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Retired envoy urges sport groups to play for charity

10 April 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao
Amba Mindy (in white) with members of the FBC led by Jenny Gafate (5th from left)
Sport-minded overseas Filipinos should add value to their organizations by supporting charities, especially those that need financial help the most, according to retired Ambassador Minda Calaguian Cruz.
Amba Mindy, the country’s ambassador to Australia when she retired last September, was the guest speaker at the opening of the Australasia Filipino Bowlers’ Friendship Games 2019 at the US Dacos Bowling Centre in Tsuen Wan on Apr 6.
She praised the Filipino Bowling Club chapters that launched the annual competition nine years ago in Singapore, where she was the head of mission, for sticking together and continuing the tournament. But she urged them to do so with a noble purpose.

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“It is good to affirm that we are good in bowling, but I think it is greater to affirm that we are human beings who love others,” the diplomat said after reminiscing the early years of the FBC and her serendipitous trip to Hong Kong as a guest at the event.
Amba Mindy said she got an email from an FBC officer who mentioned the upcoming event, and suddenly old friends in Singapore who are now in the SAR vied to host her and retired Ambassador Louie Cruz, her husband. But she turned them down.


Instead, she decided to return to Hong Kong, where she once served as consul, for a special project – to drum up support for a Davao-based foundation that is helping Mindanao’s cancer-stricken children.
“What we are doing now is more of charity and humanitarian work, we have been supporting a foundation that is (helping) a group of children with cancer in the whole of Mindanao,” Amba Mindy said to describe the couple’s retirement preoccupation.

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“Cancer is a deadly disease, it can destroy your body and soul… And we believe that we can do our share,” she said, by helping the House of Hope – Kids of Hope Foundation based in the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao since 2004.
It is a cause close to her heart, as her daughter, Natasha Ria Cruz-Gutteridge, died of cancer in 2017 at the young age of 31.
Amba Mindy said the foundation was set up by a young oncologist, Dr Emily Portilla, who sought her help to look for donors for the project.


From having just four beds, the foundation now has its own building and is the “center of excellence in Mindanao” for treating young cancer victims.
Amba Mindy said despite the expansion and improvement of the center’s facilities and increase in its doctors with capabilities, the number of afflicted children is also rising.  
“So, we think these kids all the more need a better way to help, to involve our time,” Amba Mindy said. For those who have no resources, “we don’t have money to donate, but we have the time to donate and be able to bring in more people on board to help”.
She appealed to the bowlers to do their bit to help the less-fortunate children. She said that even if the players had not yet reached the top of their hierarchy of needs, they can still help the children.
The diplomat suggested that instead of spending their funds on trophies and other prizes, they should find a charity of their choice to support.
“Just give small medals to all the bowlers, but the huge part of (the prize fund), try to find a charity where you believe you can make help change lives,” Amba Mindy said.
She said by doing so, the bowlers would be adding more value to their purpose of holding the annual tournament by supporting a charity.
The House of Hope occupies a renovated old dorm within the SPMC compound which serves as a transient home for children with cancer.

The foundation claims more than 2,700 patients and 4,000 caregivers have benefited from its clean and wholesome environment since 2007.

Amba Mindy said she uses her time to look for people to support the foundation, which believes that cancer in children is curable but treatment could take months and even years.


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