Celebrity makeup artist and stylist Fanny Serrano has slowed his frenetic lifestyle and been keeping himself low-key that it came as a shock to hear he suffered a stroke last September 2016.
The 69-year-old industry veteran was rushed to the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City and remained under observation for five days.
Thankfully, Fanny survived the ordeal and lived to tell his “miracle.”
“I was saved by the stroke of faith…” he declared during a one-on-one interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in his salon on Tomas Morato last July 24.
THE INCIDENT. Fanny related that weeks prior to his stroke, he flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for an event.
“I was invited…ilan lang kami, lima kami…we were yung inspirational, iconic characters.
“Ako from the Philippines. Meron from India, from Singapore…Mag-isa ako nag-travel.
“During that day, yung day of the event, nakaramdam ako ng parang nahihilo ako na hindi ko maintindihan kung anong nararamdaman ko.
"So, I decided na hindi na lang ako a-attend, pero I realized, my God, pinamasahe ako ng mga ito.
"Five-star hotel itong kinalalagyan ko, may nag-aasikaso sa ’kin, wala ako ni singko centimos na ginagastos, 'tapos ganito nangyayari.
“I prayed, ‘Lord, give me the power, the strength. In Jesus’ name, amen!'
“Na-relax ako, nakarating ako [sa event], hanggang nakauwi ng hotel ulit, bumalik ako uli."
When he returned from Malaysia, Fanny felt fine weeks before that alarming trip to the hospital.
Fanny finished his appointments for the day, treated himself to a relaxing foot spa, and took a nap in the living room.
“Paggising ko, siguro wala pang one hour, I went to the office, do’n sa secretary ko.
“Kuwentuhan kami hanggang hindi niya ako maintindihan.”
He said he was slurring his words. As he told it, his secretary momentarily turned her back on him.
When she turned around, she saw her boss about to collapse, "Parang babagsak ako. Ay! Inalalayan agad ako!”
His staff rushed him to the hospital posthaste.
Fanny remained conscious, fully aware of the panic around him; but he couldn’t speak.
Half of his face was paralyzed, and his entire body was stiff.
“Gano’n pala yon. Kahit na sabihin ko, ‘Gumalaw ka!’ Ayaw pala talaga.
“Talagang ume-effort ka. Ito lang [left arm] gumagalaw… lahat hindi na gumagalaw.”
“IS THIS IT?” Every person with him at the time was praying intensely, including Fanny.
“Sa loob-loob ko, ‘Lord, is this it?’”
According to him, he gave it a thought and accepted, “’Okay, if it is Your will, no problem.’
“’Okay, see You,’ gumano’n pa ako.”
At first, he prayed to be assisted immediately, but when he saw the pained faces of other people around him, he was jolted.
“I realized na who am I na magpapauna ako dito? Ang daming may kailangan dito…
“‘Sino ka?’ ginano’n ko sarili ko.”
Fanny said they patiently waited for their turn outside.
His companions covered him with a towel to avoid being recognized, “Ang nakalabas lang itong isang mata ko, saka nakakahinga ako…
“After an hour yata, saka na kami nakapasok, pero pagdating namin do’n, gano’n pa rin.”
A nurse attended to them briefly, with Fanny’s secretary answering all the questions.
Fanny said he still couldn't speak and had to write down that he needed to go to the restroom.
“So, nagpunta kami, dinaanan namin yung madaming tao.”
Fanny said after his business in the bathroom, he sat in one corner where he could see the room in its entirety.
The scene broke his heart, “Nakita ko mga tao. Sabi ko, awa ako.
“Yung iba may kasama, yung iba nasa isang kama, dala-dalawa sila nakahiga do’n…
“Parang lahat, tingin ko, may sakit, may diperensya.
“May nakita ako matanda na walang kasama, nasa wheelchair. Sabi ko, ‘May sakit ito. Bakit walang kasama?’
“'Tapos parang dinadaanan lang siya…
“Mga nurse wala pang sampu. Tarantang-taranta sila."
Fanny said he began to pray for everyone in the room, “Hindi ko na pinagpi-pray sarili ko.”
As he prayed, his doctor arrived from Makati, and they were given a room.
The room was no smaller than a private bathroom.
THE MIRACLE. Fanny said he fell asleep soon after he was put to bed, “Nakatulog siguro ako dahil sa gutom.
“From 3 o’clock, magsi-6 o’clock na yata ‘yon. Basta madilim na.
“Nakatulog ako… nakatalikod ako… natahimik daw ako ng few minutes.
"Maya-maya, parang nagising ako, naalimpungatan ako.
“Lumingon ako sa kanila, sabi ko, ‘Nauuhaw ako. Pahinging tubig.’”
According to him, everyone turned to Fanny, surprised.
“Tayuan lahat sila, 'tapos ako, ‘Ako ba nagsasalita?’ Hindi ako nakakapagsalita, e!”
His face, too, was back to normal.
Fanny recounted the reaction of his secretary, “Boss! Bumalik ka na sa dati!”
His doctor, he said, commented, “Anong nangyari sa ’yo? Umarte ka lang ba?”
Fanny couldn’t explain what just happened.
He said his doctor simply concluded, “Grabe, ang lakas mo talaga sa Taas! The power of prayer!”
Fanny stayed in the hospital for five days, “Lahat yata na test pinagawa sa ’kin. Negative lahat, ganda, wala!
“Kaya lahat ng bumibisita sa ’kin… ‘Nagpapapansin ka lang yata, e!’”
But Fanny refused to entertain any reporter, “Lahat ng mga networks… suguran do’n, no interview.
"Because of that, inisip nila comatose ako. Yun ang lumabas sa news: ‘Fanny Serrano comatose.’
“Sabi ko habang nanonood ako, ‘Okay, okay lang. Hayaan mo sila… basta walang abala.
“'Tapos ayon na, sina Charo Santos, sina Ate Vi [Vilma Santos] nagpadala ng flowers na, si Nora Aunor nagpadala ng pagkain."
Fanny said she told the Supertar, "‘Ate Guy, hindi ako puwede kumain, puro soft diet. Saka mo na lang ako i-treat!’
KEEPING THE FAITH. After what happened to him, Fanny said he began asking himself, “So, what was the purpose?”
He mused, “Yung prayers ko ba? Dinala ako ni Lord para mag-pray sa lahat? Di ko alam.
“Basta ang importante… miracle talaga na nawala.
“Meron akong mga ibang designer [na kilala] na nai-stroke, hanggang ngayon gano’n sila.
"Yung iba pati lakad nila. Kapag nakikita ko sila, sabi ko ‘Thank you, Lord, thank you! Kung ano man ang purpose.'
“And then I asked God, ‘Lord, may mali pa ba? Ituro mo naman sa ’kin.’
“Meron pa rin siyempre, hindi ako perpektong Kristiyano.”
Fanny is still waiting for answers to all his questions.
They may never come, but one thing he's sure of he has kept his faith, and his faith saved him.
“I’m 69, kahit sinong makakita sa ’kin ngayon... Siguro ‘yon na ‘yon, yung peace sa buhay ko.”