Sylvia Sanchez recalls experience with Alzheimer's Disease patient

IMAGE Noel Orsal

During the Remembering Your Greatest Love: Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Forum, Sylvia Sanchez recalled her encounter with an Alzheimer's Disease patient.



As part of her self-immersion for her role in The Greatest Love, actress Sylvia Sanchez had an encounter with a lady with Alzheimer's disease.

She shared this during her speech at the Remembering Your Greatest Love: Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Forum organized by the staff of The Greatest Love. It was held last September 29 in time for the celebration of Alzheimer's Disease month.

The actress narrated how she got the lead role in ABS-CBN's afternoon teleserye.

Her character, Gloria Guerrero-Alegre, is a mother of four who suddenly sees her children slowly drifting away from her. She is later on diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

Sylvia recalled, "Noong sinabi sa akin ni Miss Ginny [Ocampo] na yung role na ito is about Alzheimer's, minahal ko agad yung role. Unang-una dahil nanay siya and nanay ako.

"So noong sinabi na sa akin, aaminin ko, pinagdasal ko talaga na maging akin yung role. Gabi-gabi, nagsisindi ako ng kandila na akin yung role, makuha ko ito, kasi challenge ito para sa akin bilang artista.

"At the same time, kami na mga cast, magiging instrumento kami doon sa pamilya na nararansan ito nang mga magulang nila, kasama sa pamilya na mayroong Dementia.

"Gusto kong kunin yung role, sana akin na, kasi masarap yung nagiging instrumento ka ng mga ganon na mayroong mga katuturan. Puso yung nabu-bulls' eye natin sa mga viewers natin. And thank God, napunta sa akin yung role."


Sylvia Sanchez narrates her experience with an Alzheimer's Disease patient.


After getting the role of Gloria, Sylvia decided to do take part in immersion wherein she was able to encounter an elderly woman with Alzheimer's Disease.

She continued, "Ngayon, ang ginawa ko, ayokong pumasok sa eksena na wala akong alam kasi kapag wala akong alam at ipo-portray ko lang for the sake of artista ako, dahil pera lang, kumita ako, parang nawala naman yung pagiging artista ko.

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"Kaya ginawa ko lahat, pumunta ako sa isang nanay. Mayroon siyang Alzheimer's.

"Nandoon ako buong araw, kinausap ko siya and isa lang talaga nasabi ko, 'Lord, sana huwag ako tamaan ng ganitong sakit o kahit sino kasi sobrang hirap.'

"Actually, marami siyang videos sa akin. Noong nakasama ko siya, sobrang awa na gusto kong umiyak na nagugulat ako.

"Meron na akong actually mga eksena na gusto kong gawin, sinu-suggest ko, mahirap pero gusto kong gawin kasi gusto ko ipakita sa mga tao na ito yung totoong Alzheimer's o Dementia, na ito yung nangyayari sa totoong may sakit nito.

"Tutal ginawa naman na natin ito, panindigan na natin which is later on, gagawin yata namin, hindi ko alam kung kailan.

"Ayokong ipakita yung mukha kasi nakiusap yung pamilya, huwag na. Pero ipaparinig ko sa inyo na meron siyang mga nakakalimutan.

"Noong sinabi ko sa kanya na, 'Hi Nanay, I'm Sylvia po. Sasabihin niya, 'Sylvia La Torre.' Hindi question mark. Kundi period.

"'Hindi po ako si Sylvia La Torre, siya po yung senior star namin, ako po yung batang Sylvia, singer po yun.' 'Ahhh.' Gaganun lang siya."


The cast of The Greatest Love: Alex Medina, Sylvia Sanchez, Ruby Ruiz, Arron Villaflor, Matt Evans


She then played the video on her phone without showing the face of the lady, but the attendees were able to hear how she said Sylvia La Torre.

Sylvia added, "Tapos yung yaya niya pumasok, Sinabi niya na, 'Sino ka?'

"[Sagot sa kanya] 'Si ano po, Maribeth, di mo ba ako nakilala? E, ako nag aalaga sa 'yo?'

"[Ang sagot,] 'Sino ka nga, Maribeth? Bichara.' Yung mga alam niya noon, protektado yun ano?

"Tapos binigyan siya ng picture ng brother-in-law, 'Sino yan?' Ta's tinignan niya, 'Sino to?'

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"Ayokong danasin natin yun kasi ang hirap talaga. Nandoon ako sa harap niya, pigil na pigil akong umiyak. Thank God naman, napigilan ko. Pero noong umuwi ako, mabigat talaga yung dibdib ko. Nakakatakot.

"Noong buong araw na nandoon ako, eight times siyang pababalik-balik ng banyo. Sabi ko, 'Nay, walong beses ka nang pumunta sa banyo.'

"[Sagot niya], 'Hindi, hindi pa ako pumunta ng banyo.' 'E, umiihi na po kayo.'

"Sabi ng daughter-in-law, pupunta ng banyo 'yan pero hindi yan umiihi lagi, siguro sa mga walo, dalawang beses lang.

"Tapos kumakain siya sa harap namin, pagkatapos niyang kumain, binaba yung pagkain niya, after 2 seconds, sabi niya, 'Pahinging pagkain.'

