Baby Ali, 11-month old with heart disease pleads for help, prayers

Published: August 18, 2019 09:15am | Philippines


He just turned a month shy of his first birthday last Aug. 16. But there are no celebratory cakes and candles just as yet.
For infants his age, it might have been a happy celebration, with friends and relatives coming over to give him and his delighted family well wishes. But Baby Zayn Maquiel Pagcaliwangan is not your normal child. He hasn’t been like that since being born nearly a year ago.

You see, the infant has practically lived all his life inside the confines of a hospital. The infant, whose family hails from Barangay Poblacion, Aborlan town in Palawan, was born with congenital heart defects.
Baby Zayn has DORV (double outlet right ventricle) in which the arteries that connect the heart to the lungs are reversed from their normal position, VSD (ventricular septal defect) or hole in the heart and PDA (patent ductus arteriosus), or an opening in the heart of a human fetus that did not close even after the baby was born.

The infant’s dire condition has sent him to the hospitals several times and in long durations each. According to his mother, 20-year old Pollyn, Baby Ali—as Zayn Maquiel is dotingly called by those who love him——was so gravely ill that his vital signs monitor went to a flat line several times.

His medical condition has cost the family so much, with hospital bills running to over P2 million. The infant’s medical emergency has drained his family’s finances, prompting relatives and friends to shell out money and help.

In between, Baby Ali’s condition swung from bad to alright then back to bad again. He underwent a series of delicate operations. The latest of which came two months ago when he was rushed to the Philippine Heart Center (PHC).

Now, his frail body is fighting as his stay at the PHC is nearing to end. But the bills are mounting as his family is racing against time to find doctors who can save him. The financial burden is only part of the family’s predicament. Many relatives and friends have remained steadfast to help. Among them is Rea Rodriguez and her coworkers at Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI), maker of wellness product Yamang Bukid Turmeric 10-in-1 Tea.

During an impromptu lunchtime fund raiser, Rodriguez and her colleagues had raised about P35,000 which they gave to the baby’s mother, Pollyn.
But the amount is still paltry compared to the expected costs as Baby Ali again goes under the knife. The family and all those who love Baby Ali are knocking hearts for help and prayers.

They are not giving up on Baby Ali. Ever.

For those who want to help, you may contact Ms. Pollyn Pagcaliwangan on Facebook.

Cash deposits may be made to this account:

POLICARPIO M. PAGCALIWANGAN Landbank of the Philippines Account number: SA 3636-0115-75

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Mimaropa farm learning sites boost cooperation

  • Farm schools in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) have banded together to further boost cooperation and exchange of ideas in an effort to strengthen the government’s partner in promoting agriculture, electing a set of officials who will steer the organization in the interim.

    The formation of an organization of farm schools and learning in the region was among the highlights of the 2020 Regional Learning Sites in Agriculture and Schools for Practical Agriculture (RLSA-SPA) Summit at Yamang Bukid Farm in Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City last Feb. 24-28.

    Br. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm vice president for community affairs, was chosen as president of the 40-plus member alliance.

    “Our mission is to help others, especially the youth to learn and love farming. This is a huge responsibility for me,” said Bro. Maria, 23.

    “As a young farmer entrusted by LSAs in Mimaropa, it is with all humility for me to work with the inspiration founded by the farming schools ahead of us. It is my joy to cooperate with the leadership of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) under the mandate of the Department of Agriculture in its various programs aimed at attaining food security and uplifting the lives of our farmers,” the former seminarian-turned-farmer added.

    Maria said farm schools should not be seen as a diploma mill for young people who want to get a national competency certification even without learning anything.

    The association was widely supported by farm owners in the region.

    Randy Eusebio, a 57-year old owner of a 21-hectare farm in Oriental Mindanao hoped the group would help empower small farm owners and upstart farm schools.

    “I expect to see sharing of ideas, knowledge and technology between the member-farms and unity among us in our resolve to strengthen the agriculture sector,” Eusebio said.

    Elected as vice president was Derwin Evangelista of Longfield ALC in Oriental Mindoro.

    Rosario Clemente, of Oriental Mindoro’s Lasquety Farms was chosen as secretary.

    Other elected officials were Roger Rada of Rada Eco-Farm (Oriental Mindoro) as treasurer and Rafael Constantino Seno of Agrea Farm in Oriental Mindoro as auditor.

    The public information officers (PIOs) were Randy Balderas of Mamburao Integrated Farms for Oriental Mindoro, Heidi Guverra of Guevara’s Farm for Marinduque and Porfirio Diaz for Palawan.

    For DA-ATI in Mimaropa, farming schools and agri-learning sites are in demand because the government is setting aside over P700 million yearly for scholarships and other assistance to those who want to study agriculture through farm schools and learning sites.

