“……Thank you for teaching us the value of sharing. For this we are deeply thankful….”
RICO CALERO, Entrepreneur
Rain and traffic on December 30, 2010 did not dampen the spirits of EPCALM supporters, volunteers, friends and residents of the BF Homes Executive Village Association (BF HEVA) in Paranaque city to take part in the EPCALM for LIFE, EPCALM for KAREN community fund raising project for the benefit of Karen Pajarillaga, a resident of BF HEVA diagnosed to have leukemia. The Pajarillaga family were hands-on in the preparation for this first ever community fund raising event conducted by the EPCALM Adult Leukemia Foundation of the Philippines, Inc., specifically for the benefit of Karen. EPCALM has three arms of service namely: Spiritual; Medical; and Financial.
The concept of fund raising drives by EPCALM’s financial arm for patients’ needs is geared towards community awareness and involvement by bringing back the Bayanihan Spirit that the Filipinos are known for. The idea is to empower the family and the community where they belong, to be aware that there is someone in the community afflicted with the disease and that there is a way by which everyone can help. It is a chance to share and a golden opportunity to help the afflicted. Most of all, this will be a rare privilege to see the outpouring of Christian generosity and love in accordance with God’s grace. The event started with a prayer led by Pastor Norma Manuel, EPCALM’s outreach director.
This was followed by an opening song by the Dumogho family and friends representing the National City United Church (NCUC) that set the place in solemnity before God with their acappella rendition of “We have come to worship Thee” and “Empower Me”.
After which, Dr. Erlyn P. Cabanag-Demerre, founder and chairman of the Board of EPCALM, welcomed everyone and gave an overview of the foundation as well as the purpose of the event. Dr. Demerre explained the mission and vision of EPCALM as embodied in its logo where the healthy, with the empowering of the Holy Spirit could help lift the afflicted from the mire of disease.
The words of the song “Empower Me” as sang by the Dumogho singers, “Empower me like the rushing river flowing to the sea. Send your Holy Spirit flowing now through me… Send the power of your love empower me” inspired the listeners as Dr. Demerre, herself empowered, stressed that there is no big or small task, all that is needed is for everyone to respond with compassion to those in need and to open their hearts and minds so as to allow God to move and use each individual according to God’s specified purpose. “…We who are healthy should thank the Lord for our health and freely share to help those who are not as healthy as we are. It is better to be the one in the capacity to help than to be the one helped…”.
This was followed by a challenge to everyone by EPCALM president and CEO Engr. Justice Demerre, “…God has given us different gifts as part of one body. No part or gift is less important, we can all have a role in helping EPCALM; be it a listening ear or a helping hand or through intercessory prayers, be it time spent in hospital visits or the sharing of our resources. When we share of these gifts, we are doing our part as Christians on this earth…”.
Karen had fever and was vomiting early that day hence her presence that day was not expected, yet by God’s grace she came in the middle of the event fresh and radiant that it came as a pleasant surprise to all those present. Her arrival was just in time for the final acapella rendition by the Dumogho family’s interpretation of “I am a miracle Lord”. Gina Lynn Cabanag Dumogho-Lozada, herself a testimony of God’s healing, gave Karen and the rest of the crowd encouragement saying “…As we face our trials let us not forget that God is always with us. We are His miracles…”. Karen responded in simple yet sincere words of gratitude, thanking everyone for their time and resources.
Then the EPCALM torch was lighted to signify God’s love and healing in our midst that will spread across the nation through the testimony of God’s faithfulness in the lives of the healthy and the unhealthy bonded together in love. The EPCALM torch was lighted for the first time in Polo Bais City at the Claro Cabanag Memorial Cemetery on May 12, 2010 where Atty Erwin P. Cabanag was laid to rest five years ago, to signify that Christ’s light will shine brightly as God’s grace and power over disease will be proclaimed across the nation.
During said torch lighting ceremony, Engr. Demerre proclaimed that “….EPCALM will not be confined to the Cabanag family anymore but will embrace everyone who would want to help, so that God’s love will be felt by those in need…”. He went on to confide that “….we were hesitant initially to start the foundation because we felt inadequate, but God faithfully showed us the way..… God is moving us and we cannot push back and say NO anymore….”. With that same empowering, the BF HEVA residents and guests nodded their heads in agreement and commitment that what they thought as their usual annual Bingo fund raiser turned out to be the best way to close 2010.
