Diabetes is among the leading health problems in the Philippines. Data from 2019 reveals that 6.3 percent of Filipinos have diabetes. Numerous individuals know the struggle of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to mitigate the condition’s harmful effects on the human body.
Even Mr. Pure Energy, Gary Valenciano, experienced the challenges of living with diabetes. Since he was 14, Gary struggled with Type 1 diabetes. Yet he isn’t bitter about it. His strong faith and positivity inspired him to push through the hurdles and become an example for Filipinos who share a similar affliction.
A usual activity for him is checking his blood sugar to ensure they remain at the optimum level. But at a young age, Gary’s sugar levels sometimes skyrocket to concerning numbers.
“It can be the most deceiving of all illnesses because sometimes you think you’re okay, but things could be going on inside of you if you don’t take care of yourself the way you should,” Gary said during a Zoomcon.
Back then, monitoring glucose levels wasn’t easy and accessible. Gary shared he had to get samples, such as blood and urine, into test tubes to get a reading. Even then, its accuracy was anybody’s guess.
The years went by, and Gary started finger pricking. He did that for a long time, and the skin on his fingertips started thickening, causing problems for Mr. Pure Energy whenever he used touchscreen phones. Yet innovation for helping diabetic patients monitor their glucose didn’t stop there.
Using test tubes and pricking his fingers are things of Gary’s past. He now uses FreeStyle Libre, a sensor-based glucose monitoring system with a reader and a sensor. The sensor is applied to the back of the upper arm and can be worn for up to 14 days.
It allowed Mr. Pure Energy to take more control over managing his diabetes and related concerns.
Diabetes patients monitoring their glucose levels know that their blood sugar sometimes increases during sleep as a normal bodily function. With FreeStyle Libre, Gary just places his reader near the bed where his wife, Angeli Pangilinan, can later turn it on, scan the patch behind Gary’s upper arm, and determine whether he’s at the optimum condition or not.
“When the technology started advancing, which I am so thankful for, all the more it spurred me on to carry on the advocacy in helping Filipinos living with diabetes,” he said. “My advocacy is to provide medical assistance to Filipinos with diabetes through the Shining Light Foundation.
Gary, with his wife, established the Shining Light Foundation some time ago. It previously channeled support through church work before branching out to support underprivileged individuals. Now, it carries out Gary’s vision of providing medical aid to diabetes patients through donations and proper education.
Living with diabetes has been a struggle for many Filipinos throughout the years. But Gary serves as an example that with the right technology, perseverance, and knowledge, they can take better control of their lifestyles to enjoy what each day brings.