IT TOOK a male heart patient to sire a Mother’s Day celebration.
Four years ago, businessman Manuel Rosario Padilla, then 45, nearly died when a virus plagued his heart after he came from a business trip in Siberia.
“I was getting heart attacks every day. I could not breathe,” he recalled. Instead of a heart transplant, Dr. Jorge Garcia, heart surgeon and founding chair of Asian Hospital and Medical Center, performed a heart reconstruction.
“My heart was taken out. It’s freaky,” said Padilla. The next day, a symposium was conducted discussing his unique case.
Confined in the intensive care unit for several months, Padilla felt that he still had a mission to accomplish. He vowed that if he recuperated, he would help every indigent child who needed heart surgery.
Today, his heart is aided by an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which is embedded in the chest to monitor and control very fast heartbeats. To keep fit, he walks 15 kilometers every day.
As vice president of Bantay Bata’s administrative board, Padilla looked into the Bantay Bata’s medical cases and saw a number were in need of heart surgery.
He sought to help blue babies or infants with heart defects.
“Their fingernails and lips are black and their tongues are swollen because of lack of oxygen,” he said. “After the operation, the blue babies turn pink.”
Bantay Bata has already facilitated 83 cases who were operated at the Philippine Heart Center. Padilla said there’s a backlog of 101 in the pediatric heart patients’ list. For this, members of the advisory board are organizing one of their biggest charity events on May 8.
Mothers for Others is a Sunday champagne brunch and children’s fashion show at the Makati Shangri-La Ballroom.
Aside from Padilla, stalwarts of Mothers for Others include the Bantay Bata administrative board: Audrey Zubiri, Carla Ramsay, Dawn Zulueta Lagdameo, Jackie Lhuillier-Hess, Kaye Tinga, Lisa Chan, Nanette Medved-Po and Rajo Laurel.
Po explained the initial mandate of the board was Bantay Bata 163 Children’s Village, a shelter for rescued children in Bulacan: “We realized that the board was interested in other aspects.”
The board supported Padilla’s initiative. Mothers for Others held an art auction at the Manila Polo Club. Last Christmas, it went around caroling to raise money.
The charity fashion show on Mother’s Day seeks to raise funds and cut down the backlog.
Makati Shangri-La general manager Reto Klauser has offered to move the Pacquiao-Mosley televised fight at Conway’s and give the ballroom for the use of the fashion show at modest cost.
Aside from Laurel, designers who would make mini-collections for the show are Inno Sotto, Rhett Eala, Dennis Lustico, Jun Escario, Paul Cabral, Randy Ortiz, Pepito Albert, Cary Santiago, Patrice Ramos Diaz, Jojie Lloren and Ivarluski Aseron.
Fashion director Robbie Carmona, publicist Keren Pascaul and photographers Mark Nicdao and Patrick Uy also donated their services.
The models are the children of the designers’ muses and those who come from prominent families. For instance, Sotto, who dresses up accessories designer Bea Valdes will create a dress for her daughter Allegra.
Pepito Albert will design for Mandy Santos’ daughter Solenn.
Laurel, who makes Tessa Valdes’ theatrical gowns, is secretive about how her daughter Athena will look like. “My clothes are in soft pastels inspired by Beatrix Potter,” he said.
Laurel said Mothers for Others will be a great opportunity not only to help others but to celebrate a special day as a family.
The charity comes with little rewards, explained Po. Uy will set-up a mini-studio for the families to get a free portrait. Dads and brothers can watch the boxing match at Conway’s, while the kids can get their surprises from Party Perks. Rustan’s and Stores Specialists Inc. will set up booths so that dads can do their last-minute shopping for mom.
“We solicit in our own capacity,” said Padilla. “We have a special account. Every centavo goes to the heart operation. We don’t have administrative costs.”
“When poor families come to Manila, and they have no relatives, the Bantay Bata picks them up in the port or airport and escorts them to the doctor, helps them to get settled until the operation,” he added.
Tinga said work in Bantay Bata has been rewarding, “Working with people who have no other goal but to help kids has been inspiring,” she said. She recalled a Christmas party for pediatric heart patients, in which she saw the happy faces. “You’ll want to work double time when they’ve got the healthy color,” she added.
It’s the enthusiasm and the self-effacement of the board that drive Mothers of Others’ very meaningful activities. Theresa Jae Sonza, group brand manager of Wilkins, the event presenter, agreed.
“These moms go beyond caring for their own families to help raise hope for the children in need,” she said.
Zubiri said mothers should mold the values of their children. “We are trying to raise our children to be responsible citizens,” she said. “We are hoping that with the little things we do, the kids will imbibe the values we are living out and will someday carry the torch for us.”
Padilla agreed. “If you educate a man, you educate a person,” he said. “If you educate a woman, you educate a nation. It’s the women who will make this world a better place. We men are just supporting.”