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Everyday grateful: Counting every blessing

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Raine Cabral-Laysico
Raine Cabral-Laysico
For comments or feedback, email Raine at rainecabral@gmail.com.

For this column, I was privileged to speak with Dr Hannah Alcantara-Jativa. She is a mum to Raphaela, wife to Fernando, teacher and Zumba enthusiast-turned instructor-dancing for a cause are the hats this wonder woman wears. 

It’s a special power we all have, the ability to multi-task and juggle as many balls as required without dropping any. When asked for her secret, Hannah candidly replied, ‘I like to plan things ahead of time so give me as much notice as possible, please.’ A practical approach to finding time for everything. 

Hannah initially arrived in Melbourne last 2011 as an academic scholar to complete her PhD. Prior to arriving in Australia, she was a lecturer at the University of the Philippines. In Hannah’s own words, ‘I am a life scientist with expertise in plant biochemistry, biotechnology and biosecurity.’ She has recently commenced a new role as a scientific consultant for an international biotech company. She is indeed a powerhouse with a lifelong passion to understand the mysteries of the universe. She is also a devout Catholic with unwavering faith. 

Sunday Blessings
Sunday Blessings

Positive, determined and resilient are the three words to describe this dynamic woman. When I asked what her biggest miracle was, she was quick to mention their daughter Raphaela. You see, Hannah’s appendix ruptured whilst pregnant. This has caused a premature birth and a variety of complications which necessitated a stay in the ICU and NICU for both mum and bub. It was during this time that Fernando, her husband, had to marshall his resources as he divided his time looking after his girls. It was a moment that passed like a blur yet felt quite stagnant in some intervals. It was a miracle that both Hannah and Raphaela survived unscathed with Raphaela now two years old.

The experience, however, took an emotional toll on Hannah. She doubled up on her prayer time and worked on looking at the bright side of life. It helped that Fernando was a very hands-on father and a very supportive husband. They walked through fire together, facing good and bad days the same way – with hands clasped together, bonded in faith. 

It also helped that Hannah chose to keep busy with dancing. This is actually how the couple met – a dance class at the University of Melbourne many moons ago. Dancing became a form of therapy for her. It helped her focus on her well-being particularly during the pandemic last year. Zumba exercises were what kept her moving. And since she was given the opportunity to be a Zumba teacher, she gladly took on the challenge.

Aside from Zumba’s therapeutic benefits, Hannah took it a step further. She offers free Zumba classes as a way for everyone to be active during the pandemic. As an added thrust, she also opens the session with voluntary donations for the benefit of 2KK – Tulong Kapwa Kapatid. This is a charitable organisation empowering the less privileged Filipino youth through education. She turned her passion into an opportunity to help others.

Hannah with husband Fernando and daughter Raphaela
Hannah with husband Fernando and daughter Raphaela
Hannah with husband Fernando and daughter Raphaela
Family bonding

When asked how she deals with challenges. Her answer was simple. ‘Push yourself to the limit, with everything. If the experiment (life) seems overwhelming, just push until the boundary, then go over it.’

Life is meant to be lived to the fullest with gratitude in your heart. Hannah is a living example of how it is to live counting every blessing. She urges us to take stock of what is in our present, reflect on our past and use it as fuel to create the future we imagine. 

With God, nothing is impossible.

Find Hannah on this page, and also support her charity: 

(For comments or feedback, email rainelaysico@gmail.com)


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Raine Cabral-Laysico
Raine Cabral-Laysico
For comments or feedback, email Raine at rainecabral@gmail.com.

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