Halfway house is home to young cancer patients

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They run, giggle, cry. But the children at Bahay Aruga are far from ordinary: They are all fighting a dreaded enemy – cancer.

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“Bahay Aruga,” a halfway house for children afflicted with cancer, is presently the home of 25 young patients undergoing treatment at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila.

“They are from provinces as far as Bicol, Ilocos, the Visayas and Mindanao. While undergoing outpatient medication at PGH, they stay here to save on money,” said Bahay Aruga founder and president Mayette Bonilla, a spinster who has dedicated her life to taking care of children fighting the “Big C.”
Last week, a group called “Manila Street Love” led by former Manila beauty queen Diana Dayao visited the place and sang and distributed gifts to the children.

“After going around the city distributing little joys (gifts and food) to street children, we end our mission here at Bahay Aruga to serenade these beautiful children. This is our third year doing this small gesture of love,” Dayao told The Manila Times.

Bonilla thanked the group for giving a refrigerator that will be used to store the children’s medicines.

Bonilla said fighting cancer is extra sensitive.

“We want to lighten the burden of the parents. We allow one parent for each patient to stay here for free. We give guidance and keep their spirit strong.”

Since the center was opened in 2014, 37 children have succumbed to cancer.

“It’s sad. There were some who after being told of their children’s condition by PGH doctors, they just went back to their homes in the province, hoping for a miracle. Seeking medications in this kind of condition is not free at all at PGH,” Bonilla lamented.

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