By Josie Moralidad Ziman
Special to Manila Mail
ARLINGTON, Va. Nurse Leolalinda Petinglay Plameras, 48, has demonstrated that out of poverty springs great compassion. Growing up in a remote village of Antique province in the Central Philippine island of Panay, she was recently awarded the Frist Humanitarian Award, the highest honor given by the Hospital Corporation of America to employees, physicians, caregivers and volunteers who provide their patients with excellent care and service to the community.
Plameras is Filipino-American Intensive Care Unit nurse from Aiken, South Carolina. She hails from San Remigio, Antique at the foot of the mountains far from malls and trappings of consumerism. As a young child, there was no cake or ice cream on birthdays. It was a tough and harsh life, she recalled, but she was satisfied in her belief of the presence of God.
Her parents were both elementary teachers and she’s the 10th child of twelve children. She was taught in the love, mercy and knowledge of God and was raised to give back. Her grandparents were devout convention Baptist believers who donated a parcel of land on which to build the community’s church.
In 2004, she ran for Mayor and almost won over the political dynasty that ruled Antique. Her husband Erwin Plameras is the son of former Antique Governor Jovito Plameras Jr. and they have a 12-year old daughter. She works as a Registered Supervisor in Anchor Rehab and Healthcare of Aiken on 12-hour shifts for two days, and as Doctor’s Hospital of Augusta ICU Staff RN for four days. She’s also performing a fellowship at her Pastor’s house and nursing home; the remaining one day she spends with her family and the Agape Ministry.
“I operate in faith, not expecting but trusting Him as the source of everything. My prayer that God will sustain me physically, mentally, morally and spiritually,” she declared.
Because of her compassion and service to those in need, Plameras was recently awarded the Frist Humanitarian Award. The Frist Humanitarian Award was established in 1971 in honor of one of Hospital Corporation of America’s s co-founder Dr. Thomas F. Frist Sr. It includes a $5,000 donation to the charity of the recipient’s choice and $5,000 for the employee or volunteer.
On Aug. 3, 2016 Plameras founded the Agape Children and Christian Ministries Inc. “I named it Agape because of unconditional and highest love for Jesus that moved me to minister,” she explained. The recipients of Agape are less privileged children, teenage girls and boys, young mothers and grandparents. It has several programs like after school, housing program and home ownership for less privileged and homeless, senior citizens boarding home and the international missionary program.
On Aug. 23, 2016, Plameras purchased a house in Crosland Park that was riddled with 20 bullets. Almost everyone warned her not to buy the house because of the crimes and violence in the neighborhood but she didn’t pay heed.
She trusts her instinct and big faith in God. “Teenagers (boys from 15-18) when starting Agape were wearing their hoods and will not face the camera, didn’t want to be touched. One day they broke in the back door of Agape and splattered hundreds to thousands of pieces of broken glasses just to find out, they stole all chocolates in the refrigerator, no other missing items….in other words they were hungry! Instead of getting scared, angry or giving up, I looked down at the broken glasses and cried and asked the Lord, “if these broken glasses are the broken lives of these teenagers, then so help me God if this is what you want me to tender, I’ll commit my strength to you, please protect me, Father as I take care of them.”
She continued, “then I started visiting them more often and bringing them food and they started coming and I befriended the neighborhood. Right now, no hoodies, their chin up, they wear our Agape T-shirt and I will continue to mentor them,” she told the Manila Mail.
Ms. Plameras added that she is sharing her good deeds definitely not to raise herself but testifying the faithfulness of God and encouraging others who have a little extra or have more to remember the needy especially the homeless and unable to send their children to school.
In the Philippines, she’s also doing the same ministry with the help of her husband and other family members. “God showed His power by allowing me to win this 45th Frist Humanitarian Award. Masarap pakinggan na ganito ang nangyari na nakatanggap ka ng award but I would like to be more just like a regular person and still mingle and able to do the work of God. I don’t want to be put into a higher place because of the award. I want God to cover me with humility as I continue to serve the children in Agape Minstry,” Plameras said, firm in her belief that charitable works are the only way to live a life of fulfillment.