GSF basketball clinic with champion coach Tim Cone!

Through the initiative of the interns of the Office of Senator Pia S. Cayetano, Kevin Cone, Michaela Grandinetti and Billie Nepomuceno, Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation (GSF) was able to hold another sports clinic for the Daang Hari Indigent Kids in Bacoor, Cavite last 27 July 2013.

Coach Tim Cone, alongside former player and current assistant coach Jeffrey “The Jet” Cariaso, facilitated the basketball clinic. Coach Tim is an American professional basketball coach for the San Mig Coffee Mixers (PBA) who has been living in the Philippines for almost 50 years. He is known for winning a total of fourteen championships as a head coach in the PBA. Mr. Ren Cayetano was also present to help coach the kids.

Participants were taught the basic basketball fundamentals of passing, dribbling, shooting, and driving with a series of cone and isolation drills. Thereafter, the kids then participated in a series of 5-on-5 scrimmages that put their newfound abilities to use.

Six-time bowling world champion and three-time Guinness Worlds Records holder Paeng Nepomuceno donated basketballs to the Daang Hari children. Belle Grandinetti, a mother, triathlete, and the owner/executive chef of the famous restaurant “MonaLisa Risorante” ranked #2 as best restaurant in Muntinlupa, and located in Commerce Ave., Alabang donated boxes of pizza for the kids’ lunch.

The interns deemed the event “a great success”. Coach Tim Cone’s son, Kevin, explained his inspiration for planning the event: “I wanted to give back to my community somehow, and Gabriel’s Symphony was a great way to do it. Hopefully the kids were able to both learn a lot and have fun.”

Thank you for all those who helped us in this activity. Thank you again to Kuya Kevin, Ate Michaela and Ate Billie for planning this clinic for the kids. Thank you to the volunteers of GSF: Atty. Karen Baydo, Ms. Janis Cinco, Mr. Mike Maroto, Ms. Angge Pinlac, and Ms. Marife Saludares.

Pia: PGH pediatric rescue unit is back in service

A specialty unit at the state-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH) that performs neurosurgical and reconstructive surgery on children with congenital abnormalities, and which was almost permanently shut down at the start of the year due to lack of funds, is now back in full harness.

Thanks to private donors who responded upon learning about the facility’s plight through media news reports, the PGH Nuerosurgical-Craniofacial Operating Unit (NCOU) has resumed operations after being closed for one week last January.

The only one of its kind in the country, the NCOU serves children suffering from debilitating and potentially life-threatening congenital defects such as hydrocephalus, meningoceles, encephaloceles and lipomyelomenigoceles. The unit specifically caters to indigent families whose families could not afford the otherwise costly surgical procedures.

The good news was welcomed by Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, one of the facility’s original supporters. The lady senator, along with PGH medical personal and students, was provided a briefing of the NCOU’s status by its main proponent, Dr. Gerardo “Gap” Legaspi, in a simple “commitment ceremony” held at the state-run hospital over the weekend.

The NCOU was set up in April last year and occupies a 22-square-kilometer area at the operating room complex of the PGH. It is a joint effort of the hospital’s nuerosurgery and plastic surgery sections, as well as the anesthesiology department and nursing division.

According to Dr. Legaspi, news on the impending closure of the NCOU that was carried in several newspapers and online media outfits prompted private individuals, groups and corporations to inquire with hospital officials on how they could possibly help.

This was confirmed by PGH Director Dr. Carmelo Alfiler, who also reported that certain sectors have already expressed interest to extend assistance, including a top executive of a major telecommunications firm.

As reported by Dr. Legaspi, the NCOU has operated on 188 cases to date since April 2008, averaging 8-10 operations per week. The unit is operational on weekdays: Mondays to Wednesdays are devoted to neurosurgical operations; Thursdays are for joint neurosurgical and plastic operation surgeries, while Fridays are reserved for plastic surgery.

The neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons who work at the NCOU render their services for free, and would often bring their own equipment at no cost to the patients, added Legaspi.

Reacting to the report, Cayetano said: “Our work is far from done yet. More funds are needed to ensure that the unit could fully function for the long-term. Donations are most welcome but funding for initiatives like these should primarily come from the national government. Health is our right, and so we should all work to make our government responsible and accountable for much-needed public health services.”

Last year, she donated P342,000 to the NCOU, which went to the salaries of the two nurses and a utility worker manning the facility.

The funds were sourced from the Gabriel Symphony Foundation, named after the senator’s son Gabriel Cayetano-Sebastian, who died from complications of a rare congenital disease in 2001. Cayetano explained that the donation was literally the result of her own “sweat and tears.”

