Confessions of A Newbie Trail Runner: Conquering Mt. Batolusong

I contemplated on running off-road for a while, but hadn’t had the chance to actually join an event. However, last April 9, 2017, I finally had a taste of what trail running was and had a jaunt to the countryside that is San Andres, Tanay, Rizal.  It was not my first out-of-town event, but the idea of combining running and mountain climbing in this one event thrilled me.

 

I must admit that I had a few mileage under my belt when I joined, but boy did I prepare intensively to conquer Mt. Batolusong! I had to tweak my training regimen a little bit for the trail run.  My friend Ysa who is an experienced trail runner, who had ran Mt. Batolusong once warned me that it is a challenging trail, technical was the actual term, which means that there will be unending ascents and steep downhills, but she also gave a picturesque description of the view on top which made me wish April 9 would come sooner so I could see and experience everything she described.

 

The organizers provided basically everything we need to know about the out-of-town event such as the map outlining the trail and hydration stations, the instructions on how to reach the event venue and even suggested cheap shuttle service for commuting participants.  However, my friends and I opted to rent a car to shuttle us to and from the event.  Comfort was our priority since the ride going to the event was going to take a few hours, 2 hours or so, from Sucat, Paranaque.  Renting a private car was more expensive than the shuttle service, but we made the right choice.  It was worth the money spent.

 

Pickup time at McDonald’s Taft MRT station was 11 p.m.  At that hour, EDSA was abuzz with commuters waiting to get a bus or jeepney ride home or somewhere else.  We were not able to indulge ourselves with hot coffee nor a hot meal as the car was already there and we needed to pick up one more passenger at a gasoline station along EDSA-Ayala.

 

The ride going to San Andres was pleasant, albeit a little traffic somewhere in Cubao slowed us down a bit.  Past the area of congestion, the ride was smooth.  I was able to enjoy looking at the city lights below as it was an uphill ride up to San Andres.  It had started to drizzle when we left Pasay City and still drizzling when we arrived around 1 a.m. at San Andres Barangay Hall where the organizers set up their command center and the Start and Finish lines.  By the time we arrived at the venue, the 80k runners just kicked off.  We were not able to see them off though.

 

There were no McDo, Jollibee or convenience stores in the vicinity of the venue so we settled to warm and fill our tummies with meals sold from a nearby sari-sari store. Once we had our fill, we rested inside the car and tried to get a brief shut-eye before we toe in the starting line. I wasn’t able to sleep so as my other companions except Rose who slept soundly as if she was in her own bed.  I sat beside Rose inside the car and listened to the sound of pouring rain eyes closed but sleep was just so elusive at that time. The rain calmed me though and made me feel relaxed despite my lack of sleep.

 

The drizzle became a downpour by the time the 50k runners kicked off at 3 a.m. and the 25k runners at 5 a.m.  Rose and I prayed the rain will stop by 6 a.m. in time for our kick off.  We signed up for the 12k run.  We were worried that we would trip along the trail since we did not bring any head lamps to light our way as we expected it will be sunrise by 6 a.m.  Our anxiety vanished when the rain stopped and the sun started to show.  We toed in the starting line at exactly 6 a.m. and started to run at first on a relatively smooth terrain, a bit graveled, coarser as we ran farther.

 

By about 500 meters from the starting line, the terrain started to change.  We came across a very shallow and rocky stream, then we started our ascent. There were a variety of trees and shrubs along the trail where it became rockier. The mud started to stick to my shoes, which were not really trail shoes.I was wearing my trusted on-road running shoes hoping they were going to provide enough traction to keep me from slipping. I managed to trek the muddy terrain with my feet getting heavier every step as the mud accumulated under my shoes.

So this was “technical” ascent meant. I felt I would gain wings when I reached the summit, our turn about point, because the trek uphill seemed endless and heading towards the sky as it was very inclined, my chin and knee would almost touch every step up.  After a kilometer or two of the killer ascent, we could already see a sea of clouds around us.  We were not even at the top yet, but we could already see clouds and lush greens around us which made me forget how arduous the climb was! I couldn’t help myself, but take a quick selfie to capture the beauty of the nature.  By this time, some runners had started their descent.  Not quite sure if they were from the 80k or 50k pack of runners who ran ahead of us earlier.

