Sometimes you never know where friendships lead you to. My friendship with Pia started when my husband and I went on a date with Pia and her then boyfriend/future husband, Butch (now legally separated), who happened to be my husband’s best friend during their Law school days. I never dreamed that the four of us would sit down literally under the mango tree and conceptualize the law office of Sebastian , Dado, Cruz and Batalla (now CASElaw). I was their first accountant while Pia was the Office Manager during the first months of operation as our husbands struggled to make ends meet. Our husbands were busy being the lawyers , of course.

Though we were not exactly as close as our two husbands were, Pia consoled me during the wake of my son and gave me grief reading resources. You know, there were not many people who were tactful and compassionate during those days. I felt comforted by her words. Who would have thought that two years later, our husbands would now share a maddening experience of losing an only son? And both us would have two surviving daughters. Gabriel, Pia and Butch’s son had a rare chromosomal disorder called trisomy 13.

Gabriel was unlike most children. He was born with a cleft lip and palate, had a hole in his heart, enlarged kidneys, and was perceived to be deaf and perhaps blind. He could not eat without a tube down his throat and he needed oxygen most of the time…

Gabriel lived for 9 months.

Pia turned her grief around by starting Gabriel Symphony whose immediate goal is to make a difference in the life of a child. Though there are many ways of doing this, the foundation chose to focus primarily on cleft lip operations. They realized that it does not cost much to have a cleft lip repaired and yet many Filipino children will go thru life physically impaired and emotionally traumatized by the stigma of having a cleft lip. To date, the foundation sponsored operations to 119 children at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) plus a total of 121 children from General Malvar Hospital since 2004 through Operation Rainbow with the help of foreign doctors, 12 infants in cooperation with the Zugbuana Jaycees in Cebu and 213 infants through the help of the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental.

It is as if Gabriel continues to live on in these children.

Like most bereaved parents, we want the memory of our child to continue living in our hearts and in the minds of others. Pia will hold a 12-Hour Multi Sport Celebration In Memory of Gabriel on September 8, 2007. This year’s run-walk-bike event will be held from 6:00AM to 6:00PM. at Alabang Country Club, Polo Field, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa. Click here for the mechanics and Click here to register.

I hope you can find it in your heart to support my friend’s advocacy and dedicate your run, walk or bike ride on this one Saturday towards making the lives of other children better.

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About Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

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