“Life is indeed the most precious gift from God. Yes! Life is amazing. We are all given a life to live, but each one of us is born in different situations, different life status, even different physical appearances.
Sometimes, there are things in life that are painful and we need to accept them. I was once in that situation. I was given a particular life to live, a life of a child born with a Cleft Lip. My parents did not lose hope and did not have any regrets. They did not even ask God why I was born with that disability because they regarded me as their greatest blessing. They loved me so much and took care of me to the best of their ability.
I was not like the other babies. From the day I was born, I thrived and survived on milk fed by a dropper in my mouth because that was the only way my parents could feed me since I could not suck on a bottle. It was never easy, but my parents did it every single day.
When I was about a year old, my parents were really worried about my future. They wondered how my everyday life would be. Would I ever be able to talk and express myself as I got older?
God answered my parents’ prayers. He was so kind to me and changed everything when my parents met Ma’am Shirley Panlilio. She encouraged my parents to visit the clinic of Dra. Catherine Panlilio who introduced us to Dr. Joseph Arzadon. Dr. Arzadon performed two operations on me: the first one in October 2001 (1 yr 7 mos) for my cleft lip and the second one in February 2002 (1 yr 11mos).
It’s been quite a roller coaster ride, but I’ve learned a lot about myself throughout this journey called life—my life. I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. Since the day after my operation, I felt it opened doors for me to strive and accomplish much to become an inspiration to other young ones who have cleft lips and cleft palates. Because of my hard work, commitment, dedication, desire to succeed, confidence and trust in God, I have accomplished so much in school and proved that my past medical condition did not become a hindrance.
In elementary school, I was an honor student and, would you believe, even received a Best in Reading Award? And recently, I received a 12karat gold medal award from the Children’s Museum and Library Inc. given by the Department of Education as an A-1 Child. My interests include playing the guitar and drums and I am a member of the Praise and Worship Team in our church.
My other accomplishments are:
Receiving the rank as an EAGLE SCOUT. This was not easy as I needed to go through training which involved physical alertness and pass 4 oral interviews.
Mr. Camp 2012 during our Messengers of the Cross Youth Organization Youth Camp in our Province of Mindanao. How did I bring home the crown? By clearly and exactly answering all of the judges’ questions.
Being elected as King of Hearts for 2013-2014 in our school.
As a Press Club Member, I am on duty as Radio Broadcaster in our school while maintaining my grades and continuing to be an Honor Student.
My dream is to become a doctor or a pilot. A doctor because I want to help others like the help I received from your medical mission. A pilot because I want to continue my Dad’s dream of becoming one.
By merely reading my accomplishments, who would think that I once had a cleft lip and palate? But Glory be to God because all was made possible through all of you. If there would be someone who should be proud of my accomplishments and take the credits, it should be Dr. Joseph Arzadon, Dra. Cathy and family, and the team of MEDICAL MISSION OF MERCY! I thank God for your life and skills as a vehicle to save mine.
You were God’s channel of blessings and became my bridge to walk in the ways of life. So from every chamber of my heart, I am so grateful for I could never have imagined that, one day, I could be the person I am today. You gave me hope. You were like my sunshine and the rainbow after the rain.
I pray that you all continue to widen your horizon and reach all the children with Cleft Lips and Cleft Palates and give them the confidence to smile without reservation and believe that a “Disability is not a hindrance to having a sweet life ahead”.
To all of you who support MMOM USA, thank YOU so much and God bless you more in return.”
Written by Mhel Joshua Martinez
Translated and edited by Catherine Panlilio Arzadon