Birthdays are usually about the celebrant, but not so for Ara Mina. The actress and businesswoman, whose birthday falls on May 9, has found a more meaningful way to mark it this year by organizing a fun run on May 27, 5 p.m. at the Philippine Arena, Bulacan. Titled “tARA nasa ARenA 2018,” it is for the benefit of people with Down syndrome.
Ara Mina and her sister 'Batching' (Instagram)
In an interview, she said most of the participating stars are her close friends in show business. They include LJ Moreno-Alapag, Say Alonzo, Christine Babao, Diana Zubiri, Jenny Miller, Ken Chan, Martin Nievera, Jessa Zaragoza, Dingdong Avanzado and UMD dancers.
While waiting for the run to begin, the participants can join a free Zumba session under former “PBB” housemate Saicy Aguila. A celebrity bazaar is in place from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“Celebrities ang magse-sell, ’yung mga usual na kilala niyong stars na nagpapa-bazaar,” Ara said. “Pero welcome din naman ang mga non-celebs.”
But the true stars of the event are the 100 people with Down syndrome who will be running alongside everyone else.
Ara also tapped on celebrities who have siblings with Down syndrome. Two of them are Vickie Rushton and Bangs Garcia.
Down syndrome is a life-long condition that causes physical and mental delays, and sometimes even health issues.
Ara’s youngest sister, Mina “Batching” Princess Klenk, has Down syndrome. Her birthday falls on June 1 which is why Ara thought of holding a fun run near the date, in her honor.
The actress, celebrating her 25th year in the industry, thinks Batching is her lucky charm.
“Nung wala pa siya sa buhay namin, ilang auditions hindi ako natatanggap. Tapos nu’ng pinanganak na siya, nag-audition ako sa ‘That’s Entertainment,’ pumasa ako.”
Ara admitted it’s challenging caring for people with this condition. “To be honest, medyo mahirap,” Ara said. “Pero mas hirap ’yung mommy ko. ’Pag hirap na ’yung mommy ko, pinapasa niya na sakin si Mina kasi they (people with Down syndrome) have tantrums.”
How is it best to interact with them?
“Dapat dalasan ‘yung activities. I-treat sila as normal para maging normal din ’yung mga actions nila.”
Like everyone else, people with Down syndrome can also get infatuated. “May crush ’to!” Ara ribbed, laughing.
“Si Paulo Avelino,” Batching confessed with a smile.
Turning to Batching, Ara shared this story: “’Di ba halos sabay sabay kaming nag-buntis ng mga sisters ko, sabi niya (Batching) one time ‘Ate buntis ako.’ I asked her, ‘Sinong tatay?’ Si Paulo Avelino daw.”
(Clockwise): Diana Zubiri, Nene Tamayo, Jessa Zaragoza, The Babao family, Jenny Miller, and Say Alonzo with family (Instagram)
Of course, that’s a joke. What’s serious is the unbreakable bond between the two sisters.
“’Pag tinanong mo siya kung kanino siya sasama, sa’kin daw or kay Holy (their brother),” Ara said.
A for Advocacy
The actress and her sister have been members of the Down syndrome Association of the Philippines (DSAPI) since 2007. Since then, they have been extending help to those with the condition.
For this run, Ara hopes to raise enough funds to help DSAPI on their latest projects. “Mas maganda mas malaki (ang ma-raise na funds), para mas maraming matulungan ’di ba? Pero kung lesser than that (one million), marami pa rin (namang) magagawa. Malaking impact (pa rin) ’yun,” Ara mulled.
According to DSAPI website, they offer support to families who have a child with Down syndrome and to initiate, develop, promote, encourage and support programs and projects concerning Down syndrome
Interested runners can register online for “tARA nasa ARenA 2018”at www.runrio.com or at the Toby’s Sports, Hazelberry Café and Philippine Arena. (With report from Christelle Joyce F. Perez)