Saturday, June 27, 2009

Team Mila to Run in M.O.V.E. Manila

Therese was born 12 years ago, to a couple full of hope and dreams to raise a “family that would be like a small church, a community of love where, by loving our children, we can teach our children the love of God and bring them closer to the Father”. Wawel and Mila Mercado were 10 months into their blissful marriage when Therese came into their world. “Ang sarap ng may baby” (It feels good to have a baby), Mila said, clutching their precious daughter for the first time. Little did they know that those were going to be her last words and the last time she was going to be able to embrace Therese… for after a few minutes, Mila slipped into coma.

Wawel was in a daze, witnessing his beautiful and affectionate wife reduced to someone helpless and unresponsive. Mila suffered a brain injury after childbirth due to amniotic fluid embolism. After 44 grueling days in the hospital, he was able to take home Mila. Although by some miracle, Mila was able to wake up from her comatose state, the brain damage caused her to lose motor control and consequently made her unable to speak, eat, move and care for herself. It was very painful for Wawel to see her in this state. No one deserves to go through such sorrow. Expectedly, he grieved for the loss of the Mila he knew. He felt angry, disillusioned and desperate.

His whole life transformed as he immersed himself in taking care of Mila. He became her main and ultimate care-giver, knowing just about everything there is to know regarding the medical and rehabilitation aspects of caring for her. He struggled with feelings of humiliation and rejection as people viewed them as “being not normal”. It was very difficult and he continuously begged God to grant him the miracle of Mila’s physical healing. Although it was not in God’s master plan to grant him this, God’s blessing came in another form. God gave Wawel the grace of acceptance, and the grace to love Mila as a father would love a child, unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. God gave him the gift of appreciating the simple joys in life - seeing Mila laugh or smile, reading inspirational books to her, and being comforted by praying the holy rosary together. God led them to a community where they felt they belonged, where “God used their presence to touch people, that despite the absence of physical healing, their love allowed others to experience the healing love of marriage.”

When it rains, it pours. God continuously showered them with blessing upon blessing. Therese, who is now 12 years old, has grown to be a very loving and caring child. Even at a young age, she has been Wawel’s partner in helping care for Mila. In more ways than one, Therese is blessed just witnessing Wawel’s unwavering faith and love for Mila.

It was about 6 years ago when Team Mila was formed. Wawel was inspired to join fun races with Mila on a stroller when he learned of a 60 year old man who joins regular races pushing his wheelchair-bound son with cerebral palsy. He ran races with Mila to be able to raise community awareness regarding disability and acceptance for persons with disabilities. They have joined several fun runs as a couple, including the Milo Marathon and Pinay in Action event. He organized a unique race where able-bodied runners paced with wheelchair-bound participants. His special advocacy inspired him to build ramps in churches to make them accessible to persons with disabilities.

Unfortunately, because of Wawel’s foot injury, he stopped running for a while. This summer, upon the prodding of Therese, he started to train again. The invitation to run in the “M.O.V.E Manila Run 09” this July 19, 2009, 5am, at UP Diliman feels like “an answered prayer” for Wawel. He has started running again this summer with an end goal to join a race soon. He believes that “this is a tailor-made event for us. It may be God’s way of telling us to run again.” At the “M.O.V.E Manila Run 09”, Team Mila will be composed of three members – Wawel, Mila and Therese. They will run with wheelchair athletes, persons with various disabilities as well as with able-bodied runners. The benefit run caps the celebration of the 31st National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. It supports the Philippine Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine (PARM) Fund for the Needy Disabled.

Team Mila continues to dream and hope… to live and believe… that God runs the race with them.

(Registration details for “M.O.V.E. Manila Run 09” are available at Those interested to sponsor wheelchair athletes may call the PARM Secretariat 4159048, 09194138852)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

beyond the flu and meds

what a terrible feeling to be down with what i think is the worst flu i ever had. i'm on my fourth day now and still feeling weak, a tad better, but still weak. i have been absent from work for the past three days and i can't do much at home. but today at least, i'm okay enough to blog.

for the first two days, arianna was down with me. we were febrile together and feeling useless together, lying down in our germ-filled room. of course i didn't want arianna to be sick but being sick with her made the situation more tolerable, as i am sure she felt being sick with me was better than being sick alone. we tried to shoot our used tissue paper into the same waste basket between our beds. we took our medications together. we encouraged each other to get up for each meal. together, we were glued to cnn until obama was proclaimed first african-american president. we watched this defining moment in history together. certainly, it made the experience easier to bear.

