PLDT-Smart Foundation leads aid for stranded OFWs and locals

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely turned our lives around — some for the better, while some (unfortunately) for the worse. Among those heavily affected are the OFWs and local workers whose workplaces are located outside the cities or provinces they live in. Due to quarantine restrictions, many of them have been stranded in places far from home.

Haira Aba, 29 years old, is the breadwinner of her family in Datu Paglas in Maguindanao. She applied for a job as a domestic helper in Qatar and travelled to Manila. But the COVID-19 pandemic came, overseas travel came to a halt, and as a result, she has been stuck in Manila for the past four months.

According to Aba, her situation is difficult since she is far away from her family. She said that what brought comfort during this difficult time was the help they have received from various organizations and individuals.

Kailangan kong magtiis. Nakikipagkuwentuhan na lang ako sa mga kasama ko dito para hindi ma-bored. Malaking tulong din ang cellphone at internet dahil na rin may YouTube, (I need to endure this. I just talk to some of the people that are also stranded here so that I won’t get bored. Having my cellphone with me and having Internet also helps a lot because there’s Youtube.)” Aba said.

54-year old Dennis Sebastian is a mechanical operator and harvester in Tuguegarao – a job he has been doing for six years now. He usually travels back to his hometown in Compra, Liloy in Zamboanga Del Norte three times a year. This year, he was scheduled to return home last April 6. But due to the pandemic, his flight was rescheduled to June 5 – and then was again cancelled.

Unable to fly home, Sebastian stayed for several weeks at a footbridge near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. Last June 11, he was transferred to the Villamor Elementary School. In order to buy food, Sebastian said he had sold some of his personal belongings. This included his cellphone, which he sold for P300, a luggage for P500 and his shoes for P200.

According to Sebastian he lived like a nomad for weeks. “Palipat-lipat ako ng puwesto kapag sobrang init at umuulan. Sana hindi na maulit ito kasi apat na buwan na akong hindi nakakauwi. Wala na akong communication [sa aking pamilya]. Pero bago ko ibinenta ang cellphone ko, natawagan ko na sila at sinabi kong h’wag mag-alala, (I keep changing positions and places where to stay, especially when it is extremely hot or when it rains. I hope this never happens again because it’s been four months that I haven’t been home. I don’t have any communication with my family. But before I sold my cellphone, I was able to call them and tell them not to worry.)” Sebastian said.

Aba and Sebastian are two of the 350 returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and locally stranded individuals (LSI’s) at the Villamor Elementary School in Villamor Airbase, Pasay City. They received meals and other assistance from the PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) through employee-led fundraising initiatives such as the Fairness, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability (F.I.T.A.) Video Challenge and Kapit Kapatid Program.

The PSF also partnered with the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Social Welfare and Development in the National Capital Region.

“Our hearts are with our brothers and sisters who are struggling to be reunited with their families. We understand how important being with family is in order to cope better during this difficult time. We hope that our simple gesture brought them some joy, especially during these trying times,” said PLDT-Smart Foundation President Esther Santos.

On June 25, Sebastian is scheduled to finally come home.

To know more about the efforts of the PLDT Group in beating the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit http://beta.pldt.com/covid19/.

All the numbers you can call to #SpeakOut against domestic violence

With COVID-19 forcing governments around the world to impose quarantine measures, countless women have found themselves trapped at home with their abusers — sadly, members of their own families. In the Philippines alone, around 602 rape cases have been reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP) from March 17 to May 23.

With the lockdown effectively cutting off any means of help or escape, Avon aims to address this increasingly alarming issue through its #IsolatedNotAlone campaign that gives victims of domestic violence access to the support and safety resources they sorely need.

In line with its years-long commitment to help end violence against women and girls, Avon Philippines is taking up the fight by partnering with She Talks Asia for #SpeakOut Online Tribe Meet Up, which can be viewed on June 20, Saturday, from 4:00 to 5:30PM via the Avon Philippines and She Talks Asia Facebook Pages.

The two-part online event features She Talks Asia co-founder Iza Calzado and CSR Lead for Avon Philippines Ces Francisco, who discussed Avon’s long-time commitment to end Violence Against Women and Girls and the company’s most recent global campaign #IsolatedNotAlone. This is followed shortly by a panel discussion presenting insights on the issue; possible courses of action; as well as, the proper channels for people everywhere to help.

