August 19, 2012

Life lessons

IN the past few days, Big Sister and I, as well as a niece, have been doing guard duty at the hospital where Mama has been confined due to a liver ailment that has caused her to turn yellow.

We consider ourselves still fortunate that despite her age of 84, Mama is still a sprightly old gal who dictates her own terms on life. Given that she acts her usual gregarious self even in the hospital, one could easily mistake her to be well, especially if you don’t look at her complexion too closely.

In fact, as we were waiting in the emergency room on Sunday for a hospital room to open up so she could move in, a fellow patient commented to me, “’Yung pasyente mo nagli-lipstick pa!” Mama had just finished eating her favorite mamon and had her compact before her as she gingerly applied color on her lips. The other patient, who had been complaining of a tummy ache all this time, was visibly entertained and at the same time incredulous at the sight before her.

Since I’ve been used to Mama acting this way in public spaces (and I must confess, I may have inherited the same mannerism), it was nothing extraordinary to me. But I suppose to other people this wasn’t normal behavior, especially for a senior citizen. All I could say to the other patient in reply was: “S’yempre naman. ’Di porket nasa ospital ka, pwedeng pangit ka na. E paano kung gwapo ’yung doktor n’ya? Dapat maganda s’ya at ready for anything.” The other patient giggled.

But this is one of the major lessons that Mama has imparted to me and my other siblings. We always need to be properly dressed and made-up anywhere we go. I’ve taken this to heart and to this day, I never leave the house without putting on at least some lipstick and eyeliner. One of Mama’s more famous but funny teachings is “to never go out with a butas na panty. What if you slip and fall? The entire world will see your puwet!” Or, “What if you get rushed to the hospital? Your doctors will see your old panty! Nakakahiya!”

Also, she always stresses that being appropriately attired speaks of your upbringing and your family background. What you wear and how you act in public is a reflection on your parents and your family. “Ano na lang ang sasabihin ng mga tao? Aarte ka ng ganyan tapos anak ka ni ganito or some famous person? What will the people say about how your parents raised you?”

My Mama is still somewhat old school in terms of being prim and proper, and trying to live a life of respectability. But she does have a liberal streak and a modern outlook on life, unlike her fellow seniors.

While she is generally outspoken with her views, she doesn’t pass judgement on a person’s religious beliefs, morals (or the lack of it), and lifestyle choices. In fact, I’ve always said that Mama would have been the perfect mom for any budding bading.

What does intensely ruffle her feathers are, without fail, the Japanese. I can’t blame her really, as she as a 13-year-old along with her younger cousins were almost shot to death during World War II by Japanese soldiers fleeing from the arriving Americans.

No matter how many times I tell her that I’ve met so many nice Japanese and that Japan is such a gorgeous and fascinating country, I cannot convince her to change her mind about the Land of the Rising Sun. (The only time she thinks about the Japanese in friendlier terms is when she goes to Muji or Saizen to shop. She hasn’t visited Uniqlo yet, so let’s see if that makes her let her guard down further, hahaha.)

Unlike my father, Mama hasn’t really been hospitalized for any illness except when she had to give birth. And even then, she didn’t spend more than two days in the hospital as she delivered all four us siblings naturally. The only time she had to go to the hospital was when either one of us kids or Pop had a medical condition that needed surgery.

But this is really the first time that Mama is in the hospital as a patient. So for someone who is used to going to the malls, or having lunches with her amigas, or playing mahjong with her buddies, lying in a hospital bed is extreme torture for her.

For the most part, we take turns in entertaining her as she is extremely upset that she doesn’t have her regular ANC programming on the cable TV service the hospital subscribes to.

We hope her condition improves immediately after she undergoes a medical procedure for her ailment. As I listen to her crabbing about her ridiculously bland hospital food incessantly while I’m writing this, I can’t help but be amused that despite this experience, she still has kept her spirits up.

Nothing defeats her. She is one awesome woman.


I’d like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Rep. Salvador “Sonny” Escudero III, who recently passed away after a two-year bout with cancer.

I met Escudero when he was reappointed agriculture secretary during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos. Escudero was a kind, witty and definitely knew his stuff. Trained as a veterinarian, he was one of the very competent and professional government officials I knew.

As a member of the infamous Karambolistas on DWIZ, Escudero was typically the voice of reason and calm amid the often loud (and hilarious) opinions of the rest of gang.

Despite his slight stature, Escudero was a real giant of a man, and he served his country well. Thank you, sir, for all the good work you’ve done.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was originally published on Aug. 17, 2012.)

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