Dispatches from the Enchanted Kingdom
By Manuel Buencamino*
I was at St.Luke's Hospital when The Patient arrived. Security was tight so I morphed myself into a fly. I wanted to observe without being observed.
"What's wrong with her?" someone asked.
A doctor answered, "fever, running nose (sic), sore throat, dry cough, and body aches."
"Sounds like the flu," someone said.
Mike Defensor said it was the flu. Ignacio Bunye said he recently recovered from it. And Arthur Yap said "she was lucid".
Lucid?!? Why was Art reassuring the public about the patient's mental health? Was she suffering from dementia? Hmmm… so I buzzed over to the patient's wheelchair. To observe. Up close.
On the way to the elevator, an aide was indiscreetly telling the patient's doctor, the renowned hepatologist Juliet Cervantes, "she hardly slept last week… she was obssessed with her Sona…no one could get any sleep either."
The patient overheard her aide's remark so she said, "Please, just tell them I'm sick. My throat hurts and my lungs are congested."
The aide apologized for his indiscretion.
She replied, "Thank you…. Taos pusong pasasalamat sa inyo. Thank you, governors."
Meanwhile, the nurse asked the patient if she was comfortable in the wheelchair. The patient grinned and said, "Yes. Thank you…. Taos pusong pasasalamat sa inyo. Thank you, mayors."
In the elevator, the operator asked, " What floor?"
The patient replied, "Super region, of course. Thank you, generals."
Something seemed odd so I zoomed over to the doctor who was in a huddle with one of the patient's aides.
"She's been doing that since the Sona," whispered the worried aide.
"Doing what?" asked the doctor.
"The Sona… she can't snap out of it…she keeps repeating bits and pieces of it…like the movie 'Groundhog Day'," he replied.
The elevator stopped. The doors slid open. The patient asked, "Are we in the super region yet? " Uneasy glances were exchanged but everyone remained silent.
In the corridor on the way to the patient's suite, the patient proudly pointed out to her entourage, "my father built this road we are on… it's the Halsema highway from Bondoc all the way to the Jollibee in Basilan…Thank you, congressmen."
And then she asked for her laptop.
"No laptop. You have to rest," the doctor said.
Defiant, she replied, " I just want my laptop but if you want to pick up old fights, I'm game." And she paused for the applause. And that's when the doctor decided to test her lucidity.
"Do you know where you are?" asked the doctor.
The patient looked around the hospital hallway, noted all the high-tech medical gadgets lined up against the wall and said, " Yes. I'm in the cyber-corridor."
Inside the patient's suite now. The doctor probed some more. She asked, "Do you know who you are? What is your name?"
The patient turned her head slowly and, with a voice even lower and raspier than Linda Blair's voice in the movie, The Exorcist, grinned and replied, "My name is legion; for we are many."
The doctor crossed herself, injected the smirking patient with a powerful sedative, and ran screaming out of the room. All in two seconds flat.
The patient called out after the doctor, "I was only kidding…it's a joke between Sigaw ng Bayan and me." Too late. The doctor was already in the hospital chapel praying to Sta. Teresa de Avila.
Back at the hospital entrance lobby, Art was yapping to the press, "The President is very much in control, she's not sedated… she was even giving official instructions and was asking what's happening to the projects and to the mega regions." And he added, "Oh, and she was making us laugh when we were in the elevator." The reporters laughed too.
Friday morning, at the nurses' station, the intercom buzzed. I heard a hungry voice I heard before - on an audio-tape - asking for something to eat. The head nurse also recognized the voice as the
voice on the tape so she told her staff, "The Patient wants her breakfast. Take it to her. Quick. Quickly."
Ten minutes later the intercom buzzed again. The same familiar voice - still hungry - came on and said, " Hello…hello nurse…hello nurse…yun dagdag…yun dagdag…"
*Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).
(Originally published in Business Mirror, Opinion, Aug. 2, 2006. Photos from www.washingtonpost.com and www.pictures-pictures.net)