Notable speakers also join the roundtable to share valuable information and viable ways to mitigate this critical concern, including gender equality advocate and 2005 Nobel Prize nominee Sen. Risa Hontiveros, journalist and Pulitzer fellow Ana Santos, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Luna Legal Resource for Women and Children Atty. Romeo Cabarde, Jr. She Talks Asia co-founder Lynn Pinugu moderates the panel discussion.

Local celebrities and influencers have also shown support for the #IsolatedNotAlone campaign by coming up with Trojan Horse videos that offer domestic abuse victims a lifeline without rousing suspicion from their abusers. Published in their own social media accounts, these videos feature athlete and activist Kali Huff and mental health & domestic abuse advocate Kris Ponce-Enrile, along with other personalities, seemingly doing regular, everyday activities that actually provide much-needed information on how to reach out to Avon’s partner NGOs.  

The Avon Foundation for Women has already issued P4.5 Million back in May to support local non-government organizations providing front-line services such as helplines and refuges. The emergency grant recipients include Luna Legal Resource Center for Women and Children, Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE), Women’s Care Center Inc. (WCCI) and ING MAKABABAYING AKSYON (IMA) Foundation. The donation is part of the $1 Million total fund that provides aid for over 250,000 at-risk women and children affected by rapidly rising domestic abuse rates in 37 countries.

While the restrictions due to the pandemic are still in place, it is important to pay attention to those who are disproportionately affected by the protocol of quarantine. With its informative online event and helpful social media videos, Avon continues to push back on gender-based violence during this global crisis, reminding women that they may be isolated, but are not alone.

Show your support for the cause by sharing it with the hashtag #isolatednotalone on your social media channels to spread the word and reach out to every woman in need. For more information, go to www.avonworldwide.com

Should you know or suspect anyone who may need support against domestic violence, especially during these uncertain times, contact the following Avon NGO Partners:

Luna Legal Resource Center for Women and Children

Facebook: Luna Legal Center

Phone number: (082) 306-5761

Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE)

Facebook: GWAVE Philippines

Phone number: (035) 422 84 05 | +63 915 259 3029 | +63 999 576 6679

Women’s Care Center Inc. (WCCI)

Facebook: WCCI.Manila

Phone number: +63 999 577 9631 | +63 920 967 7852 | +63 917 825 0320 | (02) 8514-4104

Ing Makababaying Aksyon (IMA) Foundation

Facebook: ING Makababaying Aksyon (IMA) Foundation

Phone number: (045) 323 4750

Domestic abuse: Avon raises voice against the silent pandemic

COVID-19 has forced people to stay home to help reduce the spread of the virus. But for many survivors of gender-based violence, being in quarantine means being in the center of a different kind of danger.

The United States’ National Domestic Violence Hotline has identified some of the unique impacts of the pandemic on victims, pointing out that the current situation has emboldened abusers to exert control over them:

  • Abusers may deny their victims essential and life-saving items like hand sanitizers, disinfectants, or even insurance cards.
  • They may also share misinformation about the pandemic to scare and control their victims, and even prevent them from going out of the house to seek medical help if they show symptoms.
  • Programs that serve victims may be significantly impacted as they buckle under funding pressure. Victims may also fear entering shelters because of the possibility of being in close quarters with others as the threat of COVID-19 remains high.
  • Travel restrictions due to quarantine may also impact a victim’s escape or safety plan.

Institutions like the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) have sounded the alarm on the rising incidences of domestic violence during the pandemic, especially in a country where 3 out of 20 women and girls aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence, 1 out of 20 has suffered from sexual violence, and 1 out of 4 married Filipina has experienced spousal violence (based on the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey).

Given the new challenges victims now must deal with in escaping their abusers and calling for help, these institutions have urged everyone to be vigilant and immediately report any form of abuse in their homes and communities.

The Philippines’ case is part of a global pattern, a consequence of the pandemic and the lockdown orders that followed. This is why Avon is joining women’s organizations and advocates from all corners of the world in appealing to the public to not to turn a blind eye on gender-based violence during COVID-19.

To further support grassroots efforts in securing the safety of vulnerable women, the Avon Foundation For Women has pledged $1 million to non-government organizations providing front-line services such as helplines and refuges, building on its 15-year commitment to help end violence against women and girls.

Avon is also launching a communications effort among its five million Representatives worldwide, their customers, and their communities.

