My “WHY” in 2021

“why venture to a diagnostic center?” they asked, and me? I said, “why not?”

Sharing this journey and sharing my why’s.

Backing track, a bit

The past couple of years in my IT – Digital Accessibility career, I’ve been working full-time as an Independent Contractor / Consultant. From a sheltered full-time 9 to 5 worker in the corporate world, I bravely jumped into consulting and I can say that this has been one of the best decisions I made. Not only that I control my time, but I’ve already been working remotely right even before the pandemic struck, and not to mention, all my clients are overseas.

The road though hasn’t always been smooth. Countless rejections here and there, especially in my homeland, but the biggest breakthrough happened when the pandemic hit.  Finally, people, especially in the borders of US and Europe truly realized the value of digital inclusion and insensitivity aside, I’m one of the lucky few who reaped the sweet benefits of this bitter crisis.

So, what does this Consulting career has to do with this current diagnostic center venture?

Well, first, the fruits of my hardwork made it possible for me to set aside funds; my capital investment in putting up this laboratory.

Second, I took advantage of my blindness to take part in solving the growing problems of digital inaccessibility while making it my primary source of bread and butter. so why not do it in the health aspect of my life? I’m a Lupus warrior, I know how it is to be in a patient’s shoe, so again, why not make a difference in this area and make a living all at the same time? And that’s where the core of this dream lies.

In my IT accessibility job, I took this path because I experienced first-hand how difficult it is to be blind in a digital world that is not inclusive and inaccessible. I took the path less traveled, walked with fellow visionaries and pushed a digital world that is inclusive for all users, and that includes people with disabilities like me. proud to say that I played my part and made a mark. probably not here in our country, but yeah, hoping that the Philippines follows through in terms of digital accessibility.

Relating it to my health journey, it’s a closely similar story. As someone diagnosed with a rare and delicate medical condition, I know too well how it feels to be terribly sick, yet still needs to travel in other bigger nearby provinces or in the metro just to take diagnostic tests. Travelling 8 hours in spite of being sick and weak back then, simply because I have no other choice. Not to mention the financial burden on top of my health battle, gas, food, and hotel expenses.

Now that God gave the means, and the universe conspired, Dr. Kathy Noscal and I, both of us are Lupus survivors, we saw this opportunity to somehow make a difference for our kababayan’s in Nueva Vizcaya. We’re not claiming to solve all the problems, but this is to collaborate with and compliment the current health care system here in the province; to somehow fill what is lacking. Hopefully to at least lessen the burden and bring the convenience that I have not fully enjoyed when I was still heavily battling my illness.

It’s definitely an answered prayer that God provided all the people and all the resources. So, this time around, like in my accessibility job, wherein I was given the rare opportunity to make a difference in my own simple way, I hope to do the same in the health care system of our humble province.

Together with my partners, we aim to slowly provide a more complete list of available diagnostic tests to the people of Nueva Vizcaya. This is not just to help in diagnosing illnesses, but to hopefully help the people to walk the path of wellness.

  • We brought here machines and equipment’s being used by highly trusted and respectable medical institutions in the city.
  • We made sure to keep our prices competitive and very affordable to all.
  • We are inclusive and we prioritize the needs of senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
  • We train our staffs to ensure efficiency, dependability and that they would be able to deliver the highest quality of service to our patients.
  • Not to mention, the techy me aimed to bring a digital and fully automated information system into our business which would eventually translate convenience to our clients.

Just like when I bravely stepped out of my comfort zone in the corporate world, I am once again challenging the odds and boldly taking this step to start a new adventure. I am once again diving into the unknown, yet as always, fully entrusting everything to the almighty.

I’m no philanthropist, but I sincerely want to make a change, regardless of how small; to always be part of the solution, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

I’ve been through a couple of life and death moments and they taught me the essence and value of life. It is to not just simply live, but it is to have a life; a meaningful one.

Power of Food

Power of Food

This past 2 months, I bravely, or stupidly I should say, tried to contest the limits that I’ve set when it comes to “food indulgence”. Just because I felt that my body can now tolerate gluten and dairy, I’ve been eating breads and pastries non-stop — burgers and pizza, creamy baked sushi and every single thing that is delightfully sinful.

