19 September 2008

Remember Alexis Edralin?

While she was in Sweden last year performing with the Kasarinlan Philippine Ensemble headed by Felipe M. de Leon Jr., young soprano Alexis Edralin would experience dizziness, palpitations and severe headaches. She would get tired easily and her colleagues remarked that she had grown pale.

A few weeks later, back home, she became blind in one eye. Rushed to a hospital in Makati City, it was discovered she had blood clots in the retina. She was suffering from leukemia, a deadly form of cancer.

The revelation fell like a thunderclap of doom upon her family, including her mother Cherry Bong Edralin and grandfather Max Edralin, the well-known PR practitioner and Alexis’ biggest fan, who scrupulously documents her career thus far.

For 10 months, Edralin, then 25, was in and out of the hospital, more often in than out. There were chemotherapy sessions and massive blood transfusions (the blood donated by, among others, soldiers in fatigues). She lost her hair. At one point her heart stopped beating; and she was clinically dead.

There was no tunnel, no life review, no dead relatives greeting her, as in the case of many who have undergone near-death experiences. But there was a light, she recalled, “and when I woke up, God revealed to me something about obedience.”

Many came to her aid during the ordeal: fellow artists who mounted fund-raising concerts; PR persons, relatives, government agencies; and prominent friends and contacts of her grandfather. The medical expenses exceeded P2 million.

January this year was the golden anniversary of the grandparents, Max and Fe Edralin. Alexis was supposed to be in the hospital, but her voice was suddenly heard—behind the chapel door singing the beautiful hymn “You Raise Me Up.”

The door opened and Alexis, still almost bald, slowly approached the altar where her grandparents stood; all the while, she was singing. It was an electrifying moment, and there was not a dry eye among the congregation.

Through a miracle or near-miracle (four patients with the same condition had died), she pulled through. Her hair grew again, her vivacity returned. She regained her weight, and she became prettily plump anew.

“We thank the Lord because Alexis is alive today,” said Max Edralin. “Let’s pray that her remission will be long-lasting, that she will succeed in keeping her blood counts at normal levels, and that she will not need a bone marrow transplant for the long-term cure.”

Alexis’ big comeback concert, “A Glimpse of Hope,” is on Sept. 19 at St. James the Great Church in Ayala Alabang, with the Metro Manila Community Orchestra under Chino Toledo.

She will be sharing honors with soprano Rachelle Gerodias, tenor Dondi Ong, baritone Lionel Guico, and homegrown talents including boy soprano Christopher Gonzales.

This project of the St. James Copa Foundation seeks to raise funds for needy children.

“I will be introduced as someone who has been resurrected from the dead,” laughed the soprano.

Reprinted from an article by
Amadís Ma. Guerrero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
04:08:00 09/08/2008