When bad things happen to good people
JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - July 7, 2013 - 12:00am

Twenty-six-year-old Kent Palencia never received any academic awards, but he has a couple of leadership awards as evidenced by the medals framed and hanging on the wall. “Normally, leadership is not really acknowledged in schools.”

I agree. Students, at least during my time, were busy getting good grades. Kent chose to do volunteer work. In high school until college, he was active at the Red Cross. He took up nursing in college, and vowed to focus on community nursing, if he would pass the board, which he did.

“There are so many needs in the community. Often, we give calamity victims relief goods, but after that, we also have to think of their sanitation because we want to avoid the spread of an epidemic,” said Kent who was intense when he talked about public health. It was obvious that public service is the fire in Kent’s belly.  

For a brief moment, I forgot about why I was at their home in Commonwealth, Quezon City.  I wanted to talk to him more about his work and share experiences out on the field as chapter head of Rizal Red Cross.

But since this January, he’s been away from field work and homebound coming from relief work for Habagat victims. All of a sudden his legs became weak and progressed into paralysis. 

It was hard to recognize Kent from his old photos. He was robust and broad-shouldered, but now he has become frail, depending on others for his mobility. His arms and legs shrank due to muscular atrophy. 

He has gone to see doctors, and underwent tests for his blood, kidneys, etc., but the doctors could not pin down the cause for Kent’s condition.

Due to the family’s financial status — his father is a security guard, while his mother owns a sari-sari store — it is difficult for the family to make ends meet, and find a cure for Kent’s sickness.

Mrs. Palencia has been fighting to hide her tears, but she broke down when I interviewed her.  â€œI don’t want Kent to see me crying.” I watched as she kept on massaging Kent’s legs. “Who else would care for Kent but his own mother?” She told me that this was all she could do to help her son through his pain.

Kent experiences brief moments of self-pity, especially when he sees the burden of his condition has on the rest of the family. “But I read in a book on leadership, that you have to let other people care for you, too,” said Kent. 

For most of his life, Kent dedicated his life to public service, in fieldwork. In times of calamities, work would get very hectic, that he only came home to get fresh clothes. Eva could only surmise that all the stress, the physical and mental fatigue took its toll on Kent. 

Kent blames no one for his situation, however, he did learn a lesson or two. “It’s all right to love yourself. That’s not selfishness. How can you love or serve others if you don’t take care of yourself?”

Kent believes that this paralysis of his is just a turning point, a phase. He has no doubt that he will get better. I sincerely hope that his condition is temporary. 

After meeting Kent, I asked myself: Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there not a law on karma? I couldn’t find the answer to “why” bad things happen to good people. I guess it just does.

But, “when” bad things do happen to good people…

They have the grace to embrace and conquer their situation. 

Good people are never alone. People weep for them and pray for them.

They become an inspiration to others.

Their karma is to be on the receiving end of love. 

Let’s include Kent in our prayers. 

For monetary donations for Kent’s medical needs, you can deposit them to the BDO Mother Ignacia Branch with the account name: AFI-Gabay Kapamilya and account number 5630050932 (peso savings account). 

Kindly e-mail me at bsaguinaldo@yahoo.com.ph or follow me on Twitter for updates @bernadette_ABS.

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