By Iza Iglesias, TMT
Diwa Party-List Representative Emmeline Aglipay-Villar launched another book to help guide Filipinos living with lupus. Launched on May 20 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Quezon City, “Lupus, kayang-kaya ko ‘to!” is the abridged Filipino version of “Living Better with Lupus” which she published last year.
Written by doctors Angeline Magbitang-Santiago, Evelyn Osio-Salido and Geraldine Zamora-Racaza, the volume is an infographic booklet that is written in conversational Filipino and contains concise and basic information about the sickness. It aims to raise awareness about lupus especially in areas where there is no information available about it.
(From left) Geraldine Zamora-Racaza, Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd, Evelyn Osio-Salido and Angeline Magbitang-Santiago)
”We are also launching our lupus poster which will be displayed in all health centers in the Philippines.
Awareness is the key to early diagnosis and saving lives and knowledge is the way to finding a cure,” Villar, who is also one of the founders of Hope for Lupus Foundation, enthused during the launch.
During the event, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd expressed his intentions to create a PhilHealth package for lupus patients and gave his commitment to include certain medicines for lupus, such as Belimumab and Hydroxychloroquine in the National Drug Formulary. This will be a big help to indigent lupus patients who cannot afford the medication for lupus.
The books are very personal projects of Villar, whose own condition she discovered 10 years ago as a young lawyer. She had been experiencing many of the symptoms of the disease for years before she was diagnosed, but because of lack of awareness about the disease, she was not given the proper treatment. When she was correctly diagnosed her kidneys were already damaged.
“Sometimes I think that I couldn’t do it anymore, but I thought of the people who are depending on me so I have to be strong,” said the representative who was joined by husband, Department of PublicWorks and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar.
“Therefore everyday we have to keep going not just for us but also for the people we love. Many are telling me that I don’t look sick. That’s because lupus results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin and even internal organs, the reason why people won’t see just by looking at us physically,” she added.
Turning emotional, the congresswoman continued, “Yes, this disease is hard, but it doesn’t mean we will be outdone by it. When I was diagnosed, the doctor told me that I may not have children because it’s prohibited. If I will push it, I might die.
“But now I have a daughter. The doctor was wrong to say that it is impossible for me to have a child. In fact, it is my daughter Emma who gave me life, strength and confidence. She is the reason why I get to continue on and face the challenges I go through. Of course, let us be reminded that God is always there who love us endlessly,” ended Villar.