“Tears, because of the suffering I went through after the death of my child, and sweat because I literally have to push my body to run or bike in order to raise funds for the foundation,” she explained, referring to her annual sports fundraisers, “Pinay In Action” (an annual women’s run held every women’s month of March), the “12-hour multi–sport event in memory of Gabriel,” and the 100-kilometer “Bike for Hope” which she stages in different parts of the country.

Also at the program, Cayetano and Dr. Alfiler led the turnover of modern medical equipment for the PGH’s obstetrics-gynecology, surgery and neurosciences departments, worth over P4 million and sourced from the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).

The equipment included two units of fetal tocomonitors, a gynecological colposcope, and a liver ultrasound machine.

The colposcope is used to examine a patient’s cervix to detect abnormalities. The unit is complete with cryotherapy, leep and a video capture system which makes it a complete diagnostic and therapeutic facility for pre-malignant diseases of the cervix. The tocodynamometers are used to comprehensively monitor the vital signs of the baby as the mother contracts during labor.

On the other hand, the liver ultrasound machine is a new tool used to produce pictures of liver tumor and helps differentiate between the many types and causes of liver malfunction in patients.

Hospital officials described the new acquisitions as “highly specialized and world-class facilities” which will now be accessible to women giving birth and liver patients at the PGH.

Michelline comes full circle

When Michelline Suarez took on the challenge of running in her very first marathon, she was bent on chasing something worth more than just a personal milestone.

A 42-year-old mother, homemaker and entrepreneur, Michelline has had her fair share of personal and career accomplishments. Blessed with a wonderful husband and five kids, aged 24 to 2, she also co-owns and manages two businesses.

Michelline was born with a cleft palate, commonly referred to as “harelip” or “bingot” in the vernacular. For years, she had been thinking of ways to help children who were born with the same condition, but whose families were too poor to pay for corrective surgery.

Looking back, she feels extremely blessed for having parents who recognized the urgency and could well afford surgery. But it also bothered her knowing how many more less-fortunate children with cleft palate would have to bear a life of hardship, humiliation and discrimination without the benefit of a surgical operation.

“I have been thinking about finding a way to help other cleft palate babies for some time now, for I know how much a very simple and affordable surgery can turn their lives around and open up so many possibilities for a better future,” she recounted.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that Michelline plunged into her maiden 42-kilometer run at the age of 42. Completing every kilometer of the long-distance course, it seemed, symbolized each year of a life-long dream to help less-fortunate kids with whom she shared something common as a child.

“The marathon became my inspiration to raise funds for surgery for children who were also born cleft palates through Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation,” she added, recalling how family members and friends positively responded to the idea of her running to benefit others.

The support was so overwhelming that by the time she reached the finish line of her very first long-distance run— at The Bull Runner “Dream Marathon” held in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna last May 22—Michelline was able to raise more than P153,000 for Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation.

Surely, this was no small feat for this mother of five, who started running barely two years ago after giving birth to her youngest child.

“I wish to emphasize that it is the generosity of those who pledged, including my family and friends, that has made this donation possible. I just provided a conduit,” she humbly said of the experience.

Michelline first came to know Gabriel’s Symphony through the annual multi-sport event it holds at the Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa every September. Established by health and sports advocate Senator Pia Cayetano, the foundation was named after the lawmaker’s youngest child, Gabriel Cayetano Sebastian, who died from complications of trisomy 13, a rare chromosomal disorder, in 2001.

In the last nine years, the foundation has been raising funds to finance cleft lip and palate operations, hearing aids and artificial eyes for differently-abled children, and surgical operations for very young children suffering from congenital malformations of the brain and spinal cord.

Michelline signed up for the multi-sport event in 2008 and soon became friends with Sen. Pia.

“I admire Pia, her family, and all the volunteers who have done so much to help these children,” related Michelline, who also credits her coach Patrick Joson for instilling in her the skills, techniques and proper approach to running, as well as her running group, the Speed Monkeys, whose members pledged support and cheered for her from start to finish.

Asked about the professional runners she looks up to, Michelline replied: “I love watching the pros for their form and admire their dedication to training, but truth to tell, I think those closer to the back of the pack, the ordinary people who find time to run despite the demands of a regular life, have the best stories.”

Indeed, the running world is filled with inspiring stories of life-defining first marathons. With her first marathon, Michelline not only fulfills a life-long dream; she is also forever changing the lives of others.

“What I wish these children and their families to know is that a cleft palate or lip is an easily correctible condition. With surgery and speech therapy, these kids will soon be well on their way to normal, productive lives,” she concluded with a smile.

