Monday, December 09, 2013

KCAT CAN: Make the most of your time

Make the most of your time

Everything we do requires time. There’s a time to sleep, time to eat, time to work, time to play, time to study, time to pray, and so on. Time is really essential. We need it, we have it but we can’t control it.

Time will keep on moving whether we like it or not but it shouldn’t define our life. We can’t control the continuity of life but we shouldn’t let time take over our life.

It’s still up to us. The choices and actions that we make from our time here on earth will define our whole life.

Monday, November 25, 2013

KCAT CAN: Haiyan tragedy brings out the best in humanity

Haiyan tragedy brings out the best in humanity

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

My friends and I decided not to push through with all our plans for our annual Christmas activities for kids in our place. It doesn’t seem right to ask for donations when we know there are a lot more people who need immediate help.

The news about Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) was really depressing. Now I know why my eyes have been irritated these past few days; even a dry eye that rarely produces tears was crying for them. Seeing the destruction and reading the events have filled me with sadness. What this super typhoon did to most parts of the Visayan region has left everyone in great devastation. It was really heartbreaking for everyone – not just for the residents of Central Visayas, but also for the whole country and the world.

The sad news was met with inspiring and touching stories of how everyone was coping up and doing their part. Children were donating their precious toys. Some employees gave up their allowances for a day in order to raise money for donation. There were a couple of companies and organizations who cancelled their Christmas parties and allotted their budget to the victims. Individuals even from outside the country pooled their own resources or asked for aid from their friends and colleagues to be able to help. Big and small companies, restaurants, food chains, establishments, couriers – all of them were extending their arms, hands and hearts. People are even using their God-given talents to raise funds and reach out.

This tragedy has proven that whatever your age or status in life, as long as you have the heart, you have something to share. There were those who bought boxes of groceries and other relief goods while others who had less, gave whatever they could afford. Among them were a street child who donated her two pesos; pedicab drivers in Tondo who pooled their hard earned money to buy food and clothes; a young boy with ragged clothes who contributed his P30 earnings to a lady who was buying groceries for donation; and an old lady who shared her half pack of powdered milk because that was the only thing she could give.

Help continued to pour in from all walks of life. Foreign tourists, who were in the country for vacation, canceled their itineraries and instead helped in the relief operations. Little girls in the US sold lemonades to raise money. A preschooler in Japan donated all of the contents of his precious piggybank. There was a young girl in Qatar who encouraged her classmates and neighbors to donate even if it’s just 1 Qatari riyal. A group of young guys in California collected hugs and donated $5 for every hug they got. The governments of various countries also sent generous aid to Central Visayas. Volunteers came from various parts of the globe – doctors, health professionals, troops for search and rescue, foreign media, pilots with their big cargo planes and helicopters.

Typhoon Yolanda may have destroyed a lot of communities, houses and structures but the spirit of the survivors was not shattered. A store owner in Guian, Samar, transformed her grocery store into a relief center. A woman who lost her five kids and husband still had the heart to share her bottle of water to a thirsty lady.

There are many other stories of how someone saved another. What is more inspiring is how the victims are still able to smile and laugh after all that they went through. These stories of hospitality, hope, love, and compassion from both volunteers and survivors show that faith in humanity lives on. Everyone still cares for each other. The whole world cares for you and me.

While my eyes no longer shed tears and are back to their usual dryness, my heart continues to jump for joy whenever I read these inspiring and touching stories of hope, faith and love.


Andrius Wayne Riña or Ndrei is a six-year-old boy from Davao City who needs our help. He is not a victim of the recent typhoon but he is suffering from end-stage liver failure. After waking up from hepatic coma, he is now slowly regaining his senses. But he is still not in a good condition, and needs to undergo a liver transplant. Ndrei’s fighting spirit and will to live were witnessed by everyone around him. He needs more kindhearted people to help him win this fight. If you are willing to be part of Ndrei’s battle, you may call his mom, Rubi Riña at 09477987332. You make also check on Facebook. Anything that you wish to extend will be greatly appreciated by the family.

It’s only a month before Christmas but why wait for December before giving and sharing? According to Dale Evans Rogers, “Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

KCAT CAN: Hearing Christmas bells in November

Hearing Christmas bells in November

It’s still 44 days before Christmas but my sister’s friend and co-audiologist Myra Capistrano rang the Christmas bells early for 60 children with hearing impairment.