 

A few more hilly climbs and near missteps and falls, we got to a place where there was a rock formation about 10 or 12 feet high.  Rose and I went up to the top of the rock and had our selfies there. 🙂 I think everyone who passed by this rock formation had a selfie or two before continuing to run ahead.

 

Once we were satisfied with our selfies, we continued to walk up a few meters where we finally found a breezy grassland.  We ran further and we reached the hydration station where we ate biko, Jelly Ace, and chocolates, and drank water. Before we headed off and continued to run toward the turn about point which is the summit, we stuffed our pockets with jelly and chocolates and refilled our hydration packs.

 

I was able to finally properly run through the grassy field hoping to reach the top quickly as the sun is starting to scorch my neck.  A runner descending from the hill encouraged us to tread on as the turn about point was just about a kilometer away, only that it was not the hill that we were seeing, but behind that hill! Okay, we’ve gone this far, there is no turning back, so we treaded on.

 

It seemed that the trail kept on changing and it was never the same. The trail now became more slippery, narrower, and still muddy even if the rain had stopped hours ago and the sun was scorching.  A few meters away, the trail became very rocky that we had to climb on boulders and hold on to anything that we can support ourselves to keep us from slipping and falling.  We passed by bamboo trees and trekked on narrow trails with head-high shrubs.  By the time, I passed through this trail, I was all alone and fear crept as I slowly and carefully ran through the thick and tall grass and shrubs.  I was afraid a snake would pop out any minute.  Past this trail, we reached the steepest part and probably the most rocky and slippery. We had to yield to runners descending as the trail was also very narrow with sharp rocks.  Nothing much to hold on to but the boulders or any abutting root you could find.

 

About 20 meters from that area, we started to climb to the top, the summit, the turn about point.  I forgot how tired I was when I realized that we were surrounded by mountains. The thick fog prevented us to see the grandeur of the place, but the view was breathtaking nevertheless. Rose and I spent a few minutes at the summit desperately wanting to take a picture of us there, but unfortunately, our cellphones were all dead, so we just enjoyed the view before we started our descent back to where we started.

 

The cut-off time for the 12k trail run was 4 hours. The ascent took us about 2 hours. The run downhill was technical, but we made the downhill run faster than we did our ascent.  I told Rose we needed to be mindful of the time lest we will miss the cut-off time.  I reckoned we had made lots of selfies and carried enough memories with us of the breathtaking view of the mountains and the lush scenery around us, it was time to beat the clock.

 

Aided by the momentum going downhill and with less stopovers, we ran strong and finished in less than 4 hours.  Rose finished about 5 minutes ahead of me.  I reached the finish line with a little bruise on my left knee when I lost my footing on a rock and slipped.  Except for that very “small” accident, I was okay, just hungry as our last meal was about 8 hours or so ago.

 

Food and drink awaited us at the finisher’s line.  I grabbed my share before I got my medal and finisher’s shirt making sure I had food and drink! Refueling and rehydrating were my priority when I finished.

 

Mt. Batoluson probably was a technically difficult trail for a newbie trail runner like me, but it was just my first time, and I survived it.  Definitely, this will not be my last, but more trail runs to come!

 

Happy trail running!

 

Next on my blog would be the lessons I learned from my first trail run.

 

Goodbye, Too Soon

auntie

A Eulogy for Auntie Marissa Gaite Limbo-Villanueva

Feb. 27, 1958 – December 27, 2016

My cousin who flew from Canada to Mission Viejo, California asked me to write a eulogy for our beloved Auntie Marissa who passed away on December 27, 2016 in California  She was diagnosed with cancer last July and after five months battling with it, lost her fight when her heart gave out on her.  Although her untimely death is difficult for us to grasp, it is comforting to know that she passed away peacefully and painlessly.

