What is Sylvia’s one great source of strength?

Her experience of COVID-19 flashed through Sylvia Sanchez’s mind again while she and her son Arjo Atayde were taping scenes for Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK). The weekly ABS-CBN drama anthology, hosted by Charo Santos-Concio, returned to television via A2Z Channel last Nov. 28.

Together with Jane de Leon, the mother and son starred in the two-part episode featuring the story of emergency room doctor El Bactol who helped treat COVID-19 patients but eventually succumbed to it. Arjo portrayed Dr. Bactol while Sylvia as the doctor’s mother.

“(The scenes) really brought back memories when I and Art (Atayde, her husband) tested positive for coronavirus after experiencing the symptoms and, eventually, rushed to the hospital,” began Sylvia. “Then here I am portraying a mother whose son has COVID. Sad to say, nawala si Dr. Bactol and while taping, I couldn’t help but think that my children were in the same emotional state as mine when we were sick. Mas masakit actually sa nanay na mangyari ito sa anak n’ya.”

Sylvia stressed that we can only know how strong we are when we strive and thrive beyond the challenges we face. “But what I am always praying to God, and I’m sure all the mothers, is for me not to bury any of my children. Hindi ako ang maglilibing sa anak ko dahil hindi ko kakayanin. I’ve been through a lot of challenges no matter how tough, nakaya ko but losing a child, that I really cannot handle.”

The love of family and the people around her is one great source of her strength. Sylvia said, “My family here and in Mindanao shower me with much love. Even my friends love me. Well, it’s not that we need many friends kasi kahit konti lang sila at mahal ako, okay na ko doon. But I truly am thankful that there are many people who love me.”

She continued, “When I was on the brink of death, I all the more realized that there are many out there who love me. April 1 or 2 when I went 50/50 (chance of survival) and I was surprised that even the people I don’t personally know were praying for me — may mga pari and a lot more. It only proved that when you sow love, you’ll definitely reap it later on in life; babalik at babalik ang pagmamahal na binigay mo.”

She and her son Arjo Atayde were taping scenes for Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK).

In spite of what happened due to the health scare and the calamities that struck us, Sylvia remains optimistic that the pandemic will soon be over. “My wish is for us to be completely COVID-free but of course, I will just pray for it and leave everything to God because there is a reason why all these, including the typhoons and flooding, are happening.”

Meanwhile, Sylvia expressed happiness for Hanggang Saan which she topbilled with Arjo. The 2017 Kapamilya crime drama series has been adapted for television in Turkey and it is now airing on FOX Turkey.

“It’s the first time to have a remake of Filipino drama series in Turkey and I heard that my character is portrayed by a famous actress there. It’s nice that although we are in the midst of this pandemic and most of us are emotionally down, there are still things to be happy about. We just need to focus on the positive so we can attract more blessings.”

(MMK is also available every Saturday, 9 p.m., on the Kapamilya Channel on cable and satellite TV — Skycable Channel 8 SD and Channel 167 HD. Online, it can be viewed on Kapamilya YouTube channel and the ABS-CBN Facebook page, as well as on TFC, iwanttfc.com.)

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