With the help of her family, friends and the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust in U.K., they gave the kids the gift of hearing through hearing aids.

Monday, October 28, 2013

KCAT CAN: Meet my ‘SuperwoMOM’

Meet my ‘SuperwoMOM’

When my mom was diagnosed with Lupus in 2000, she never obliged us to take care of her or accompany on her checkups and activities because we were so young then. I never really understood what she was going through until I saw her enduring her suffering just to attend to my needs and accomplish all the paperwork for my upcoming surgery back then.

My mom, Madeliene Lopez Yarza or Madge is selfless. She never buys anything for herself unless it’s on a bargain. Whenever she has extra money, she would always prioritize our needs, and set aside her own. I would often tell her to take care of herself first. There were even times that I would refuse her help and demand that she attend to her needs first. But she still won’t and that would really break my heart.

I’m just amazed at how my mom, a sick person, can manage to take good care of another sick person, whether it’s me or anyone in our family. Even my close friends and relatives also felt her tender love and care. She is often in deep pain but she knows how to ease away our own pain. My mom is truly my inspiration. Here, I share her heart’s desire to hopefully inspire others.

“Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body’s natural defense or immune system attacks its own tissues instead of foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. It’s a chronic disease that causes inflammation — pain and swelling. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system and other organs of the body. Most patients feel fatigue and have rashes, arthritis –painful and swollen joints and episodes of both low and high grade fever. Lupus is the common name for systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. There is no cure for SLE and it can be fatal.

I’ve been suffering from lupus for almost 14 years now, with complications from long-term use of steroids. I was diagnosed in late 2000, months after I gave birth to our youngest son. I had terrible joint pains in my hands, mouth soars, stomach pain, episodes of low grade fever, hair loss and very low blood count.

At first, I tried to endure all the pain, as I thought it was just arthritis and I was still too young for it. But later, I was forced to see a doctor when my hair started to fall. I could not eat because of oral ulcers and severe stomach pains that resulted to weight loss. Steroids were injected on my scalp to treat my hair loss but they were not effective. My stomach pains were unbearable so I sought a doctor who has enormous knowledge in autoimmune diseases. He had me undergo a series of laboratory tests. When the results came out, I was referred to a hematologist because I seem to have aplastic anemia. Thank God, it was not it. I then I went to a a rheumatologist, Dr. Esther Penserga who is like a mother to me. I had another series of laboratory tests and the result was positive; I have lupus.

It was so depressing. I don’t know anything about this disease. I kept asking myself, “Will I die soon? Paano ang mga anak ko?” I researched about it and it made me even more scared. But when Dra. Penserga encouraged me to join the Lupus Club at the Philippine General Hospital, I was able to understand and accept my disease. I became more at ease when I met people who are in the same situation. Learning about their experiences inspired me so much and gave me the strength and hope to continue moving on with my life. I was motivated to attend the regular monthly meetings to gain more knowledge about SLE. I learned how to live with it while taking care of myself.

Family members and caregivers are encouraged to join the meetings too, for them to understand what a lupus patient is going through and to know how they could give support. During those times, I would attend the meetings all by myself and I couldn’t help but feel envious of the other members who had someone with them. Dra. Penserga comforted me by saying, “Madge, if your environment can’t understand your disease, then get up and help yourself. Be strong and you can do it!”

Pain comes in all forms. How we manage our pain is up to us. The best way is to just push it through. I learned how to find strength and hope in all of my pain. I then realized that God has given me this trial for a reason. It was for me to understand and know how it feels to be sick. I have always dreamt of becoming a doctor when I was young, but we could not afford it. Maybe this is God’s way of granting my wish, that I am able to help the sick people in my own little way, despite my disabilities.

Having a chronic disease has never been a hindrance in serving God’s purpose for me. Being sick and taking care of my sick daughter is a blessing from Him. My physical, emotional and spiritual strength comes from Him.

I am not a superwoman but I believe that this inner strength may be one of God’s reasons why I am here – to love and take good care of His precious gifts – my children, Kcat, Talitha and Maro.

