Mike’s Easter experience
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-04-15
South China Morning Post’s Raissa Robles got me thinking about First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Raissa used to be a STAR staffer during its early years. In the last four years, she called me time and again to get my political insights.

Last Wednesday, Raissa wanted to get my inputs on how Mike Arroyo’s recent medical problem affects the political scene. I was reluctant to give my thoughts and told Raissa that it may not be proper at this time to discuss it.

Leading Genuine Opposition senatorial candidate Alan Peter Cayetano and I share two things in common — we’re both Ateneans and have been sued by Mike for libel. Like Alan, I also believe that when a fellow Atenean and human being is fighting for his life, we must cast aside all differences and unite in prayer for his intention.

Reluctantly, I provided Raissa some backgrounders, beginning from my experience with Mike at the time I was helping Gloria campaign for president in 1998. Many of us then felt that Gloria was the strongest contender who could derail Joseph Estrada’s presidential bid.

I met Mike for the first time in January 1996 in a meeting at the lobby restaurant in Hotel Intercontinental. The meeting was arranged by my good friend Cherry Zapanta who used to help us in the Cory Media Bureau.

Mike and I carried on the discussion to get me on board their campaign team, with Gloria hardly participating. In this regard, Mike fulfills a significant role for Gloria’s political undertakings. Mike has been pivotal in recruiting important political operators and campaign specialists and Gloria has indeed acknowledged Mike’s contributions in her two landslide victories when she topped the 1995 Senate and 1998 Vice Presidential elections.

I leave the rest of the political discussion for Raissa’s story and now go to what got me thinking after Raissa’s call.

When Mike’s medical condition took a turn for the worst, it reminded me of my own ordeal in 1988 when I too was close to death but had been lucky enough to have been blessed with a second lease on life. On January 9, 2002, three days before my 53rd birthday, I had another victory over death after my successful kidney transplant.

My first encounter with the grim reaper in 1988 was due to a very rare strain of empayema, which is characterized by a generation of pus in the lungs with accompanying fluid build-up. My case of empayema was so rare it eventually landed in the medical journals. I dreamed of being at least a footnote in history but I never imagined being in the annals of medical history.

The source of my right lung infection did not fall under any one of the three common causes of empayema (different from emphysema which is the abnormal distention of body tissues). Without knowing the source of the infection, my doctors could not heal it.

After two months already in the Makati Medical Center, I suffered a multi-organ failure – sure sign of the body shutting down. When my kidneys failed, my nephrologist called my family together to tell them that I had two days to live.

Prayer brigades were mobilized when the "two days to die" news spread and one of those who fervently prayed for my intention was my dear friend Betty G. Belmonte, the late STAR Founding Chairman. In her Bible readings the next day, Betty was assured that I will live to dine again another day.

Upon hearing the dire prognosis, President Cory Aquino (I was then the Director General of the Philippine Information Agency) rushed to my bedside to boost my morale. Similarly, on January 12, 2002, I was again visited at my hospital bedside three days after my kidney transplant by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It seems that I am entitled to a lease on life when there is a woman president.

My sister Tessie focused my attention to one important truth after my February to April 1988 near-death episode. Tessie told me: "Bill, you had all the power, the influence, the best doctors, the love of friends and kin and even the money. But in the end, the Lord brought you face to face with Him. None of what you deserved to have in life mattered. Only He mattered. It was up to Him if you stayed and it was by His grace and love that you are still with us."

I felt like I had been reborn after that episode. After my three-month hospital agony, three weeks of which were in the ICU, I lost over 120 pounds while I had trimmed 12 inches round my waist, which made it necessary for a change of wardrobe. I lost close to P1 million in settling the hospital bills and being a Macgregor-Esposo Scottish-Ilocano, that really hurts! I even lost the power of my legs from being bedridden for three months. The emotional experience of returning home was so overpowering that once I got inside my bedroom, I could only cry.

The thoughts and emotions somewhat replayed when I got to thinking about Mike’s Easter experience. Easter being the moment of Resurrection – a rebirth — I can only empathize with Mike as he now undergoes the same drama of life and death.

It did not surprise me at all that the first message of Mike after his operation was to write: "I love you all." The whole experience of being granted another lease on life is a wonderful, indescribable intimate encounter with Divine love.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo