1. What is Cancer Kissed My Ass?
a. When/How was the inception?
Showing my ass in public started after I survived colon cancer (Stage 3 Recto-Sigmoid CA). That was in 2005. Nurses and doctors often saw my butt during radiation therapy, colonoscopy and other procedures. Nasanay na lang siguro ako. One of my doctors recommended only one option – “colostomy” (a surgical procedure that involves cutting the anus, connecting a part of the colon onto the anterior abdominal wall which leaves the patient with an opening on the abdomen) which means I cannot use my ass again. But God didn’t allow that to happen. But miracles do happen! During the operation they discovered that colostomy wasn’t necessary. Praise God!
Then I started climbing again with a couple of friends after my recovery, and that’s when I started showing my ass on top of the mountain! That was in early 2007. After that, I continued my passion – Mountaineering. I, together with my friends, formed a mountaineering group (TRAILMASTERS OUTDOOR GROUP). Every time we climb, “nilalabas ko ang pwet ko sa bundok”. Then if may bago sa group they would ask bakit ko ginagawa yun. Malalaman na lang nila sa friends ko kung bakit, then sabihin nila “Ah kaya pla”. After showcasing my ass again and again in one social networking site, maraming tanong at batikos kung bakit ko ginagawa yun. I broke my silence and told them that I’m showing my butt to tell the world that I am proud and grateful to God—I survived CANCER and I can still use my ASS. At first, it was more of promoting mountaineering as a way of healthy living, increasing awareness about cancer and inspiring others. Then a couple of mountaineers encourage me to put a price on that ass, and make every climb a climb for a “CAUSE”. Some offered their pledges and some sponsored my climbs. And in one of the comments of a mountaineer, this witty phrase ‘Cancer Kissed My Ass!’ appeared! That was how CKMA started!
b. Mission and/or vision (or what do you wish to accomplish out of this?)
As simple as this-- I will get a beneficiary (a kid with cancer) aakyat ako ng aakyat hangga’t hindi siya gumagaling. Ayokong magdonate lang ako ng certain amount then tapos na. I want to see that child walking again, playing again, smiling again like a normal kid—CANCER-free!
c. People behind the scenes
Some friends including mountaineering colleagues are supporting me on this cause, they refuse to be named. Also, my group Trail Masters Outdoor Group plays a big part for this cause.
2. How do you carry out this project?
a. How is it similar to / different from other projects?
Basically this is a climb for a cause; but there are a few options to choose from:
1. I will organize an open climb monthly. Anyone can join; participants of the climb will donate a certain amount.
2. You may donate even if you’re not joining the climb. Just to support the cause.
3. If you belong to a group of mountaineers. Your group will organize a climb for a cause and CKMA will be the beneficiary of the event. Of course, “I will join you on this climb.”
4. Challenge me! >> To climb a specific mountain, support me financially, and I will show my ass on top of that mountain in exchange for your donation.
I think the big difference is I’M SHOWING MY ASS EVERYTIME I’M ON TOP!
3. What made you start this project?
God blessed me with a second life. He won’t do that for nothing! I know he has a plan for me, a mission for me to accomplish while I am here. Lagi kong pinagdarasal sa Kanya kung ano yun, kailan, at paano ako magsisimula. Also, nabuhay ako dahil sa tulong ng ibang tao, hindi ko iyon kakayanin kung ako lang mag-isa. Gusto kong ibalik sa ibang tao na nasa tulad kong kalagayan ang ginawa rin sa akin ng ibang tao. I think this is it! This is the start.
4. Tell me something about rectal cancer. How is life with this cancer? How does it feel to survive this cancer?
The rectum is the lower part of the colon that connects the large bowel to the anus. The rectum's primary function is to store formed stool in preparation for evacuation. Rectal cancer is a mass formed inside the rectum, commonly acquired by a person aged 50 and above. Weird I was only 24 when diagnosed of this condition. The actual cause of rectal cancer is unclear. However, risk factors for developing rectal cancer are increasing age, smoking, family history of colon or rectal cancer and high-fat diet and/or a diet mostly from animal sources. Symptoms are unexplained weight loss, blood mixed with stool/rectal bleeding, the stool that may appear narrow and abdominal pain due to blockage of a large mass. Treatment would be chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Of course prevention is better than cure, if a family history of colorectal cancer is present in a first-degree relative (a parent or a sibling), then “colonoscopy” should begin 10 years before the age of the relative's diagnosis or at age 50 years, whichever comes first.
