Access to Life
You may help these children by participating in the ongoing auction to buy the painting “PASKO SA AMING BAYAN” (Christmas in our Country) of one of the famous Filipino artist and philanthropist, Mr. Manuel Baldemor or thru cash donation to PAL Foundation.
The Cabasa Siblings
Neither Vanity nor Alan Cabasa got beyond an elementary school education.
But that has not stopped them from dreaming that their children will do better. Their first three; Markjil (18 years old), Vanessa (16 years old) and Jon-Jon (14 years old) are afflicted with osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital disorder also known as brittle bone disease.
To take Jon-Jon, the 3rd child to school, Vanity carries the tiny 14 year old in her arms up the steep dirt path from their ramshackle home in a ditch, deep below the shoulder of the narrow access road. She cradles him close to her chest, careful not to jar him while she walks, as any violent movement or untoward pressure causes his bones to break.
The youngest child, Alvin (8 years old), the only one without this terrible disease carries their school bags and baon. After depositing Jon-Jon in school, Vanity hurries back home to tend to her minuscule sari-sari store. The children's medals and awards hod places of honor on their wall. The only daughter and 2nd child, Vanessa was an honor student until she suffered from lung collapse. She is on oxygen and can no longer attend school but wishes she could have a working laptop so that she might go on learning at home.
The Cabasa children's father Alan is as a cargador in the Balintawak market. He usually sleeps on top of a kariton or the empty produce bins to save on transportation costs. When ever he is home, he works on their vegetable garden and the few banana trees that they have planted in whatever vacant spaces are left in this growing informal settlement. Alan is the only one who can lift Markjil the eldest son. Markjil has a different type of osteogenesis imperfecta. Unlike his younger siblings, he does not have a hunchback but he cannot sit up or move around like them. Whatever his limitations might be, Markjil has discovered that he has a gift for cartooning. It's amazing that he can even hold a pen, let alone draw. But then the very survival of the Cabasa Siblings, their continuing to hope and to dream, to smile and to strive are miracles of themselves. They are only some of the children that the PAL Foundation reaches out to as we try to give them ACCESS TO LIFE.
Proud mother, Vanity and her second son Jon-jon who has osteogenesis imperfecta (aka brittle bone disease like his two older siblings on the right.
Beejay Borgita walks about the talipapa in Pasong Pakipot, Putatan, Muntinlupa, a friend to all, and one of the most popular kids on the block. He tools around fearlessly in his little tricycle. He is totally blind so neighbors look out for him and warn him of the rare car or jeep that enters the informal settlement's single narrow street.
Beejay is a survivor of retinoblastoma, a fairly common childhood cancer that attacks the eyes. Since most Filipino children are not diagnosed early enough or cannot afford chemotherapy, their eyes are surgically removed to stop the cancer's spread.
Beejay has been blind since infancy, but you wouldn't know it from the way he speaks and acts. He doesn't think the lack of eyes affects his appearance and confidently pronounces that he is handsome.
Like any other regular kid, Beejay goes to school, but just getting him there has been a struggle. He is in kindergarten at the Philippine National School for the Blind [PNSB] in Pasay City. The PNSB is three long rides each way--a tricycle, a bus then a jeep --from Putatan, Muntinlupa. The cost of the commute alone would easily take 30-40% of Beejay's father's irregular daily earnings as a jeepney driver. Beejay has two older siblings in school and a baby sister. The family could not afford to sacrifice their food or the others' education just to send Beejay to the PNSB.
Fortunately for Beejay, the PAL Foundation has been the wind beneath his wings Every month, he gets a stipend to enable him to keep on going to school. Consider it a Conditional Cash Transfer that we can see. All that children like Beejay need to get them on the road to learning is that little bit of help: for transportation, food and school supplies. It is a small investment that will pay off big future dividends in another life fully lived. Every child, even those without sight has this right to life and with your help, the PAL Foundation will help more children with disabilities [CWDs] like Beejay get real Access to Life.
Menchu A. Sarmiento