NOW and then, I seek refuge in quotes that, without them, one gropes for words to be able to fully express, capture and describe and do justice to innermost feelings.

More often than not, in the course of trying to express feelings, we stumble on quotations, which fit exactly what we want to capture in words.

That’s one reason why we read, to now and then come across words and sentences that only wordsmiths of caliber can assemble to describe what we, lesser mortals had also experienced, yet are at a loss for words to capture them.

Quotes read, heard and collected from way, way back came rushing back the other week. They were stirred, quite suddenly, by an act of selflessness, a class act of sorts done by a prisoner who texted and asked if I could spare a moment to see him in the city jail.

I had been in jail several times before. The longest was when we helped the inmates produce the first and only issue of “The Baguio Insider”.

It was an in-house publication that had the full backing of then lady warden, Rebecca Pawid. An officer of substance, warden Pawid immediately saw the wisdom of providing an avenue for self-expression for wards who needed an outlet, a diversion to their hours of throwing the same unanswered questions up the prison ceiling.

This time around, the inmate, a 62-year old native of Mt. Province, texted he needed to reach out to someone in need, a girl whose plight he read about in the local week-end papers. He wanted to support a treatment session for 12-year old Mary Joy Ligudon, the youngest patient hereabouts who needs lifetime dialysis due to kidney failure.

“I guess this will be good for one dialysis session for the girl,” the inmate said as he handed me two P1,000 bills and two P100 bills at the jail reception room.

“Some people will surely think it’s foolhardy for one in my predicament to reach out to a stranger in need, but it’s fulfilling to be of help,” he said. “Please don’t identify me lest people would misconstrue my intentions.”

The man said he was bound for the National Bilibid Prison, to complete a six-year jail sentence for an offense he continued to swear he was innocent of.

“I should have served the prison term instead of being on the run for 10 years in protest over the sentence for a charge I am innocent of,” he rued.

Instead of saving as much as he could for the long haul at the national penitentiary, the man, father to four who are now raising their own families, admitted he just felt good and lucky to be still of help.

Mary Joy, fourth of five children of a marginal farmer-couple from Aguinaldo, Ifugao, was rushed to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in 2003 for urinary tract infection.

Her plight got the attention of Gina Epe, a native of Bokod, Benguet who, together with her twin daughters, was then visiting a sick relative at the BGHMC.

“My twins – Jordynne and Lordynne – overheard the kid’s father telling the nurse he had no cash to buy the medicines prescribed for his daughter.” Gina recalled. ”They asked me for some cash and bought the medicines.”

When the kid’s condition improved, the parents asked if they could leave her with Gina as they could not cope with the costs of return check-ups.

Regular medical check-ups under the care of her adoptive family, however, failed to arrest her deteriorating condition. Her kidneys eventually failed, necessitating twice-a-week, costly hemodialysis treatment for life that began last May.

Her plight and the sacrifices of her natural and adoptive parents affected several people who responded to Gina’s appeal for help in raising a sick child needing dialysis for dialysis for life.

Among those who reached out to her was former world Shotokan karate champion Julian Chees who, from his base in West Germany, sent a hefty amount that partially settled the kid’s mounting hospital bills. It was the latest outreach from this Bontoc miner’s son who grew up fighting poverty early. So did a retired professor of the University of the Philippines and several other gentle souls.

The quotes I stumbled on over the years came rushing back on my way out of prison. when I started to compose a “lead”, or an opening sentence, for a follow-up story on the appeal for help aired by the ailing girl’s mother.

First to come to mind was from William Bloyd, a favorite of ex-Jesuit seminarian, former working newsman and drinking buddy Freddie Mayo who, several years back, kicked the bucket in New York while he was working on his dream to write something of substance: “There are places in the heart that do not yet exist, into which suffering enters to give them existence.”

My mind turned to Richard Paul Evans who wrote “The Christmas Box” novel for his children: “The best antidote for self-pity is to turn it inside out and help somebody else.”

Or another from Evans: “The greatest acts are done without plaque, audience or ceremony”.

I add a personal quote, moved by gestures of people “whose own pain does not blind them to the suffering of others”: “This journey to the grave called life matters not how long but how.”

Whatever, as Freddie used to say during our drinking nights, those who can reach out to the ailing girl may visit her during her dialysis sessions set at 7 a.m to 11 a.m. at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. They may call her mother Gina (09198169234). (e-mail: for feedbacks)