I thought it was a piece of cake writing a eulogy for her.  After all, I have all the good things to say about her; however, I underestimated my emotions, and the sobs in between writing got in the way so it took a while before I finished writing it.

I had the privilege of being with Auntie for a couple of years when I was in college before she left for Saudi Arabia to work as a medical technologist in ARAMCO from 1990 up to 1999.  I was 16 years old when I entered college and Auntie was my constant companion, my movie buddy, my confidante and my best friend though I was living in a boarding house back then.  It was difficult being apart from Auntie when she left, but eventually I learned to live on my own and dealt with my homesickness and my loneliness away from my family and from Auntie.

Auntie and I remained very close, although when she got married and moved to the states to live with her husband, Uncle Rene, we seldom see each other.  The last time I saw her was in May 2007 when my father died, her older brother.  Even if we didn’t see each other that much we still continue to keep in touch.

Auntie Marissa was the kind of person who didn’t want anyone to worry about her, so it was a shock to me, to us, when she emailed me that she has cancer that already spread to her lungs.  We all thought that the pain she was complaining in her ankle was just arthritis and the bleeding she had was just due to her myoma.

Things happened so fast since the announcement of her disease though she still managed to undergo 10 radiotherapy sessions which stopped her bleeding due to the ovarian cancer and went on to undergo chemotherapy a week or so after.  I was still able to talk to her via video call last October before she hardly replied to my messages. We thought that things were looking up when she responded to the radiation therapy.

She was discharged home and only went to the hospital for chemotherapy which didn’t sit too well with her.  In November, she was rushed to the hospital for difficulty breathing, and after she was declared stable, she was discharged home and was then put on comfort measures.  She was heavily sedated since then.  Unfortunately, the cancer was too far gone that even the best medical personnel and most advanced medical technology couldn’t save her.

Until now, the thought of her gone is too hard to grasp, but then we need to accept that she is gone.  Writing the eulogy for her was difficult because of the pain of loss that I am feeling. The thought of her brings me joy and sadness at the same time, but despite the pain, I choose to rejoice in the Lord for giving her to us, for allowing her to be in our lives, and for taking her pain away.

Marissa Gaite Limbo-Villanueva.  She was Auntie Marissa to all her nieces and nephews, Lolay to her grandchildren, Grandma to Dani, and Mama to Remelyn, her stepdaughter.  She was like a sister and best friend to all her former colleagues (Ms. Joy, Mam Shirley, Ms. Nena, Ms Judith, and Ms. Merlyn), in Metro Cebu Community Hospital where she worked as a medical technologist.  According to Ms. Joy, Auntie was the kindest and the most generous person she has ever known and they were all thinking of her.

I may not be present in her wake to read the eulogy for her, but surely Manang Liling will be able to convey our heartfelt gratitude and give honor to Auntie.

Here’s the eulogy that I wrote in behalf of the Limbo family that my cousin Lily June Limbo Lebumfacil-Antigua will read during the viewing on Jan. 3, 2017 at Mission Viejo, California:

We are all here today to pay our respects to an amazingly beautiful person, whose time here with us was cut far too short.  She was just 58, gone too soon.

My Auntie Marissa was one of the most wonderful people that I will ever know.

 

She was a small woman with a big heart. She was kind, generous and full of compassion. I couldn’t remember a time that she turned her back on us when we needed help.  She encouraged us all, her nieces and nephews, to finish school and get a job so that one day we can become self-sufficient and help our own family. Auntie sent most of us to school and continued to provide for us when we were job hunting. She always went out of her way to help and do something, big or small, to make our lives a little bit easier…and while she lived halfway across the globe from us, she never made the distance a hindrance for her kindness and generosity to reach us.

 

She was the Auntie that one can ever ask for. Ever since I can remember, we always have Christmas presents from her. She was Santa Claus personified during Christmastime. The kid in us have always been kept alive because of Auntie. She always made us feel we were loved and thought of, not only during the most wonderful time of the year, but always, even if we were all grownups.  Her kindness and generosity is truly exemplary. It doesn’t matter if we were naughty or nice, she was kind and generous to us no matter how we behave, although she would never condone any bad behavior. Being kind was just her nature.