Obviously, the first effect is I got a little bigger. Who the hell wouldn’t gain weight with all these bad carbs and sugar, yeah? But more than gaining weight, I was disturbed to feel all these symptoms again. Those that have been long gone since I shifted to a strict healthy diet.

Slowly, the headaches crept back in. the sleep disturbances are back. And when tiny joint and muscle pains resurfaced, that’s when it got alarming. Oh, and not to mention that I noticed my mood terribly swinging again.

Before things get out of hand, I decided to make a commitment – to stop bombarding my body with so much junk again, or if I will, I promise to keep it in moderation.

Low and behold, after days of eliminating these foods my body hates, I started to feel better. The fat belly is no longer that big and the best part is the symptoms are slowly going away.

My biggest take away? Time and again, Food indeed can be our medicine or can be our own personal brand of poison. Food can either be our vehicle to wellness or our pitfall to illness.

I was reminded that no matter how I religiously take all my medicines, be it synthetic or vitamins, it all becomes expensive urine if I don’t fix my diet. The medicines will surely help, but it won’t be enough to achieve the desired optimal level of health.

I’m not at all saying that I should deprive myself from all these heavenly goodies. I just need to be always watchful and mindful to keep the balance and do it in moderation.

A default healthy lifestyle plus healthy diet and reasonable moderate “cheat days” leads to a good quality of life.

You Are My Greatest Story

I guess it all started with that handshake after you over formally introduced yourself back in day 1. Can’t put a name on it, but there’s that sudden shift in me and in everything around me when that brief connection happened. It’s as if I was zapped by those cold hands. Cool air travelled down to my soul which blew off some of the burning steam and breathe a fresh wave of air that carried peace, calmness and serenity to my core.

You were oddly just a person with a name then, yet you, simply being you, have brought hope to a warrior who’s on the verge of giving up. As I was about to put my armor down, you picked my hand, wrapped it with a new shield and sword, with a binding promise that you’ll journey with me for as long as I want you to. That is one pivotal moment, for it was then that I blindly surrendered and technically entrusted my life with you.

The course of my life has changed. It may be literally dark, but I can feel the vibrance. I gained my strength back. I’m changing in more ways possible, until one day, I suddenly heard my idle heart started to rapidly beat. There’s that rhythm of excitement; a melody so joyful and there I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that cupid finally met my heart.

Come hell or high waters, we journeyed together. We’ve beaten unimaginable hardships and that glued us tighter together. You remained true and faithful to your promise of holding my hand come what may. You held me, fought with me, fought for me until we victoriously crossed the other side.

Now that I’m looking back, I couldn’t be more thankful for all those yesterdays I had with you, same goes with all the tomorrows that I look forward sharing with you. more than anything though, I’m eternally grateful for every today, for every now, that I am blessed with wonderful moments to endlessly fall deeper and deeper in love with you.

Life, COVID and Digital Accessibility Unveiled

The past years, because of my frustration in the lack of implementation of digital accessibility here in my country, with a broken heart, I decided to put my love for programming in the sidelines. The inaccessibility of work tools in my first learning ground and the absence of alternative accessible tools frustrated me to the core, I went through depression, questioned my skills, and developed tons of insecurities.

My turning point took place when I decided to not just complain about the problem but tried to be part of the solution. Exclusion is the enemy, so I tried to beat it by walking the path of inclusion through the marvelous world of digital accessibility.

I initially tried my luck here in our own borders, but since I do not have the organization, the brand, my advocacies in my own land didn’t materialize as planned. Stubborn as I am, I didn’t stop. I went on finding ways and what I thought to be another failure turned out to be an open door for bigger blessings.

I step out the borders and luckily, there I was given the shot that I needed. The interesting global community of digital accessibility opened up for me. though it didn’t directly impact my own community back then, I embraced the opportunity nonetheless and there I picked myself up. I met new people, new mentors, new colleagues who gave me their trust and confidence. They gave me the equal chance that I desperately needed and there I learned to spread my wings once again. I was provided with inclusive trainings, got mixed in a highly inclusive culture and above all, was provided with accessible work tools. There I’ve learned accessibility in depth and there I even honed my first love – writing, alongside the tech-related stuffs that I’m doing.

Now that the world is off balanced because of this COVID enemy, we were left with no choice but to embrace a new normal. A world where almost everything has been transported into the virtual world. Because of this shift, digital accessibility, usability, and inclusion started to gain the value and appreciation that it deserved. Pre-COVID days, the online world is just our plan B. now, it became our new normal.