Isolated Not Alone focuses on raising awareness on domestic abuse amidst COVID-19; signposting where to go for help and how to identify and support those at risk; and calling on governments to support the provision of life-saving services, which are in danger of further funding cuts and de-prioritization.

“Domestic violence is already an epidemic which is hidden behind closed doors,” says Angela Cretu, Avon CEO. “Like COVID-19, it’s a silent killer. We’re going to make sure those who are isolated know they are not alone. In addition to giving funds to NGOs through the Avon Foundation For Women our Avon teams will be donating vital products—from personal care to hand sanitizers and soaps—to refuges across the world.”

In the Philippines, Avon is embedding emergency hotline numbers and other life-saving information into lifestyle content delivered digitally through local celebrities and digital influencers, so that women can access the support they need with reduced risk of exposure to abusers. Partner NGOs’ hotlines are also open 24/7 to accommodate victims with capacity-building programs for service providers, food and hygiene packs, and counseling and legal consultations.

“Empowering women is Avon’s long-standing legacy, and their safety is our priority,” says Razvan Diratian, General Manager of Avon Philippines. “As the community quarantine is extended in various regions here, the risk of women and children isolated with domestic violence abusers increases too. Please join us by speaking out if you know a friend or a neighbor who needs support.”

Spread the word. Show your support for the cause by sharing it with the hashtag #isolatednotalone on your social media channels. Let’s reach out to every woman in need. For more information, go to www.avonworldwide.com.

Should you have any information about anyone who may need support against domestic violence during the enhanced community quarantine, contact the following Avon NGO Partners:

Luna Legal Resource Center for Women and Children
https://www.facebook.com/lunalegalcenter/
(082) 306-5761

Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE)
https://www.facebook.com/GWAVEPhilippines/
(035) 422 84 05 | +63 915 259 3029 | +63 999 576 6679

Women’s Care Center Inc. (WCCI)
https://www.facebook.com/wcci.manila/
+63 999 577 9631 | +63 920 967 7852 | +63 917 825 0320 | (02) 8514-4104

ING MAKABABAYING AKSYON (IMA) Foundation
https://www.facebook.com/Ing-Makababaying-Aksyon-IMA-Foundation-131515322286/
(045) 323 4750

URC, GBF design face shields for essential workers

Universal Robina Corporation (URC) and the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF) are currently producing much-needed face shields using URC’s available resources.

The Gokongwei-owned food firm has temporarily repurposed some parts of its production line to manufacture 100,000 reusable face shields vital to frontline health workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

According to GBF Director Grace Colet, these will go to some of the hospitals that have been at the forefront of the country’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

GBF is targeting over 25 beneficiaries including: Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Heart Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Rizal Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, The Medical City and Chinese General Hospital.

“We (GBF) were experiencing problems securing our personal protective equipment (PPE) orders from suppliers,” related Colet “Sometimes they’ll back out a day or two even after placing the order. And prices were increasing. It was a struggle to secure the very valuable PPE that we needed for donation to our health workers.”

Colet related, “Being an engineer, David Lim of URC got inspired to study the design and make it more efficient in terms of using available resources. We consulted doctors and specialists from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to ensure we are providing appropriate PPEs.”

URC senior vice-president for quality engineering, sustainability and technical services David Lim created the face shields, taking into consideration the urgency for these protective gears. “Some face shields are generally disposable. That’s why they had to make a lot. Our team decided to come up with a face shield design that can both be easily manufactured and is reusable,” he said.

For Dr. Maria Julieta Germar from PGH’s obstetrics and gynecology department, disinfecting URC’s face shield is easy because it doesn’t have foams. “The distance from the mask makes it easy for us to use goggles, loop and N95 masks underneath it. It is also not prone to fogging which is important when we do our surgeries,” she added.

According to Dr. Germar, the face shields are used by their medical personnel but later on, they intend to provide to patients who may need additional protection. URC’s face shields are made from just three basic materials, making mass production easier: a polypropylene (PP) strip that is 14mm thick and about a meter long; an 8-by-13-inch PET sheet; and some staples.

The company buys the PET sheets and staples, but it produces the PP strips in its facility in Calamba, Laguna. With minimal materials needed, URC is able to produce 3,500 face shields a day at two of its production facilities in Laguna. To date, it has delivered 40,000 to various hospitals and will complete deliveries by May.

According to Lim, the demand for the face shields is continuously growing. “This COVID fight is a battle for everyone. It is an honor for URC to be able to contribute and collaborate with GBF and hospitals, with safety, quality and sustainability in mind. That is the URC way.”