 

Her generosity and kindness was not only limited to her immediate family, but encompassed her extended families and everyone that she treated as family.  I remember one time when she learned about Lolo Mesing, her father’s brother, who got sick just a few years ago. Without hesitation and without even his family asking her, she sent money to them so that Lolo Mesing would get the necessary medical attention.  She really cared. That’s our Auntie Marissa.  Thoughtful, selfless and always ready to help.

 

Auntie’s passion was her family – her husband, daughter, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and her siblings.

 

When Auntie was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, it was a very difficult time for the entire family. We couldn’t help but question why her? But we decided to trust God’s wisdom and entrust Auntie to Him knowing that He knows what He is doing. We wanted to be there to help take care of her and help her recover, but due to the distance, some of the members of the family cannot even visit her, and all they could do was pray for her.

 

I had the privilege of being able to be with her for a few days while she was desperately fighting cancer. I felt helpless not being able to ease her pain while I was attending to her, but despite my helplessness in the situation, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be with her in the most difficult and probably most painful time of her life…when she was fighting for her life.  I spent my time looking after her as her disease got worse. I was happy to do whatever I could, because no matter how much I helped her, I felt like it was nothing compared to everything she did for me, for us, over the years.

 

As I contemplated on her life, I could say that indeed, actions speak louder than words, and Auntie’s actions while she was still alive speak volumes to us. She showed us how to be kind even when others are not, to be generous even when others are not deserving, and to never turn our backs to family however they misbehave. She showed strength, courage and selflessness while she was fighting for her life, and while she was in her sick bed, she still thought of us and reminded us to take care and love one another.

 

She may have not left us much in the way of material possessions, but what she did for us over the years was more than enough.   

 

She was an incredible person. We lost a woman of excellent character, a woman of worth. Most of all, we lost our beloved Auntie Marissa whom we will sorely miss, but will always be in our hearts.  There is no one like her.  Her life blessed so many, especially us, her family, and with all certainty I could say she lived a life of meaning and purpose by making a difference in our lives.  A life she shared selflessly not only with her husband, but to all of us here whose lives were touched by her kindness, compassion, and generosity.

 

She will be missed by a lot of people here. I wish her peace and will always love her.

 

Despite the pain of losing her, we praise and thank God for giving us Auntie Marissa. We thank God for taking away Auntie’s pain.

 

In behalf of the Limbo Family, we thank you Uncle Rene, Remelyn and Daniela for taking care and loving our Auntie Marissa. To all her friends who supported her especially during her illness, thank you. Thank you all for loving our Auntie Marissa.

 

Auntie Marissa, we love you and thank you for everything you did for us. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. Rest in peace.

Margie – Day 4: (30 Days of Thanks)

