Monday, January 7, 2013

KCAT CAN: Celebrating friendships and reviving traditions in 2012

Celebrating friendships and reviving traditions in 2012
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
January 7, 2013

2012 was indeed a colorful year for me just like how I wanted it to be when the year started. There was the color of success, a color that was brought back, and new colors to brighten up my life. And the memories that they brought will always hold a special place not only in my heart but also in the hearts of the people who shared the previous year with me.

The success of MAY Birthday Project 2012 was amazingly double than the previous five years. More sponsors helped us, more gifts were shared, more volunteers came and a lot more smiles were elicited from both the patients and their caregivers. And I’m looking forward to my next birthday project in May where I will also turn 30.

My childhood friends called the GYA Peeps and I successfully brought the Christmas spirit back in our community after seven years. We realized that we have to continue the Christmas party tradition started by my uncle and grandfather in the early 70’s. With the help of a couple of cheerful givers like the PJ Lhuillier and Office of the Mayor of Mandaluyong City, we were able to bring joy to more than 150 kids. We instilled in them the true essence of the season and showed them how to live their childhood life to the fullest. Just by seeing their happy faces, we were reminded of how great it feels to reach out and bring happiness to kids.

We also revived the New Year’s Eve party at our Green Years Apartment (GYA). Those parties made us grow closer through the years. Now it’s time for the younger generation to nurture the same close-knit friendship among themselves.

One of the greatest highlights of 2012 was with my Neurofibromatosis (NF) family. Finally, after two years of planning and organizing, my NF friends and I had our first ever Christmas party last Dec. 15 which was held at Tita Nani Labrador’s home in Magallanes, Makati. Our members from all corners of Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Laguna, Cavite and all the way from Camarines Sur in Bicol all gathered for the much-awaited party. There were 33 of us who came, 22 of which were persons with NF. I couldn’t help but get mixed emotions at that time, from happiness to sadness to happiness once again. I was happy that I have a lot of NF friends, but sad at the same time because it means that each one of us are all experiencing the same hardships and pain. But in spite of that, I am still happy that we were able to find each other.

We didn’t really have a program during the event but it turned out to be a big fellowship where we shared our endeavors, and showed support, inspiration and encouragement to each other.

For instance, Tita Nani shared that despite having a learning disability, she managed to become a very successful businesswoman at 82. It just proves that although NF can’t be cured, we can still live with this condition as long as we have the proper education. On handling discrimination, Tina Nani said that it does not bother her when people ridicule her or talk behind her back.

“It just bothers them more,” says Tita Nani whose NF has produced a lot of bumps all over her body, affecting her physical appearance.

During our sharing, I saw the similarities in all of us and realized that we are not really different from other normal persons who are healthy and well. But we are unique like everyone else, and wonderfully created by God.

On the way home from the party, Marco, a nine-year-old kid with NF2 asked his mom when the next gathering will be. He quickly added that he won’t be joining another party anymore. Puzzled, his mom thought that he may have gotten afraid of someone or something at the party. But when asked about it, Marco replied, “No Mama, seeing my new friends touched my heart and made me teary-eyed.”

All in all everyone had fun and we are already planning for our next gathering. This has been one of my greatest dreams – to put up a support group for persons with NF in the country with Filipino members. Although our group is not really that official yet, we are already fulfilling the group’s purpose which is to give moral support to each other.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” goes the lyrics of the song Closing Time by Semisonic, one of the favorite songs of the GYA Peeps.

Although the past is what makes our present happen, let us not dwell in the past and leave behind its pains and failures. Instead, let us make the memories of yesterday inspire us to do more.

A new year means we’ll have new things and experiences ahead of us, new people to meet and new choices to make. This is the best time to make a change, make a move, and experience with eagerness, whatever lies ahead us. Let us welcome 2013 with a hope, positivity and with a happy heart. Happy New Year everyone!

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