CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A fun day with a serious message

HONG KONG (SE): Running under the theme of a Celebration of Life and Thanksgiving, the Filipino Migrant Cancer Social Services (FILMCASS) organisation marshalled its members and supporters in Chater Road on October 14 for a lively afternoon of fun and entertainment.
Bookended by a Mass offered by Father Jay Flandez for the welfare of those struggling with cancer and a closing prayer for the healing for the world, the afternoon saw a succession of supporters and well-wishers bring messages of solidarity, which were interspersed into a lively programme of performances from support groups that joined in the day.
But the icing on the cake came from the band from the popular Cinta-J Restaurant and Bar in Wan Chai, which provided some classy entertainment for the hundreds that gathered to offer their support.
Beginning with a decision some 11 years ago by a small group of Filipino migrants to offer their support to a couple of friends that had contracted cancer while working in the city, the group has grown into a well organised body that today can offer systematic and knowledgeable assistance to those in need.
Life for a migrant worker struck with a life-threatening illness can be terrifying, as they are alone and away from home without the usual support systems that would normally be provided by their families.
FILMCASS, which now boasts a membership of 61 plus a further 45 honorary members, has supported and cared for 26 survivors of cancer that are still working in Hong Kong and 19 that have returned to The Philippines.
Celebrations paused during the afternoon to acknowledge the struggles and give thanks for the lives of a further 39 who had walked with the group for some time before losing their battle with the illness.
Special mention was given to Sister Vicky Ramos, a former spiritual director of the group who succumbed to the illness in January this year. She had taken on the challenge after Melina Legarde was tragically struck down a few years ago.
The 30 or so individuals or companies that offer regular financial support were also acknowledged. They are vital to the service that FILMCASS provides, as employers often do not offer the support required under Hong Kong law and volunteers are able to shoulder costs that enable people to manage with visas, hospital visits and other needs.
Filipinos in Hong Kong have an unusually high incidence of cancer, with breast cancer the most common, and messages from medical people delivered during the afternoon counselled healthy eating and keeping an eye on stress levels, as well as remembering there are people there to help you if need arises.
In her message for the day, the coordinator of the group and herself a survivor of cancer, Gemma Solomon offered the gratitude of the group to the countless generous persons and groups that journey with FILMCASS without counting the cost or asking anything in return.
And to those who share their God-given talents, precious time and even their treasure, despite busy schedules, she offered a special gratitude.
But most of all, she thanked the regular benefactors, caregivers and volunteers who selflessly perform tasks without being asked.
FILMCASS sponsors a public celebration of life and thanksgiving for the courage and generosity of those involved with the group and also a reminder that anything that is given freely to a good cause can be considered a treasure of human experience.

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