MANILA - A progeria-stricken fan of Sarah Geronimo was moved to tears after being surprised by the pop star, who similarly turned emotional, as part of ABS-CBN's "Kapamilya Thank You" campaign.
Rochelle Pondare, according to her mother Rosanna, was healthy until she first showed symptoms of progeria at age two.
Otherwise known as the Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome or HGPS, the disorder is described as a "rare, fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging in children."
According to US-based Progeria Research Foundation, children with the genetic disorder die of atherosclerosis (heart disease) at an average age of 14 years.
Despite her condition, Rochelle remained cheerful and at age 4 started to show a love for singing, often inspired by her idol Geronimo, Mrs. Pondare said.
Rochelle also keeps a notebook containing lyrics and photos of the singer, her mother added.
On September 26, Rochelle, who is based in Plaridel, Bulacan, was shown a video greeting from Geronimo. Already, the girl was in tears. She said it is her dream to personally meet the singer-actress.
Little did she know, her dream was about to come true two weeks later.
Geronimo, who was first introduced to Rochelle through a video of the girl singing her hit "Forever's Not Enough," made her way to Bulacan on October 13 to finally meet her ailing fan.
An unsuspecting Rochelle was singing "To Love You More," Geronimo's winning piece in a TV contest in 2003, when the pop star started to join her midway through the song.
Rochelle burst into tears and shared a hug with Geronimo, who was also seen becoming emotional at the meeting. The two sat down for a talk and took photos together.
"Para talaga 'tong panaginip," Rochelle said.
Geronimo said: "Nag-uumapaw sa saya 'yung puso ko the moment lang na makita ko si Rochelle, na makita ko 'yung saya sa mga mata niya. Siya 'yung patunay na ang pagiging masaya ang nagbibigay ng pag-asa [sa kabila ng] kahit anong pagsubok."
"Thank You Ang Babait Ninyo" will mark ABS-CBN's 12th Christmas station ID following a string of hits that paid tribute to the Filipino sense of community and spirit amid disasters.
The station ID featuring stars of the network will premiere in November.
To view more #KapamilyaThankYou videos, click here.