Thursday, August 31, 2006

Another Compassionate Human Being

I found another friend for Kate. His name is Kojak. Looking at him, one could hardly believe that this tough-looking American, who rides around Dumaguete in his big bike, carries with him a compassionate heart - one that seems to be absent from MOST people I see around, some of whom profess to have "found" God!

I have friends who are deeply spiritual, like Ma'am Muffet and Ma'am Lele, and as their relationship with God deepened, they were able to transcend their weaknesses as human beings, giving them the rare ability to look beyond themselves and to reach out to others, even to complete strangers - and extend a hand of friendship - a hand that is of God Himself.

I am not as spiritual as they are, but like them, I am deeply grateful to God for having blessed my life with such overflowing goodness - my cup runneth over - and as with my friends, I am saying "thank you" to the Lord by passing forward the blessings that I have received.

It makes me wonder then, how about the others who claim to have "accepted God in their lives as their Lord and Saviour"? Is it simply a two-way relationship then - just between them and God?

Good deeds - for the sake of doing good and not for reaping heavenly rewards later on - do not come into the picture of that relationship at all?

Is it not that having found the Lord, one has changed for the better? And is it not that having become a better person, one wants to do good for the sake of goodness alone?

I am confused. Or am I just being too naive?

Kojak Hughs - he is a Vietnam War veteran. He has seen more than his own share of death, and I would have thought that anybody who has been through that would lose his soul. But not Kojak. His heart remained whole. Beneath that tough exterior dwells a sensitive soul that
can still still notice and appreciate the sight of pure simple love between a father and his child ... or protests against the hypocrisy that abounds in our society.

How many among us would notice those little things around us? More often than not, our gaze remain fixed on our nearest and dearest we fail to notice there is so much more to life beyond the walls that encloses our families and those we hold closest to our hearts.


EVERYDAY HEROES
Negros Chronicle, May 27 issue
(website: www.negroschronicle.com)





I write this column for several reasons. First, to honor those we often do not hear about or forget. Second reason is to entertain and, hopefully, to help improve your life.

Finally I do this to stimulate your thoughts and to encourage you to actively participate. I am gratified that many of you do send me thoughts, stories and encouragement. (kojak3238@yahoo.com)


Down Syndrome Child
by Kojak Hughs

I was at Mass. When we stood to sing, I saw a little sevenyearold girl about three rows in front of me. She had the distinctive features of a Down Syndrome child. I was overwhelmed with a sudden sense of sadness. I felt so sorry for her, not because she was likely to die before hertwentieth birthday. I felt sad because here was a beautiful innocent child that would miss so much of life. She would probably never have a boyfriend. Never know the thrill of her first romantic kiss. She would never be married or know the full joy of motherhood. As I stood there feeling sorry for her, she looked up at her father beside her. As he gazes down at her they smiled and her tiny hand slid into his. I suddenly felt sorry for myself. I would never know the depth of pure simple love that they shared at that moment.

God gives us challenges. He gives us love in strange ways. The other day a nice Filipina lady told me about little Kate Lozada. She is only seven months old but already she has adult size problems. Problems that can kill this sweet tiny little baby. You see little Kate has a congenital heart defect. If she does not get an operation soon she will not survive. Her mother works in the pharmacy at Silliman University Medical Center but just can not afford the expensive surgery. She is forced to sit helplessly by and watch her tiny innocent baby die a little each day. In desperation she has appealed to every charitable organization she could find. Only to be turned down. My friend asked me to see if I could help. I told her I would try. I took all the information I had to some friends who regularly do charity medical work. They were not too optimistic. The operation is VERY expensive, around 500,000 pesos. Also it is highly likely the baby will be retarded and has a limited life expectancy. Possibly that is why the charitable organizations turned her down.

I admit, here I get a little angry. People claim to be against abortion, the killing of a fetus, but are perfectly willing to let a baby die when it could be saved, merely because it wont live long anyway?

I can not help but think of that sweet little girl in the church and how much love her father would never have gotten had she died. How much pain her loss would have brought to her family.

To those everyday heroes that read my column. Those who want to help as I do, even though my help is meager compared to the need. The mother has established a trust bank account for contributions, the pediatrician is Dr Glenda N. Nuico and the mother can be contacted at 09173141942.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Tribute to Kate's Unknown Angel


She agonized over how she could help Baby Kate. She has funds for her charity works, but she knew that if she gets money from that fund to help Kate, it would be tantamount to taking away much-needed help from others who are just as unfortunate.

Then somebody came to her one day, bringing one news she never expected to hear ... she won the grand prize in a nationwide raffle! She won P50,000.00 ... from the ONE ticket she purchased that was worth P100.00.

What are the odds of winning that grand prize with just one ticket against hundreds of thousands sold in a nationwide raffle? Practically nil. But our angel did win.

Without any hesitation, she started giving away her winnings. First, she gave a P10,000.00 donation to a local organization. Then she pledged the amount of P30,000.00 to Kate so she could have her surgery as soon as possible.