margie
When God thought of blessing me, He gave me friends. Not a lot of it, but just a few who are real ones. The ones who’ll surely stay in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in good health, in time of plenty and in time of famine. They’re the few ones God gave to me to help me go through life: to celebrate with me in my successes, to cry with me in my losses, to cheer me up in my failures.
Today, I will honor a special friend whom I’ve known just recently but felt we’ve known each other for life, a kindred spirit who’s celebrating her birthday, Margie. I have so many good words to write about her here, but I will mention only a few that made an impact on me, HHH and the people whom she helped.
Marge, the philanthropist and missionary of charity
A few months ago, we founded a charity group Hope Help Health, but even before this group had a name and yet to become an official charitable organization or foundation, our friendship has already started to take roots and blossomed. God truly put kindred spirits together to work on one goal: help the poor, sick ones.
Mario Sutalbo case. This is probably the our group’s most memorable case to date. Not only because this was the most challenging, but this was the case that brought us together. This was the case where we first met you, albeit online, and worked with you since up to our latest cases. This was the case where the daily chats and occasional phone calls started. It was at this time that I learned about your kindness and generosity. When Mario died, you offered financial assistance to give him a decent burial. You made our work easier with your generous financial contribution and invaluable advice.
Mommy Shirley’s case. When our group thought of doing a raffle for a cause, you, Mam Shey and Mara, enthusiastically offered valuable items for the raffle. Whatever you thought would benefit the patients, you are most willing to do with joy and enthusiasm.
If we would count the things you do for the less fortunate we took under our wings, it would take a while before I will finish this post because surely as long as there are sick people who needs our help, you will still be there to lend a hand and share a blessing, so I will not enumerate everything you do because doing so is just impossible.
Marge, the friend
As your friend, your thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity will be never be forgotten and your friendship is truly a gift from above. I could never thank God enough for the gift of friendship. You know my life has been a little easier because of you. My heart is a little less lonely because of you (of course, apil mo ani HHH ladies, birthday man ni Marge so iya sa ron).
I thank God every time I think of you. Thank you so much Marge for making this world a better place. People like you reminds us of God’s goodness and faithfulness and surely the world (my morld) will never be the same without you.
Happy birthday Marge! You truly deserve the best and everything your heart’s desire today because you bring so much blessing in this world by being you!

Day 2 – 30 Days of Thanks – Shey

LOVING YOU

book-cover

The pizzeria was packed with young people on a Friday night. For yuppies, Friday is the day to meet up with friends. This pizzeria that also served as a music bar for those who love to listen to live piano music or rock band playing depending which day you might drop in to visit. Tonight happens to be a slow rock night with our favorite rock band whose lead guitarist is Mattie’s co-band member when she used to be part of a band that played in a folk and country music bar. Mattie is one of my best friends since I took a job as a clinical instructor in a university where she and Darla, my other best friend, are also working. They were both nurses.

So Friday night is our weekly girls’ night out and Domino Pizza was our favorite hangout spot. Here we also meet up with our colleague and friend Bryn who serves as our driver every night out, who sometimes bails out whenever he got so drunk, leaving us three girls on our own waiting for a vacant taxi to take us to home.

It was this one Friday night that this guy with John Lennon glasses came to join us in our table. It turned out that he was Jessy and Bryne’s classmate in college whom they introduced to me and Darla as Sherwin. I was having my usual black coffee while they were having beers and pizza. Sherwin ordered beer and sat beside me. Despite the smell of smoke around the resto, I could still smell the faint scent of his cologne which makes him smell like he just got out of the shower, and with that, I liked him already. Behind his John Lennon glasses, I could see that he has long curly lashes, just like mine, and his eyes seem to smile a lot, not in a mischievous kind of way, but the kind that you would trust and whom you would like to be good friends with. He has a nice pointed nose, perfect set of white teeth that seemed to sparkle whenever he smiled. So okay, I must have a small crush going on right there, but I tried not to show it, and I was hoping he wouldn’t notice nor the rest of my friends would.

It was past 2 a.m. that we headed home. Bryne, as usual, bailed out on us and left us with Sherwin who offered to ride with us in the taxi and see to it that we were home safely.

The next morning, both Darla and Mattie had a hangover and I served them both with coffee, the instant type, since we don’t have a coffeemaker. Once they had warmed their tummies with the hot beverage, they both helped me prepare our breakfast which was just eggs and cocktail hotdogs and fried garlic rice. Mattie set the table while Darla and I cooked the food. Bryne came in while were in the middle of our breakfast and helped himself with the food.

The weekend went by and the three of us were back to our teacher duties at the university where the three of us worked. As I was finishing up with a patient at the clinic where I worked a physical therapist besides my clinical instructor duties when an intern came up to me and said that there’s someone waiting for me outside. I just told the intern to let them wait.

“Hi,” Sherwin was grinning at me when I came out of the clinic. “Oh, hello,” I answered him back, surely my cheeks now flushing. There was a very brief silence between us and pretty sure both of us looked stupid for just a moment right there grinning at each other. Shewin broke the silence and said that he just happen to be in the school to get some papers and thought of dropping by just to say hi.

