TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2014
JAMIE CARTAS of Santa Rosa, Laguna province, dedicated to the INQUIRER her recent win in her school’s editorial writing contest. Her grandmother’s appeal for financial assistance concerning Jamie’s heart condition appeared in the Metro section in 2008, 2010 and September this year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
LETTERS OF GRATITUDE from Juan Mercado of Bacoor City who sought help for his prostate cancer.
Metro’s mercy mission for the poor and ailing By Santiago R. Alcantara
THEY ARE APPEALS FROM the ailing and the desperate, which have found answers through the INQUIRER’S Metro section. Their calls for help reach the desk in a stream of letters, mostly handwritten by the patients themselves or by their loved ones, requesting financial assistance for surgeries, medications, therapies and other medical services whose cost goes beyond the reach of the poor. Based on these letters, the section regularly comes out with brief stories about the patients’ medical history and personal circumstances, and how potential donors can get in touch with them and send help. The senders are not just from Metro Manila. Some are patients from the provinces who have sought treatment in the capital, confined in crowded public hospitals or “adopted” by charity foundations. The initiative started in the Metro page in 2006 when an INQUIRER employee requested a short write-up on behalf of a neighbor in need. The simple narration of the patient’s predicament was enough to move readers and donations soon started pouring into the bank account stated in the story. A substantial amount was raised.
20 letters a month These early inspiring gestures have since encouraged more aid-seekers. Today, this writer, who is tasked to vet the letters and the attached medical records and call their senders for further verification, receives an average of 20 letters a month. The majority of them concerned patients being treated or in a queue for major procedures at government hospitals like the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Quezon City and Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila. Published for the past eight years are their stories of strug-
gle against leukemia, kidney problems, biliary atresia, tumors, congenital heart disease, breast cancer, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, Langerhan’s cell histiocytosis, stroke and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, among others. The Metro desk would later learn how their appeals drew positive results from donors, most of whom chose to remain anonymous.
Donor calls from sea “Thank you very much for the help,” said 43-year-old Rosalinda Rosales, whose 12-year-old daughter Dana Angela is undergoing chemotherapy at the PCMC due to leukemia. This was after Rosales received a reply from a certain Mr. Campo, a seafarer who even called her three times while onboard his ship after reading about Dana’s condition. The girl’s three-year chemotherapy procedure required them to raise P226,000. “Mr. Campo said he was contributing P26,000, giving the biggest donation among the donors who responded,” Rosales told the INQUIRER. Another letter-sender, Zenaida Cabornay, said she got the biggest surprise of her life when Ed Morales called and asked her to proceed to the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City. “I didn’t know that it was the office of [OFW party list] Rep. Roy Señeres,” said Cabornay, mother of Renerio, a tuberculosis sufferer. “They gave us a guarantee letter worth P25,000.”
‘We feel their pain’ “When we read the stories of such patients, we feel their pain. It’s a lifetime of medication. Where will they get funds to sustain their treatments? I told my staff: ‘As long as we have funds, let’s help them,”’ said Señeres, the former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates who in the 1990s helped save abused domestic helper METRO’S/ 4
The Philippine Daily Inquirer marks its 29th anniversary today with simple rites at its offices in Makati City.