By Christian Fadel
It was a battle, a constant battle against time, nationality, legal status, and above all against life and death.
Filemon Martinez died Sept. 2 in his native Tonatico Mexico.
It was a battle constantly fought by the Phoenix community, a battle that crossed borders and got into the hearts of many. The story is of many undocumented immigrants who come to the United States following a dream, following a better economic situation, and a better life with their hard work here in the United States.
It all started when Filemon Martinez a Mexican immigrant who, like many, also followed the “Sueno Americano” or “American dream.” Filemon’s future seemed hopeless when his body was struck with the disease leukemia; he needed a bone marrow transplant, and he ironically went to the UNIVISION, channel 33, TV Station asking for help to collect money for his coffin when he died.
Instead of receiving money for his coffin to be taken back to Mexico, he received the help and prayers of many who are now in sorrow for his death.
Channel 33 initiated a campaign called “Va por Filemon” or “It goes for Filemon.” This was a campaign that literally helped moved mountains for Filemon. Phoenix residents were involved in it and many celebrity figures from Mexico also gave a hand, some are Edward James Olmos, Los Tigres Del Norte, Vicente Fernandez, and even the president of Mexico Vicente Fox.
Paloma Rodriguez a Glendale Community College student, expresses her feelings towards the situation now that Filemon has died.
“It is very sad that he died but it was the end of so much suffering. It is very disappointing that an economic situation can affect someone’s life by not having the financial and legal status to get the organ he needed to be transplanted. On the other hand he will also be remembered as a man who leaves behind to the Phoenix community the willingness and persistence of fighting for life against death and for also bringing a community together for one purpose, that is saving a life.”
The media was a strong factor in this tragic story. Channel 33 and other media together with the Phoenix community, contributed in his transportation back to Mexico because the chances for him to get an organ donor were so much greater there than in here in the United States since Mexican people were more compatible to him.
The massive campaign gave him a bit more faith to fight for his life. And so it happened, an organ donor was found.
Ramon Martinez, Filemon’s brother was the one to give him a bit of hope and the organ he needed. Everything got ready to proceed with the transplant that was successfully made for Filemon in a hospital in Mexico City. Everything seemed well for him after the transplant; however, his hope for life ended with his death Sept. 2 in Mexico City.
This was a young man who taught to the Phoenix community, that the power of not giving up and having persistence is important until the end of life itself. Filemon Martinez brought the community together to help the ones that are in need of a hand, especially when the life of that one reflects the life of many others. He was the living mirror of undocumented diseased immigrants who do not have the financial support to survive.
Filemon so affected many people’s life’s that some organizations under his name are being opened in his remembrance and for people to list themselves as organ donors for people with leukemia who need an opportunity to live. “Va por Filemon.”