The Gokongwei Group’s URC is one of the largest food and beverage manufacturing companies in the country, producing Filipino favorites like C2, Great Taste and Jack ‘n Jill snacks. Also from the same parent company is GBF, a foundation dedicated to contributing to the country’s progress by helping educate its workforce in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Lung Center of the Philippines launches 155225 LCP-OPD hotline with PLDT

The Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) today launched its emergency OPD consultation number 155225 dedicated for COVID-19-related concerns and cases.

Through PLDT Enterprise, the Lung Center of the Philippines deployed the said emergency hotline to provide health assistance and consultations to Filipinos experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, Asthma, COPD, Bronchiectasis, and Tuberculosis without them needing to personally visit the hospital.

“With this partnership, we aim to support the initiatives of the Lung Center of the Philippines in battling the COVID-19 pandemic so they can efficiently provide timely medical assistance to our fellow countrymen,” said Jovy Hernandez, ePLDT President & CEO and SVP & Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups.

The hotline was established in line with the designated COVID-19 referral center’s response initiatives against COVID-19. Recently, the Lung Center of the Philippines launched its own “COVID AskForce” which is its online portal for all inquiries regarding the novel coronavirus with over 600 volunteer doctors.

“By having an emergency hotline, we can quickly give out necessary health information to Filipinos needing medical attention if they suspect of having COVID-19 or know someone experiencing possible symptoms,” said Dr. Jessica Catalan-Legarda, Supervising Head of LCP OPD Hotline of the Lung Center of the Philippines. “This also helps us manage our frontlines in extending immediate health assistance and care to those who need it the most.”

The 155225 LCP-OPD hotline, which will operate from 8am to 5pm, is also a channel through which the Lung Center of the Philippines can accept donations such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies.

Jollibee and McCann World Group Philippines pay tribute to moms of frontliners

A mother’s nurturing love indeed leaves a lasting impact on her children’s lives. From teaching them their first lessons at home, instilling values that help shape their attitude and personality, to providing unending support and encouragement, the heroes of today have learned how to draw their character from the example of their mothers.

This May, Jollibee and creative agency, McCann World Group Philippines, pay tribute to strong and brave mothers as they release a touching Kwentong Jollibee Mother’s Day special that shows how a mother’s earnest parenting can determine how far a child can go in life.

Inspired by true stories, the special Mother’s Day tribute presents the realities in the lives of front-liners who are helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It follows the stories of front-liners and volunteers who, even in these trying times, continue to fulfill a higher purpose by carrying out their duties to those they serve. Despite their own circumstances, they set their heart on bringing joy to people, with a love that’s deeply anchored on the nurturing care they received from their moms.

“Our front-liners go out every day, braving different challenges that help flatten the curve and provide aid to those in need. As a brand that is one with the nation in recognizing our front-liners, our Mother’s Day tribute pays homage to their dear mothers — the first person who molded them to be the kind-hearted and noble people they are today, said Francis Flores, Jollibee Global Brand CMO, JFC Philippines Country Business Group and concurrent PH Marketing Head.

Through the guidance and example that mothers have set, many COVID-19 front-liners are able to fulfill their duties not only in their respective families, but also in the communities they lend a hand to. The material brings to light a powerful truth about how a mother’s love can enkindle a hero out in all of us.

Watch the video here:

Mother’s Day Tribute 2020: Pasasalamat

Galing sa puso, galing kay Nanay. Happy Mother’s Day! #SalamatPoNay

Posted by Jollibee on Saturday, May 9, 2020

Maxi-Peel bridges frontliners and their loved in new video

With the many challenges we face everyday–especially now that there is a global health pandemic going on–a call for encouragement and a message of gratitude can go a long, long way.

Even though nothing can ever beat the comfort of being at home with their families, we can help boost the morale of our brave frontliners by continuously expressing our appreciation for their hard work and sacrifices.

Maxi-Peel has taken the initiative to become the bridge between our modern heroes and their loved ones who they might not have seen over the past weeks or maybe even months. Through the online video Gaganda Muli Ang Bukas, individuals whose moms, dads, relatives, and even friends are able to reach out to their loved ones who are continuously fighting for a better tomorrow.

The video offered an opportunity for these people to send our modern day heroes messages and reminders to take a rest when they can, to also look out for themselves, and to express how much they are missed.

