The mum of a 16-year-old girl claims that a rare condition has made her daughter age prematurely, covering her body in wrinkles.
Raizel Calago, from Salasang Arakan, Cotabato, in the Philippines, is just a teenager but her skin and changing face shape make her look around 50.
Raizel was healthy until two years ago when at 14 she developed red itchy patches that she thought was an allergy.
She was admitted to hospital to try to find out what was causing her skin problems but on December 21, 2019, she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Progeria.
The progressive genetic form of the condition is more well known — though still extremely rare — in children, causing them to age rapidly starting in their first two years of life.
But an adult form, also known as Werner syndrome, can begin in the teen years or early adulthood, causing premature ageing and conditions typical of old age, such as cataracts, diabetes, heart problems, or osteoporosis.
"We were so sad and worried. We didn't know what to do," Raizel's mum, Joela Omagap Calago, told Jam Press.
As well as the physical changes to the way she looks, Raizel has stopped growing and suffers from back pain.
The condition has made it difficult for her to go out, and even before the pandemic, she would wear a mask, jacket and trousers wherever she went.
Although she is also currently working at home because of the pandemic, school has been hard for her in the past.
"Raizel feels shy to face other people," Joela said.
"There are some teenagers who bully her but there are some who love and give her joy."
One of the most difficult things for Joela is that at 37, she looks younger than her daughter.
"There are many people who think that I look younger than Raizel," she said.
"It hurts for me. I don't want to hear that some people think that."
Currently, Raizel does not have access to any treatment that is able to slow down the effects of the condition.
Doctors are continuing to monitor for any conditions that may develop as a result of having Progeria.
Her family are trying to raise money to support her to live with her condition.
Donate to Joela Omagap Calago through the Banco De Oro - Cotabato - Kidapawan Branch (003320396050).
Laura Abernethy/Jam Press/Australscope
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