Text and photos by Dexter Rodrigo Matilla
The Philippien Star
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Star columnist Billy Esposo was all smiles during the launch of his book “Surviving Chronic Kidney Disease: The Billy Esposo Kidney Diaries” last Friday at the Powerbooks in Greenbelt 4, Makati City. The sincere smile on his face was very telling for not only has he written his very first book and published it, triumphed over a disease that is one of the leading causes of mortality in the Philippines, but his guest list could very well be the envy of so many other authors before him.
Foremost of which, of course, is President Benigno S. Aquino III who described Esposo’s book as a good weapon to help Filipinos who have the same illness.
“I’m sure that this book will find its way into the shelves of many nephrologists and become a useful resource for many of our countrymen,” the President said. “This book might come as a surprise especially as it gives an account of not only the physical trials, the terror of cyberspace he had to endure but also the spiritual and emotional trials that came with it.”
The President praised Esposo for attacking the problem of chronic kidney disease (CKD) from a different angle by making sense of the suffering and illness without compromising the painful realities of the disease, thus encouraging other sufferers not to give up.
“I’m certain and I speak for everyone when I say that we are all glad to be here today. Twelve years after he began his dialysis treatments to celebrate a milestone in both the health and career of a good friend and perhaps even a milestone for all others who continue to battle this disease,” the President said.
In his column, “As I Wreck This Chair,” Esposo says that many of his friends were surprised that his very first book had delved on a subject matter that he hardly has a mastery of except to suffer from it.
“They had expected me to write on my experience in the 1986 Cory Aquino Media Bureau during the Snap Presidential Campaign, or my insights into the untold and little known true history of our country, or explosive political inside stories, or the dynamics of geopolitics that are prodding the Chinese invasion.”
But while Esposo agrees that he does have a few things to share on those subjects, he adds that it is perhaps the will of God that he share his experiences as a chronic kidney disease patient so he can help the over 100 million people in the world who suffer from it.
The book is a collection of Esposo’s notes starting from when he was diagnosed with chronic renal disease in 1999. The ninety-four journal entries cover a span of twenty-eight months of hemodialysis and kidney transplant.
Other than being a terminal health problem, CKD is also one of the most costly to treat. Global data estimates that treatment of all afflicted persons could top $1 trillion a year, a cost that will strain even the health budgets of developed countries. Around 10,000 Filipinos suffer from it yearly, the causes of which are hypertension and diabetes.
STAR and People Asia Editor Joanne Rae Ramirez said of the book: “Billy Esposo has always had to fight to live — to live in freedom and democracy, to live with principle, and simply — to live. When told he needed a new kidney to survive, Billy was courageous and relentless anew in his battle. But just as he has had to fight for many things, Billy, too, has been and is the recipient of big miracles. His Kidney Diaries is the diary of man’s conquest of fear and adversity and God’s benevolence.”
Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrad de Quiros writes: “Billy Esposo has been writing a column for the Philippine STAR for some time now, trying to show this country how it might get out of its desperate straits. But I don’t know that he has given it better advice than the example of his life. He himself has forged his way out of truly desperate straits, fighting a life-and-death battle against a dreaded affliction. He hasn’t just won, he has won brilliantly.
W. Scott Thompson, New York Times and New Straits Times columnist, commented: “Billy, I read your book in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down. Riveting. Hope it goes viral. Much of what you say applies to other conditions which one just might not want to face and deal with.”
“Surviving Chronic Kidney Disease: The Billy Esposo Kidney Diaries” is published by Anvil Publishing, Inc, which sponsored the launch together with Powerbooks and Novartis Health Care Philippines Inc.