doesn’t blind Badua’s
visionary goals

By Mary Adamski


Ask Froilan Badua and he'll tell you he's an average guy.

He commutes from Mililani to a Kalihi bank job that he enjoys.

The computer fills a lot of his spare time, but he also likes to go fishing and is into weight training.

He plays ukulele and guitar, even had a band until they left high school days behind.

His goal is to implement the travel industry management degree he earned at University of Hawaii but he's waiting until the economy turns around.

Today, some people who think Badua is much more than an average guy will honor him. He was to be recognized as the Outstanding Rehabilitant of the Year by Hoopono, the state Department of Human Services branch for services for the blind.

Badua was born with minimal vision in his left eye and he said he has benefitted from Hoopono services, job fairs and workshops during his 28 years.

"My parents taught me to be independent. There was no special accommodation, no pampering," said Badua.

The only handicap he acknowledges is that "there were some sports in high school I couldn't play, like baseball."

State Rep. Dennis Arakaki, chairman of the House Human Services and Housing Committee, joined his employers at the Bank of Hawaii in applauding Badua yesterday in a ceremony at the downtown corporate headquarters.

Badua works in the bank's vault services department, a security-sensitive position checking in bagged deposits delivered by armored car couriers.

Between 50 and 60 bags of currency a day are passed into the vaults by Badua and his co-workers, who check that the bags haven't been tampered with, and account for each one through an intricate tally system.

His body-building efforts get a practical application handling the heavy money bags.

"There's pressure, everything has to be fast and accurate," said Cindy Gima, supervisor of vault services. "Everyone has to be a team player, a hard worker, and flexible," said Gima.

Workers are cross-trained for a variety of vault services jobs and work in pairs, having "dual custody" of currency, she said.

"He doesn't need direction, he knows what to do," she said. "Froilan gets along with everybody, he's a hard worker.

"His eyesight is something nobody knows about," she said. "Only when he has to put something close to his eye, that's when people notice."

Badua joined Bank of Hawaii about 14 months ago after working as a seafood packer.

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