And if times comes that I grow old and weak, I wish that I will be in a home for the elderly, sharing my stories and making them smile.”

My mom is not a superwoman with super powers. But for me, she is a supermom with a powerful heart. If you have lupus like my mom, counseling and support groups such as the Lupus Foundation of the Philippines and the UP-PGH Lupus Club can help you go through the emotional issues involving this illness.

(Impromptu photo by JCLopez Photography)

Monday, October 14, 2013

KCAT CAN: Live your dreams

Live your dreams

‛We are the creator of our dreams – write it, draw it, color it and make it come to life!’

Monday, September 30, 2013

KCAT CAN: The gift of hearing (II)

The gift of hearing

A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that can provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. It can’t restore someone’s hearing nor cure deafness but for a person with hearing impairment and their family, CI is a life-changing device.

I too, have experienced a better quality of life after receiving my CI in 2008. I may still not understand speech or listen to music but the little sounds that I hear make the difference. It may just be a mere noise to most people but for me, it’s a blessing; it’s life.

Book launching for a cause: RealLife - stories of ordinary Filipinos with extraordinary lives

Last Thursday (September 26), Tita Dolly Palisada sent me a message on Facebook about the launching of her book. At first I thought she was inviting me just because I knew that she was working on a book. When she asked me to prepare a short speech, that's when I realized that my story is also included. WOW! She interviewed me for The News Today earlier this year but I didn't know that it was for her book as well.

Here it is:

Monday, September 16, 2013

KCAT CAN: Touched by my teachers

Touched by my teachers

During my school days, I wasn’t a hardworking and diligent student. Oftentimes, I was lazy to read my textbooks, memorize my lessons, and do my homework. I didn't like studying but i actually loved learning.

I like learning about new things and discovering about something I already knew. I think that's what most people call the joy of learning and i thank all my teachers in the past for that. Everything that i learned from them were instilled in my mind and heart, and carried me through all the ordeals of life.

Monday, September 02, 2013

KCAT CAN: Know your PWD rights and privileges

Know your PWD rights and privileges

Persons with disabilities (PWD) have a right to live the same way as any other human being. Their disability is not a hindrance to live a fruitful and fulfilling life.

PWDs get married, have children, go to work, and play sports like everyone else. They are not a burden on the community, their family or friends. PWDs have the same right as everyone to take part in society. Here in the Philippines, a PWD Identification Card authenticates each Pinoy PWD’s rights and privileges.

Monday, August 19, 2013

KCAT CAN: Standing up for Pinoys with disabilities

Standing up for Pinoys with disabilities

Everyone, regardless of ability or disability, deserves to be treated equally with the same dignity and respect.

Monday, August 05, 2013

KCAT CAN: Surviving life's battle

Surviving life’s battles

When my mom was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) in 2000, her rheumatologist, Dr. Ester Penserga encouraged her to join the support group Lupus Club (PGH Chapter).

SLE is a chronic auto-immune connective tissue disorder that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, nervous system, kidney, heart and some other internal organs. When my mom joined the Lupus Club she wasn’t only enlightened about the disease, she also made friends with patients whom she can easily identify with. While getting to know Lupus patients with different manifestations of the disease, she realized that she was still lucky and blessed that her case is a lot milder than the others.

After every Lupus Club gathering, my mom often talked about how she admired their then club president Jennifer “Jennie” San Andres. She became my mom’s inspiration with her battle with SLE because after everything that Jennie went through including cheating death thrice, she remained strong and brave. And that was because of her strong faith in God.

Monday, July 22, 2013

KCAT CAN: Dealing with death

Dealing with death

In life, we have no control over the storms that we encounter. It’s normal to feel devastated and sad, but to continue being sad is already our choice. I have come to realize this because of what happened to our family two weeks ago.

Monday, July 08, 2013

KCAT CAN: The miracle of faith

The miracle of faith

Maria Teresa Figuerres or Tetcha is a wife to Eduardo, and a mother to Justin. Like most mothers, she dedicates her time to her family with her unlimited TLC (tender love and care).

Behind that strong motherly image is a survivor and living symbol of faith and hope. Be inspired with her story.

Monday, June 24, 2013

KCAT CAN: My newfound brain friend

My newfound brain friend

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13”

Everyone has their own story and it’s always nice to read a book that can make you feel good, right?

