USTHS80 and that Place at the Back of Q.I.

By: Yna V. Torres

I am 42 years old.  In my youth, Q.I. (Quezon Institute) meant a place where all the convalescing tisikos(tubercular) were confined.  And lest you inhale their infectious collective expiration, one holds ones breath whenever ones car passes that stretch and what was then known as Espana Extension.  In those days, air-conditioned cars were rare, car windows were rolled down as to allow the wind to breeze through and cool its passengers.  And mind you, it was not a short stretch, for Q.I. then sits on approximately 15 hectare piece of property.    Through the years, we became witness to its gradual decay as little money may have been apportioned from the national budget for its upkeep and indigent patients could not well be charged the necessary rates to keep it spic and span.  However, in the nineties, the PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) rented a portion of the compound and the place has had its long overdue facelift. 


 Last February 26, 2005, my UST High School class of 1980 held its Silver Jubilee; the most successful in attendance and enthusiasm.   The last year and half witnessed successive events cooked up and gamely participated in by its members.  From videokes, to sorties to Tagaytay and Jala-Jala, to badminton tournaments, to sponsoring Career Talks for its alma mater, endless bienvenidas and despedidas for visiting classmates from abroad, gift-giving and outreaches, to having a most colorful e-group in town, to creating a website that will give any darn good website a run for its money.  The passion is boundless, the bonding enviable, and the reunions endless.  This is no propaganda (although we have among us two recipients of the Thomasian Best Alumni Award; namely- Leonardo Riingen for Science and Technology, and Joselito Sayson for Health-Allied field) for this is not to boast of members who made good, but of the kind of people they’ve become.  We marvel amongst ourselves as to how we are able to keep the group happy together and functioning as a team considering the middle-aged egos we carry with us. 

But what is at the back of Q.I.?  At the back of Q.I., is a place designed to warm the hearts of the jaded.  At its back most lot, is a haven hosting very sick and very poor children, mostly stricken with cancer of all names, receiving chemotherapy while far from their poverty-stricken homes in the provinces.  This is a half-way home put up by its founders to provide this downtrodden refuge while they undergo treatment, beg and scour for sponsors from various socio-civic agencies, from elected officials armed with social funds and private donors.  It is called the Child House.  In our many visits, we have discovered, to our gladness, this place is more than a pit-stop for its transient patients but a place of healing, if not of the body, then of the soul.  It is a place of rest where compassion and dedication thrive, and ironically, where hopes, smiles and dreams flourish.

What makes the place magical in spite its misery?  The children, of course!  Their smiles and optimism will shame indifference or pity.  Don’t give them your pity, share with them their unshakable belief that they too deserve a bright life before them!  Or at least a good shot at it.  Often life is wasted on the non-essentials as we fail to realize its value, while they battle for life itself.  Yet even this mortal struggle can not take away the child from each one of them, and here, lies their charm and magic.  Infirmed and frail, they emanate healing force to any Good Samaritan who’d find their way to their home of refuge.  Beware of kids, they will wring your hearts.            

Last March, our class begun our mission outreach for this place – and we are hooked.  At first we merely wanted palliative help by supplying them with milk, diapers and other necessities.  Gradually, however, we can close our eyes no longer to their dire need for medicines and sponsors or donors for their costly treatments.  The case of this child aptly called Mercy was brought to us; acute lymphocytic leukemia coupled with Down Syndrome, and the class took mercy.  She opened the door for us to take a closer look at the plights of the others, she opened the doors of opportunity for her fellow patients to be succored and opened the wide door of generosity latent in most of us, moving our  group to seriously consider adopting this community and providing holistic help.  Funds will always be in short supply, need will always overwhelm available resources but love abounds and it is the best medicine. 

Far removed from poverty, nestling in relative comfort and with a little excess, we found kinship in this place scant of all necessities.  The silent longing for simplicity stilled and child-like faith revived; yearnings hinted in our unmatched devotion to be around each other.  To rekindle ties made during our youth when we were accepted for simply who we were.  And while we offer the children our laps of charity, they embrace us with glee; their form of gratitude.

On the average, our batch mates are 42 years old.  I am 42.  It’s a cliché that life begins at 40, that it is a cliché is most likely because it is true.  Along EDSA was a huge billboard for a popular cosmetic surgery clinic with gorgeous Zsa-Zsa Padilla as its model.  It declares – 42 never looked this good.  I am 42, and I declare – 42 never felt this good!        

The author is a member of the USTHS Batch80 and finished A.B. Philosophy in the same university.   She is now a mother of four, and is in the restaurant and real estate business.