Young heroes at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center benefit from Bong Go’s ‘Malasakit’

Young heroes at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center benefit from Bong Go’s ‘Malasakit’

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go, on Wednesday, June 12, spent Independence Day helping young patients overcome their health struggles while leaving a smile on their faces during his visit to the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City.

Before his birthday on June 14, Go also took this opportunity to spend in advance his special day with those who have inspired him to improve the country’s health system. He remarked that spending this day at the PCMC was a continuation of a tradition that began years ago in Davao City, alongside former President Rodrigo Duterte, as they both hold children with cancer a special place in their hearts.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, this was also an opportunity for Go to determine what other assistance he can provide to the hospital and its patients. Moreover, his visit also became a venue to share inspiring stories of children with courage far beyond their years.

Sherwin Arocha, a ten-year-old boy with Langerhans-cell histiocytosis, with one eye obscured by gauze and clutching the mic, shared: “Ang dami niyo pong napupuntahan, ang dami niyo pong taong natutulungan. Kami naman po, pabalik-balik naman sa ospital… Pero promise po, magpapagaling po kami… para kami naman po ang tutulong sa ibang mga bata.”

Don Raizen Parafina, battling severe aplastic anemia at 15, found solace in Go’s efforts to help the sick and the needy as he shared:

“Kuya Senator, may the Lord bless you always. Stay strong po… kasi kayo po ang aming inspirasyon ngayon.”

Amid the chorus of gratitude and well-wishes, ten-year-old leukemia survivor Vinz Matthew Fugaban thanked the senator for choosing to celebrate with them:

“Thank you po kasi mas pinili n’yo na mag-celebrate kasama kami. Wala man po kaming naihandang regalo, sana po ay mapasaya pa rin namin kayo.”

Markhen Nidal Gabuyan, an 11-year-old battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also shared,

“Magpe-pray po kami para sa inyo. And ipag-pray n’yo rin po kami na sana alisin na ni Lord ang sakit namin. Para next year, magkakasama po tayo ulit.”

Among the voices, one stood out with a familiar warmth — John Paul Cuilao, a young boy whose life had intertwined with Go’s since 2018 when then Special Assistant to the President visited PCMC during his birthday that year.

“Hello Sir Bong, ang aking bestfriend,” he began, recounting their first meeting outside a hospital ward. “Kalbo pa ako noon ngayon may buhok na ako. May cancer pa ako noon ngayon cancer free na ako.”

“Idol po kita sa pagtulong. Salamat sa walang sawang pagsuporta sa ‘Touch of Love’ group. Mahal na mahal po kita at mahal na mahal ka po namin,” John Paul shared.

‘Touch of Love’ is a non-profit organization founded in 2018 with the support of Go. It was formed after John Paul expressed his vision to encourage and give hope to other children who are battling cancer.

Go, visibly moved, responded with heartfelt warmth,

“Natutuwa ako kasi dati wala kang buhok, ngayon mas manipis na buhok ko sayo. Ngayon mas malusog pa siya sa akin,” the senator joked gently.

“Ayoko mag-party. Kase si dating Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, dating mayor, ‘di nagse-celebrate ‘yan. Sa loob ng 24 years na nagtrabaho ako sa kanya, nahiya naman ako na ako pa ang mag-celebrate, siya naman hindi. ‘Di niyo makikita na nagpa-party ako. Kaya noong 2018, pinili kong pumunta ng PCMC… Doon kami nagkakilala ni John Paul,” Go shared.

A total of 81 young cancer patients and Malasakit Center beneficiaries received food packs, snacks, toys, and financial assistance from the Senator during his visit. Additionally, they also received gift packs and loot bags. Meanwhile, parents and selected staff have received gift boxes, basketballs, and volleyballs.

Go has vigorously advocated for accessible and quality healthcare for all Filipinos. His efforts include the continuing operations of Malasakit Centers to make medical aid easily accessible, the establishment of more Super Health Centers to bring primary health services closer to communities, and the enactment of the Regional Specialty Centers Act to bring specialized care in all regions.

Go is the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11463, also known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019. With 165 operational centers nationwide, the Department of Health reported that the program has already assisted more or less ten million patients with their hospital expenses.

Meanwhile, through the concerted efforts of Go, fellow lawmakers, DOH, led by Secretary Teodoro “Ted” Herbosa, and local government units, adequate funding was allocated for establishing more than 700 Super Health Centers nationwide to bring primary care, medical consultations and early disease detection closer to the grassroots.

Moreover, Go is also one of the authors and the principal sponsor of the RA 11959, or the Regional Specialty Centers Act, which is significant step forward in improving the availability of specialized medical care nationwide.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Go, together with Senator Sonny Angara and Senator Pia Cayetano, has advocated for substantial funding for PCMC particularly for its newly acquired MRI and CT scan equipment, and Pediatric Brain and Spine Center.

He has also constantly advocated for more funding for DOH’s Cancer Assistance Fund which was more than doubled this year through the collective efforts of legislators. This is to subsidize the cost of cancer treatment, including the needed diagnostics and laboratory tests.

“The fight against cancer is a difficult one, but it is a fight that we can win. I am fully committed to supporting organizations and health facilities that provide hope and care for cancer patients, especially children who are the most vulnerable,” uttered Go.

Go was also instrumental in the development of the Pediatric Access to Liver Transplant (PasLit) program that has significantly benefitted numerous children and is part of a broader consortium involving the DOH, PCMC, and The Medical City (TMC). This collaboration provides comprehensive medical support for pediatric liver patients, enhancing the country’s capacity for life-saving transplant procedures.

The Senator also recognized Executive Director Dr. Sonia Gonzalez and Malasakit Center Head Emily Sanchez for their unwavering support and dedication to young cancer patients.

Concluding the event, the children presented Go with greeting cards filled with birthday wishes and messages of gratitude.

“Ang kalusugan ay ating kayamanan. Bilang inyong Mr. Malasakit, patuloy akong magseserbisyo sa inyo dahil bisyo ko ang magserbisyo,” underscored Go as he continues his compassionate service to Filipinos in need.

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