I got to know Abby Manalang from my friend Lea. He is gay. Abby does not only bring joy and give advice to his friends, but he also inspires them because he is a living testimony of hope, faith and courageousness. I too was deeply moved from the time Lea introduced us and said, “Meet your newfound brain friend.”

Monday, June 10, 2013

KCAT CAN: Birthdays and blessings

Birthdays and blessings

That desire never left me. I would often mention it to my friends, my cousins and my mom especially after my 29th birthday. I even daydream about it, visualizing how I wanted it to be. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not really wishing for a grand and luxurious celebration, only a memorable and fun party together with my family and friends.

When I realized that my brother, Maro and I are turning 30 and 13 years old this 2013, I felt more excited and inspired to make this party a reality.

Monday, May 27, 2013

KCAT CAN: A birthday like no other

A birthday like no other
By Maria Katrina Lopez Yarza
Published: May 27, 2013

"When you enjoy what you have, you get happiness. When you share what you have, you multiply happiness.”

Since 2007, I have been celebrating my birth month by holding “MAY Birthday Project,” a gift-giving affair at the Philippine General Hospital where I share my blessings with people I call friends.

Monday, May 13, 2013

KCAT CAN: Addressing a global issue

Addressing a global issue
By Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza
Published: May 13, 2013

It’S my birthday today! The month of May has always been special to me not only because this is my birth month, but because of a couple of other reasons that calls for a celebration. Most of my family members were born this month – my uncle on the 6th, my dad on the 10th, my cousin on the 16th, my brother on the 17th, my grandmother on the 20thh and my mother on the 27th.

This May 18 will be our 7th annual gift-giving at the Philippine General Hospital and I’m certain that it will be as successful as the previous years. More importantly, it’s also Neurofibromatosis (NF) Awareness Month, and I’ll get to celebrate it with my NF friends who’ll be joining me in my upcoming birthday project to spread NF awareness on May 18. Someday, I wish that we’ll have our own NF event in the country.

When Rachel Mindrup posted a message on our Neurofibromatosis Philippines page regarding her advocacy, I was really amazed with what she did. It’s not every day that you get to receive a message written in Filipino by an American. She is the artist behind The Many Faces of NF, where she raises NF awareness through her art.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

KCAT CAN: Help save His masterpieces

Help save His masterpieces
By Maria Katrina Lopez Yarza
Published: April 29, 2013

The Lord is not slow to keep His promise. He is not slow in the way some people understand it. He is patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be destroyed. Instead, He wants all people to turn away from their sins.” - 2 Peter 3:9

Gilda Fotunata Altez, whom everyone calls “Mommy G,” is one of the 10 finalists of the 2012 CLIS Search for Happiest Pinoy. She established “A Voice in A Storm,” a counseling advocacy group that helps married couples and families regain broken trust and respect and renew their marriage.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The News Today: You Can (Kcat)

You Can (Kcat)
By Dolly Palisada
April 3, 2013 - Iloilo News Today

Mandaluyong City - YOU HEAR THE doctor’s story about another patient with the same diagnosis and that patient is now gone. You see teary eyed visitors in her room and how sullen their faces are. Your husband is not saying a word, yet you hear his voice screaming.

At first they say it is brain tumor. You brush it off. Everything has reasons, you tell your self. There’s nothing to be afraid of because God is on your side. She will have a surgery, the medical expenses will bloat, but life must go on for her because she’s young.

Friday, April 26, 2013

22 days 'til MAY Birthday Project 2013

Our hands will never be too small for helping those who are in need, as long we have the heart to care.

Our 7th annual gift-giving at PGH tagged as MAY Birthday Project 2013 is going to be in less than a month and we still don't have enough gifts to share yet.

Monday, April 15, 2013

KCAT CAN: Living with optimism despite the suffering

Living with optimism despite the suffering
By Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza
April 15, 2013

It’s always nice to know that you’ve been a big influence in somebody’s betterment, no matter how big or small the improvement is.

Two years ago, I met Karen Bernal, a 30-year-old woman who has chronic kidney disease and is undergoing dialysis. She is suffering from both physical and emotional pain. Although she never lost hope in getting a transplant and being cured, she was constantly sad and fearful because of all the problems that her sickness brought – financial and family problems to name a few. She also indulged in self-pity during those times.