“I’m going home soon,” trying to look past his shoulder in an effort to evade his stare that’s making my cheeks feel warm like I was in front of a bonfire and hoping that I wasn’t looking stupid standing in front of him.

“Uhmm…I’m on my way out as well. Can I walk you home?” his smile already making me melt.

“Ah, okay, sure,” turning to go back inside. “I’ll just get my stuff,” then I disappeared into the room feeling like a school girl fleeing from her crush. “Gosh! Why does he smile like that?” I almost thought out loudly.

We walked side by side, and silently I was hoping that I didn’t blush every time he looks at me.

Every day for a week he would just “happen” to drop by the school and walks me home every afternoon. By then, I had introduced her to my younger sister who happened to be his classmate while they were still in fist year nursing. My sister quit nursing school on her 2nd year in college and took up another course that doesn’t have to do with needles and blood. She reminded me that Sherwin was her crush back then.

Sherwin took a volunteer work as a nurse at a hospital and when he couldn’t visit me, he would call me every morning before I go to work and if he has a chance while on break at work in the hospital. We would not see each other for three days straight, but he would always come to see me when he is not on duty.

One day he invited me to dinner. It wasn’t a candle-light kind of dinner, but it was one that I wouldn’t forget because at that place he expressed his intentions to me and shared his feelings for me. Once again, I surely was surprised by the candidness of this revelation, but my heart wouldn’t stop fluttering at that time. It felt like I was splashed with an ice cold water then plunged into a warm bathtub. I became speechless, but when I gathered my composure I was able to say that I do feel the same way. It happened so fast, and my plan of trying to prolong the courtship period was curtailed by my own strong feelings for him. It was March 6, four days before his birthday, that we became officially a couple.
To be continued…

Help for a Child with a Rare Case of Skin Disorder: Euan Khristoff Villanis

I would like to ask for your help in behalf of this little boy, Euan Khristoff Villanis, now 8 years old, who is suffering from dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a genetic condition where the skin keeps on blistering. There is no cure for this illness and the only treatment is for maintenance wound care, medicines for pain relief and other comfort measures for the boy to live a quality of life.

Both parents are government employees, but with a sick child with lifetime maintenance, both their incomes are not enough to support the boy’s medical needs plus the occasional trips to the hospital with the boy’s frail condition and the open wounds which makes him susceptible to infection. It would seem that every day for them is like a rainy day with not enough money to go on a time like this.

Euan also has a very narrow esophagus so that it is very difficult for him to swallow solid food. A G-tube has been attached to his tummy so that he could get the nourishment he needs, and this G-tube needs to be replaced every six months or so. Euan needs a mickey button G-tube and this is quite expensive.

The following are the medical supplies Euan needs:

FOR GTUBE:

* MIC KEY low profile gastrostomy feeding tube (18fr or 20fr 2cm)- Kimberly Clark at Panamed Ortigas for every 6 months maximum

* Extensions

* Asepto Syringe

* Silicon Foley Catheter (two way-size Fr20)

 

FOR WOUNDS:

* ZYXAL/ ALNIX (ITCHINESS)

* MEFENAMIC ACID

* VIT C (FERN C)

* FERLIN (IRON)

* FISH OIL (softgels)

* VITAMIN E (softgels)

* PETROLEUM JELLY/VASELINE

* CONFORMING BANDAGES

* MICROPORE OR ANY SURGICAL TAPES

* CLING WRAPS

* MEPELEX TRANSFER/MEPELEX LITE/ TELFA

* TUBEFAST/ SURGIFIX (SINGLE GREEN LINE)

* ANY OINTMENT/CREAMS

* GLOVES
* SURGICAL SCISSORS (BIG, MEDIUM, SMALL AND SMALL POINTED)

* BACTROBAN OINTMENT/CREAM or any BURN OINTMENTS

* NIVEA CREAM

The family is in need of our help. We can’t even fathom how quickly their medical bills pile up. Many financial burdens placed on them including the cost of the expensive G-tube that needs to be replaced regularly, and the family is already buried in debt.

