Solitude, solicitation, survival

Solitude, solicitation, survival

One of the most well-worn sayings in the modern world is that “no man is an island.” While we are each born with different talents and affinities, possess different skills and resources, no human can be truly self-sufficient. Even the most introverted among us is fed – body mind and soul – through the works of others, be that the food on our table, the books on our shelves or the art we dream of. Even a monastic hermit living alone for decades has depended on the direct and indirect work of others who have kept his chosen sanctuary free from human encroachment.

All of us need other people – to varying degrees, in various ways, but that does not detract from the universality of that statement. Yet if it’s natural for us to need others, if it’s human for us to need others, why then can it be so difficult to ask for help?

Perhaps it’s an unfortunate by-product of childhood. For a parent, it’s natural to want our children to become more independent as they grow older. But this makes an association between needing help and immaturity, with weakness and failure, and some never quite grow out of that.

Perhaps it’s the result of what society as a whole admires. When the lives of great men and women are relayed to us – whether they be historical or fictional – it’s usually their individual abilities that are praised. The story of a single indomitable hero against the world, the inspiring narrative of someone that is self-made and who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps… these tales have been fed to us by our elders for almost as long as civilization has existed.

Yet parents know, perhaps better than most, the limits of what one individual alone can do. And real life is never as neat as the stories told – for even the greatest of heroes could not have achieved anything on their own.

Every one of us needs other people, and there is no shame in that. That’s one of the most important lessons we ever learn. A close second is that there is no shame in asking for help. Help from those around us – whether from those we love, or those who sympathize with us, or even those simply doing their jobs – is essential to our survival.

This is one of the reasons I helped establish the Hope for Lupus Foundation. It was an acknowledgment of my need for help – for my own ongoing struggle with lupus, as well as my mission to help others battling the disease. It’s why I asked help from Melanie Cuevas and Lila Shahani, who intimately understood the difficulties of Lupus; why I sought the guidance of Dr. Paulo Lorenzo and Dr. Ging Zamora Racaza; why I have continued to seek partnerships and solicit aid wherever and whenever I can.

It’s difficult to ask for help, but if there exists an organization that was created to be a support group for that particular problem, whose mission is to offer that specific type of help… the process of asking can become easier for someone with lupus. And making things easier for others facing down the disease is one of my driving goals in life, as well as that of the foundation.

For those who are willing to volunteer, you can find a link to our sign up sheet here: For those who are willing to donate, any amount is welcome. But for those who have much to spare, or those who collect fine art, the foundation has partnered with Gavel & Block by Salcedo Auctions to host a charity auction for the foundation’s benefit. The foundation has always sought assistance from experts in their chosen fields, and we’ve partnered with Gavel & Block because of their successful track record in raising money for charitable causes through the sale of work by renowned local artists.

The auction will feature close to 100 lots, with proceeds helping to support the foundation’s work. The lots will include a pen and ink piece by the late National Artist J. Elizalde Navarro, as well as works from contemporary masters such as Emmanuel Garibay, Daniel dela Cruz, Manuel Ocampo, Jigger Cruz, Jason Montinola, Winner Jumlaon, Alfredo Esquillo Jr., Olan Ventura and Raffy Napay.

There will also be sterling silver pieces from Cartier and Tiffany & Co., fine Baccarat and Lalique crystal, as well as jewelry by Riqueza, Janina Dizon and WH Jewels. You may view the online catalogue of items going under the hammer and register to bid at The auction will be held online on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 at 2 p.m. via

The proceeds from the auction, as with all the donations to the foundation, will go towards our programs that aim to spread awareness of the disease and provide the support necessary for those who have lupus as well as for their families. It’s assistance that has only become more urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic. As I wrote recently on the occasion of World Lupus Day, a global survey conducted by the World Lupus Federation revealed worrying trends: Half of the survey participants reported decreased access to at least one aspect of lupus health care in the last three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic; 36 percent reported decreased access to their lupus doctor/rheumatologist; 29 percent reported decreased access to medical tests for lupus; 24 percent reported decreased access to infusions for lupus; 17 percent reported decreased access to lupus medications.

The foundation will continue to give a platform where Filipinos with lupus can share their stories. We will continue to provide a network of support and expert resources for those that need guidance in their own fight with the disease. But to do this, to help others, we will continue to ask for help ourselves. That is just part of the work, part of needing others, part of being human.

Each of us is passionate about our own causes, committed to our own missions. But don’t forget… you need not be alone. I have found allies, friends and more in the course of helping build the foundation. And I never would have been able to do that, never would have been able to survive, without being able to ask for help.

I wish that all of you, in your times of need, will be able to do the same. And for my fellow “butterfly warriors” – when you ask, we in the foundation shall answer.

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