She said that that money was not for her. She believes in her heart that God sent that money for Kate and for the others who are in need of help. And so she gave them away.

How many people would do that? I, for one, could not. Of that, I am certain.

To this beautiful angel, IT IS I, Olga, who is blessed and HONORED to have met somebody like you. How I wish I could tell the world who you are, but I have to respect your wishes.

IT IS YOU who is totally and so unbelievably selfless. I could never do what you are doing for Kate.

As I wrote before, I am merely trying to be good, to rise above my own selfishness. Had that money come to me, I know that I could not part with it, because my priorities would go to mortgage amortizations and overdue insurance and college plan premiums. My desire to reach out to others and share God's blessings, comes in constant conflict with my instinct to secure my own loved ones' interests first, and IT IS A LOSING BATTLE MOST OF THE TIME.

Thank you so much for showing me that there is still so much goodness left on this earth. You restored my faith in all of MANKIND.

Now I can believe that there is still so much compassion left in the hearts of people for those who are less fortunate than themselves.

Thank you so much for showing me your example. I will strive to follow your footsteps and walk on the path you are treading.

I know that you do not expect any reward from God for your goodness, but of this, I AM ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN ...

GOD IS WATCHING AND HE IS VERY PLEASED WITH YOU!!

You have brought HIM great HONOR by your obedience!

He is very pleased indeed ...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I WANT TO LIVE!




I slept late last night because of "Van Helsing". I was surfing channels prior to turning the TV off when I caught the movie just when it was about to start.

Actually, I think I have seen Van Helsing twice already, but I always caught it when it was on its final half. My favorite part was that spectacular masked ball in Budapest with all those acrobats swinging from that oh-so-high ceiling. It simply was an awesome sight!

But what really made me want to watch this movie again and again is the compelling character of Frankenstein's monster. I cannot forget that part when he was dangling over an abyss. He asked the Friar ... "help me!" To that, the Friar replied, "but you are supposed to die!"

"I WANT TO LIVE" ...... the monster answered.

Four simple words ... "I want to live". Yet it speaks volumes to me. I was struck by the immensity of his desire to exist, a hideous monster like him, who knew he had no chance whatsoever of being accepted by society.

Living and dying. Who decides who is to live and who is to die? Who can play God for all of us here on this earth?

Who has a better right to live? Everything that is normal and beautiful as represented by that ethereal albino peacock? ... the very sight of which would send shivers down our spines?

How about the monster? He embodies all our darkest fears ... the likes of him certainly has no place in our midst ...

For those of us who aspire for perfection and harmony... he is everything that is ugly and repulsive, an undesirable that ought to be swept under the rug ... hidden from our view ...

And when it comes to deciding who is to live? Shall we play God? Who will live? Who shall be cast aside?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

LEAP OF FAITH

I wrote about Kate last issue hoping and praying that a miracle would happen for this helpless little baby. I had nothing to lose and the worse that could happen is for the readers to utter a few words of sympathy and then move on to the next page.

But i did something else. I sent an email to Ma'am Lele Martinez telling her about Kate. I included the draft of my article "Life is Precious, No Matter What".

I am a complete stranger to Ma'am Lele. All that I could tell her was that I used to work for Atty. Frank Yap, her old friend, and that I used to see her whenever she would visit his office. Knowing her involvement with civic organizations, I was hoping that she could help by bringing Kate's case to their attention.

Writing to her was a shot in the dark. When I decided to write about this child, I prayed to God and asked Him to help me find help for her. I took a leap of faith saying "Ginoo, ikaw na ang bahala".

She immediately wrote back and these were her exact words to me,

"God gave you the gift of writing and the opportunity at Metropost to make a
difference for people like Kate. You have done your part, let it rest in God's
hands and we will trust that His grace and providence will come.


IT WILL COME."
She wrote with so much certainty ... "IT WILL COME". I believed her and I took her advice to my heart. Having done what I could for Kate, I let go and left her in His loving hands.

Last Wednesday, help came indeed. Ma'am Lele told me that she found a benefactor for Kate who pledged to give P30,000.00 so she could have her surgery immediately. All that we need to do now is raise P170,000.00. With the amount that we already have, we are so close already.

You see, the hospital requires a deposit of 50% before Kate could be scheduled for surgery, and yes!!! that P200,000.00 is exactly the 50% that is needed!!!

GOD IS GREAT! And I want to shout this at the top of my voice. This miracle is an affirmation that God is taking care of all of us, most especially of the littlest and most helpless among us.

But our struggles are not over yet. The P200,000.00 is merely the deposit that will enable Kate to receive that much-needed surgery. In her desperation, Kate's mother Dinnah, has decided to do her own leap of faith ... go on with the surgery and then pray that more help will come so all her hospital bills could be paid later on.

We shall be joining her as she prays for God to see Kate through her operation. We shall also join her as she prays for more miracles to come Kate's way. A little here and there will add up to one big miracle from all of us.

Finally, please join me in thanking God for His loving mercy and in thanking Kate's angels, Ma'am Lele Martinez for her willingness to help a complete stranger, and our unknown benefactor ... you are so blessed for God has chosen YOU of all people ...

Is it not amazing? Through YOU, God is performing His miracle here on earth. He specifically chose YOU. You are so blessed. What you are giving away will return to you a hundredfold.

Thank God for people like YOU!

Monday, August 21, 2006

“SEATBELTS … so we can be safe!”

Have you ever seen a skull cracked open with the brain showing inside? I did.

My apologies for being so graphic, but I feel that I have to be to grab your attention. You see, that was a life-changing moment for me. No, not the earth-shaking kind though. Nevertheless, it changed the way I think about certain things. For instance, I started buckling up that very same day. Until now, I still do, even if it is only for take the seven-minute drive to and from my daughter’s school.

The passing of the law prescribing the use of seat belts barely created a ripple in that area of my consciousness labeled “safety measures while driving”. It was more like an irritating thorn that became a bother whenever I had the car registration renewed. In my narrow-mindedness, I thought of drivers wearing seat belts as balikbayan show-offs who wanted everybody to see how sophisticated they have become, having embraced the practices of the western cultures.

Then came that fateful Easter Sunday three years ago. My uncle had a fatal accident in km.13 of that infamous stretch we all know as Lala-an (San Jose). His head hit the windshield … you know the rest of the story.

I could not help but think that had he been wearing his seat belt, he would have survived that accident. His belt would have prevented his head from smashing into the windshield.

Of course, these are merely conjectures on my part, but being the natural-born praning that I am, I decided not to take any more chances and I started buckling up, with “Dora, The Explorer’s” unforgettable line: “seat belts…so we can be safe!” repeating itself over and over in my mind.

Have you ever considered this? Why do we find it so natural and indisputable to fasten our seat belts when we take the plane? Of course, we are required to do so by the pilot. I do not really know what will happen if we refuse to comply. Most likely, we will be escorted out and the plane will leave without us. But more than that, I think that when we are flying (contrary to driving), we are more aware of the risk of a possible accident. Many of us are apprehensive and fastening that belt gives us a little confidence, as if that belt could actually save us if God forbid we would be in a serious one.

So how about when we are driving? No need for seat belts? After all, we are the best and most careful drivers, are we not? Right? Wrong. Plane crashes are very, very rare compared to vehicular accidents. And if it happens? In most cases, seat belts can do nothing or very little for our survival. Only in the car crash situation can the seat belt truly deserve to be called "safety" belt.

I did a little research and these are what I came up with. Most of these are US/Australian data, but I guess they apply to us as well.

First, let us examine the seatbelt myths.

It is only a short trip so I do not need to wear it.
WRONG. Most road crashes occur within 10 kilometers from home, so it is very important to buckle up even on a short trip.

I do not need a seat belt because I do not travel very fast.
WRONG. A crash at 40km/h has the same impact as falling from a two-storey building into concrete! And 80% of traffic accidents occur at speeds under 65km/h.

The back seat is safer.
WRONG. Research shows that the back seat is no safer than the front seat if you are not wearing a seat belt.

It is not my concern if my passenger does not wear a seat belt.
WRONG. In a crash, an unrestrained passenger is a lethal weapon capable of killing or seriously injuring others in the car when he slams into them at high speed.

Seat belt will harm the baby of a pregnant woman.
WRONG. A seat belt worn around the pelvis will not harm the fetus. Instead, it will protect both mother and unborn child.

Here are tips for correctly and comfortably wearing a seat belt when you are pregnant:

(a) Place the lap sash part of the belt under the bulge, as low as possible. The lap part of the seat belt should sit over the upper thighs and not across the bulge.

(b) You may be able to adjust the angle of the seat belt by using a seat belt locator.

(c) Place the sash part of the belt in between your breasts.

Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest and most effective ways of protecting ourselves as driver or passenger in a car. Seat belts decrease the time it takes for a car occupant to come to a stop on impact. Furthermore, it spreads the impact force over a greater area of the body; minimizes contact with the interior of the vehicle; and it prevents the person from being thrown outside the car. The chance of being killed is 25% more if one is thrown out.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death and disability in the US. Traffic accidents kill about 50,000 Americans every year and seriously injure 3.5 million more. About 65% of traffic fatalities could have been prevented if everyone buckled up.

In Australia, 33% of those killed and 20% of those seriously injured were not wearing seat belts.

World-wide, seat belts reduce the chance of injury or death in a vehicular collision by 10% to 80%, depending on the type of collision (near-side impact, rollover, head-on, etc.).

That driving is one of the most dangerous activities we engage in is an undeniable fact. No matter how careful we are as drivers, there is still that risk that a careless driver will crash into us. In fact, there is one in three chance (33%) that we will be seriously injured in a car crash in a lifetime of driving.

