‘War­rior’ keeps fight­ing

Panay News - - FRONT PAGE - By Roeyna May Famis­aran

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.

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