How Facebook helped MMDA man with rotting feet

Posted at 10/18/12 3:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A Metro Manila Development Authority employee is finally receiving treatment for Buerger’s disease after his story went viral on social networking site Facebook.

Facebook user Sam Sevalla on Tuesday posted on his FB account pictures of Ernesto Chua, 65, resting at a footbridge near Trinoma EDSA.

Pictures of Chua, a member of the Sidewalk Cleaning Operation Group, showed that he had large bruises on both feet.

Photo courtesy of Sam V. Sevalla

Sevalla said he was moved by compassion to ask Chua about his condition and why he did not seek medical treatment. He said Chua was afraid to have his feet treated since he did not have any money and since he was about to retire anyway.

“Hindi ako mapakali simula nung nakita ko siya. so, binalikan ko siya. Naisip ko na hindi ko nalang siya pwedeng iwan doon na alam kong may pwede akong gawin para matulungan siya,” Sevalla said in his FB account.

He added: “Kitang kita ko yung hirap at sakit na nararamdaman niya. Pero kahit ganun, nagagawa padin niyang ngumiti. Na para bang wala siyang dinadalang sakit.”

Sevalla tagged the MMDA’s Facebook account to his post, asking the agency to help Chua. The post earned 22,149 likes and 13,618 shares in 2 days, causing the MMDA to take notice.

On Thursday, the MMDA brought Chua to East Avenue Medical Center where he was diagnosed with Buerger’s disease, which is associated with tobacco abuse. The illness causes inflammation and clotting of small and medium arteries in the hands and feet.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said Chua will be given rehabilitation leave, without subtracting it from his leave credits and retirement benefits. He said the MMDA will shoulder all of Chua’s medical expenses.

He said employees should not let illness go untreated just for fear of losing their jobs.

The MMDA also posted a photo of Chua on a wheelchair. Chua was holding a note that read: "Salamat po Sir Sam Sevalla at sa lahat po ng nagmamalasakit sa akin sa Facebook at Twitter."