Seat belts, then, offer the best protection against injury and increase our chances of surviving an accident. Buckling up is very easy you know. It takes only about six seconds to do it. They are not uncomfortable. They are designed to give with the body, and they help prevent slouching, thereby reducing fatigue. Furthermore, they are designed to allow us to move freely in our seats until there is a sudden stop and they lock into place. And they are definitely not too much trouble! Taking the extra time could save our lives! More often than not, seat belts will keep us conscious after a collision, so we are more likely able to get out of the car, which is a great advantage if the car is in the water or on fire. Not wearing the seat belt during a collision means that we will probably be rendered unconscious.

So how about our children? Should they be wearing seat belts as well?

Here is where I have been amiss as far as securing my daughter’s safety inside a car is concerned. The only precaution I have taken was not allowing her in the front seat, even when I was there myself and she is seated on my lap. My worry was the risk of her face hitting the dashboard in case my husband would have to apply the brakes abruptly.

But having learned what I have from my research, I realize now that seating her at the back is not nearly enough. I usually drive at 40km/h (when I am not in a hurry), and from our discussion here, we now know how much impact could be delivered in a collision at that speed alone!

So how about if somebody in the backseat (who is wearing the belt) will hold our children tightly in their arms? This is what I learned from my research.

In a collision, your car can stop so rapidly that it experiences a sudden deceleration of say, 30g. In plain English, everything becomes 30 times heavier. If you are holding a 10-kg infant on your lap, he would suddenly weigh 300 kilograms! That is the weight of four or five washing machines! You could not hang onto that many washing machines in a slow lift - and most certainly not in a sudden jerk! As a result, the infant goes flying out of your arms to smash into the windshield! Under 30g, the average 70 kg person suddenly weighs about 2,100 kg. Your arms simply cannot support that enormous weight, especially if it is applied suddenly.

Can this truly happen? Yes, my dear reader, it can and it already did. When my uncle had that accident, his grandson, Rusty, was also killed. He was cradled by his yaya when the tire burst and their Tamaraw FX crashed into a post. Rusty went flying into the windshield. He died from severe head injuries. He was only 5 months old.

I hope that knowing these facts now will prompt us into doing some serious thinking next time we enter our cars, especially when our loved ones are with us.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Erratum

There is an inaccurate statement in my precious post "Life is Precious, No Matter What". I wrote that Kate was rejected as a charity patient because of her condition as a mongoloid baby.

I got my facts wrong. I learned belatedly that Kate was not actually rejected ...

She could still be a charity patient, however, Kate could not be given priority status because she is a mongoloid child. In other words, a child with a similar condition as Kate’s, but who is otherwise “normal”, will be awarded the charity slot first. Kate will have to wait until . . . . . . what? there are no other “normal” charity patients left?

How about the urgency of her need for surgery? The waiting could last for ages, so there is practically very little chance that she could be operated on under that program. And if ever she was, it might already be too late for her.

This does not change my position in any way. I still maintain that Kate deserves equal chance to life as everyone else. The suggestion that a charity slot will merely be wasted on Kate because she is not going to have a healthy and fruitful life anyway makes me sick!

Why? Only "normal" people deserve to live or to have a longer life?

If your answer is YES ... let me ask you this:

Would your position still be the same if Kate were your child?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

PRINCIPLE OF TRIAGE

This is a comment I received in response to "Life is Precious, No Matter What".


You made a very compelling argument Olga. Your passion for kindness and charity is truly admirable. However, I would like to say something about the policy of the Philippine Heart Center. Let me say this first, I am not an apologist for PHC and my comment is based on the assumption that PHC is applying their policy FAIRLY ACROSS THE BOARD, ALL THE TIME. Having said that, I do not believe cruelty is the right characterization of their policy. I was a soldier once and what comes to mind in cases like this is the principle of triage. For someone in the leadership or command position I am painfully aware that I have to apply this sort of decision at some point in time and be subjected to it myself should I become a casualty. As you may probably already know, triage is used in hospital emergency rooms, on battlefields, and at disaster sites when LIMITED MEDICAL RESOURCES must be allocated only to those capable of deriving the greatest benefit from it. Furthermore, the survival of the recipient must have a tangible benefit to the greater good. Yes, it sounds callous and cold but considering the Philippines, a virtual disaster site specially for the poor, I can understand the decision of PHC. How many Filipino children who have the same heart condition as Kate but given a second chance at life will contribute something beneficial to mankind? Would you embark on the same undertaking with zeal and persistence for them?


My reply:

EAA, Thank you for your comment.

I have not come across the term “principle of triage” before, but I understand its essence perfectly.

I am thinking on two levels here. The passionate mother in me is crying out loud against this injustice and yes, this CRUELTY. Whether you like it or not, it is cruel. Furthermore, it is, in your own words, cold and callous. But another side of me is capable of appreciating the necessity for this policy. I am realistic enough to acknowledge that given some of the considerations you mentioned, it is indeed, in the simplest and most basic word I could think of … the most practical. On the cerebral level, yes, I can agree with you wholeheartedly.