If you are able, any donation amount or in kind will help and be so appreciated.

Your generosity is appreciated and will have a direct and positive impact on their lives.

The family has a gofundme account https://www.gofundme.com/fdblm0 where you could send in your donations or you could send supplies directly to the mother, Sharon Villanis.

Contact number is listed below:

Sharon Rose R. Villanis

Astorga Street, Poblacion Ajuy

Iloilo City Philippines 5012

Tel. No. 0949 807 3508

For financial help for GTUBE change every 2 months:

9005948782 RCBC (Sharon Rose R Villanis)

Paypal: sharonrose_villanis@yahoo.com

 

I will extend my gratitude as early as now to those people with kind hearts who will share their blessings to them.

 

Rest assured that I will keep you posted about Euan.

 

Thank you so much and God bless you all.

 

Chronicles of Oplan Mario Sutalbo

Posts that appeal for medical assistance, for justice of a crime committed or for donations for various causes appear on Facebook pages every day.  However, one particular post caught our attention that eventually launched Oplan Mario Sutalbo in May 2016.

This article chronicles the rescue and medical mission that launched Oplan Mario Sutalbo, how Mario was rescued and how the mission turned out.

Oplan Mario Sutalbo: May 19, 2016 to June 24, 2016

Oplan Mario Sutalbo was created in response to an appeal for help for a man who was in dire need of immediate medical attention for a humongous wound mass in his right thigh and buttocks.

The man was Mario Sutalbo, a 46-year-old resident of Ferry, Maigo, Lanao del Norte.  Apparently, Mario had been suffering from this humongous wound mass for 7 years without proper medical care.  Perhaps due to lack of family support, financial constraints, and the patient’s apparent lack of understanding of his condition, the wound mass was left untreated, and he continued to deteriorate in the 7 years that he suffered from it.

 

The Rescue:  May 19, 2016

Since the patient had been apparently abandoned by his family and had been living alone in his shanty, Mara along with her partner and with her cousin Cora, with the crowd fund they were able to raise via Bayanihan sa Negros Oriental group, decided to travel from Dumaguete City to Ferry, Maigo, Lanao del Norte to rescue Mario.  With the assistance of the Philippine Army 15IB Molave Warrior team under the leadership of outgoing Commanding Officer Leomar Jose Doctolero, they were able to transport Mario from Ferry, Maigo, Lanao del Norte to Iligan City.  The hospital that they brought the patient initially refused to admit him so they decided to bring him to Davao City instead where they had to bring the patient at the back of their pickup truck.

Davao City’s 911 Emergency Medical Service (EMS) was able to assist them in Digos City when the patient began to be in distress.  A competent EMS medical team provided immediate medical assistance to the patient before transporting him to Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City for further medical intervention.

At SPMC:

 May 19, 2016  

In SPMC, the patient was placed under the Lingap sa Mahirap Progam of the Davao City Mayor’s Office and PhilHealth to cover his basic medical needs and hospitalization.  Mario was initially under the care of the surgical services where he underwent a battery of tests and procedures as well as a series of blood transfusions to correct his severe anemia and was put on aggressive antibiotic therapy to treat his extensive systemic and local wound infection.

mario

 May 19 to June 10, 2016

Approximately 23 days since admit, after extensive treatments and series of blood transfusions, Mario’s condition appeared to have improved.  In fact, he had regained a bit of color to his face compared to when he was first admitted.  His biopsy report also came back with a benign finding.  However, his CT scan images showed that he had evidence of multiple areas of metastases to the lungs which means the patient had developed lung cancer probably originating from the thigh and buttocks wound.  This finding prompted his doctors to transfer him to surgical oncology services for further evaluation and a repeat biopsy of the wound mass was ordered to determine the exact location and type of cancer he had that caused the metastasis to the lungs.