fortunately, the boys in our family were strong enough to resist the flu bug. they had to sleep in a another room separate from ours. gary got some sniffles but didn't have to miss work. and roque kept wondering why i was taking such a long time to recover. i'm just so thankful for having them around. just yesterday morning, arianna complained of headache and without thinking twice, gary spread some liniment into his hands and massaged arianna's forehead, temples and scalp, as if not rushing to leave for work. roque, on the otherhand, checked up on us when he got home from school, "are you better yet?". the other night, he looked for my medicines and made sure i got them. last night, he continued to hug me across my tummy as i lay down even if i warned him not to stay too near me. "i want to sleep beside you already, can i?"

arianna is back in school today. and i woke up without fever this morning.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

adrenalin rush

my new passion

heel strike
then push off
my heart pumps
fast then slow
each second
stretching to minutes
each stride
stretching to kilometers
great adrenalin rush

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

#1 fan

my husband showed me this scribble on two half sheets of bond paper, pasted together. obviously it was something from our six year old son, roque, seeing the writing and how the pieces stuck to each other. it read:

" i am your #1 fan ate, even if i am your brother. :) go ate!"

it was such a sweet thing to write, really. when i asked him when and what he wrote it for, roque said it was the day before, while his ate arianna was playing guitar hero on the wii. she was so good at it.

when i asked him what he meant by "even if i am your brother", he said "nothing". oh well, i guess he didn't really want to tell me or he didn't have any particular explanation. but of course, i figured that one out and knew exactly what it meant. i have two younger brothers.

though arianna would probably not admit it, as a brother, roque is really such a darling. when he comes with me to do the grocery - which he really loves doing - he never fails to throw into our cart a candy or chocolate (the kind he doesn't even like!) for his ate. he will excitedly do things for her as she asks him to, without even thinking that he is at times being abused - just like how younger siblings often are by the older ones. yes, i was guilty of that, too. but i wasn't too successful during those years... i remember one time, roque was saving his jolly hotdog to savor it when he gets home. to my pleasant surprise, he shared it with his ate that night. and it wasn't even because she asked to have some of it. it was he who asked her if she wanted some. :) and it was not even just a bite or two he shared with her. it was half of the whole precious jolly hotdog. :D

i wish my brothers were like him at his age. i'm your #1 fan, roque.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

service by the invisible

"Love through me love of God,
Make me like thine clean air
Through which unhindered colors pass
As though it were not there."

i forget who wrote this beautiful quote shared during a women's retreat i attended last weekend. all i know is that these words, so clear and intense, came through my ears and stayed there between my ears, repeating and repeating in a cycle just like a song stuck in my mind the whole day. it was in the context of service... giving it, and receiving it, wherein this quote was shared. it was the core of the retreat for me.

service is a big word. it may be threatening to those who take it seriously. it is uplifting when done wonderfully. giving service connotes having concern for others, willingness, responsibility, hard work, dedication, diligence, time, patience.

when my husband and i were called to serve in the children's formation of our community, i thought of it as an opportunity and as a gift. i have always wanted to be a pre-school teacher but circumstances led me to become a doctor instead. i don't regret being one because i also consider that role in itself a special opportunity and a precious gift. but being a sunday school teacher to my children and other people's children gives me a lot of joy - a joy different from the fulfillment i experience as a doctor. it was as if god answered a prayer i had decades ago. better late than never. i have realized that god's reasons and timing are perfect all the time.

it has been about 7 years now since we were called to serve and i must admit that although it has been an uplifting experience, there have been some challenging times also. it is difficult when children get rowdy, inattentive or uncooperative. there have been quite a few instances when in the usual busy-ness of our day jobs, we find ourselves cramming to prepare activities just the night before our sunday encounter with the children.

when things go extremely well despite the challenges we face, we can't help but pat ourselves on the back. when we see how the children are having fun as they increase their awareness of god in their lives, we feel great about ourselves and our service. and we really feel proud when other people recognize our efforts and literally give us a pat on the back.

the quote which keeps ringing in my mind makes me deeply analyze why i am serving. it prods me to ask myself if all of this is for self-gratification. it is an answered prayer... i feel joy when i am with children... it is an opportunity to use my abilities... it is a convenient outlet through which my creative juices could flow... i feel good doing something good.

days after the retreat, the quote has not stopped ringing in my mind. it has become a constant reminder for me about how service ought to be, making me realize that humility is an integral part of real service. it has become a prayer to try to make myself invisible in service. for truly, it is not about us or what we do. it is about god who gave us this opportunity to serve. it is about him who works through us. i should really try to remember that i am but his vessel. it is his doing, not mine. i hear the quote telling me - the more invisible i am, the more i allow his complete, unadulterated greatness and glory to shine forth.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the family hug

what it's all about.
pushing 10 years this year.

thanks to wordle.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

26 years and counting

was that just 26 years that went by?
it seemed just like yesterday.
it's so true time zooms by
when you are having fun
building dreams together.
most times he leads,
at times i do,
but all the time side by side.
and so we look back to this day
through more than half of the years
we have lived so far
to still celebrate
the 26 years of friendship
and counting...