Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When Cyberbobo Went Online and Cried Help

Sometimes I worry that by nurturing a life in cyberspace, I am detaching myself from real people. That sitting in front of the monitor is tantamount to retreating to an alternate Achilles’ tent. That the more I improve on my internet proficiency, the better my antisocial skills become.

But my fears are not enough reasons for me to pull myself away from this wonderful gift of technology. It is a bit too late for me to run. Somehow the internet has become a vital part of me.

Akala ko Techie ka?” I got that once from a friend of mine after admitting that I knew zilch about the internet. I was a self-confessed cyberbobo. If it were not for a paper in my Humanities II class I would not have dared to go online—by myself.

Yes, I was a late internet bloomer. I had computer classes since the seventh grade but the World Wide Web did not hit much of my side of the globe until I was on my senior year in high school. Then, as I have said, college happened.

The internet saved my life a number of times in college. It had been one of my tools for research, a source of entertainment, a way of connecting with old friends, and an effective means to submit my papers on time.

I found my present job in the traditional classified ads but it found me through the net as I opted to send my résumé via email. Then there is my sister who moved to Singapore a year ago with whom I regularly chat with, not to mention exchange emails with. Whenever we feel like seeing each other, we just plug in our webcam then go online. With that the world becomes smaller again.

It is an amazing thing the internet does, pulling people together. And I am a dumb-founded witness to that power.

A few months ago, Nichi, my youngest brother who has leukemia, suffered severe complications due to his damaged immune system. He is 12 years old and none of us in the family was prepared to see our giant baby almost lifeless in the Intensive Care Unit of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC).

The whole ordeal was both physically and emotionally straining not only to Nichi but to our whole family as well. Add to those torments the financial side of our battle. As real life would have it, my family does not own a land, a house, a car or even a carabao—any of which we could have sold or pawned just to settle our hospital bills and ensure Nichi’s continuous treatment.

Not knowing what else I could do, I turned to the PC and the internet, and composed a letter pleading for help from people who knew me and from people who do not even know I exist. I sent my letter to different individuals and organizations night after night hoping that someone would finally respond to my cry for help.

Soon after, several classmates of mine from college replied, followed by a classmate in grade school, then an ex-officemate, a friend of a fellow GMA intern, different sets of family friends, friends from United Laboratories, friends of friends, and so on and so forth until a network of people had offered their help. Even strangers willingly sent their assistance. World Vision, for one, did contact me and gave their pledge. (Yes, everyone, World Vision really do what they say they do! So I suggest that you do not ignore their stalls in malls. If you have money to spare, by all means, coordinate with them.)

I also received a phone call from a doctor who was one of the first people to read my letter. He was so generous in suggesting means by which we could find aid and he, too, promised his support. Before our conversation ended, I tried getting his contact number only to find out that he was calling from Texas, USA, thus explaining the poor telephone connection. Knowing that he went through all the trouble just to reach me was enough for me to thank him probably for as long as I live.

Even until today, I receive emails, text messages and phone calls from people whose hearts were touched upon hearing about what happened to Nichi. And the help that has been pouring in has not yet ceased. They come in the form of prayers, suggestions for alleviating Nichi’s situation, words of support and monetary assistance.

Some of Nichi’s bruises have not yet completely vanished and most of his veins that collapsed because of injections, transfusions and IV lines have not yet fully recuperated. But his spirit is up again. We only have to remind him of the people who are rooting for his fast recovery—friends and strangers with whom we got in touch with mostly through the internet.

Still I remain wondering how my message reached these people—how many degrees of friends it went through for them to receive it. My letter had been forwarded to as far as a community in Canada to as close as one of Nichi’s doctors at PCMC. When you think about it, it is more than amazing.

Contrary to my fear, I found people, lots of real people through the internet. By logging in to the web, I did not retreat but found a whole army that would back me up with my family’s battle. By going online, I was introduced to a better side of humankind—the generous, caring and charitable kind.

Now you see why I am glad I did not run away from this wonderful gift of technology? Through the internet I found help that somehow saved my brother. Along with that I discovered angels among people I was afraid I was isolating myself from.

I was once a self-confessed cyberbobo.

I went online and cried for help.

I found more than I was looking for.


now this, deserves --yet another-- print space in the youngblood section of the inquirer.
that was very detached, yet poignant, tye. parang ikaw, and that is what makes you a real writer.
did that make any sense. who cares at this point? that essay was smashing!
Posted by: Nikka | November 17, 2006 09:46 AM

Thanks, Nikka! I really hope to get THAT space!
Posted by: Tyrene | November 18, 2006 11:58 AM

nice :)
Posted by: Kate | November 18, 2006 10:10 PM

wow tye! e2 na ba ung entry mo dpat? hmm... i agree with nikka. galing! o, seryosohan na talaga ang writing mode natin ah... go tye!
Posted by: Joan Gracy | November 23, 2006 06:02 PM

Thanks, Jo! Sa wakas nakapag-comment ka rin dito. :-)
Posted by: Tyrene | November 25, 2006 04:36 AM

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