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photo credit: Inquirer.net

Earlier this week, I saw an Inquirer article about a little girl covered in bandages, with bleeding in her obviously cancer-stricken head, who is so sick with her grandmother riding an MRT train. Her name’s Ashley. I felt so bad for the kid’s condition I cried, sa kanang mata mala-Jaclyn Jose. Kidding! But it’s true, I cried. I immediately Viber-ed my friends about it and told Julianne, my friend who works for Front Row, that they should do a story on her so people will take notice and might help with the kid’s medication, because sure as hell I can’t. As in, grabe, kawawa talaga yung bata. Bukod sa siksikan sa MRT, ang init init ngayon. And with her skin’s condition, I bet mas grabeng blisters ang inaabot niya. E yung tayo ngang mga walang sakit init na init na, e di lalo na siya. 😥

Anyway, a few days after reading that article, Julianne told me that she can’t go on our supposed mani-pedi session because she had to go to Pampanga for her next story. She asked me to just tag along with her. At first I said no, hello, ang layo ng Pampanga, kaladkaring friend talaga?! But then she called me and told me that she’s going to Pampanga to see Ashley, that kid whose story brought me to tears. And I immediately said yes. I want to see the kid.

So off we went to Pampanga. See? Hindi lang talaga ko basta-bastang kaladkaring friend kasi may story behind sa Instagram post niya. 😛

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Taken on our way to finding Ashley. photo credit: Chulianne

It was the usual stuff us researchers do to find people: Saan po mahahanap si ganto, ganyan. Good thing Inquirer had taken notice of their plight and their story has gone viral that it became easier to find them.

Their neighbor immediately pointed at their house and we saw Lola Cleofe, cradling Ashley who’s covered in gauze in both her arms and feet and her head. We introduced ourselves and talked to Lola Cleofe. She gladly shared to us their story. Ashley got the illness when she was still a baby and from then on, life has been hard. They’re trying their best to weather the storm but frankly, they don’t know how long are they going to last.

In between our conversation, Ashley suddenly got up, walk and told her lola (she calls her mommy) that she wants to ride the bike. I was shocked to see that Ashley can indeed walk and talk like other kids. She’s one feisty kid if you get to meet her, I’d give her that. She started biking near us and butting in every once in a while asking her lola about some trivial things. In that moment, the embedded vision of Ashley inside my head that she’s bedridden and all was erased. I was so glad she’s like any other kid her age, jolly and playful. If it weren’t for the gauzes and blisters, I wouldn’t believe she’s sick.

Her lola continued sharing their story on how a Chinese couple, who wants to remain anonymous, helps them even before they became internet-famous. And how they are a bit aloof with the media now, because let’s face it, sometimes the media can be so crass just to get their stories they tend to forget that these are people, and how Ashley has gotten better with the outpour of support from so many people.

Before going there, I thought of giving them my mani-pedi money to help, but during the course of our conversation, Lola Cleofe revealed that they are not beggars asking for money, so I decided against it. In fact, Ashley even said when they are in MRT that “hindi sila namamalimos.” That was the second time the little girl shocked me. I was glad that they are not like other families who use a sick family member to get money even if they badly needed the help.

The third time the little girl shocked me was when she said that she wanted to go to school and learn how to write. That’s her birthday wish, she said, apart from a Barbie doll. It was not even to find a cure to her illness, but just to go to school. They have asked schools if she can study, but teachers said that the only problem would be the scorching heat in classrooms, that would cause more blisters to her skin. And in her case, that’s a big thing. They tried hiring a tutor but the kid wants to experience a regular school and have regular friends and maybe even a regular life. They tried private schools but the tuition fee is so steep they’d rather spend the money on her medication.

That was then. Yesterday, Julianne messaged us that Lola Cleofe finally gave in to her granddaughter’s wish and they are finally sending her to school this June. Here’s the catch: they’re using their house as collateral for Ashley’s dream of a proper education. They wouldn’t want to use the donation for her meds because they don’t know what will happen, what with her traitor of a disease.

So this is the little girl’s wish on her seventh birthday on May 21. When I was seven, all I ever wanted was a birthday party with all my friends, blew seven candles on my birthday cake, open birthday gifts than I can count and have an intermission number with my cousins. My parents made that wish come true. I may not be able to do it, but maybe this post can help in letting people know that this girl have better birthday wish than most of us did back when we’re seven: to pose with classmates in a class picture, to raise a hand and answer the teacher’s question, to see 10/10 on her test paper, to co-exist with other kids and to experience normalcy.

Things like these make you want to take a step back and stop and re-asses your nonsensical life woes. Your problems become so atomic compared to theirs and it makes you appreciate your life more.

I hope people will get to read this and find it in their hearts to help us help them. Or just plain spread her wish. I hope my friends who do outreach programs get to read this, we wouldn’t want to be imposing on people kasi. If you could, send me a message, or my friend Julianne Rose Marquez. Or watch their documentary airing on Monday after Easter to see how you can be of help to send a kid to school. 🙂

P.S.

I hope if you’re still studying and slacking on your studies and you are reading this, I hope you realize how lucky you are to be able to study and cheat and cut classes and whatever it is that you do and turn your life over. Wow, preachy. All I’m saying is, go have fun, but don’t take your studies for nothing, because there are lots of kids out there who would kill (not literally, haha) to be in your position.

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