‘Warrior’ keeps fighting
I BROWSED my News Feed one lazy Saturday night. It was 11 p.m. and I was struggling to fall asleep. I scroll and scroll, checking my cyber friends’ activities. Some were traveling outside the country, a few celebrated their anniversaries, most were heartbroken, and some were enjoying parties. But a post that hit me the most was a dance cover made by someone I interviewed around seven months ago.
“Nahadlok ko nga basi indi na ‘ ko kasaot liwat.” I remember Feliff John Carano-o telling me while we were doing the interview inside their house on General Hughes Street in January. For the past nine years during that month, Feliff was busy practicing for Dinagyang Festival’s street dance competition. But this year, he was just sitting on a folding bed, unable to walk.
In July last year, Feliff was diagnosed with a rare condition called Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis ( ADEM). I n an article published on nationalmssociety. org, ADEM is “a brief but intense attack of i nflammation ( swelling) in the brain and spinal cord and occasionally the optic nerves that damages the brain’s myelin (the white coating of nerve fibers).”
Seeing Feliff’s dance cover made me smile. It has only been seven months since I saw him downtrodden, fighting for his survival.
Feliff was only 15 years old when he joined Tribu ni San Pedro (2007-2009). He then joined Tribu Pan-ay (2010-2012), Tribu Panayanon (2013-2014), and Tribu Salognon (2015-2016). He has been to Aliwan Festival five times; he was part of the back-to-back festival champion Tribu Pan-ay in 2011-2012. Feliff was also part of Pan-ay’s delegation when they went to the US to perform.
“How are you?” I message him on Facebook.
“Okay lang Ma’am. Ari gaeswekla na ako,” he replies.
“Wow” was the only thing I could write.
Feliff ’s doctors say he is a living miracle. He was comatose for 21 days. They told his family he had little chance of survival. But here he is now, almost back to normal.
“Maski si Doc gahambal nga- a daw kadasig sa akon maka-recover. Hambal ko sa iya, fighter lang gid ko ya,” he narrates.
It was unclear how the manytime champion Dinagyang dancer got the disease. But during those three weeks where he was in the state of coma, it was crystal-clear how Feliff was loved. The Carano-o family received financial and emotional support from the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc., politicians, anonymous donors, and Feliff’s friends and tribe mates.
“I am still recovering. While naga- recover, naga eskwel a man,” Fel if f continues our conversation. He is currently enrolled at the Technical Institute of Iloilo City.
I tell him that’s good – that he is recovering, that he goes to school, that things are finally going back to normal. “How’s your family?” I ask. “Okay gid sila. Happy sila nga naga-recover na ako,” he says.
Feliff tells me he plans to finish his school first before going back to dancing.
“Amo gid na goal ko subong, makatapos sang eskwela. Kung fully recovered na, I can go back to dancing. Who knows? Basi next year na,” he reveals.
“Wow. The warrior is back. God bless you, Feliff,” I reply.
I watch his dance cover once again. I smile while I r e membe r hi s words during our first meeting: “A true warrior never stops fighting.”/
Feliff as a Dinagyang warrior. He was only 15 years old when he joined Tribu ni San Pedro (2007-2009). He then joined Tribu Pan-ay (2010-2012), Tribu Panayanon (2013-2014), and Tribu Salognon (2015-2016).
Feliff John Carano-o (left) is being interviewed by this author in January this year.
Carano-o was in comatose for 21 days. He was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis.
Carano-o meets with Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. The mayor lauded him for his fighting spirit and determination to go back to school.