by Heidi M. Pascual
Family Trial and Faith
Recently, my family was tested to the max. One of my grandchildren, 14-year old Marcus Joaquim, our family’s pride being a scholar at the
prestigious Philippine Science High School, suffered the deadly Dengue disease and nearly succumbed to it. Marcus had very high fever,
spewing blood ‘up and down’ repeatedly. He was confined at the ICU of a private hospital in Quezon City, with a team of doctors closely
monitoring his vital signs because there is no known cure for Dengue. His platelet and hemoglobin were too low for comfort. For several days,
Marcus underwent a total of 18 blood transfusions! We couldn’t do anything but pray hard!

To add to our broken spirits, our country is in the midst of a national calamity due to Dengue with fatalities fast rising, and WHO announced
that it’s closely watching the Philippines for a possible Dengue outbreak. At this time, there were already more than 490 deaths officially
reported since January of this year, and more than 100,000 cases of Dengue patients in various hospitals.

After more than a week of waiting and praying, Marcus began to show improvement such as increased platelet count and coherence. We truly
were watching a miracle happening before our very eyes. Even the team of doctors working on my grandson admitted that the Lord really
gave Marcus a second chance at life because others with similar symptoms in various hospitals, including some doctors and other health
professionals, didn’t make it. Indeed, I truly believe that God healed Marcus because a lot of people sincerely prayed for his life and that
Marcus still has a mission on earth. This boy is such an extraordinary and lovable person whose beautiful future may work wonders to many

My grandson was released from St. Luke’s Medical Center 10 days after he was admitted at the Emergency Room. Today, he is recovering
and trying his best to regain his strength. Meanwhile, there are still three lab tests pending to determine the exact Dengue strain that hit him.
The most intriguing puzzle to all of us, however, was the negative result of the Dengue tests, three times done on him! Well, we just had to
accept the fact that the symptoms exhibited were Dengue-like, and that Marcus survived whatever it was.

I can’t help but think of and pray for the families of Dengue victims who are confined in publicly funded hospitals. My grandson was in a
private hospital complete with a reliable blood bank, well-trained doctors, world-class lab facilities and equipment, so that our family had
complete trust in the ability of the hospital to treat our patient. In addition, we promised ourselves to worry about hospital bills later. Public
hospitals do not have similar capabilities as private ones, and most fatalities come from wards where sometimes, three patients occupy a bed
placed along the hallway. Worse, blood has to be procured from volunteers, who do not come in very often. It is truly a very sad situation, and
so I hope that the Duterte Administration would direct our Department of Health to pour its unspent budget (which the Commission on Audit
recently revealed) toward saving the lives of thousands of our poor people now suffering from Dengue. Please do something about our public
hospitals needing more space, good lab facilities and equipment, blood banks, well-trained medical staff, and medicines.

Thinking of how to eradicate Dengue, I salute local governments that have initiated cleaning up of their villages and removing materials from
stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. I also hope that people do the same in their own homes, make sure their windows and doors are
screened, and apply protective insect repellent on members of the family everyday especially when they go out. Ours is a tropical country
whose wet and dry seasons are conducive to disease-carrying mosquitoes and other insects.

Amid our fears, we are strengthened by our faith in God, our Father. I and my family believe that He is always there to protect all of us from
danger and all forms of disease. We believe that when it’s time to go, it is His will, but when we haven’t accomplished our mission on earth,
He won’t let ‘that’ happen. So my family and I are grateful our Lord spared the life of Marcus at this time. Yes, my grandson still has a
mission to do, a good one, to prove to the world that God exists and loves mankind.