However, and this is where and why we could never agree with each other, my arguments are premised from an entirely different standpoint. At the risk of being accused as self –righteous, I am arguing for what I consider to be morally right … all of us being equal in the eyes of God, therefore having equal rights for a chance to live, NO MATTER WHAT!

I am not actually condemning the Philippine Heart Center for that policy. Rather, I am condemning the circumstances that made it ABSOLUTELY necessary for the hospital to adapt such policy re: LIMITED MEDICAL RESOURCES.

May I ask this question though. Is it actually limited medical resources alone that is the consideration? You may or may not know this yet, but being a charity patient does not mean that Kate will be operated on for free. It simply means that her family will be paying less than the P400t – P500t that is needed for a full-paying patient. If I am not mistaken, P225t would be sufficient already. With the P150t that we have raised, hey, P75t no longer seems so unattainable!

So one cannot help but ask … why not? Kate’s family would still pay anyway. Doctors’ fees perhaps?

To answer your final question: would I still embark with the same zeal and persistence for children like Kate?

YES I definitely would.

Come to think of it, how many of us “normal” people have actually contributed something worthwhile to the world, even to our own communities?

Is it not that most of us live only for our sorry little lives, or selflessly care only for those who are nearest and dearest to us? I do not want to sound like a cynic, although maybe I already am, but I am painfully aware of this fact. That is the harsh reality. Most people, I am not saying all, but MOST, are bent only on advancing their own concerns in their own little worlds, and that includes me!

All we “normal” people possess is merely the potential to be of some good to others.

Does the fact that we have this POTENTIAL to be beneficial to people other than our own families give us a better right to be saved? That Kate possesses none of these prospects makes her what? – DISPENSABLE?

Is she not human too?

I urged my readers to imagine Kate as their own. How about you Sir? If she were your own child, and your situation is similar to that of her parents? What would you do? How would you feel?

I really appreciate receiving your comment. Do not be surprised if I will post your comment and my reply in my blog. I would like you to be able to read my response should you visit again. God bless!

P.S.

I misunderstood the question, which i realized belatedly, refers to otherwise “normal” but similarly sick children, who, if given chance for a second life, would be beneficial to mankind… would I still embark on the same undertaking with zeal and persistence for them?

My answer is still the same, but not because they will ultimately become assets to the great majority, but simply because I value human life. What the heck! I even value animal life!!! This is not self-promotion, but I pick up abandoned kittens and puppies from the streets!

The right to live or to have a chance at second life should not be a privilege that is available only to those who can afford it … but then, I am thinking of ideals here, and being such, it is like trying to reach for the clouds….

So I just settle on what little I can do given my limited resources, and PRAY AND HOPE, that there are other people out there who hold similar values, but unlike me, have greater resources to share.

Finally, thank you for your kind words about my "passion for kindness and charity", but I am not deserving. I am merely trying to rise above my own quagmire of selfishness. It is a constant struggle - to look beyond myself and those who are dear to me - and it is a losing battle most of the time.

Best regards,
Olga

LIFE IS PRECIOUS, NO MATTER WHAT!

These past few weeks, Baby Kate and her sorry plight had been occupying my thoughts, filling me with the overwhelming desire to do what I could for her. I wrote to Pia Cayetano, Cathy Guballa, Gina de Venecia and Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, mothers who have lost children, hoping that having known the pain of losing a child, they would be moved into helping Kate. But, except for Noemi, I have not received any response from them.

Maybe they have not read my emails yet. But WHAT IF they did, but chose to ignore it?

In my previous entry, I wrote these words:

"I am hoping that having known the pain that comes from losing a beloved child, they will be moved into helping Kate, not only because they are mothers themselves, but also because they will have compassion and will want to spare Kate's mother from the same pain... should God forbid, Kate be lost to her.

These mothers belong to a very select club. There are very strict requirements for membership. Not even the wealthiest will be accepted without the necessary qualifications!

I wish the members of this club will close ranks against Kate's mother ... ban her from the club at all cost ... DON'T EVER ACCEPT HER AS MEMBER! Do not let her in.....

You see, Kate's mother will have to lose Kate to become a member.

Qualification: know the excruciating pain of losing a beloved child. After that, you will qualify. No other requirements needed."

WHAT IF THEY IGNORED MY PLEAS FOR KATE?

If so, I wonder what this speaks about us a people?

Have we totally lost our compassion for those who are less fortunate than we are?

Or have we become too wary of scams, we suspect everything and everyone who come to us for aid, so we rather opt to ignore all and assume the worse?

Or are we simply too engrossed with our needs and that of our family's, nothing else concerns us anymore, thus we have no more room for others?

Or could it simply be pure economics? Times being hard, we only have enough for ourselves ... there is nothing left for others ...



