Ricky Reyes, Hans Sy give kids with cancer a new home this Christmas
OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2015 - 9:00am

Beauty expert and philan-thropist Ricky Reyes has had some doors slammed so hard to his face in the past, but what shook him to his very core was when the cancer-stricken children under his care got evicted from the house they called home at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) compound in Quezon City.

In 2011, Mother Ricky’s CHILD (Center for Health Improvement and Life Development) Haus, a temporary hospice or halfway home for indigent children from the provinces battling diseases like cancer, received a notice of ejection from the PCSO, one of its benefactors. The agency was moving to Manila, and the CHILD Haus building was deemed condemned. Although the ejection caused a stir in the media, the PCSO didn’t offer a temporary shelter for the kids and eventually stopped giving support.

Mother Ricky was devastated. He didn’t want the children to go back to their respective provinces because the kind of treatment they get from government hospitals here in the metro are way better compared to the clinics in the barrios. And that was enough reason for him not to give up. Mother Ricky knew that these kids depended on him so he began asking help from his generous friends. And for several months, he looked around for homes to rent.

“At first, the landlords were elated that I was interested in their properties. But upon learning that the house would be occupied by cancer patients, they politely turned down my offer,” he related.

As they say, “When a door closes, a window opens.” For the kids of CHILD Haus, make that a six-story building.

On Nov. 29, Mother Ricky and his “children” invited their generous patrons and CHILD Haus volunteers  to the blessing of the bigger and better CHILD Haus 2, a six-story building donated by SM Prime Holdings, Inc. president Hans Sy in celebration of his 60th birthday.

“In the past years, I would reward myself with something special on my birthday.  It could be an expensive watch or a painting,” Hans shared.?Then it hit him. Yes, these things made him feel better, but they don’t make him a better person. Putting up this new home is Hans Sy’s way of extending his love and understanding to these brave children who continue to fight for their lives every day.

“Now, I feel so much better,” added Hans.

To Sy is to believe

Ricky Reyes and Hans Sy’s friendship and commitment to help the sick kids started at the height of the CHILD Haus and PCSO’s controversy.

“Unknown to many, I’m actually closer to Hans’s father, taipan Henry Sy. I owe the old man a lot,” shared Mother Ricky. It was Sy who gave the budding beauty entrepreneur a break at SM Malls.

“When Tatang (Henry) got sick, I would frequently visit him at home,” Mother Ricky said. In one visit, he met Sy’s son, Hans, who asked him why he was crying on national TV.

Hans’s heart melted when he learned about the CHILD Haus’ ejection.?“That was just too much for their little hearts and minds. These children don’t even know why they’re sick,” Hans added.

Little did Mother Ricky know that just like him, Hans had also been looking for a house, but the plan didn’t materialize because the sellers would jack up the price when they learned who the buyer was.

It took several months for Hans to call Mother Ricky again.?“He asked me to meet him at 19 Mapang-akit St. in Quezon City — in a house, which would be the children’s temporary home,” Mother Ricky said.

The kids stayed there only for three-and-a-half years, because Hans had something better in store for them — the six-story CHILD Haus on Agoncillo St., Paco, Manila.

Their new home is now a short walk away from Philippine General Hospital where they’re getting treatment, which makes it so convenient and easier for the sick kids.

The lot where the new CHILD Haus stands was owned by Mercedes Barrios-Rivera, who refused to sell the property to Hans Sy in the beginning.

“We had so many memories in this house, so I vehemently turned down their plea. But when my daughter told me the reason why Hans wanted this property — because it’s near the hospitals — and what he would do with it, I finally gave in. How could I say no to these kids?,” the teary-eyed Mercedes said during CHILD Haus’ blessing.

There’s a commercial space beside the building, which Hans is planning to lease out.

“The rent would go to CHILD Haus to subsidize their needs,” enthused Hans who often got teased by his friends that he would be closer to God for doing all these for the children.

“That wasn’t my objective at all. I have no other reason but to extend help to these children the best I could,” Hans added. “If Mother Ricky could do so much for the underprivileged children, why shouldn’t I?”



