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A whole lot of living to do — all in a day

September 22, 2019


Last of two parts

As far as lifting the family from nearly the cellar of poverty is concerned, Jose had beaten me to the draw. At this, I would wonder why time and again, and each time I would zero in on the one single reason: Jose had Irene; I didn’t have one my own. I married quite late, at age 38, at a time when on the occasion of inducting me as president of the San Andres Youth Organization (“Calolbon” had been replaced with “San Andres”), then-Press Secretary Francisco “Kit” Tatad asked: “Don’t you have age limit to your membership?”

Oh, well, as the cliché goes: “Behind every man’s success is a woman.”

In their drive to affluence, Irene had not only been behind but in front too, as well — as a rule, partners for progress with Jose. Side by side with his lawyering for the National Power Corp. was her teaching at the Arellano Mabini High School. At the end of the stretch, the couple proudly had their mansion at the Napocor village blessed — quite a far cry from the dingy entresuelo they started life with when they moved to settle permanently in Manila in the late ‘70s. The edifice they built went all the way up to the fourth floor and had since been the habitual lodging place for relatives who must spend a night or two in Manila for some reason or another.

But in the greatest regard, thus had Irene become co-responsible with Jose in having provided Tatay and Nanay at long last the perks as are only appertaining to the rich. That house has been Tatay’s and Nanay’s home whenever they were in Manila. It was in that house that Tatay succumbed to a stroke in 1996 — dying a rich man’s death, sort of saying.

Hub for New Year’s fete

The house, too, since then had become the traditional hub for New Year’s celebrations both for Irene’s kin and friends and Jose’s relatives. Attendees were no longer known for their names, but for the faraway places they came from on those occasions: the San Mateo group, the Antipolo group, the Malolos group, the Laguna group, the Dumaguete group, the Batino group, the Novaliches group, etc., etc.

Toward the advent of the current year, I began being seriously worried about how Irene looked. She was growing pale and weak, and though she would effervesce with her characteristic mirth during weekend sessions of mahjong in the house with Maoie and Violeta, she would nevertheless betray something terrible was happening inside her.

I gave her the number of a friend, Rory, partner of Radyo Pilipinas’ “Ang Maestro Atbp: The Unfinished Revolution” anchor Ado Paglinawan, who was specializing in acupuncture, known to have cured ailments otherwise proven incurable by traditional medicine. I would learn later that Irene never got to try the method.

Next I knew, Irene was rushed to the St. Luke’s Hospital for reasons I did not care to find out what. I just texted Jose my prayer for her recovery. Thank God, she did recover soon, and on the occasion of their wedding anniversary last June, I was again at that ubiquitous mahjong table at one corner of the Napocor village house, glad to play her favorite game with her one more time.

Dialysis not known to cure

I was rather alarmed though that Irene had been on dialysis since then. Only lately have I really learned that dialysis involves sucking out all the blood from your veins for cleansing of impurities and then pumping it back again. Between the sucking out and the pumping in again is necessarily a long moment of lifelessness.

How many moments of lifelessness could one dialysis patient survive?

In fact the issue sums up into the ultimate question: Is any dialysis patient on record of having actually survived the terrible ordeal?

I posed the question to Jose in that recent observance of Irene’s birthday. His curt answer was, “No.”

Indeed, just as chemo therapy is not on record as having cured a patient of cancer — cancer, according to one authoritative Facebook post, being not a real disease but conjured up for profit by western pharmaceuticals, the deficiency in so-called cancer cases being mere lack of Vitamin B17 curable by enough intake of a variety of seeds like those from pumpkin and watermelon — so no patient has been known to have survived dialysis.

That the treatment is getting increasingly popularized to the extent of abetting a scandalous scam involving a prime government health delivery agency — Philipine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth — attests to nothing but man’s insatiable greed for profit at the expense of his fellow man’s very life.

Birthdays are not for crying

Wednesday proved to be the opposite of the day Irene and Jose wed. Irene’s relatives and friends had come all the way from Dumaguete to celebrate her birth anniversary, together with not just the Samontes really but also with each branch the family has extended from and into: the Gianans, the Marinos, the Capistranos, the Tivars, the Araojos, the Acidos, the Sumerias, the Soqueñas, the Javier-Balatbats, the Cañetas, the Cariagas, the Padollons, the Salases, who else?

They were all there, people dear to one another’s hearts, all together now in one grand gathering to loudly chorus a wish, upon prompting from cousin Bishop Celestino Gianan of the Catholic Church International, who was said the birthday Mass: “Happy birthday, Irene.”

Meanwhile, Gia had been observing the activities around and noticed that most of the folks in the other chapels were crying.

“Why are we the only ones not crying?” she asked.

“Well,” I started, “we are here to celebrate Lola Irene’s birthday. There’s no reason to cry.”

Clad in a gown of burgundy, Irene was serene and beautiful, wearing the prettiest makeup I’d seen on her in her lifetime. A rosary was clutched in her hand as she lay inside an immaculate coffin amid rows of wreaths and bouquets of white roses placed at one end of the large St. Peter Memorial suite.

That was Sept. 17, 2019, Irene’s 69th birth anniversary. The next day, she was buried at the Himlayang Pilipino.

How nice it must be for Irene to have had that supreme joy of celebrating her coming into the world and in just a day go away from it — rich with memories of things that had in her lifetime made love matter most.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net


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