But I do not want to give up on us yet. I still believe that there is goodness in every person's heart ... that if only I could reach into that deepwell of compassion, I would be able to see the outpouring of love and support that is desperately needed.


I AM NOT GIVING UP YET!

That is why I have decided to write about Kate in my column for the August 20, 2006 issue of MetroPost.

If only people would read with their hearts ... then take a look at their normal and healthy children, and send a silent prayer of thanks to God ... then rejoice and celebrate by lending a helping hand to those children who are not as perfect ...


EVERY LIFE IS PRECIOUS!



Do you love your children? Of course you do! We all do!

But have you ever considered this? What if, God forbid, our children are different from what they are now, imperfect somehow, would our love still be the same?

Is there a gauge for our love for our children? Is there a condition of perfection attached to that love? “OF COURSE NOT!” – you would tell me … “I will love my child just as much, no matter what he or she may be.”

So, what if Kate were our own daughter? Will our love still be as strong? Will we do everything for her?

BUT WHO IS KATE ANYWAY?

Let me tell you about Kate Lozada. She is a seven-month old baby girl, a child who has fallen short of that perfection we all dream our children would always be. And not only that, she is very, very sick.

She has a congenital heart disease known as Tetralogy of Fallot. According to Dra. Joan Davis delos Santos, it basically means that she 4 defects in her heart. In layman terms, it is a critical condition where BOTH valves of the chambers of her heart are defective. This causes reduced oxygenation to the blood, making her heart work harder than usual. This stress will eventually lead to heart failure and death.

Ideally, the defects should have been corrected right after birth because the pressures in the heart continue to rise as Kate grows. Once it reaches a very high level, surgery will become practically impossible for her, as the risk that she could die in the operating table will be too high by then.

That is why her need for surgery is VERY URGENT. It has to be done as soon as possible. The operation will cost between P400,000.00 to P500,000.00. Kate’s parents can raise that amount by trying to save as much as they can, but it might be too late by then. They are running a race against time. They tried to enter her as a charity patient at the Philippine Heart Center but Baby Kate was rejected. Would you like to know why? She has Down syndrome. Kate is a mongoloid baby.

Are you not shocked at the cruelty of that policy? What does it mean? Just leave her to die, follow the natural course? That a charity slot will merely be wasted on Kate because she is not going to have a healthy and fruitful life anyway? Whaaaat???? Are they telling us that only “normal” people deserve to live? Is she not a child of God just like every one of us?

SUHS Class ‘84 is helping Kate because her mother, Dinnah Lozada, was our batchmate. Old friends and classmates have donated money and together, we have raised around P150,000.00.

I have also helped by giving financial aid. But I am not rich. If I were one, I would just say "schedule the surgery! I will take care of everything!" Oh God! How I wish I could say that to Kate's mother and see joy and hope return to her eyes! She cries everytime I would see her. But I can only give what little I have, and it is but a drop - an insignificant addition that did not take us any nearer to the amount that we need!

That is why I am writing about Kate now, to appeal to the hearts of each mother and father who is reading this column. Please spare Kate whatever little amount you may have. A little here and there will go a long way for her. Please help give to her the gift of life. Institutions may have relegated her to the bins, but Kate has a family who loves her, not in spite of, but exactly because of who and what she is. That, I believe, is the very essence of unconditional love, the very same love that we all have for our own children.

If you want to know more about Kate, you can find her mother, Dinnah Lozada, at the Pharmacy of SUMC. The baby’s pediatrician, Dra. Glenda N. Nuico, has kindly consented to the mention of her name in my endeavors to find help for Kate. She will welcome your queries should you be interested to learn more. Her clinic is at SUMC.

To my readers: life is precious no matter what. No amount of money can ever approximate the value of a human life, but whatever little amount you can spare, be it P5, P20, P50 or P100, will mean a longer life for this helpless baby. Please give only what you can. Times are hard and most of us barely have enough for our own family’s needs, but if you have some spare, some amount that will not hurt your budget, WHY NOT GIVE? It is really very easy to help Kate, you know. Just imagine that she is your own baby. That is what I am doing right now.

To those of you who may belong to religious or civic organizations, please take up Kate as a worthy cause. Maybe your group has some extra funds. Please let my appeal move your heart. We may not know this now, but God may be trying to do His work through each one of us. Please listen with a mother or father’s heart.

If you want to donate, a trust account was opened for Kate:
Metrobank – Dgte. Branch
Account Name : Dinnah Guevarra Lozada in trust for KATE GUEVARRA LOZADA
Account Number: 110-311059581-7

Or you may want to give directly to Kate’s mother, Dinnah Lozada. She may be reached at this number: 0917-314-1942.

I would appreciate it very much if you could also inform me if you have donated. I will continue to write about Kate and I would like to acknowledge your donations in this column.