A new home, a new beginning

“CHILD Haus 2 is probably the best Christmas gift for the children,” enthused singer/actress Karylle, who has been a CHILD Haus volunteer for 10 years now.

 Karylle showed us the social hall/music room, which she and her mom Zsa-Zsa Padilla furnished with musical instruments. “As we all know, music therapy is one of the most effective treatments. Songs relax the kids,” said Karylle, who donated P200,000 to CHILD Haus.

According to Mother Ricky, CHILD Haus kids look up to and love Karylle so much like their own ate.

“Karylle is selfless. She really has a heart for these kids. While we were in our old house in QC, she would take her dogs to CHILD Haus every day before going to work just to be with the kids,” Mother Ricky shared.

Now that CHILD Haus is in its 12th year, Mother Ricky is happy to note that through the help of Hans, Karylle, and the rest of his benefactors, they have taken under its care 13,000 children from all over the country. Out of the 13,000 “wala pa pong 1,000 children ang nag paalam. Dahil dito sa CHILD Haus, ang mga batang may sakit ay nakakain at nakakatulog ng maayos at higit sa lahat, libre.

Jing Mendoza and her 10-year-old son Miguel Ivan are one of the beneficiaries. Miguel was diagnosed with leukemia when he was five years old. At first, the doctors in the province couldn’t diagnose what was wrong with him, so Jing brought him to a hospital in Pampanga.

Sabi po ng doktor iuwi na lang namin si Miguel kasi magsasayang lang daw po kami ng panahon at pera,” Jing recalled. “Miguel would die anyway.”

But Jing’s faith in God didn’t waver. She knew that with the grace of God, Miguel would survive. Besides, she wouldn’t give up his son without giving a good fight.

Kahit wala po kaming kapera-pera, nag desisyon po kaming mag-asawa na dalhin sa Manila si Miguel,” said the doting mom.

Miguel was eventually confined at the National Children’s Hospital in Quezon City. To better monitor Miguel’s condition, his attending physicians advised Jing to look for a place near the hospital so they wouldn’t have to travel all the way from Tarlac every time for consultation. The bus fare from Tarlac to Manila is P480 per person.

Miguel’s chemotherapy cost roughly around P10,000 per session five years ago. He needed chemo three times a week.

Hindi na po namin alam kung saan kukuha ng pera para sa pang araw-araw na gastusin at mga bayarin sa ospital,” said Jing.

Jing and Miguel would eventually camp out outside the hospital for days. The guard at the National Children’s Hospital took pity on them, and eventually told Jing about the CHILD Haus.

“We got a referral to CHILD Haus from Miguel’s attending physician,” enthused Jing.  At CHILD Haus, Miguel’s needs are all provided for: food, safe drinking water, a relaxing bed and a safe place to stay — all for free.

“Napaka-laking tulong po ang ibinigay ni Mother Ricky sa amin sa pamamagitan ng CHILD Haus,” Jing added.

The new CHILD Haus in Manila looks like a condotel. There’s a reception area on the ground floor, a social hall, entertainment area, dining room, milk feeding room and an out door playground — replete with swings, a slide and automated rides donated by  CHILD Haus benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Ramon Santos — and viewing deck on the sixth floor. The children and adult’s dorms are located on the third and fourth floors, while the isolation rooms for kids with serious conditions are on the fifth floor.

Aside from the Sy family, Child Haus’ regular patrons include PDI’s Letty Magsanoc, former PCSO chair Manoling Morato, Wilma Galvante, Karylle Tatlonghari, Ramon Santos, Aisa Mercado, Ramon and Annie Santos, officers of the Rotary Club Makati, and Food for the Hungry, which gives a P50,000 monthly subsidy. Customers of Ricky Reyes’ salons are not aware that for every haircut or manicure at the salon, a portion goes to Mother Ricky’s charities. Occasionally, friends donate in cash or in kind.

 “Let this be the start of a new beginning for all of us. To all the benefactors and volunteers, may your tribe increase. This is probably the best Christmas gift we could give these kids who will surely have the merriest Christmas this year,” Mother Ricky happily declared.?

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