"Sabi ko, 'Kakakain mo lang.' Sabi niya, 'Hindi ako kumain.' So talagang lahat nakakalimutan niya.

"Bilang Gloria, gusto kong magampanang mabuti ito para sa mga pamilyang may ganitong sakit yung kapamilya nila.

"At sa mga viewers na alam mo yun, para maging aware sa ganitong sakit, mas lalo natin maintindihan at mahalin yun kasi nakita ko talaga, sobrang pagmamahal, kalinga ang kailangan ng mayroong ganitong sakit. Pang-unawa talaga.

"Ganoon ko lang inimerse ang sarili ko kasi ayokong mapahiya doon sa mga nagtiwala sa akin na gampanan itong role na ito.

"Kaya hanggang ngayon sa sarili ko rin, nagtatanong din ako ng kung ano ba talaga kasi kulang din ako sa kaalaman dito. Paano umiyak, paano magwala, paano masaktan kasi iba sila.

"Tapos noong nandoon ako, isa lang talaga ang sinasabi ko talaga, sana talaga huwag mangyari sakin kasi mahirap.

"At kung hindi man maiwasan na mangyari sa akin, sana mayroong mag-aalaga sa akin na ganoon kasolid, ganoon ako kamahal.

"I'm sure meron, pero siyempre, dadasal pa rin natin yun."

The said forum that was also graced by The Greatest Love cast members Dimples Romana, Ruby Ruiz, Alex Medina, Matt Evans, and Arron Villaflor,

Neurologist Dr. Darwin Dassig also gave a talk about Alzheimer's Disease, its symptoms and cure.

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Dr. Darwin Dassig educates forum attendees about Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Headwriter Ruby Leah Castro-Villanueva also shared a glimpse as to how the show was conceptualized and their realizations while writing the series, which is still airing on ABS-CBN.

She said in her speech, "Na-realize namin na hindi kami naiiba sa mga may Alzheimer's.

"May mga bagay kaming nakakalimutan, at yun yung mga taong nagmamahal at nag-a-aruga sa amin.

"Ang mundong ito ay mundo ng Alzheimer's. Lahat tayo, in one way or another, nagkakaroon ng Dementia.

"Nakakalimutan natin yung maraming bagay, at higit sa lahat, nakakalimutan nating umunawa."


Headwriter Ruby Leah Castro-Villanueva shared how they conceptualized the character of Gloria.


Business unit head Ginny Monteagudo-Ocampo also said in her welcoming remarks that she is hoping that people will be moved by the initiatives taken by the show.

"We feel that we're doing something relevant. Mayroon ngang sinasabi na kakaunti daw yung mga taong may Alzheimer's disease sa Pilipinas only because hindi tayo ganoon ka-aware.

"Hopefully this initiative will help people be more understanding of people especially of the old ones, our parents, sa condition na pinagdadaanan nila."


Business Unit Head Ginny Ocampo thanked everyone who expressed their support for The Greatest Love.


Boy Abunda, whose mother was also diagnosed with mild dementia, also gave a video message in line with the topic.

"Sobrang tuwa ko ng narinig ko na gagawin ng ABS-CBN ang The Greatest Love dahil ito'y isang paalaala, ito'y isang reminder para sa ating lahat na habang kayo ay nauunawaan, nakikita, naa-appreciate, habang kayang kausapin ang nanay, tatay, lolo, lola, do it now.

"Seize that moment, dahil ang Alzheimer's, ang Dementia, it will happen to all of us.

"Bakit natin aantayin ang panahon na hindi na alam ang pangalan natin ng mga mahal sa buhay? Bakit natin aantayin ang pagkakataon na hindi na nila alam kung nasaan, anong panahon nasaan sila?

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"This is about celebrating what you have together as families. Ako, ang consolation ko na lang sa aking puso ay I did my best to be the best child I can to my mother."


Boy Abunda narrated through a video message his love for his mother who was diagnosed with mild dementia.


After the forum, Dimples said in an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other reporters that upon learning the symptoms from the talk, she has become even more understanding towards her grandmother.

She said, "Alam niyo, feeling ko, kung di namatay ang Papa ko, feeling ko may Alzheimer's siya.

"Kasi my lola, hindi pa naman na-diagnose pero yung naririnig kong mga symptoms kanina, meron na siya.

"So siguro parang what we try to do is we try to improve the life that she has. So pag may kine-kwento siya, pakiramdam naming, hindi naman talaga nangyayari, di na namin kinokontra yun, siansakyan na lang namin.

"At mas pinapagaan naming yung loob niya na like for my Papa, kasi may time 'yan, parehong pareho ng tanong.

"That's the good part about The Greatest Love is we start early. It's such a powerful and timely show that everybody else is so busy being their own selves.

"Here goes the show that reminds you that after all the accolades you get, after all the things you get in the job, at the end of the day, you end up with your family and they are the ones who will take care of you."


Dimples Romana led the prayer before the forum


The Greatest Love cast members (L-R) Arron Villaflor, Ruby Ruiz, Dimples Romana, Dr. Darwin Dassig,
Sylvia Sanchez, Alex Medina, Matt Evans


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