Photo: Michelline Suarez (in blue, holding up medal at second row, fourth from right), with family members, coach and running friends after finishing her first marathon, The Bull Runner “Dream Marathon” held in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna last May 22, 2010.

Maiqui Dayrit: ‘Ironman’ with a heart

Pinoy triathlete close to raising P1 million for children in need

The Ironman craze has officially taken over the country, thanks to numerous triathlon events, particularly the 2nd Ironman 70.3 Philippines held recently in Camarines Sur. People from all walks of life have now jumped into the triathlon bandwagon, and it is now commonplace to see runners, cyclists, and swimmers training.

But way before all of this, one man has been mounting his very own annual Ironman event for a very different purpose. No, his Ironman has no finisher’s medal, no qualifying slot, and no fanfare. He does not do it for himself.

In the last five years, Maiqui Dayrit has been doing this grueling distance on his own to help raise funds for children in need. His beneficiaries include cleft palate babies needing corrective surgery, as well as hearing- and visually-impaired children. On his sixth year, Dayrit is close to hitting the P1-million mark in donations which are coursed through the Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation of Sen. Pia Cayetano.

His real motivation? “The kids, of course,” said Dayrit, 39. “I’ve always had a soft spot for kids. Thanks to [fellow triathlete] Senator Pia, we are given a chance to put our training to good use and help change their lives. I’m really grateful that my friends and relatives have been supporting me the last five years.”

Dayrit recently competed at the 2nd Ironman 70.3 Philippines and wound up in the Top 50 of the physically punishing race, ranking 43rd in a field of 604 triathletes which included 172 foreign participants from 34 countries.

A full Ironman distance consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike and a marathon (26 miles 385 yards or 42.195 km) run. Maiqui’s Ironman has been the highlight the yearly 12-hour Multi–Sport Celebration held by Gabriel Symphony Foundation at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa City.

“It would be great if [donors] would pledge the same amount for a shorter distance so I don’t have to suffer for 12 hours or so every year, but I doubt it,” he says, with a laugh. “But I guess I have to earn their donations the hard way. During each Ironman, there’s always a point where I ask myself: ‘Why?’ But one thought about the kids we help and I keep going.”

“Honestly, I see myself doing this for many more years as long as people continue to donate. After all, it’s the best way to celebrate my birthday [which also falls on September],” added Dayrit.

In his own way, Maiqui brings a social dimension to the spirit of the Ironman. Although most of us may not be physically able to do what he is doing, we can support his cause and be inspired by his story. #

Note: Join the 8th Gabriel Symphony Multi–Sport Celebration on September 4, Saturday, from 6am to 6pm at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa City. To support Maiqui’s Ironman, contact 09178554489 or email [email protected] Visit for event details and online registration.

Maiqui to bring advocacy to the World Ironman Championships!

First the ‘sad’ news: Maiqui Dayrit will not be able to do his annual ‘Maiqui’s Ironman’ at the 9th Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation (GSF) multi-Sport Celebration to be held on September 3 at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa.

But not to worry. The good news is that Maiqui has committed to bring his advocacy over to Kona, Hawaii where he will compete alongside the world’s best triathletes at the 2011 World Ironman Championships this coming October 8!

Dayrit, who has been doing an annual Ironman fundraiser since 2005 for the kids of GSF to celebrate his birthday, qualified for the World Championships when he placed third in his age-group at the 3rd Cobra Ironman 70.3 held in Camarines Sur last August 14.

Showing his finest form yet at the annual triathlon event, Maiqui finished the course with a time of five hours, three minutes and 47 seconds (5:03:47), earning him third place honors in the men’s 40-44 years age-group. Over 1,000 athletes from 28 countries participated in this year’s edition of the Cobra Ironman 70.3, which consisted of a tough course of a 1.9-km swim, 90-km bike and 21.1-km run.

“I’m turning 40 on September 11. Raising funds for the kids would be the perfect way to celebrate the big ‘Four-Zero’ but I unexpectedly qualified for Kona last Sunday August 14!” Dayrit shared in an interview.

He added: “Unfortunately, my aging body might not recover in time for Kona [if he does an Ironman at the GSF event on Sept.3] so I’ve decided to take the Gabriel’s Symphony with me to Kona this year!”

And a plea for his sponsors and friends: “I hope my loyal sponsors understand and still donate. I really can’t let the kids down!”

This means that Maiqui will swim 3.86 kms., bike 180.25 kms. and run 42.195 kms. in Kona not only to mark a personal milestone, but also to carry the Philippine colors and continue his advocacy to help differently abled children!