Education, employment and even our access to basic commodities such as food, groceries, banking services and now even telemedicine are now dominantly present in the virtual scene. It is a basic human right to have access to these services especially in this season of pandemic. No exemptions applied. Whether you have a disability, or you are simply not tech savvy, everyone is entitled to enjoy these services, and this is where accessibility and usability fits.

In the education sector alone, colleges and universities are forced to offer online classes, which caused reimbursements for other school fees. How is it then for students with disabilities? Are they guaranteed to access these platforms? Thinking forward, imagine the money each student can save when it is no longer necessary to spend for transportation, rent and other miscellaneous expenses. This would be most helpful for persons with disabilities, for they would no longer need to face the danger of commuting, discrimination and other factors that hinders them to attain good quality of education.

In the employment scene, if work tools becomes perfectly accessible, the number of unemployment for persons with disabilities will definitely drop down. Probably, depressing moments for PWDs, like what I experienced before, will also decrease.

on the mundane activities like shopping, banking and now, telemedicine, how convenient life could be, if these services becomes perfectly available not just to the majority, but for everybody, especially the minority.

I hope the lessons we learned, especially those about accessibility and inclusion will remain in the post-COVID world. May it not just be about a pleasant user experience, but an “accessible”, “inclusive” pleasant user experience. The key there is accessibility and inclusion. After all, accessibility and inclusion is not just for persons with disabilities, it is in truth, for everybody. Days of selective inclusion must end.

Advocacies for inclusion will never be truly inclusive if it will remain selective. true inclusion means including all social status, all kinds of abilities, gender identity, age, religion, and all types of diversities. How wonderful a world where exclusion is absent because true inclusion will be the norm.

Rainbows of You V2

Over the horizon is a dazzling spectrum of colors. A prism of light beamed by your sunshine. Painted is a vibrant façade, the epitome of beauty, a magnificent masterpiece.

RED

You’re blood to my veins, And fire in my soul

A love so strong, I gave it all

This heart you woke shall never sleep

I fell, and it just keeps getting deep

ORANGE

You are the hue of my dusk and dawn

My sunrise, my sunset, I’m just so drawn

Still breath taking and extremely captivating

You were and will always be for me, stunning

YELLOW

It never changed and never will

You were, you are my sunshine, and always will

You are my life’s masterpiece, my favorite hue

The color of the sun, my sunshine, the color of you

GREEN

Hope is what you symbolize

With you, my future has been realized

I hoped before to make you mine

It happened, we’re one, until the end of time

BLUE

Calm as the ocean, tranquil as the sky

You’re my safe haven, my favorite lullaby

With you I’m at peace and free

No limits, no bounds, I can simply be me

INDIGO

Perfect tint of midnight blue

A color of me and you

It solidly means integrity

Forever and beyond, we give our loyalty

VIOLET

A lot of my tomorrows are unknown

Except for one, and one alone

My life with you, I see no end

Forever and beyond, I’ll hold your hand

Love as I said has no single color, it can plainly be black and white, and sometimes even gray. Other times it’s a blend, a multi-colored mixture. the variation is exhilarating, the thrill, the happiness, the craziness, it all blends to this beautiful rainbow. no longer just the color of you, but a perfectly imperfect beautiful color of me and you.

version1:

https://rheaalthea.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/rainbows-of-you/

It’s All in the Balance

Fried chicken, rice, burger or pasta, and potato salad. I used to think that these foods couldn’t be part of a healthy diet. That if we are to be healthy, our meals needed to be composed of foods like salad greens, raw broccoli, and plain chicken breast. Healthy food was whole grain bread or brown rice, and unhealthy food was refined carbohydrates. I used to describe certain foods as “good” and “bad,” and that enjoying certain “bad” foods was a forbidden indulgence or a shameful show of weak will. But I later realized that thinking like this was not simply wrong. It also really sucked.

Along my health journey, I realized that like the Teishoku meals of the Japanese, to have a healthy meal simply means constructing a balanced portion of carbohydrates, vegetables, and protein, without skimping on flavor. A teishoku meal might have fried chicken, a food that is commonly deemed unhealthy, but in moderation and consumed with other vegetables.