Moreover, through a short speech, these loved ones were able to share the pride and happiness of knowing that their family member is able to help a significant amount of those who are in need.

Hope has always been something that Maxi-Peel believed in, and just like our brave frontliners and their families who remain strong as they keep fighting, Maxi-Peel also urges everyone to not give up with the hashtag #WagMongIsukoAngLaban.

The brand’s encouraging message of hope has always stood as an inspiration for women across the Philippines even before the pandemic happened. By bringing hope to consumers who may have felt bullied or dejected in the past because they lack the confidence to face the world, have found a partner in Maxi-Peel to give them a brighter outlook.

Now, Maxi-Peel is doing the same for the entire country as it pushes for encouragement in these trying times.

Watch the full video of Gaganda Muli Ang Bukas below:

The Body Shop joins Planet CORA for coastal cleanup

The Body Shop Philippines has always been at the forefront of sustainability. Not only in the development and production of its products, the company also constantly seeks for new projects to help make the world a much better place.

All over the world, piles of mismanaged wastes wind up on our shores. Non-biodegradable wastes–especially single-used plastics such as straws, bottles and bags–are big contributors to pollution. When left in the ocean, these wastes can end up killing marine life, which will inadvertently affect human life as well.

Because of this sad reality, The Body Shop Philippines partnered with Planet CORA, a non-profit organization dedicated in protecting the planet, in gathering almost 200 volunteers for a Coastal Cleanup in Las Piñas Parañaque Critical Habitat Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA).

Planet CORA was founded by actress-singer, environmentalist, and mental health advocate Antoinette Taus a while back. She named the organization after her late mother Corazon, which also stands for Communities Organized for Resource Allocation.

The cleanup drive held earlier this year helped in physically reducing wastes as well as creating awareness and inspiration for the volunteers to instill change in their lifestyles. Joining Antoinette and The Body Shop team are other celebrity advocates such as Yassi Pressman and Joey Mead-King.

A total of 2.29 tons of waste were collected in just a span of two hours. Majority of the collected wastes were plastic bottles.

The Ocean Cleanup with Planet CORA is just one of the many advocacies of The Body Shop Philippines. The company is also active in livelihood projects and supporting the marginalized sectors.

Guided by its brand expression “Beauty with Heart,” the company continues to be focused on five core values: Against Animal Testing, Support Community Fair Trade, Activate Self Esteem, Defend Human Rights, and Protect The Planet.

All of its products are created using the finest ingredients sourced from the four corners of the globe, which are not tested on animals and are 100% vegetarian. The Body Shop has been in the Philippine market for eighteen years with over 55 strategically located stores nationwide.

Marikina Teacher wins Foton van from Gabay Guro Foundation

Mary Jean Libot, a 26-year-old teacher from Marikina City is the proud new owner of an 8-seater Foton Gratour Van. She won the vehicle as a raffle prize from Gabay Guro’s Grand Gathering on September 22, 2019.

The PLDT-Smart Foundation’s flagship advocacy program for teachers, last year celebrated its 12th anniversary with a prize-filled and all-star Grand Gathering, along with the launch of the Gabay Guro app at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The event gathered over 20,000 teachers from all over the country to experience a historical Teachers’ Tribute, which was headlined by the country’s biggest stars such as Aegis, Angeline Quinto, Christian Bautista, Ian Veneracion, Jaya, Jed Madela, Kyla, Kuh Ledesma, Martin Nievera, Moira dela Torre, Ogie Alcasid, Piolo Pascual, Pops Fernandez, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, Zsa Zsa Padilla, and Gabby Concepcion and Sharon Cuneta, who were reunited by a performance on-stage after a very long time.

In addition to all the artists that entertained the teachers during the event, Department of Education secretary Leonor Briones also graced the evening with her presence. Many prizes were given away to the attendees, including the Foton Gratour van won by Teacher Mary Jean of Mother Divine Providence School, and Teacher Maricel Bustillo of Las Pinas City National Senior High School – CAA Campus who won a brand new house and lot.

The launch of the Innovations pillar

Aside from entertainment, Gabay Guro’s Grand Gathering 2019 was also used a platform to launch of the Gabay Guro App. This move is the foundation’s “seventh pillar” of activities, which include classroom donation, scholarships, teachers’ training, livelihood programs, connectivity and computerization, and the Teachers’ Tribute.