It should be recalled that on his fifth ‘Maiqui’s Ironman’ last year, Dayrit already surpassed the P1-million mark in terms of donations and pledges for the GSF. Reaching the finish line at past six in the evening, Maiqui was greeted and cheered by friends and some of the children he has helped over the years. Expressing their gratitude, the children presented him with a birthday cake, card and sang him a birthday song.

Every kilometer he has worked and sweated for has been worth it, swears Maiqui, even as he looks forward to carrying on his annual Ironman this October and for years to come.

Congratulations and more power to Maiqui in Kona!

For more information on ‘Maiqui’s Ironman’ and the 9th GSF Multi-Sport Celebration, email us at [email protected]

Pia leads day-long sports fundraiser for differently-abled children

Senator Pia S. Cayetano led about three hundred participants and volunteers, including very young children, in a day-long multi–sport event meant to raise funds to help differently abled children.

The fundraiser, called the “6th annual 12-hour multi–sport for a cause in memory of Gabriel,” was staged from six in the morning to six in the evening at the Alabang Country Club, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa City.

The event has been held annually since 2002 in memory of Gabriel Cayetano-Sebastian, the third and youngest child of Senator Cayetano and lawyer Butch Sebastian. Gabriel was only nine months old when he passed away in the year 2001 from complications of a rare chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 13.

This year’s sports events included the “Pinay In Action” women’s triathlon, the “Superkids” aquathlon and triathlon for children, a 5-km and 10-km fun run, and individual and corporate relays consisting of walking, running and biking.

At around noon, Cayetano took time out to greet beneficiaries of the event, a dozen children aged between one to two years, who were born with cleft lip and palate (locally called “bingot”).

The children, who came with their parents, were among the 59 beneficiaries who were successfully operated on this year with the help of the Gabriel SymphonyFoundation (GSF) and Australian volunteer-doctors of “Operation Rainbow.”

“I consider this event as the first birthday party which my son, Gabriel, never had. We hold this every year to remember him and celebrate how he continues to touch and change the lives of underprivileged children,” said the lady senator, who was joined in the day-long activity by her two daughters, Maxine, 13 and Nadine, 10.

Two volunteer-friends of Sen. Cayetano, Maiqui Dayrit and Joey Torres, completed an ‘Ironman’ distance to raise funds for their respective child-beneficiaries. The duo’s designated route (3.8-km swim, 180-km bike, and 42-km run) took them from Alabang to as far as Bacoor, Cavite throughout the day.

Dayrit, a veteran triathlete, has been doing an ironman for the annual event in the last four years and has so far raised an accumulative total of P600,000 for GSF.

Since 2004, the GSF has sponsored cleft lip and palate operations for 341 children at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and 133 children at the General Miguel Malvar Hospital.

In addition, the GSF has funded the operation of 12 infants with of the Zugbuana Jaycees in Cebu, and 213 infants with the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro City.

The GSF likewise donated 14 hearing aides to hearing-impaired children in cooperation with the Philippine National Ear Institute and 16 artificial eyes to visually-impaired children in partnership with the non-government Parents Advocate for Visually Impaired Children (PAVIC).

One of the foundation’s newest beneficiaries is the Pediatric Neurosurgical and Craniofacial Operating Unit of the PGH. The new facility, the first of its kind in the country, performs delicate, and not to mention costly, operations on very young children with congenital malformations of the brain and spinal cord.

Since opening last April, the new pediatric surgery facility has done cranial and spinal operations on 124 indigent children suffering from serious congenital ailments like hydrocephalus, encephaloceles, and spina bifida.

Much improvement still needs to be done at new facility, however. It lacks air-conditioning, the instruments are still incomplete and regular budget for personnel staffing still very much depends on private donations.

Athletes converge for differently abled children

Triathletes and sports enthusiasts will come together this coming Saturday, September 22, to help raise funds for children with disabilities at the 10th Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation (GSF) Multi–Sport Celebration.

The event led by Senator Pia S. Cayetano, an avid triathlete and health advocate, will run for 12 hours from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa City.

Held in memory of Sen. Pia’s son, Gabriel Cayetano Sebastian, this Saturday’s event will mark the foundation’s tenth year of helping children with disabilities. Gabriel passed away in 2001 at the age of nine months from complications of a rare chromosomal condition, Trisomy 13

The GSF has been sponsoring free surgery for kids born with cleft lip and palate, and providing free hearing aids for the hearing-impaired and artificial eyes for visually impaired kids. The foundation’s list of beneficiaries has grown throughout the years to include the Daang Hari Barefoot Running Kids and girls being sheltered at the DSWD’s Marillac center in Muntinlupa City.

