BAHAY ARUGA – not your ordinary home

Bahay Aruga was established in January 2014 by Ms. Mayette Bonilla.

Located along San Marcelino, Ermita, Manila, it was just a normal house which she one day converted to a temporary shelter for pediatric cancer patients from various provinces, but who are undergoing treatment at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) or other hospitals in Manila.

The old parking lot was turned into an extension of the living area, now filled with beds to accommodate more patients. What seemed to be a former pantry is now their small entertainment center. That was where we performed and held the gift giving during our last visits.

I was introduced to Bahay Aruga during my first visit there early 2015 with the Manila Youth Bureau and The Voice Manila finalists as I was going to host their grand finals at SM Manila. Very young kids, wearing masks, losing hair, some with amputated arms. But they were all smiles, which made me smile. But it was a different story once you start talking about their cases, as that moment with Tita Mayette. My eyes just started tearing up.

A few months later in October, after driving around Manila for the first Manila Street Love and still left with a hundred Yum Burgers, I thought of Bahay Aruga. I scanned my phone for Tita Mayettes number and that night became another heartwarming moment. Only I was welcomed with the sad news that one kid had passed away already.

The MSL 3 Team found themselves back here. There were 25 patients at the time of the visit. Everybody enjoyed our pasalubong – freshly cooked meals (fish and veggies, healthy of course) – and were delighted to see our gift, a brand new mini fridge which was their request, in which to store their chemo drugs. That, along with song numbers and plenty of laughter happened on Aug 7 tagged as MSL #LoveWins.