I would chance upon Bettina whenever I would go to Makati Medical for my own radiation treatments for breast cancer for she was there almost every other day, and the therapy rooms were on the same floor. Each time I would see her, I would be flooded with emotions of joy and pride. It was always a joy to see her so alive and well, stuttering, yes, learning to talk and yes, to walk, swinging her leg and arms mightily, with great difficulty, learning the needed balance and the rhythm from her therapy. Her leg brace was heavy; she hobbled around laden with metal, holding on to a cane. But she always greeted me with cheerful smiles and twinkling eyes; she was always so upbeat, so strong, so hopeful. She practically glows with strength, and she inspires everyone in the therapy rooms with her determination and faithfulness to her therapy. She keeps saying it is only a matter of time before she will be fully back to her old agile self. She admits though that the first two years were difficult. She had daily struggles with frustrations, self-pity, and the enormity of her disabilities. What kept her going? What made her so brave and so indomitable? Luis. Her parents. Her faith in God. And a new love.
The greatest inspiration for her recovery came from Luis. Bettina was determined to be there for her son in all ways as a healthy and active Mom. And so from the start, 1999 till today, she has never let up. This means years of long hours of therapy – physical, speech, occupational. She has literally moved forward from paralysis of half the body to almost full recovery of her movements and full feeling. She had to deal with memory losses, memory lapses. She had to re-learn everything with her left hand: writing, doing things. Determined to take care of infant Luis, she would change his diaper painstakingly with one hand, dress him up, prepare his formula, feed him, put him to sleep beside her. With therapy, her garbled and inverted speech improved, and she is back from being barely understood to her old expressive self. So much so that she even run for Kagawad in Magallanes Village, Makati last barangay elections! Moreover, the equestrian in her has survived this crisis. She has revived her old loves of riding and cooking for she believes in doing what make her happy. In 2004, she went to Detroit, Michigan to join a Riding for the Disabled International Competition and in 2005 she joined the competition again, this time in Hongkong. Very much at home in the kitchen, she resumed accepting food orders. She taught basic cooking in a Summer Arts Program in Magallanes Village. She joined a cooking contest and her recipe was selected for the December 2007 issue of Yummy Magazine. She looks forward to running her own restaurant. Valiant, outgoing Bettina is engaged in a variety of activities. She shares herself , doing more than many others who are NOT disabled. She believes this is both right and therapeutic She has numerous volunteer projects with her barangay in Magallanes. For example, just a few weeks ago, she participated in the organization of Magallanes Village’s Recyclables Market. Her slogan all these 9 years has been “DISABILITY DOES NOT MEAN INABILITY.”
Her parents, themselves strong survivors, are great sources too of inspiration and support. Angela is one of these perpetually busy, practical, big-hearted women who can multi-task, ran the whole world, and still find time to play golf and enjoy lunches and dinners with friends and family. She totally amazes me. I have often watched her as she answers a thousand phonecalls and queries as manager of a big travel agency, this for a woman who had a double heart by-pass when she was only forty-something. As for Manolo, for the past four years he has battled stage 4 lung cancer, gone abroad for surgeries, and is on a new experimental drug that is doing wonders for him. Is it any wonder Bettina has such a big fighting spirit? It practically runs in the family! And when burdens such as these beleaguer a family, God cannot be far behind. “He will never give us what we cannot handle,” Bettina trustfully proclaims.
The Young Mom, Marvellous Bettina