13423902_10208014246971642_5858604354915324255_n.jpg

June 18, 2016

While we were hoping for a favorable outcome of his tests and from the aggressive treatment, Mario’s condition took a turn for the worse.  By this time, the oncologist transferred him to the palliative services to treat him symptomatically.  The doctors determined that his illness was too far out that he is no longer amenable for chemotherapy or surgery and that only comfort measures will only be provided for his final days.

13435549_10208014247291650_1899994018732417089_n

Goodbye Mario, Rest in Peace:

 June 21, 2016

Mario displayed great courage and determination in his painful illness; however, despite the experts taking care of him and the aggressive treatment he received, he succumbed to his illness.  At 3:30 a.m. local time on June 21, 2016, Mario expired his last breath.

We managed to get his immediate family which consists of his wife, two of his three children, and his sister-in-law to get to see him at SPMC, but he expired even before saying their goodbyes.

His remains laid in state for a few days at Angels Funeral Homes while waiting for release of the death certificate, cremation permit and permit to travel.  He was cremated at 8:00 a.m. on June 24, 2016 after which his family brought him home to Maigo, Lanao del Norte.

The family intended to bury his ashes on June 30, 2016 at the Maigo Public Cemetery where he will be laid to rest.

Important Notes:

  1. Mario’s daily needs at the hospital (medical supplies and salary for the watcher and food allowance) and other expenses were covered by the generous donors of Oplan Mario Sutalbo team.
  2. Hospitalization and medical bills amounting to almost Php 58,000 were all covered and paid for by Lingap sa Mahirap Program of the Davao City Mayor’s Office and Philhealth.
  3. The coffin, embalming and funeral services were all covered and paid for by Lingap sa Mahirap Program of the Davao City Mayor’s Office.
  4. Cremation was paid for by the generous donors of Oplan Mario Sutalbo team.
  5. Fare and food allowance by the family were covered by the generous donors of Oplan Mario Sutalbo team.

 

Acknowledgments

The Oplan Mario Sutalbo team who relentlessly and tirelessly followed and supported Mario in his medical ordeal would like to thank everyone who took part in the “bayanihan” that assisted Mario get the medical care that he deserved.  We all did a great job in helping Mario get the medical attention he needed.

Even though we were not able to fulfill his wish to go home to Maigo because of his very frail and unstable condition, we were able to bring “home” to him, his family, albeit they were too late to arrive to see him and say their final goodbyes.  However, we can feel peace in our hearts because Mario knew his family was coming to see him; he was just not able to wait for them.

We can let go of Mario now and hope and pray that he rest in peace.

Thank you very much and may God bless us all.

You are all God’s heroes:

Abril Grasya S. Bontuyan
Ahing Eunil Uyramos
Angelei Tan
Angelito Selem
Annie Duerme Tomada
Cecilia Mag-isa Estoque
Corazon Solamillo
Deqiam Guatno
Dr. Bravo of Palliative Services at SPMC
Dr. Ralph Hermossisima of Surgical Services at SPMC
Dr. Samantha Cunanan of Onology Services at SPMC
Elena Morin
Elmo Tomada, MD
Emily Batucan Monsanto
Esheymae Inovino Cabreaks
Fall Ang
Fernan Albaytar Baculna
Hilario Martin, Jr.
John Mar Mesa
Joross Quintero

Julius Tia
Kristin Sol
Leah Cabasag Tingel
Leomar Jose Doctolero of 15IB Phil Army and the Molave Warrior Team
Lingap sa Mahirap, Davao City
Lynn Futalban Miranda
Philhealth
Mara Jaira
Margie Catequista
Mayor Rafael Rizalda of the Municipality of Maigo, Lanao del Norte
The Office of the Mayor, Davao City (Sir Angelo and Mam Armie)
Meo Lalim Solamillo
Penchie Limbo

Rolan Lao
Rrhin Zamora B
Sag’s Ali
Southern Philippines Medical Center and its efficient medical staff and doctors
Vivs Cortes Noel Elom
Yoj Nesnia Ontal Melasokay