WE’RE again into a season of wakes and funerals. The last time I devoted this piece to several transitions of fellow mortals in a week’s time, fellow journalist Mike Leonen, now an expat dad, gently advised I should change this column’s title to what it looked like – an obituary.
We’re at it again, involuntarily punching the air with a hook over news Friday that Larry Fabian, the police officer and gentleman, had kicked the bucket at A native of Barlig, Mt. Province, Manong Larry was 76. To use a cliché, he had risen from the ranks. The late secretary to the mayor Willy Cacdac and I used to rib him over his refusal to submit his promotion papers so he could be at par with his buddy, the late Inspector Rene Manansala.
The two became part of my life when Willy, out of the blue, yanked me from the staff of then city Councilor Des Bautista to take dictation from then Mayor Luis Lardizabal which we converted into orders for him to sign, about a broken sewer line, a hedge of lantana in need of trimming, or potholes to be asphalted. Lardi was undoubtedly one of the best and colorful mayors Baguio ever had.
Larry and Rene were then detailed to secure the mayor, and the two would now and then thrill us with details of their insubordination.
Anecdotes were capped by Larry’s temerity to tell His Honor’s driver to stop in front of a restaurant on the way to Manila as the two officers were famished, swearing before the boss they could not go on without first having breakfast.
Earlier, the two guided me in my coverage of the police beat, an assignment that made me understand and appreciate how dedicated they were. Rene, as head of the police task force against drug abuse, would readily use his own finances in buy-bust and marijuana eradication operations. Larry, as then head of the investigation bureau, had a photographic memory. On his way to his office one morning, he asked a person being booked for vagrancy his name and case. Inside his office, Larry began recalling when and where he first heard the name.
Remembering that the suspect was involved in a homicide case, he told the investigator to book the him for the killing.
Months after he retired, Manong Larry dropped by at city hall and handed me several thousands of pesos he collected from fellow police officers. “They decided to pass the hat for your dialysis,” explained.
For years, Officer Larry himself was fighting the onslaught and consequence of diabetes , telling me he was unsure if he would follow the doctor’s advice when it was also time for him to undergo dialysis.
Two weeks back, Dr. Nieves Macaranas, the gentle pediatrician of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, texted me that Eufemia Dominguez-Buenaobra, our class- and batch-mate at the University of Baguio Science High, had decided to stop her own life-time dialysis for diabetes-triggered kidney failure. This was confirmed by Femy’s son, Israel, who told me at the wake his mother wanted to rest.
It was Eufemia’s euphemism for a personal decision to quit, and in so doing, release her loved ones of sacrifices needed for her to go on.
Dialysis is a costly emergency medical procedure that patients have to undergo two to four times a week, four hours at a time, for life.
At about the same week, dialysis patient Jane Lamlamag Garcia made a similar decision. Last December 2, the 34-year old miner’s wife and mother to two ailing kids, asked to be brought home to Mankayan, Benguet for good. Last December 21, she passed on after deciding to forego with her twice-a-week dialysis for kidney failure.
After bringing his wife’s remains for burial in Bauko, Mt. Province, Romeo Garcia had to be confined for depression at the Notre Dame Hospital here in Baguio . Jane’s sister last Wednesday said her brother-in-law had been released from confinement so he could begin picking up the pieces of a life broken by tragedy.
Romeo, 34, needs all the encouragement he and his orphaned family could get. He is left with two ailing daughters – Princess Arcia, 6, is in the thick of her own fight against leukemia, while Cathy Sy, 3, has to cope with partial epilepsy.
When he read the family’s story, Julian Chees, the world-class karateka with a heart, immediately asked his Renate Doth, secretary of the Shoshin Kinderhilfe-Julian Chees Foundation, to send two hundred euros for the orphaned family.
It was Julian’s latest in a series of reaching back to his native Cordillera where he, as a child, also fought poverty, having grown up in Lepanto, Mankaya where his late father was a miner. The amount, the latest in Julian’s personal drive that now spans more than 10 years, will be used to sustain the protracted battle of Princess Arcia against leukemia.
As we go to press, I learned that Sinforoso Villalba, father of Stephanie, Joseph and Sumitra, three of the most talented siblings and friends I’ve met, had also kicked the bucket.
As I was rushing this piece for the deadline, Samuel Nang-is, my godson in his wedding to Kate Flores, wandered into the office to tell us his wife died in the hospital the night before. I knew Kate from way,way back, a fighter for life despite having lost her two legs to prevent gangrene from taking her in after her blood pressure suddenly shot up.
Samuel, of Obulan, Beckel, La Trinidad, was at a loss on where to get part of a P150,000 he owed the hospital so he could have his wife’s remains brought home for the wake and burial. Truly, it’s most expensive to be poor. - e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.