We saw a miracle happen when MetroPost was able to come back to us. Please let another miracle happen within the pages of MetroPost. Let it be for Kate this time.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Stage Mother and One Uninterested Ballerina / The Rebirth of a Stage Mother

MetroPost said goodbye in their July 30 issue. They cited financial difficulties being the cause of their closure. This weekend, however, MetroPost was ressurrected by what the editors consider to be "a miracle".

Here is the editorial in the August 6 issue:

"It is said that publishing a newspaper is like making a miracle - you start with nothing and come out with something.

For the last four years that we have been publishing the MetroPost, we see the miracle happen every week.

Last week, we not only saw this miracle happen again, we saw an even bigger miracle. We did say we were cashing in our chips for the simple reason that the bills to pay were bigger than the money coming in.

But what happened next was totally beyond our expectations. MetroPost readers -- even those we didn't know were reading us -- called, emailed, sent text messages offering, among other things, to defray part of our printing costs. This, we believe, is something unheard of in Dumaguete, and also probably unprecedented in the history of Philippine media.

Yes, we're back in business! Now, more than ever, we know we are filling a need in the Dumaguete and Negros Oriental community. A need that is felt by our readers regardless of their politics, religious beliefs, and economic standing.

With such a divergent readership and support, this is one time we can truly say the MetroPost is a newspaper of a real University Town!

Indeed, we just witnessed another miracle. But don't look for it in the paper you are reading. Rather, look within yourselves, for the miracle is what touched the hearts of the MetroPost readers to action. Praise God!"

So this is how it came to be that I am able to continue writing for MetroPost, in my column Housewives on the Move. For the next two issues, I wrote about myself as stage mother and about the story of one really successful stage mother, Noemi.


Part 1: A Stage Mother and One Uninterested Ballerina


“It’s 4:45 pm already, why are they not here yet?” I looked at my watch for the nth time, tapped impatient fingers on the table, paced around nervously, frowned towards the empty stairs, returned to the tables and frowned (again) at the assortment of girly accessories littered all over it… “WE’RE DEFINITELY GOING TO BE LATE!”

Then the sound of footsteps could be heard hurrying down the stairs … finally, we can start!

Yes folks, you are reading about one stressful afternoon in the life of a stage mother! Stressful?…you may wonder. Yes, it is! Take it from me. Keep reading and I will tell you why. And try to imagine yourself in my shoes.

When your daughter would finally appear after that agonizingly long wait, you have to have the agility of a world-class athlete to catch a speeding ball of energy intent only on reaching the playground. If you let her get past you, extricating her from the seesaws and swings would take away 5 minutes from your dwindling time.

Now you have your little girl right where you want her. Then begins the struggle to fit one uncooperative leg after another into very tight tights! At this point, you will start wondering why bother? when you are the only one who is interested anyway. That discussion will have to wait until next Sunday. In the meantime, let us go back to the uncooperative legs that finally got through after all that wriggling and twisting around. Beads of sweat the size of corn kernels are streaming down your forehead already. Phew!!!

“I’m going to fix your hair now. Don’t move!!” But even before you could finish mouthing those nine words, that beloved little head has already started moving and turning around, seemingly bent on following its own agenda. You strongly suspect that it is to tear your already-frayed nerves apart. Grrrrr….

Don’t judge me, but there were times when I was sorely tempted to crush that adorable little head with my bare hands!! How can you fix that hair into a tidy bun when you have a tornado for a head?

“STOP MOVING.” You long so much to shout those words at the top of your voice! But you have to mind your manners, after all, you are not in your own house! Ha ha ha! So you grind your teeth in secret and just say “Please stop moving, Langga. You are giving Mama a very hard time here.”…. in the sweetest voice you could possibly fake!!!

Now, granting that you can immobilize that head, you will still have to contend with impatient feet that keep switching from left to right, jiggling arms that have suddenly become itchy all over, a shaking butt that seems to dance to its own secret tempo… Are you getting the picture already? If not yet, just imagine trying to tie a neat bun on top of a jackhammer! I rest my case.

After so much “ouch, ouch, you’re hurting my head” said in that petulant tone, you finally have her in her pretty pink ballet outfit with hair neatly fixed into a flowery bun (color coordinated, mind you). Tense moments over for the stage mother? Oh no, not yet!

With Hibbard Avenue closed to southbound vehicles, you will have to brave the 5pm traffic in the North Highway, suffer through the bottleneck near NORSU, then turn left at PNB to find even more congestion.

By the time you turn left at Hibbard Ave., you are down to praying you will reach Luce Auditorium before 6pm. Finally, you reach the gate only to be told to get a sticker and then asked for your purpose for entering Silliman! “I’m taking my daughter to ballet class.” To that the guard politely asked, “and where is your daughter Ma’am?” Darn it! You have completely forgotten! “Uuh…ahh, she is riding in her friend’s car…” You wonder what he was thinking about at that point. “Do you have an ID?” OK, with cars piling behind you and traffic at standstill, you panic as you search your bag. Finally, you reach Luce. Phew!