“….Thanks to GOD and thanks to EPCALM. We love the EPCALM foundation….”, Mrs. Evelyn Pajarillaga, mother of Karen expressed joyfully in response to the moving presence of the Holy Spirit felt that afternoon. The crowd stayed on eager to engage in the second part of the fund raiser event which was the most awaited Bingo socials.
This was made possible by generous donors of the prizes namely: Pfizer Philippines for the Bingo cards, sandwich maker and desk fan; Therapharma for the oven toaster and electric kettle; desk fan from Corbridge and Nina Taduran; rice cooker from Natrapharm and Servier; and blender from Bell Kenz. Three other prizes were donated on the spot by classmates of Karen and some BF HEVA residents. Mr. Ramoncito Flores, Karen’s uncle was the Bingo master who ably led the crowd to form the patterns for ECPALM and KAREN on their Bingo cards. The activity’s major sponsor was the Mekeni Food Corporation that made the perfect touch to a festive day despite the rain, with their hotdogs on sticks and discounted meat products. Picnic Boy mascot lightened the tension of the intense Bingo players with his intermission dance to the tune of “Baby Lyrics”.
Ms. Marie Beth Lorenzo, EPCALM volunteer spurred the players to take a break and stand from their seats recognizing the various groups in the crowd. First to be called were the classmates of Karen since elementary and from high school. Some came from far places, making the event for Karen an instant reunion. Then Ms. Lorenzo called the housewives of BF HEVA, then the children and in unison they cheered “EPCALM for LIFE, KAREN for LIFE!”. What a moving scene. Ms. Lorenzo challenged everyone to purchase any of the items on sale for the benefit of Karen.
Donated items were fresh plants and flowers from King Louis Flowers and Plants, Inc. with office address at the Manila Seedling Bank compound, EDSA cor. Quezon Avenue; Eurobake products from Mr. and Mrs. Rico Calero; bag tags with EPCALM logo created by Mr. Valentino Asuncion; stocking candy bags handmade by Anna Orani and Edith Verde Brito; and colorful baller bands with the inscription FIGHT LEUKEMIA and the EPCALM website www.epcalm.org from Karen’s family. Other items on sale were limitless popcorn served fresh from the popcorn maker machine of Dr. Aurora Tanzo-Co, herself a cancer survivor; Oatmeal cookies baked by Mr. Tim Moore; native delicacies; mugs with EPCALM logo and Karen’s picture created by leukemia survivor (post Bone marrow transplant) and cardiologist Dr. Johnel Candava; EPCALM and Karen T-shirts that were subsidized by Rowena Macatao; EPCALM stickers fom June Concepcion; and artificial flower arrangements from Gabz Party Needs. Every item on sale shouted a spirit of sharing and giving for Karen, as all the proceeds would go to Karen’s medical fund. Cash donations were given by Dr.Teresita Quirino of Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP); Mrs. Amelia Lantin; and Virgie Garcia of Bell Pepper Inc.
Many more joined in prayer for the event and for Karen Special thanks go to Atty. Arturo Astorga II, president of the BF HEVA for facilitating the event and allowing the use of the facilities of the clubhouse. BF HEVA Board of directors Lucille Hawke and Meg Aguila showed full support by being there to witness the event. Inspired by the community involvement for the benefit of Karen, they expressed the desire to conduct a similar fund raising for Karen in the summer months still in cooperation with EPCALM. Watch out for this!
The day ended with a prayer led by Tim Moore, EPCALM advocate and president of Moore Safety Enterprises, Seattle WA. For sure, each one left the venue not only with prizes and goodies but a heart now touched by the spirit of love.
Was it a success? When God arranges an event, what else could it be? It becomes a source of immeasurable joy that lasts and grows.
“We had several sponsors that day, who gave because Dr. Erlyn Demerre and her husband Justice give like GOD tells us to, and by their demonstration and love for patients ….. The sponsors were her patients and pharma friends who gave because of her example. Leading by example is what lights a fire; living by GOD’s commands turns the fire into an inferno….” —– TIM MOORE, scientist
Be a part of EPCALM. Be counted. Be a volunteer. Be a donor. Be blessed!