MANILA, Philippines — Before Filipino bet Louie Sangalang was a finalist in "The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition", he had to fight what most consider a losing battle — one against cancer.
The experience of suriving appendiceal cancer decades ago became a life-changing moment for Sangalang, so it was only fitting that it would somehow be connected to his life once more in the show.
During a high-stakes business challenge that saw Sangalang book a ticket to the finale, the 43-year-old encountered cancer again — but this time in a more hopeful interaction.
Sangalang and partner Jessica Ramella were tasked to work with a non-government organization and stole the hearts of ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong and his right-hand woman Niharika Singh in their project with LOVE, NILS — an NGO that provides children with cancer and their caregivers healthcare guidance, emotional care and community support.
Sangalang and Ramella developed a game-changer for the NGO with an AI chatbot to aid in bridging communities of those who suffer the same disease that Sangalang had all those years ago.
Dubbed "NILS' PALS", the chatbot enables patients and their families to connect with each other as well as prospective donors to aid in dealing with a difficult situation like cancer.
Sangalang opened up about what it meant for him to work on a project that was very close to his heart.
"I look at it this way. We have a suicide hotline, right?… The project that Jessica and I worked on is similar to that. But instead of suicide, you have someone who's reaching out because this person may want to know more about the disease, may want someone to talk to," Sangalang said.
"That's one component, I think in cancery recovery or cancer rehabilitation that's not immediately addressed," he continued.
The project gave Sangalang an opportunity to solve the problem, while also providing emotional care for children who share the same experience as him — something that was not made available to him in the past.
"I remember when I got sick, and I realized that my parents were spending so much… I was thinking 'Is it even worth it?'," said Sangalang.
"These thoughts came to me, how much more with kids who don't have that kind of level of maturity yet… I think that's a real application to it," he added.
Even LOVE, NILS founder Lesli Berggren was impressed at Sangalang and Ramella's efforts.
"Cancer is very family centric, it affects the entire family, their whole social life stops to support that child, that means sometimes siblings are left out. So this platform I thought would help that cancer centric family," Berggren, who lost her son Nils to cancer at a young age, said of NILS' PALS.
"When I saw the platform and what this platform could do, I was just so hopeful for a brighter future for creating a NILS' PALS program… it was very moving," she added.
After having connived for NILS' PALS, Sangalang and Ramella will know lock horns for all the marbles in the finale of The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition set next week.
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com