The new Digital Innovations Pillar of Gabay Guro aims to reinforce the digital transformation for Filipino teachers, school leaders, and stakeholders by equipping them with new modes of teaching and the latest technology that will enable them to create, grow, and evolve their craft for the benefit of their students.

Backed by this new learning pillar, Gabay Guro introduces an application for teachers that will provide e-learning content and interactive technology and ready-to-use online tools that are aligned with the DepEd and CHED curriculum. This will provide teachers with the latest and easily accessible educational resources right at their fingertips. The new Gabay Guro app will be launched before the end of the year.

“Gabay Guro continues to develop innovative programs for our teachers and our partners in nation-building,” Gabay Guro Chairperson Chaye Cabal-Revilla said. “Every year, it is our great honor to be able to give back to our teachers through a grand tribute and we always look forward to continuing this mission and empower them through Gabay Guro’s previously six and now seven core pillars of learning.” 

For more information and updates about Gabay Guro, visit gabayguro.com, like and follow the official Gabay Guro Facebook account, Twitter and Instagram at @PLDTGabayGuro.

Stay strong, Vanessa Bryant

The news of NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s sudden and tragic passing shocked the world on January 26, 2020 (US Time). For a basketball-loving country like the Philippines, we are all affected by it regardless if we are fans of Kobe and the game or not.

I, for one, am not a fan of Kobe’s nor am I big follower of basketball or the NBA. I would only cheer for teams and players that my husband are also rooting for. Yet, I can feel the sadness that envelopes my friends who are big fans of Kobe. My heart is bleeding for them because I could only imagine how it must feel to know that the person you’ve always looked up to is now gone.

I can feel the sadness of everyone who knew and admired Kobe, but my heart is breaking the most for his wife of 18 years, Vanessa Bryant.

Losing a husband is a great ordeal. When two people fall in love and marry, they become like a single person. You live together, you think together, you make dreams together, you work on making those dreams happen together, you go through problems together, you raise a family together, and you commit to love each other forever. You’re like two parts of a machine that won’t work without the other.

Then, suddenly, you lose that other half of you and you struggle to figure out your next move. You wonder without a single clue how to move forward on your own. You grapple with the reality that for the rest of your life you will never get to wake up next to that person again, see him smile, talk to him when you have problems, talk to him when you are happy, listen to him laugh, feel his warm embrace and kisses, and watch him become the man that he was always meant to be.

You are left alone, without a partner, without the person you were meant to share life with, without the person you promised to love and love you back. You carry a heavy burden on your own, but in the history of widows, we have seen a great deal of women move on and rise above the situation. Sure, the wounds take time to heal, but in the right time, they find happiness again.

However, what makes this story even more heartbreaking is that Vanessa also lost her 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant in the same tragic helicopter crash that took her husband’s life. I could not even begin to imagine how hearing about the tragedy must’ve felt for her.

Losing a daughter, a child, a baby you carried in your body and in your heart is absolutely and utterly… devastating. Honestly, that last word is not even enough to describe the horror that you wouldn’t wish to happen to anyone, even your worst enemy.

A promising young talent, Gianna, or Gigi as she was fondly called, was only beginning to carve out her path as a female basketball superstar. She had just entered her teenage years–the period in a girl’s life when her mom gets to take on a new hat as a life mentor, a role model for what a woman should be, and a best friend whom she can share her thoughts with.

I could only assume how much Vanessa was looking forward to take her daughter’s hand as she goes through puberty, gossip about the cute boys in school, give her fashion and beauty advice, give her a taste of her first cocktail, help her pick out her prom dress, see her off for her first date, and many other wonderful things. Now all that is gone and even though she has two other young daughters to share those things with, it won’t be the same as doing them with Gigi.

When a woman loses her husband, she becomes a widow, but when she loses a child, there is nothing to call her. Having to outlive your child is such and indescribable anomaly that none of the world’s greatest minds in all the centuries of human civilization have been able to come up with a single word to call it. Like the thought of it alone is too sickening to even think about.

While I have so much thoughts and feelings about this, the only thing we can all do at this point is to pray for Vanessa Bryant. Pray that she finds the strength and will to go on for herself and her three other daughters, that she finds a solid support system to help her go through all of this, that she finds peace and healing, and that she keeps her faith especially at this trying time.

May the souls of Kobe and Gianna and the seven others who perished in the crash rest in peace. And to Vanessa, from one wife and mother to another, my heart goes out to you. Stay strong.

All photos grabbed from Kobe Bryant’s Instagram @kobebryant