Walang sino man ang maghahangad na lumugar sa kinalalagyan ng isang may cancer. Some said, masuwerte daw ako na may panahon ako para makapagpaalam nang maayos at makapagbago. Sige magpalit tyo ng kalagayan! Physical pain? Given na yun! Masakit kung sa masakit pero kailangan kong magtiis. Yung para kang nauupos na kandila. Financially? Sobrang sakit sa bulsa pero di ko na naisip yun ang alam ko lang marami ang tumulong sa akin makaraos lang ako. Ang pinakamasakit ay mentally and psychologically. I did not tell my mother about my condition because of her frail health. She already suffered two strokes and a third attack might cost her life. I have to bring myself to the hospital for chemotherapy alone para lang di sya makahalata. This made it extra difficult for me because I cannot show any sign of sickness whenever I was at home. I also had to show the usual “happy” GP whenever I was with her. Kahit sobrang sakit, wala kong magawa kundi umiyak sa likod nya nang di niya alam habang yakap yakap ko siya.
My situation was very stressful indeed. But I kept a positive mindset. My prayer was not for complete healing but for God to give me more time to complete His mission for me.
5. Why should people support your cause?
Because this is for kids with cancer—to give them a chance to live. Wala silang kalaban-laban sa sakit na cancer. They don’t even know what CANCER is. Tanging magulang lang nila ang maaasahan nila. Pero paano kung di sila kayang suportahan ng magulang nila financially. Huwag tayo mabuhay sa sarili lamang. Ano ba yung kaunting tulong na maibibigay natin ngunit magiging kapalit nito ay BUHAY na sa iba. It is always better to do something than to do nothing. And it is better to help than be on the asking end.
6. Why should people not support your cause?
Maybe because the project is not that clear to them, I am willing to sit down with them to explain everything.
7. Showing your behind in public may seem offensive and lewd to others. How do you react to this?
Sa aking palagay, magiging bastos lang ang isang gawain kung ang gumagawa nito ay bastos ang hangarin. Most of them, the moment na malaman nila ang dahilan kung bakit ko ito ginagawa, natatabunan ng respeto ang anumang nasa isip nla. One person said this to me... “Some people do it for nothing, ikaw pa na may advocacy. I will support you all the way”.
But of course one can’t please everybody, iniisip ko na lang wala akong ginagawang masama. Wala akong inaapakan. Although the first climb was a success (My Damn-Ass sa Mt. Damas), there were also critics. We have received feedback regarding my pants-down stunt, which all boiled down to the issue of respect. Instead of throwing them to trash, we addressed them point by point and from the improvements we gathered from their ideas, we thank these critics for helping our project become bulletproof. Below are the conditions where I may have to rethink pulling my pants down:
• if the location is a sacred place
• if majority of the participants disapproves
• if an elder participant (age 40 and up) disapproves in spite of the majority
• if a woman in the participants disapproves in spite of the majority's affirmative decision
• if the locals disapprove in spite of the majority's affirmative decision
• if the guides disapprove in spite of the majority's affirmative decision
8. Who is Geronimo Rectum Pablo?
Isang taong di kayang humarap hehe. Join me in my climbs, para naman malaman mo gwapo pala ako sa personal. Haha.
By the way, Rectum is not my middle name But you may call me Rectum or GRP.
9. Please provide the website/webpage of this project. I would also like to request for (an) image(s) that I can use in my article.
10. You may have addressed this in #2 but just in case…One might say ‘There is already a CAC! Why don’t you just join them?!’
I am a CAC supporter and forever will be. I told myself more than anything else this is what I want to do. The moment I saw CAC, I immediately talked to the founder and she welcomed me whole heartedly. And I know her very well, in fact I call her “Nanay” and she calls me “Anak”. We have a lot in common; we’re both artist and CANCER runs in our blood. I learned a lot from Nanay and am still learning. I think it is always better to learn how to fish and do fish on your own than just being there supporting someone to fish. In that way we can get more support. We have 1 goal, helping someone with cancer. Di lang kami, there are lots of institutions doing this. By the way this is just a project not a foundation. A project tends to help a cancer foundation pati narin ang CAC. Right now, Nanay and I together with other groups organizing a climb for a cause is working hand in hand to help a kid with cancer, hoping and praying that someday this kid won’t need our help anymore.
All images used are courtesy of Geronimo Rectum Pablo himself.