Circle of Friends

At Aria Hotel in 2012

At Aria Hotel in 2012

By Bert Eljera

Part 10

LAS VEGAS – After  a couple of failed relationships, I can say with some certainty now that I have finally found the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.

It has come full circle for me, a 360-degree turn around that essentially brought me back to the place where I had come from.

Just a “bangalog” (swamp) separates Balud from Songco, but for Christie (Tita) and myself (Norbing), it took more than 40 years and the magic of the Internet for our paths to cross again.

Good thing, we both were also in the crossroads of our lives, and our eyes were open to new possibilities. Just fate? Or, could it have been destiny?

So now we find ourselves in another Circle of Friends, a small but certainly an important one, the most important, in fact, as I pursue this struggle to prolong my life with a kidney transplant.

Hospitals, doctors, nurses, medicines and lab tests seem to be the common denominator of our relationship. It could have been a big turn-off for her – or any woman for that matter.

Just days after we met for the first time in Jacksonville, Florida, I landed in the hospital. (no, not because of what you’re thinking, but my transplanted kidney was showing signs of failing). This was back in 2010.

The day after we decided to move to Las Vegas in February, 2011, I was back in the hospital again, this time with some heart problems.

Still, she didn’t throw in the towel. She has endured spending the night curled in a hospital couch, walked long distances under a searing Las Vegas sun or the numbing cold of winter, and shared yucky hospital food with me.

Personal complications aggravated the situations with both of us coming from broken marriages. Yet we pulled through, thanks mainly for the support of benevolent people, most especially Dr. Nimfa Raagas Aguila, who provided help in every possible way.

The first of several hospitalizations over the past four years. This one in Jacksonville, Florida in 2010.

The first of several hospitalizations over the past four years. This one in Jacksonville, Florida in 2010.

Her sons, Alex and Anthony, were like family, and her friends and relatives became quite close to us too, providing us comfort and support.

We found time to set up charities and non-profits, such as the Borongan Historical and Cultural Society with the intention of operating a library and museum in Borongan City, and created the Eastern Samar chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross.

A now-operational blood bank is the result of the efforts of Dr. Aguila and Dr. Jesse Solidon to provide enhanced medical care for the people of our city and province.

We had been active in the celebration of the town fiesta and added excitement to the festivities with a couple of photo contests eagerly participated in by local amateur and professional photographers.

Friends and relatives having fun at Casa Aguila in Henderson, Nevada

Friends and relatives having fun at Casa Aguila in Henderson, Nevada

Dr. Aguila’s philanthropic and compassionate nature was in full display when she initiated relief and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of the devastating Typhoon Yolanda, which cut  wide swath of destruction in Eastern Visayas.

In my effort to raise money for the kidney transplant, I had approached Dr. Aguila for help in reaching out to various medical organizations, particularly alumni of the University of the East, Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center.

I have been blessed enough to have circles of friends willing to help me meet the challenges of this medical condition. Personal, professional and other connections have allowed me to face the coming days and months with hope and optimism.

Whatever happens, it’s great to know that I shared happy moments with some great people – and my life is richer because of them.





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