Among the sports events lined up this Saturday include the 10-hour individual bike, 10-kilometer individual run, bike with friends, Supersprint triathlon, buddy run, and a buddy run pet edition.

Children may join the Superkids aquathlon and triathlon events. Aside from the country’s top triathletes, Philippine Azkals standouts Phil and James Younghusband are also expected to grace the event.

11th GSF: A fun-filled and fulfilling Saturday

The Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation (GSF) recently staged its 12-hour Multi-Sport Celebration In Memory of Gabriel, marking eleven years of making a difference in the lives of children with disabilities and less privileged kids.

Together with co-presentor Milo and with help from sponsors, friends and volunteers, the fund-raiser was staged from sunrise to sunset last Saturday, October 19, at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa City. Featured were several fun and sports activities, including traditional Filipino games, which drew participants from all ages and different walks of life.

Highlighting this year’s celebration was the ‘Palarong Pinoy Challenge,’ which included ‘patintero,’ ‘tiyakad,’ and ‘piko.’ The traditional Filipino games were a hit with young and adult participants alike. Aat one point, GSF founder Senator Pia Cayetano challenged her brother, Taguig-Pateros Representative Lino Cayetano to a tiyakad race.

In another sequence, members of the UP Women’s Volleyball Team played patintero with Sen. Pia and friends. The UP Team won, but not without challenge from Sen. Pia’s team, which also included triathlete Ani De Leon and volleyball player Fille Cainglet.

Children participants also had a blast taking on the Breeze Obstacle Course Challenge, with the top ten participants who registered the fastest times getting special prizes.

The day started with the 12-hour swim, bike and run led by Sen. Cayetano, and the Aside Football Tournament co-organized with The Younghusband Football Academy (TYFA). Several teams joined the football tournament, disputing the title in the different age-group categories. Azkals booters Phil and James Younghusband were on hand to give out the awards and inspire the young players.

Other activities included Chef Dino Dizon’s cooking demo, a self-defense class by the Baler Aikido Dojo, Zumba Fitness Party by CW-X, Anti-Gravity Yoga Demo, Yoga session with kids, and children’s aquathlon and triathlon by KidsCanTri.

In the afternoon, visually impaired swimmers from PAVIC demonstrated their swimming skills in the pool, providing inspiration to the audience which included Sen. Pia, young triathletes and their parents.

Finally, the day was capped by the 3K Buddy Run. For the participants and the organizers, it was both a fun-filled and fulfilling day.

Gabriel’s Symphony goes to Davao del Norte

Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation (GSF) was founded by Pia S. Cayetano in memory of her son, Gabriel, who was born with a rare chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 13. Gabriel was born with a cleft lip and palate, a hole in his heart, and was perceived to be deaf and blind due to the disorder. He lived for only nine months. Soon after, Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation was born.

Since 2002, the Foundation has passionately pursued its mission of making a difference in people’s lives. Among its projects are:

  1. Cleft lip and palate operations. Over a thousand children have been successfully operated on.
  2. Programs and medical assistance for the visually and hearing impaired. These include hearing aids, artificial eyes and year-end activities.
  3. Outreach programs that include running clinics, field trips and various weekend activities for disadvantaged children like the Daanghari Barefoot Running Kids, the girls from Marillac Hills, and more.
  4. Sports programs, including an annual sports fiesta fund-raiser and grassroots sports camps particularly for football and triathlon – swimming, biking and running all over the country.

For 13 years now, the Foundation has devoted its time and resources to carrying out its advocacies and projects. It has been raising funds through its Annual Multi-Sport Fundraising Event In Memory of Gabriel.

To celebrate its 13th year, the Foundation is flying to Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, to hold its Multi-Sport Celebration on January 20-22, 2017. This is the Foundation’s fundraising project organized to supplement our various year-round projects. The following activities will be conducted at the Davao Del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex:

  1. Triathlon Camp
  2. Volleyball Camp and Tournament
  3. Palarong Pinoy
  4. Football Tournament
  5. Swim and Run Clinic for Children w/ Disabilities
  6. Track Mini Games

Though Gabriel moved on to heaven after only nine months from birth, and is lovingly missed by the people who dearly love him, he continues to make a positive impact on people’s lives through the work and achievements of the Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation.

Daang Hari Kids

GSF founder Senator Pia S. Cayetano first met the Daang Hari Running Kids a decade ago.

She was doing her bike training along Daang Hari Road in Cavite when she saw a group of children performing running drills by the roadside.

The kids came from poor communities in the area and had such a passion for running that some wore only slippers, while others ran barefoot.

Senator Pia decided to help the children through GSF, by giving them running shoes, and subsequently athletic training, and other educational activities.