The girls made it too, albeit late! With the little ballerinas deposited into the dance studio, my stage mother pals and I can finally relax. Remember those chairs in the lawn outside Luce? They are still arranged like our own sala. You feel at home immediately…and as I mentioned previously, it is very conducive to stimulating conversation….

But not this afternoon. The supplier of tights, leotards and ballet shoes arrived, and the stage mothers sprung back into action! “I need size 12 leotards with sleeves” … “where are the size 3.5 shoes?” … “is it size 8 or 10 tights for my daughter?” and so on…

Stage Mothers … on call 24/7!


Part 2: The Rebirth of a Stage Mother


Abby will never become a ballerina, even if she takes ballet lessons for the next 50 years! She simply does not possess the gift.

Nor will she ever become a taekwondo blackbelter, or a singer of Lea Salonga's fame, even a top-caliber swimmer.

Except for swimming, Abby resisted structured activities like ballet, taekwondo and singing (too boring!). To get her to attend her classes (having paid in full already), I literally had to bribe and cajole her, and when those failed, I resorted to coercion and blackmail (like no TV)!

So why do I, and other stage mothers like myself, bother at all?

Because we love our children. We nurture the hope that they will be enriched through these activities. We would like to see them develop a good-enough singing voice, for instance, or learn survival skills from their swimming lessons, or know how and where to land a highly effective knee (we mothers can only hope in this!) should an admirer become too amorous in the future! And ballet? If she cannot become a ballerina, how about develop poise and grace at the least?

But more than being enriched by their experiences, I believe most stage mothers simply want to open up as many opportunities for their children as possible. To put it simply, we enroll our children from one class to another, and follow them around like glorified alalays lugging bags, water jugs and hair sprays, because we want to help them find where they can be good at! We owe that to them. And once we have found that, we want to nurture that gift the best we can.

All moms, whether working or stay-at-home, are stage mothers at heart. We want our children to be the best they can be. We want them to reach their full potential. And it is within our power to provide them with the right opportunities.

And should we become tired or too overwhelmed by the fees/expenses involved? Just read the story of one successful stage mother! She helped her daughters find their passions and she opened up opportunities for them.

She is Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. With her permission, I am reproducing here Rebirth of a Stage Mother which was posted in her blog Touched by an Angel: A Filipino Mother's Grief Journey and Recovery at http://aboutmyrecovery.com/.

Let us be inspired by her! She speaks for all of us!

"Gone are the days when I'd wait patiently by the lobby of the ballet studio, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Folk Arts Theater or wherever my 2 girls performed piano, ballet, voice recitals or a choir performance. Ohh, how enthralled I was listening or watching them on stage! Tying their hair to a neat bun, dabbling with their makeup or lugging their costumes were now a thing of the past. Those were my stage mother years. My hubby thought I was this frustrated mother who used her girls as a tool for her unfulfilled ambitions. Haha. Funny. My maternal instinct sought to develop the God-given talents of my daughters. I cannot for the life of me, carry a tune or tap my toes so there were no ballerina or opera singer dreams.

The stage mother years span from the time Lauren was a precocious 4 year old pianist till her early teens. Marielle, my second daughter, gifted with a singing voice, followed suit. The girls danced ballet, sang, played the piano, but when they discovered the
Manila Children's Choir, they got hooked. Maybe because being with a group of kids was a blast. I even had my own barkada of stage mothers. As the mother of 2 minor children, I accompanied them to cultural exchange trips to the USA or Canada. Meanwhile, hubby whined that I constantly left him in the Philippines with my son. Feeling guilty, I resolved to curb these trips or at least train the girls to travel on their own. As we traveled, I gave pointers on airline, immigration procedures, packing, and basic travel.

In the summer of 2000, I announced to the girls that the Europe tour was cancelled because of a much-needed family vacation in Cebu. Now this is where I constantly have regrets. See, if we were in Europe, we would not have gone to the beach resort. If we did not go to the beach resort,
my precious son would have not died. Regrets! Regrets! How could a family day turn into this nightmare? Through the years, those regrets and guilt have been resolved. We just don't know when death comes. It's HIS master plan.

And so, my stage mother years ended in the year 2000. However, the girls continued their singing performances and managed to travel on their own. In one of those trips, my daughter received the blessings from the frail
Pope John Paul II in the Vatican. Then one day they realized they were too old for the children's choir and quit.

It's been 5 years now. Or so I thought!

A few weeks ago, Marielle sent me an urgent text message: "I need hairpins, gel, fine tooth comb, makeup bag. I need it for the concert tomorrow." I can sense the panic. "and stuffing for the hairnet! My hair is too short."

She joined a chorale in the University of the Philippines during her second semester because she missed the singing and performing days. See! I was not a stage mother for nothing.

Whaaaaat? I will drive all the way to Quezon City just to bring those things? Blah blah blah. Yakkity yak! She sweetly persuades me to concede, with an invitation to watch their show.

How could I resist? I'm still a stage mother. hehe."