Mary Ann dela Sierra just before her cyst was removed in 2009There are hundreds of thousands of persons in need of medical help in the country. Oftentimes, in their desperation, the sick go online to ask for assistance from foundations that they come across on their search engine. Many such requests have reached Lopez Group Foundation Inc. If we cannot respond positively, we pass on the request to our sister companies if the sender is within their business jurisdiction. Due to their media exposure, more people seek the help of the ABS-CBN News Public Service unit headed by Weng Paraan. She is assisted by Domingo Sayong. Here is the story of someone they have helped, fulfilling the Lopez Value of social justice and the power of media to do good, providing seeds of hope through the years that have grown and progressed towards healing and prosperity.
There was once a girl named Mary Ann dela Sierra from Brgy. Lower Pisaan, Bonifacio, Misamis Occidental. She was the second child in a family of 10 children and her parents were both farmers.
In 2007, when Dela Sierra was in fourth year high school, her family noticed that her stomach was getting bigger. She was often the object of teasing and jokes in school. Dela Sierra withdrew to herself, tolerating being the object of ridicule because she wanted to finish her studies and help her parents.
She was determined to overcome the pain. When her parents would bring her to the hospital, they could not even buy the prescribed medicine as they did not have the money to do so.
One day, a medical mission arrived at their town; Dela Sierra’s parents had her examined. She was discovered to have an ovarian cyst and she needed to be operated on right away. But with no money to pay for her surgery, the Dela Sierras ended up just bringing their daughter home.
There, all that the girl could do was pray and pray.
Reaching out to ABS-CBN
It was during one of her cousin’s visits that Dela Sierra allowed her picture to be taken with her now bloated stomach and for appeals to various organizations to be made.
In 2009, ABS-CBN News Public Service received a letter from Carmelita Gutierrez appealing for assistance for Dela Sierra.
This request was aired on ABS-CBN’s “TV Patrol.” Gutierrez appeared on air and said: “Naaawa na po sa kalagayan ng pinsan ko. Malaking-malaki na ang tiyan. Hirap huminga at di na nakakalakad at pati pagtulog di na siya makahiga at lagi na lang siya nakaupo dahil sa laki at bigat po ng tiyan niya.”
When Paraan’s team received the letter, Sayong made representations with the local social worker of Bonifacio, Misamis Occidental to verify Dela Sierra’s address and check if she actually resided there.
Ocular and assessment
“We scheduled an ocular and assessment at their place. Upon seeing her, we immediately brought her to a hospital for a medical examination. The doctor said that due to the lack of facilities, it would be better for us to bring Mary Ann to the big hospitals in Cebu. We asked the doctor for a referral. With the documents in hand, we went to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu and the doctors there said they will help her,” Sayong recalled.
When the team brought Dela Sierra to the hospital, 10 people had to carry her, hammock style, to the ambulance that would transport her to the Cebu-bound boat.
She had to sit in a wheelchair all through the trip as she had difficulty lying down.
At the hospital, Dela Sierra was examined by different specialists; finally, she was scheduled for surgery. The operation lasted 10 hours and Dela Sierra stayed at the hospital for several weeks more before she was allowed to go home.
The story of ABS-CBN News Public Service and Dela Sierra did not end there. In fact, it was just the beginning of monitoring and seeing to it that her second chance in life would be fruitful.
When “Rated K” featured Dela Sierra’s story, she was given a job after the airing and went on to study to become a caregiver in Ozamiz City. She graduated and worked as a helper. She was able to fulfill her dream of helping her parents and sending her siblings to school until they graduated.
Now married six years, Dela Sierra still cannot believe the goodness and blessings that she received from ABS-CBN 10 years ago and their continuing positive impact on her life. (Story/Photos by: Dulce Festin-Baybay)
Dela Sierra remains thankful to ABS-CBN for giving her a shot at a normal life