In my case though, I stay away from rice as my main source of carbs. Anything actually with Lectins, for I learned to understand how my body hates Lectins. I now eat bread, yes gluten, but in moderation. If I eat bread or anything with gluten, I make sure that I only do it once a day, same as with dairy. So, I no longer feel deprived at all.

Eating in moderation completely changed the way I see healthy food, as no food is necessarily off-limits. It’s about balance and enjoying everything in moderation. Healthy eating may seem complicated at times, but with patience and a desire to change the way we eat, it’s definitely possible.

My Christmas Miracle

As I celebrate another precious gift of life in a few days’ time, I want to honor God by sharing what I consider as my Christmas miracle, for there’s no birthday to celebrate this year and the years to come if not for His saving grace and unfathomable love.

I nearly faced death a couple of times, but this one I think was the closest. It was December 19 of last year. Because of profuse uterine bleeding, my blood counts dropped dangerously low. Normal platelet count starts from 150,000, mine that time was only 5,000 with a low HGB count of 6. That morning, I had one of the most painful headaches ever. I was throwing up and the scariest part is my speech is slurring and even my sense of hearing was then becoming unstable. Not to mention, skin is already jaundice (yellowish) due to very low platelet counts.

I was rushed to the nearest urgent care facility. Thanks to century city, they have this one. Initial tests and interventions were done, but apparently, the severity of my condition that time needed to be addressed in a hospital setting. So, I was rushed to the emergency room, immediately infused with blood and platelets, underwent scans and was placed under closed monitoring.

That day, God once again proved to me and to all of us how sovereign He truly is; that He is in control of everything. That morning, I was just lucky to have my friend doctor with me. she was the one who rushed me to the urgent care and it’s as if the universe aligned, the doctor in duty that day is her friend who happens to be affiliated with the hospital where I was rushed. Because it was her friend, while I was still in the urgent care, endorsements to the ER were already facilitated so when I got there, I was immediately taken care off; bags of blood to be transfused were already prepared.

Transporting me from Centuria Medical Makati to St. Luke’s BGC was no sweat at all. An ambulance was instantly available. The most amazing part was on how smooth the drive was. It was during the rush hours when they hustled me to the hospital. We all know how crazy traffic is from Makati to BGC during those hours, but I’m praising and thanking God that in just 10 minutes or so, we were already in the ER. Time was so crucial then. Even the slightest of delays might have caused irreversible damages or worst-case scenario, it might have taken my life.

I am also very blessed that in spite of the seriousness of my condition that time, my brain scans came out normal. I was told by my doctors that they were already suspecting for brain bleeding because of the alarmingly low platelet counts. Add up the episodes of speech and hearing difficulties and terrible headache. but thank God, results came out ok.

I was placed in the ICU and stayed there for 24 hours. I was moved to a regular room because all appeared stable. Or so we thought, because I then again had an incident of declining blood counts. They gave me 3 very high doses of IV steroids, but my body didn’t respond well. We reached the point where plasma exchange was considered, but we ended up agreeing to submit myself to a highly strong chemo drug – Rituximab. I had my first infusion while admitted and finally, by God’s grace, my body responded well.

I spent Christmas in the hospital and was only discharged days before New Year’s Day. God has been so faithful because a day after my first shot, I improved significantly. I was discharged, got the chance to celebrate New Year’s Eve with the family then on my first follow up check-up, we found out that I no longer need to take the 3 remaining Rituximab shots because I’m improving with each day that passes. It was a miracle because considering what happened to me, I recovered without any permanent harm and gained my strength back in just a week or so. God is so good. Prayers truly move mountains.

I’m sharing this because for whoever might be going through something difficult right now, I hope this serves as a reminder that God is in control. Miracles happen if we put our trust in Him. He can change even the most hopeless situation if we only surrender and believe in His love, mercy and power.

I also want to say my deepest of thank yous to my God-sent angels here on earth.

Of course, to my doctors and nurses who made sure that I’ll be fine.

To my relatives and friends who prayed for me and helped me raised the crazy amount I needed for my hospital bills.

To Sandra who had been a major help why we got through that dreadful day of December 19.

To Kathy, my bestest friend and guardian angel., for practically saving my life 2x in a row.

And to my mom, dad and brother… for unconditionally loving me and for always taking good care of me.

