EXCLUSIVE: Canada-Based Pinay Mara Soriano On How She Recovered "Mamabear" With The Help Of Ryan Reynolds
It's no ordinary stuffed toy. The teddy bear that was stolen contains a recording of a special message from Mara's mom, who succumbed to cancer last year
It might be a blanket, a storybook, or a photo for some, or a silly old trinket, a hand-me-down piece of clothing, or a heirloom jewelry for others. Different people cherish all sorts of mementos that make them feel that mom or dad is still close by even after they've departed for the next life.
But despite the variety of items you might find in a treasure trove like this, the people who own them can all agree—losing them would be devastating!
And for Vancouver, Canada-based Filipina Mara Soriano, that's exactly what had happened to her just a few days ago, only worse. Her "Mamabear," which came with a recording of her late mom's voice, was stolen along with a handful of other prized possessions while she was busy moving to another apartment.
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'Hi, Ate Mara, mahal na mahal kita- always remember that. You make mommy so proud. No matter where you are, a part of me will always be with you forever. I love you to infinity and beyond.' The Christmas before Cancer reared its ugly head again, my mom went to build a bear and recorded this cheesy message. Before she died, her voice changed, it was softer and still my mom, but not the mom I grew up with.. So this recording is EVERYTHING to me. I wish we had more videos, more recordings, more pictures, I'd give anything for a Mom hug and kiss today. I love you mom, happy mother's day, I am so happy and so proud to be your clumsy girl today and every day. I hope I make you proud.
"The bear was recorded in December 2017 for Christmas. It was my mom's reminder of her while I was away in Vancouver. It says, 'Hi, Ate Mara! Mahal na mahal kita. Always remember that. You make mommy so proud. No matter where you are, a part of me will always be with you. I love you to infinity and beyond,'" Mara tells Metro.Style.
A hero, however, stepped in to help, albeit it was one she would've never expected to hear from.
It wasn't Superman, or The Flash, or Star-Lord, or Spider-Man. It wasn't even Canada's very own Wolverine.
It was Deadpool—or at least, it was Ryan Reynolds.
That's right! The Hollywood star, husband to Blake Lively, and Detective Pikachu voice actor chanced upon Mara's plea for help in finding her Mamabear, and without hesitation, brought national attention to the search.
In case you missed the story's live updates that unfolded over the Internet last week, here's what happened:
Mara and her fiancé, Richard, were busy unloading a ton of boxes of their belongings from their U-Haul van as they were moving into a new place. The friend who was supposed to come over to help them had unfortunately gotten into an accident, so Mara rushed over to be with her friend.
Because of panic, she forgot to tell Richard that she left her backpack with Mamabear and her iPad that had videos of her and her mom (which were not backed up anywhere else).
Upon returning home, Mara was crushed to learn that her backpack—and its contents—were nowhere to be found. (A review of the CCTV footage showed that a man had spotted that backpack not long after it was left unattended and walked away with it).
"I panicked, immediately started running up and down the alleys of Vancouver, looking through dumpsters, checking alleyways and bushes. I was devastated," Mara shares.
Mara called on the power of the Internet to help her recover the irreplaceable, custom Build-A-Bear teddy, taking to Instagram to virtually beg for Mamabear to be returned.
"PLEASE, I don't care about the electronics, I just want my bear back (and maybe my citizenship card cause I can't do anything without it). If you spot it anywhere, please give me a DM. Thank you," her post read.
The media picked up her story, too!
"I just emailed a contact for CBC news and was so lucky that someone was able to cover my story! It was pure chance!" she shares.
And then it happened.
Ryan Reynolds must have been taking a break from whatever it is celebrities do during a pandemic, tuned into the news at just the right moment, and thought that helping Mara was a worthwhile endeavor.
The day after Mara posted her heart-wrenching message on Instagram, Ryan sent this out into the Twitterverse:
Vancouver: $5,000 to anyone who returns this bear to Mara. Zero questions asked. I think we all need this bear to come home. https://t.co/L4teoxoY50— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) July 25, 2020
And Mara expectedly freaked out over the attention she received from a celeb like Ryan, no less.
The tweet was seen by at least 345,000 people and shared by 99,000. Talk about Canada's, or perhaps the world's, biggest search party for a well-loved teddy!
Mara couldn't believe her eyes, or her luck, when she saw the tweet.
"I was honestly so shocked, I couldn't believe it at first. Why would Ryan Reynolds care about some stranger in Vancouver? But he's been so kind and has been nothing short of amazing. Without him, we probably would have never gotten Mamabear back," she says.
Ryan's fellow actors Zach Braff and Dan Levy also encouraged their Vancouver fans to help Mara out.
It didn't take long for Mamabear to find its way back to Mara and Richard. Just a couple of days after Ryan expressed his support for Mara's cause, two strangers met up with Mara to give her her teddy back.
"The teddy was missing for maybe four days before I got her back! It happened so quickly, I'm honestly so relieved and surprised," she says of the unreal experience. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You have restored my faith in humanity."
More than getting a beloved toy back, Mara definitely feels that her mom's memories are back with her, safe and sound. Mara's mom, Marilyn, was diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in 2010 and passed away just last year after her nine-year-long battle with cancer.
"My mom was the best person. She was incredibly generous, kind and loving. She loved karaoke, laughing and eating lots of food! She perfected making cassava cake and would always bring it to our fam jams. She's exactly who I want to grow up to be... I miss everything about her—the softness of her voice, whenever she would comfort me when I was sad, hearing her laugh and sing in the next room," Mara reveals.
Born in the Philippines, she and her family moved to Canada when she was nine years old, first settling in Montreal then in the Great Toronto Area. Mara, who's now 28 years old, moved to Vancouver on her own about five years ago, and works full-time in the animation industry there.
Of her fondest memories in the Philippines, she shares, "I love the Philippines! I miss my pinsans and my titos and titas. I loved our family trips to the beaches of Palawan and short road trips to Mt.Taal."
Now that Mamabear is home, Mara and Richard are back on track in planning their wedding and setting up their future together.
And with Mamabear watching over them, we're sure that it'll be a happy future, indeed!
Photos from @alohaaamara
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