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Pinay.com | July 13, 2020

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Ex-Drug Addict Michelle Perez Turns New Leaf | Pinay.com

Ex-Drug Addict Michelle Perez Turns New Leaf
Tish Leizens

She was a Pinay child actress and drug addict in her younger years but now Manila-based Michelle Perez, 43, is a woman of strength, courage and persistence.

“I turned my life around when one day I was alone in the balcony of my house and I asked myself—how long will I keep doing this,” said Perez, who has since founded Bridges of Hope, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that also addresses gambling, sex and other forms of addiction.

Her life story is the subject of “Magpakailanman” (Forever More) TV Series on GMA network. The first episode entitled Pakawalang Anghel” (Fallen Angel) was first shown in January 2013 to high ratings. It will be shown again next week, on March 29, and will star Filipina actresses Joyce Ching and Ehra Madrigal as the young and old Perez.

The real life drama unfolds on her difficulties to accept that she was adopted—despite the love and attention she got from her parents and siblings. She is the fifth child of six children.

“I stopped with the thought that I am adopted. I don’t think my parents who love me so deserve this,” she said of her prominent parents Spanky and Dolly Perez, a former top telecommunications executive and the first female landscape architect of the Philippines, respectively.

Perez said she asked her eldest sister to help her and get her into rehab. “I was aloof at first. I was the first female patient. After two months, another female patient came in. At three months I felt I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to help those with drug problems.”

Other than drug addiction, her life’s trail includes being sexually molested at 12 while partying with bad company, two failed marriages and young pregnant mother thrice. Today, still at a young age, she has two grandchildren.

After high school, her parents decided to send her to Canada for college education. “My father says, you’ve done the act, now study the theory, and so I did. From the rehab onward my life changed around.”

Michelle's mom & dad

“Fighting to stay sober is an ongoing battle. Friends and family say I do it effortless but really one time I almost did take drugs when my mom had a heart attack,” Perez admitted.

“Until you are six feet below the ground can you only say that you are cured and have won the battle of drug addiction. I learned to stay humble by saying I am not fully cured. I am not perfect. I am just a vessel of the Lord who is sent to help those in need,” she said.

“I want Bridges of Hope to be the rehab of choice, and that all patients that come back to the facility would share their own experiences of how their life turned around to the new ones entering. That they wouldn’t feel alone in life and that they know they have a place to run to,” she said.

Perez said that right now the rehab center has 34 patients, both male and female, Filipinos and non-Filipinos. She said that at one time the business had financial difficulties and was about ready to close down.

She is grateful to her parents, business partners, Florencio Bernabe III, Robert Ty and his wife; and co-founders and industrial partners, Arturo Crespo, program director and Enrique Vicente Zamora, administrative director; for their guidance and support in allowing her to continue with her life’s mission.

What does the future hold for our Pinay Michelle Perez? “My future I leave up to God. Nobody knows his or her future. Life moves on. Faith in God is what I have. To you my Lord I lift myself up. Thy will be done,” she said.

Michelle Perez Sparkles and Shines!


Tish Leizens

Tish Leizens is a great believer in asking lots of questions. That was how she was trained as a business journalist for newspapers and magazines. That was how she survived trying moments in her personal life and how she navigated a successful career and business in media. In 1997, she asked, “Why not?” And so, she moved from Manila to New York City. It was and continues to be a great adventure. After stints as a reporter for Manila Chronicle and Manila Times; correspondent for The Straits Times and Gulf News; Tish worked as editor for Conde Nast, and later edited and published her own regional magazines, OurHouse and Excursions. OurHouse, sold in bookstores chains in the East Coast, was nationally recognized for its innovative approach to magazine publishing. Tish has lectured at the New York Public Library on how to launch a magazine and other topics related to publishing. She was featured in CNN Money in 2010.

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