Andrea Hernandez Trinidad is the president of Hemophilia Advocates Philippines. All her life, she has had to live with her bleeding disorder, even when she was not aware she had one. She grew up doing volunteer work, starting from Red Cross since Grade 4, teaching catechism in college, volunteering during elections and helping out in disaster response. In high school, she joined a group advocating for women’s rights.
“Advocacy is in my blood,” Andrea said in an email interview. “We were raised to make a stand on issues and to serve our community. But the most enduring for me and continues to move me is advocating for persons with disabilities, particularly for persons with hemophilia.”
In 2016, she founded Hemophilia Advocates-Philippines, a patient organization. From around 50 founding members, it has now more than 800. Afflicted all her life with both hemophilia and ADHD, with a son who is in the autism spectrum (Asperger’s), she believes that having life-long disorders does not necessarily hinder one from becoming successful.
“On the contrary,” she pointed out, “you need to acknowledge it, embrace it and make it as a tool to inspire others not to focus on their disability. ”
The lockdown did not render Andrea hopeless.“Covid-19 brought so much uncertainty to everyone. But we need to also reflect on how we can help in overcoming difficulties. Our company is currently helping develop the agriculture industry by introducing technology and providing our farmers with support to improve their yield.”
That Andrea remains strong despite the effects of the pandemic on the socio-economic life of everyone, is only reflective of how she had always coped with her disorder. She explained, “I never allow my disorder to stop me from pursuing my passions. I can’t count the times that I get hospitalized either during out of town assignments or right after getting off work because of bleeding.”
A memorable experience for her was when BBC London’s The Travel Show, hosted by renowned personality Rajan Datar, contacted her to help them shoot in Bohol. “I was then working with a USAID-funded project to help Bohol Province in their recovery after the earthquake in 2013,” she recalls. “We had been planning for the BBC shoot for a few weeks and when the day of the shoot finally came, I got hospitalized and needed blood transfusion. It was quite frustrating. I had to mobilize people and make sure that the itinerary went on as planned despite my absence. After all, the crew came all the way from London. I was struggling between taking a complete rest or managing the shoot from my hospital bed. Luckily, I worked with a great team from Bohol’s Tourism Office and we pulled off the shoot beyond expectations. Bohol dominated the 30-minute feature on the Philippines.”
As for her presidency of the Hemophilia Advocates Philippines, she points out that the word “challenging is an understatement when you manage a fast-growing organization. But I am very proud that despite our life-long condition, our members now have positive outlook in life. This is because we have developed a strong support system and members no longer feel alone in their journey.
We have found others who understand our predicament. I feel so proud especially when our members share about how their lives changed because of our organization. In only a little over three years, we have been able to distribute more than P1-billion worth of free medicines to our community and provided livelihood that enabled families to become financially able.”
That’s Andrea for you. She is happy because she has learned the art of resting but not surrendering.