Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan: How a former Bb. Pilipinas bet made lives better with a trail of compassion

Being safe and loved is what we encounter when we get home to our families. But this sense of belongingness and assurance is something we could also get from those we don’t share an ounce of blood, yet whose kindness and concern can even be more than we could ever imagine.

In the July 4 episode of Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, we recognize how individuals, including a former Binibining Pilipinas candidate, have become more than family to total strangers and how this kindness inspired those whom they helped to continue their trail of selflessness and compassion to others and extend that sense of family as well.

Good Samaritan

From repacking medicine and selling vegetables at the public market, to being a dishwasher at a restaurant – these are the means of livelihood Ana needed to survive. When she lost her father at an early age, Ana Cervantes decided to strive hard for herself and for her family. However, in her bid to make both ends meet, Ana experienced cruel forms of discrimination because of her small physique.

The workplace that has been her source of survival has also been a place of suffering. People would mock her for her appearance to the point that they’d even hurt her physically. A harsh incident would bring change to Ana’s life forever.

One time, when she was finished her work, two men approached her and stopped her from going home. They lifted her carelessly as if she was an object until her head hit the ceiling fan. The moment those men saw how she got seriously wounded, they left her and that’s when a Good Samaritan Allan Diaz saw her and immediately brought her to the hospital. Since he did not have enough money for Ana’s hospital bill, Allan found a way to cover Ana’s expenses. Allan asked random people from the hospital to complete the amount needed.

After being discharged from the hospital, Ana immediately looked for Allan, hoping that she could at least verbally thank him. And when the two met again, Ana felt a sense of security and safety every time she’s with him, who he has considered her great friend ever since. According to Allan, Ana asked if she could stay with him as she felt like she didn’t have anyone else to go to. To give thanks to her friend who accepted him wholly and treated her as family, Ana gave Allan a picture of hers so that he could always remember her.

Allan works as a standup comedian and underwent so many difficult chapters in his life ever since he was young. Abandoned by his parents and other people he depended upon, Allan would soon find her savior in Aling Gloria Paredes, who adopted him and assumed the responsibility of being Allan’s parent. Although he found a family with Aling Gloria, he still experienced the torment since her adoptive mother’s children rejected him.

When he grew up, he did his best to prove that he can be reliable and responsible. Although Allan identifies himself as a gay person, he had his own family - he had a wife and children. Although he got his heart broken when his wife cheated on him, there was never a time that he left his children. He always made sure that he would provide for them.

As he was healing from the pain, Allan would meet a friendly, accommodating woman named Ruette Remegio, with whom he had a lengthy conversation whenever they were in Luneta. Ruette shared that she saw the sincerity in Allan as he narrated his life experiences to her. Ruette actually organized events at the park and made it possible for Allan perform in those shows. Allan admitted that he owes a lot to Ruette because she was able to help him pursue a career in standup comedy, which later on served as a source of his family’s income. To express Allan’s gratefulness towards Ruette, he gave her a facemask so she can be protected and safe at all times.

Homeless yet outreaching

Ruette, an outreach volunteer and events organizer, had simple yet meaningful memories when she was younger. Although she has been homeless and lived in Luneta all her life, her mom had to put in extra hard work so she can provide for the family and support her schooling. Ruette would also help her mom in hawking street food and other items in the park. But despite this, Ruette did not stop studying when she was growing up with the help of her responsible parents.

However, when she reached college, her parents refused when she wanted to pursue the fine arts course. They thought she would only end up selling paintings in the park, even when Ruette had insisted there were other career options for fine arts graduates.

Frustrated, Ruette rebelled against her parents. Fortunately, Ruette soon realized her parents were doing everything they could to give her a good education. After several years of studying, she decided that it was time to help her parents earn by pursuing her real passion in the first place—using her artistic talent in coming up with designs for mugs and t-shirts. After getting a steady income from this talent, Ruette would then enter the printing business. With this, she would earn up to Php100,000 a month and this was more than enough to support her family. She would even travel abroad and bring her family to pleasure trips, like beach vacations.  And while Ruette was capable of having her family move to a comfortable home, her parents still opted to reside in the Luneta, where they have lived ever since. Ruette would also branch out to events management, and even put together outreach programs for children.

Amid all her blessings, however, Ruette would encounter the biggest ordeal of her life. Her mother was diagnosed with a glioma brain tumor. She would have her mother admitted to a hospital, but time came when all the money she had earned wasn’t enough to cover the medical expenses.  During that difficult period, a businesswoman named Alou Chua, whom she met at a gathering, helped her financially.

Unfortunately, Ruette’s mom eventually succumbed to her illness, and that proved to be her most devastating moment, from which she thought she would never recover. But thanks to Alou, she wasn’t alone in facing the storm, and felt strengthened by the support she has given her. As a token of appreciation, Ruette gave Alou adobo chili flakes to thank her for always being there for her.

Ex-pageant bet sees beauty in others

Alou’s life was way more comfortable than Ana, Allan, and Ruette. The stunning 50-year old ex-Binibining Pilipinas candidate came from a well-off family. She got what she wanted as a kid and was provided more than what she needed. However, her family faced enormous challenges. When she was 16 years old, their business floundered when a log ban was imposed in 1987 and they lost the luxurious life they once had.

Due to the difficulties the family experienced, her brothers had to leave for Taiwan to help support them. Her mother was likewise forced to work as a teacher so that she could further ease the financial burden the family was facing. Because of this, Alou was tasked to take care of her younger sisters. While she was also struggling with her studies, Alou decided to also help in making both ends meet for the family by having a part-time job as a private tutor. Later on, she would also work as a cashier for a video rental shop that alternates as a beauty salon. Here, a talent scout discovered her and persuaded her to try her luck in pageantry. That’s when she decided to join Binibining Pilipinas and was able to land in the pageant’s top 45 official candidates in the early 1990s. After that experience, Alou would go back to pursuing and completing her hotel and restaurant management degree. She would soon get married and have two kids, as she opened her own trading business.

But when Typhoon Ondoy ravaged the country in 2009, her business was literally washed away, with her offices submerged in the floods and equipment destroyed. Alou and her family almost did not know what to do. But she was very thankful she had a very hardworking messenger, Edwin delos Reyes, who braved the storm just to reach their office and saved important documents and materials from being lost and ruined, which in effect saved their business.

Alou would honor Edwin for his heroism, selflessness and concern and thanked him for his service and dedication. She gave him a watch as a symbol of her appreciation.

Because of the care and devotion Edwin offered to Alou, she would extend the same generosity and support to Ruette, who needed the strength she gave her in her most desolate time. Alou’s kindness would then spark the same bigheartedness for Ruette, who with her connections provided an opportunity for Allan to put his life back together and become an accomplished standup comedian through her connections. Allan would offer this same kind of help to an injured and distressed Ana, who needed a Good Samaritan like him at the brink of death.

This continuing expression of compassion and sympathy is certainly contagious and uplifting- acts of humanity we honor each week on Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan.

Watch Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, hosted by Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, Saturdays at 6:45pm on the Kapamilya Channel.

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