    Pat Andrew Barrientos, DA-ATI Mimaropa center director, said the agency is eyeing to accredit at least three farming schools or learning sites per municipality throughout the country. Currently though, there are just about 30 of such institutions nationwide, well below the actual need.

    Among the latest to get the ATI nod as learning site is Maria’s Yamang Bukid Farm, a 20-plus hectare farm known for its sunflowers, organically-grown vegetables and herbal plants and an employer to nearly 300 people. 90 percent of whom are former illegal loggers and wildlife poachers in Barangay Bacungan.

    A huge incentive to farmer whose farm will become a learning site is a monthly revenue of upwards to P140,000 per batch of at least 25 scholars.

    In spite of this windfall, Brother Maria urged his fellow farm school advocates to not lose sight of their bigger role to help the farmers.

    “I challenge myself to encourage all farming schools to live as one team with a mission of becoming factories of dignified farmers who can develop into agripreneurs,” he said.

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    The ancient Filipinos, according to the article, used sambong or gabon in treatment of kidney diseases (kidney stones, in particular), rheumatism, coughs, colds, hypertension and diarrhea.

    In other Asian countries like in India, China and Thailand, the use of sambong in traditional medication has been well documented for thousands of years.

    Recently, biological studies have been made about the plant’s perceived medicinal properties. While these studies were inconclusive, there are still researches that point to the positive effects and physical wellness properties of sambong.

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    Aside from breaking down these “salt crystals” sambong extract is also observed to prevent the accumulation and balling up of tiny salt crystals into a bigger one, thus somehow preventing the development of kidney stones.

    Due to the changing diet patterns of most Filipinos brought about by the fast food culture and our reliance to ready-to-eat processed food, we tend to consume saltier and oilier diet, two risk factors for the development of kidney stones. According to Mayo Clinic, dehydration and less water intake as well as being in a warm climate also contribute to the possibility of having kidney stones.

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    Ground sambong leaves can also be applied topically (on the skin) to help small cuts and scratches heal quicker.

    Sambong is among the 10 medicinal herbs added to Yamang Bukid Healthy Product Inc.’s prime wellness product, the Turmeric 10-in-1 Tea. The herbal plant long known to Filipinos as a wellness ingredient, is mixed with nine other traditional medicinal plants and formulated based on high-quality world-class manufacturing practices. Also included with sambong and turmeric are extracts from ginger, malunggay (moringa), gynura procumbens, peppermint lemongrass (tanglad), pandan, lagundi and banaba.

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Little girl with hole in heart gets care from Yamang Bukid

  • From their hometown in Mabinay, a farming town in Negros Oriental, the family of Joanna Balansag flew her to Quezon City for the routine tests at a hospital. But her examinations are not the usual types where one can go home hours after being under the glare of the doctor’s instruments. At five years old, the frail body of Joanna, a timid little girl with languid eyes that would have used to be sparkling, has been under stressful laboratory exams that must be unsettling to her due to the presence of strangers and menacing syringes and other hospital contraptions.

    “I feel pity of her because she’s so young to endure all this,” Junrel Balansag, a 30-year old truck driver, said of his daughter. He was talking in a mix of Cebuano and Tagalog. Balansag and partner Josephine, 33, brought the baby girl to the Quezon City office of turmeric tea manufacturer Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc.

    Joanna sheepishly smiled at the strangers—actually Yamang Bukid employees who warmly welcomed her and her family with smiles of their own and “Hello baby!” coos. Inside the firm’s offices, she was more relaxed and at ease, even lounging on a seat in front a desktop computer showing some Youtube videos. “She loves to eat chicken,” a Yamang Bukid employee who has assisted the family said, referring to a popular chicken fast food brand. The Baguio City-based company, known for its charity works as its wellness products shouldered the costs of bringing the girl from her village to her operation and eventual rehabilitation and healing.

    Josephine said Joanna, the second of their five children, did not show any signs or symptoms that something was amiss in her. “When she was five, her preschool teacher noticed Joanna ate little, was too weak to enjoy outdoor games with children her age. She looked and moved very frail,” Josephine said. The girl was coughing heavily that they thought she was having a bout of asthma. Then it was decided she undergo laboratory examinations. There, doctors found a disturbing and frightening discovery—the little girl’s heart has a hole.

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    With the help of some young friends, the family took to Facebook to ask for help. They created an account under Joanna’s name, posting her pictures and pleading for support. Slowly, their cause snowballed and the little girl’s plight became known to more and more people. It reached to the owners and officers of Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. who then arranged to have the family flown to Manila for Joanna’s eventual treatment. The company and its employees shouldered the family’s board and lodging, food and other expenses while staying at the capital. It also assisted in ensuring Joanna would get the necessary tests before she could be operated on.

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