Hope and art for Lupus

Published October 5, 2021, 11:34 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

On Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, the Hope for Lupus Foundation will be the beneficiary of Gavel&Block’s online auction. The auction will feature close to 100 lots, with proceeds aimed at supporting the foundation’s efforts in the early detection and treatment of the illness. Get ready to raise your paddles, as works by leading contemporary Filipino artists such as Emmanuel Garibay, Raffy Napay, Jigger Cruz, Olan Ventura, Winner Jumalon, Alfredo Esquillo Jr., and Manuel Ocampo will be going under the hammer. There are also lots of fine Baccarat and Lalique Crystal, jewelry by Janina Dizon and Riqueza, plus sterling silver pieces from Cartier and Tiffany & Co.

Hope for Lupus Foundation founder Emmeline Aglipay-Villar with husband Mark Villar and daughter Emma (MANILA BULLETIN)

Hope for Lupus founder and Department of Justice Undersecretary Emmeline “Em” Aglipay-Villar suffers from the condition herself. Thanks to her courage and openness, an affliction such as Lupus is being brought into the public eye to help those affected, and to help the general public better understand what the afflicted have to undergo and endure. Even in the best of times, it’s not easy to raise awareness about medical conditions and champion early detection, so you can appreciate how much more difficult it is in the midst of a pandemic. In fact, this has become even more important because health issues aside from COVID continue to exist, and these often come with symptoms and conditions that persist long after we’ve put COVID in the rearview mirror.

Artwork by Emmanuel Garibay

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain, fever, skin rashes, and organ damage. Presently, there is no cure for it and those affected require lifelong management. It’s most commonly seen in women. The immune system is supposed to fight possible threats to the body but with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), it goes after the body’s healthy tissue. Here in this region, it’s an affliction that occurs in 30 to 50 of every 100,000 Asians. Selena Gomez is one of the more popular personalities who suffer from SLE.

Artwork by Alfredo Esquillo, Jr.

Diagnosed at the age of 25, Em readily admits that, as a young lawyer, she thought at first that the skin rashes, joint pain, fatigue, hair loss, and dizziness were merely caused by stress. The fact that there was only a handful of specialists for the condition in this country, meant it took some time before the right diagnosis was made. It was the research she undertook on her own and finding that she wasn’t alone in suffering from the condition, that spurred her to create the Hope for Lupus Foundation.

Precious jewelry by Janina Dizon

Back in 2018, Issa Litton and I joined the Hope for Lupus Run, which was sponsored by Ever Bilena, the Chamber of Cosmetic Industry of the Philippines (CCIP), SM Mall of Asia, and Ayala Land. Because of the pandemic that’s ravaged the whole world for close to two years now and has become so engrained in our living day-to-day, it was so easy for me to forget that this was only three years ago and not a lifetime in the past. I mention this because it brings home the fact that while so much of our thoughts and actions over the last two years have been influenced by our concern over COVID and its variants, for Em and those living with lupus, this fear of co-morbidities, of contracting COVID on top of lupus, is part of their daily existence.

Breath-taking Baccarat Crystal

And I’m aware that having said that, there are those out there who’ll think that COVID is more than enough to be worried about in these troubling times. Well, all I can say is count yourself lucky if that is your case. If you are one of the fortunate ones, do think of those who aren’t in the same boat as you. If you’re an art collector, a discriminating lover of the finer things in life, then do take the time to check out the Gavel&Block lots for their Oct. 16, 2021 benefit auction and make your love for the arts also become a helping hand for those suffering from this mysterious, inexplicable, yet debilitating, condition.