“Don’t be afraid and have courage so that people will not pity you. Even if you have a disability, prove that you can. Show them who you are and be true to yourself. You don’t need to pretend to be like one of them but in everything you do, always give your best”.
Hardships and challenges often reveal who our real friends are. When one is in a difficult situation, a friend’s love, patience and understanding are tested. The result is just either a sad goodbye or a stronger friendship. But most of the time, these difficult and painful situations are often meant to test the character of the one facing trials.
At the age of one, Jerico Canlas from Pampanga was diagnosed with severe Hemophilia A when his mother noticed bruising in his body for no significant reason. After his diagnosis, his parents became aware of his condition and became extra cautious in raising him. But no matter how cautious they were, their son’s frequent bleeding could never be prevented.
Being admitted to the hospital became part of Jerico’s routine. When he was about seven years old, he accidentally got hit by wood in his right arm that swelled immediately. His parents had to bring him all the way from Pampanga to Manila just to get him treated since there were no available hematologists in their town.
As he was receiving treatment, he suddenly had seizures caused by cryoprecipitate or blood plasma overdose. His mother thought that he would die from that seizure but fortunately, he survived and recovered well. After that incident, Jerico never experienced having another life-threatening bleed. He tried to live a normal life. He went back to school and hung out with friends. But even then, he knew that he could never live the life they have because of his condition. Despite his situation, Jerico’s hope did not waver because of the love and support of his family and friends.
with his childhood friends in Pampanga
Unlike other hemophilia patients, Jerico didn’t have a hard time socializing with other people despite being confined because his friends would regularly visit him.
“A good friend.”—that’s how his friends describe him. To them, he is an older brother they could rely on. He is constantly there to listen to their stories and to give pieces of advice.
In his later years in high school, his joint bleeds became more frequent and he could no longer continue attending school. In as much as he wanted to finish his studies, he decided to quit school because he thought that it would just be a waste of time knowing that someone like him could never get a good job in the future because of his condition.
A Hopeful Soul
Having a restrictive condition that needs life-long treatment is not something a young mind would easily understand. But through the help of his parents and the understanding of the people around him, Jerico learned to accept his condition. “Despite the pain, I’ve adjusted to my limitations and learned to take care of myself. I managed to be less dependent to others”.
Jerico with his sister Kristine, father Noel, mother Evelina and pet Dondi
When he was out of school, he spent most of his time helping his family at home.
In March 2017, Hemophilia Advocates Philippines (HAP) visited their home in Pampanga. He and his cousin, who also has hemophilia, became members of HAP. Through the organization, they are able to get access to treatment, medicine, and social support. Jerico’s self-esteem and confidence improve as he gets more involved with people who share the same condition.
It was also through HAP that he learned about Virtualahan and received a scholarship in the digital skills training. After his training, he was immediately offered a job. Now, he is Virtualahan’s tech support for its online school.
HAP – Virtualahan Scholars with HAP President Andrea Echavez
and Virtualahan Founder Ryan Gerdava
“I thought I will never be able to work because of my condition, but now I can provide for our family and pay for my own expenses at the same time. Through HAP and Virtualahan I have hope that I can achieve my dreams someday.”
Jerico with HAP Youth Group and President Andrea Echavez
during HAP’s 2nd anniversary
Today, Jerico is passionate to learn more skills and to improve himself so he can achieve his goals. And as one of HAP’s advocates and youth group leaders, he also aims to inspire more young hemo patients and encourage them not to lose hope no matter what life gives. Grab every opportunity and learn everyday. People with hemophilia could still find jobs and earn for their families. Because in life, there is always hope no matter how difficult the situation may be.
Story of Jerico Canlas
Written by France Salariosa Alviz