TWO WEEKS after a distraught and frail mother of eight died of pneumonia, Samaritans are keeping alive her wish that her husband, eight children and three grandchildren won't be evicted again.
A widow who declined to be identified handed P2,000 last Wednesday to one of her sons, to help the now grieving family continue building their shanty they began working on last year.
Last Monday evening, public school teacher Norma Degawan of Longlong Elementary School texted she has 50 hollow blocks ready for pick up.
(In a similar gesture, Baguio boy and expatriate Joel Aliping sent P10,000 from his home in Northern California for two others in need. Half of the amount was used for the medicines of 22-year-old Soledad Col-iteng, who is afflicted with lupus. The other half will pay the third quarter insurance premium of 16-year-old Micah Santos, daughter of the late folksinger Mike Santos who passed on last September.)
The patchwork abode began taking form in summer last year, beside the city cemetery where the mother was recently buried beside her own mother. The family had then received a notice to vacate the shanty they were renting. They had been ejected more than 10 times before, their mother then said. This time, the shanty owner said he was moving back in.
That's when the mother decided to move. She wrapped her thin arms around her three-year-old boy. With her five-year old boy in tow, she hiked from the western end of the city to the city proper to search for people with materials to spare.
Baguio boy and former traditional karate world champion Julian Chees sent P10,000 from his base in Germany to start the home project. Pupils of Brent School raised P5,000 support and friends of multi-titled car racer Carlos Anton added P5,000.
Former government information officer Elly Tamayao, now working in New York, also then got wind of the mother's dream. She told her daughter here to give the family form lumber used in building their house at Aurora Hill.
Soon, the family had no choice but to move into their cramped, patchwork abode barely began. Lack of divisions, water and lighting were the least of their worries, their discomfort nothing compared to the extreme relief from being evicted again.
Last month, the mother fell terminally ill. After four days in the hospital, she died at dusk inside the unfinished home beside the city cemetery. Pneumonia, the death certificate read, with tuberculosis as antecedent cause.
As it takes one to know one, her neighbors flocked to the funeral parlor to pay their respect. The week-long wake gave her husband and children time to figure out how to settle the funeral costs.
Two hours before the burial, ordinary people who knew the family pooled P15,000, of which P3,000 the husband used in lining up her grave with hollow blocks. The funeral parlor had the cost of two nights of the wake deducted, reducing the net cost to P22,000.
As he had done in previous situations, city councilor Peter Fianza signed a guarantee note should there be a shortfall. Chees, a fifth dan blackbelt with the Japan Karate Association who, for six years now, has been sending support to indigent patients here, added P10,000 to cover the balance.
"It's very expensive to be poor, and more expensive for the poor to die," noted Chees. He knows, having worked as a construction laborer to finish college and, as eldest child, supports his brothers.
As the widower was counting the last thousand in P20 bills to complete payment, the funeral parlor manager advised him to keep it for his family's other immediate needs.
His wife was buried on the grave he dug on an early Saturday afternoon, before the rains came. She was 44, according to the death certificate. When she came knocking on doors last year, she said she was 38.
Last week, her husband was back as a hardware store porter, while two of their sons were back as baggage boys at the market. Their two daughters returned to tending to their three grandsons. Their second boy, now 22, has just landed a job after completing a four-year course in computer technology under the scholarship program of then congressman and now mayor Mauricio Domogan.
People who would like to help fulfill this mother's dream may contact her second boy at cell phone number 09075749369.
As we go to press, a 49-year old woman also appealed for support in her six-cycle chemotherapy for breast cancer scheduled to begin this week. She can be contacted at cellphone number 09197261114.