God is good! Life is good! So very happy to still be here to celebrate and enjoy life.

Merciful and Gracious God

Once upon my younger years, I took countless wrong paths and made mistakes which made redemption seem impossible. I suffered, I paid the price but, in the end, I came out victorious. And I did win not because I’m brave nor I’m great, but because I held on to this one universal truth that God is forgiving, that He is merciful and that His grace is endless.

 

You may be at your lowest right now, and it’s fine to feel scared. But please don’t dwell on that fear. Instead, hold on to God’s goodness and rest to the fact that you are loved by a father whose mercy and forgiveness knows no bound.

 

From one sinner to the other, from someone who messed up big time once upon a time, I can attest that for as long as you surrender and let Him change you, those downfalls would be the very same stepping stones that would help you rebuild a life of new beginnings.

 

We sin. We fuck up. Well, everyone does. At the end of the day it’s all about picking ourselves up and holding on to the fact that we have a God who loves us even at times that we do not love ourselves, even when we are so difficult to love.

 

Life sometimes throws us at the deep end. Not to drown us nor simply make us suffer. Oftentimes, it’s simply God’s way of turning the tides around and redirecting us to new chapters and better beginnings. We just need to hold on, have faith, surrender and trust Him.

 

You are loved and you have a God that loves you so much.

God’s Perfect Timing

“God is always on time.” I read this and I was inspired to share a recent encounter on how God’s timing is indeed always perfect.

 

In a couple of days, I’ll be moving out from the condo that I’m currently renting here in Quezon city. Few weeks back and even months ago, as much as I love the condo and the environment, I knew that I urgently need to move out mainly due to health reasons and other personal concerns.

 

Months ago, we started scouting for apartments and condo units, but lady luck had not been so friendly then. It’s either the place is too cramp, the environment is not conducive for living or the prices are astronomically high. The icing on top? I can’t go home to the province just yet. Not until all my health triggers are completely eliminated.

 

The looming expiration date of my contract here is seriously driving me nuts for almost the entire month of August. I was starting to feel hopeless and helpless though I never ceased praying. Out of desperation, we nearly closed a deal which I know I’ll regret. But low and behold, God has once again amazed me with His grace.

 

Out of the blue, a well-respected top-earning broker, who happened to be my best friend’s friend, messaged us and told us that there’s an available fully-furnished unit in this condo that I never thought I could ever afford to live in. I remember how I secretly hoped to get a good deal in that condo, but I know too well that my pocket and my wallet just couldn’t afford.

 

We bargained of course, binarat-barat na namin with fingers crossed. We patiently waited for a couple of days and boom! For whatever reason, the owner agreed to give our reasonable asking price (not so reasonable for her) plus all the perks that we have requested. I even have an instant fiber connection included. Perhaps it’s the status of the broker which gained her the right to twist and turn the deal, or maybe we are simply that charming, I don’t know. But kidding aside, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, it’s divine intervention.

 

God never allowed me to find a place that is “pwede na” because He purposely reserved a place that is far much what I have expected and prayed for. At that very moment when the deadlines are close, His blessing came just right on time. And this reminded me of my lola, who always tells me that God answers on the last minute. He is never too early, but He is definitely never late.

 

Undeserving that I am, God endlessly gives me reminders that worry, and doubt should take no place, for He is always in control. Just like my soon-to-be haven, I know God is working on the Ikegai that I have been endlessly praying for, that I’d finally find a vocation and a profession that could make me understand the difference of earning a life as to just earning a living. But that’s a story for next time. God is really good.

Magical Midnights and Wonderful Wee Hours

I imagine the moonlight,
Up above, it shines so bright,
I’m sitting in the seaside,
Soaking in the sound of the tides.

I bury my feet in the sand,
While fingers tied with someone’s hand,
I gaze up, I breathe and sigh,
I thank the stars for this midnight high.

I love the night and the hours after,
There’s a force that binds hearts together,
In the silence of the hours,
It’s where souls go honest and bare.

A time I’m most vulnerable,
Rare moments that I let my heart fall,
I blurt my past, my future, my all,
Those midnight moments, those wee hour magical moments…,
I savor and cherish, ,
Such memories that will never perish.

I know not how to end,
This late night babbling,
So, I’ll rest with this line,
Lie down, sleep and wait for tomorrow’s sunshine.