It was a fiesta at Salu, a Filipino restaurant at the north side of Metro Manila. Spreads of fried chicken, pancit and Ilocos bagnet filled the banquet table as members of the Lifestyle Asia team and the Philippine chapter of the Make a Wish Foundation prepped to make the day special for two youngsters. Aira and RaeAnne arrived at the venue with their parents. It was Mother’s Day. The two children did not know they were about to meet their favorite GMA artists Alden Richards and Ruru Madrid.
Six-year-old Aira arrived at the Filipino eatery wearing her signature pink hat and smile. She suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but kept a sunny disposition throughout the day. RaeAnne, nine years older, is soon to undergo open-heart surgery for a rare illness called Congenital Heart Defect—Martial Septal Defect (CHD – ASD), a rare heart condition. Their illnesses did not put them down, as the two youngsters remained excited for the prospects of a fun afternoon.
The young girls sat beside their moms for lunch, then mingled with their “big sisters” from Make-a-Wish. Games and treats were prepared before the big reveal. First was a rousing game of competitive Bring Me. However, Pinoy Henyo was to be the highlight of the program. The organizers arranged for the children to play a guessing game with the category: favorite celebrities. Name after name, RaeAnne and Aira guessed right. Laughter filled the air when guesses were close but not quite right. Soon the names of Alden Richards and Ruru Madrid came out. Family members and friends gave them hints by responding yes or no to their questions. “Are they from GMA?” they would ask. The audience would respond, “Yes!” In no time, they were able to guess the names of their idols, and when they turned, they were standing right there!.
The young girls found themselves overwhelmed, hugging their favorite celebrities after an intense final round of the Filipino game. Alden and Ruru sat next to them, as they continued with their arts and crafts. Parents joyously took photos the entire time. Alden whispered hilarious secrets to Aira, which were probably some jokes the little girl will never forget. Ruru did the same thing with RaeAnne, and at the same time, entertained questions from his adoring fan about his current television show.