“Maybe I could make Karen realize how beautiful life is,” I challenged myself and from then on we started becoming friends. I often gave her advice, told her jokes, cheered her on, and helped her realize how important her existence is.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

KCAT CAN: Knocking on the hearts of others

Knocking on hearts of others
By Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza
April 1, 2013

Back in 2007, while I was browsing through the internet, I found an implant device that could help me hear the world again. I was so excited and sad at the same time because it costs a million pesos. We just couldn’t afford it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wishlist 2013: MAY Birthday Project on May 18

Months before my birthday in 2007, I felt like God had been showering me with a lot of blessings which made me decide to give back something in return. I thought, "I want to celebrate my birthday with the kids in the hospital." Ideas about the event kept rushing in my mind; I want to do this and that but then again, I asked myself, "But we are not rich, how can we fund the event?”

KCAT CAN: Have the heart to share and care

Have the heart to share and care
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
March 18, 2013

Our hands will never be too small for helping those who are in need, as long we have the heart to care. This is something that I have learned through our annual gift-giving event dubbed “MAY Birthday Project” at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

Monday, March 04, 2013

KCAT CAN: In sickness and in health

In sickness and in health
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
March 4, 2013

One of the nice things about being sick is that you can easily relate to other persons who may also be in a similar predicament. Most often, the support you give to each other becomes the foundation of a beautiful friendship. One of them is Ate Jeneth Catapang, whose family I really admire.

Monday, February 18, 2013

KCAT CAN: Answered prayers

Answered prayers
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
February 18, 2013

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

I was really weak before and I was not even able to stand on my feet. So since 2006, I have been undergoing physical therapy sessions at the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC). Thanks to my therapists, I was soon able to stand up, find my balance, and take little steps, until I was ready to use a cane, with assistance.

Monday, February 04, 2013

KCAT CAN: Giving hope to the hopeless

Giving hope to the hopeless
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
February 4, 2013

Just like everyone else, Angelica Sotto, 28, used to be a normal girl living a fruitful life. The Computer Engineering graduate was working and had a bright future ahead of her.

But on June 13, 2008, Angel’s life suddenly changed. On her way to work, the tricycle she was riding collided with a dump truck and crashed sideways. Angel, who was riding at the back seat of the driver, didn’t only fall on the ground but was also run over by the truck. Angel was immediately rushed to the hospital. Luckily, none of her bones were broken but the damage was severe. She needed an operation.

Monday, January 21, 2013

KCAT CAN: Modern-day Heroes

Mariya & Marco are two of the sweetest kids I know..

Modern-day heroes
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
January 21, 2013

"Indio” is the latest drama series on GMA 7 that is based on Philippine myths and beliefs with a twist of fantasy.

GMA described in its website that “the value of Indio’s beautiful story traverses through generations, as its theme of earning dignity through selfless sacrifice for loved ones resonates strongly even for audiences of today.”

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ikaw at Ako, INDIO. Ang Kasaysayan ng Isang Epiko.

Please watch my interview on "Ikaw at Ako, INDIO. Ang Kasaysayan ng Isang Epiko." this Sunday, January 13 after Imbestigador on GMA.

Related article: Watch the Indio Primer

**My mom & my neighbor NF Friend, Jonalyn, were also interviewed.

Celebrating November & December

I was so busy the whole month of December that's why I did have the time to do my recap for the month of November.. so here's both November & December 2012 recaps :)

November 3
YABU date with Maro & Talitha
Photobucket Photobucket

November 6
Went to the office of Mayor Benhur Abalos with my mom & Bene and asked for his help with GYA Peeps' Christmas project.

Then went to Dr. Lopez' clinic in Cardinal Santos Medical Center for the removal of the stitches on my right toe.

Monday, January 07, 2013

KCAT CAN: Celebrating friendships and reviving traditions in 2012

Celebrating friendships and reviving traditions in 2012
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
January 7, 2013

2012 was indeed a colorful year for me just like how I wanted it to be when the year started. There was the color of success, a color that was brought back, and new colors to brighten up my life. And the memories that they brought will always hold a special place not only in my heart but also in the hearts of the people who shared the previous year with me.
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