Manang Doris, my MOTHER People knew her as Manang Doris of the Treasury Department, if not, theAsset Department. A strong-willed intelligent woman with an infectious laughter,Dolores Bandong Aromin Hernandez of Urbiztondo, Pangasinan served at the PCSOall her life. She would have been very proud to have witnessed the 75th Anniversaryof the PCSO because her world, and our world used to revolve around the PCSO,literally. Doris, as she is fondly called by friends, is a graduate of BS Education Majorin Health Education and Home Economics at the University of the Philippines inDiliman, Quezon City. Armed with a college degree from the premier university atthe age of 19, she applied at the PCSO and was first assigned as a teller at theTreasury Department. There, she met and married Arturo Hernandez, Sr, also aPCSO employee. They had three children, all of whom were educated in the schoolsthat are within stones’ throw away from the old PCSO compound in San Marcelino,Manila. One of them is Monina. That’s me. When I was young, I used to ask my mom why I had to go to Sta. IsabelCollege and my brothers in Adamson University. She had a simple, yet practicalanswer “Kasi malapit sa Sweepstakes”. That’s why we literally grew up at PCSO.We would spend our weekday afternoons rolling along the grass and dirt of themanicured lawn at the side of the PNB at the old PCSO compound, or runningaround the rose garden surrounding the flagpole near the basketball court, orpacing along the green wooden ramps by the tennis court, or playing charades atthe veranda near the PCSO Clinic or simply watching employees bowl at the PCSOBowling lane. As kids, PCSO was our paradise. Even our weekends were spent in PCSO. As a child, I used to tag along theSan Lazaro and Sta. Ana Hippodrome where the lottery draw is being held. Asmommy went about her usual task, I would either sit quietly in one corner anddraw or go with her officemates and watch the horse race. Weekends were indeedfun at the PCSO especially if mommy would end it with an ice cream cone for me. Christmases were also unforgettable because of the generosity of PCSO. Iremember all the games and raffle draws where no one gets home empty handed.As long as you have the guts to stand in front of the audience either to sing, dance,act or say your piece, whether you win or lose, you will always have your treat.Even summers were made special because of the PCSO-wide field trips to beachesin Batangas or Cavite. It was like having a trip with your family because back then,everyone knows everybody at PCSO. No wonder, mommy never thought of leaving.
In fact, mommy stayed on with PCSO until her last breath. She retired fromPCSO in 1999 with 45 years of service. Despite retirement, she would still regularlyvisit her old office to have lunch and chat with her friends. These visits dwindledonly when she gradually grew weaker until her stroke in December 7, 2006. Even inher hospitalization and death bed, PCSO has been a very big help. Reminiscing theold days, mommy would have been very proud to have witnessed the 75thAnniversary of the PCSO. Like what I said, her world and our world used to revolvearound it, literally. Below are excerpts of my diary when my mommy was in her death bed. Aloyal employee of PCSO, Dolores Bandong Aromin Hernandez, served the PCSO allher life. She had her first stroke in December 7, 2006 and died on May 14, 2007.December 21, 2006Visited my mom…her condition is getting worse…she has fever, dyspnea andhypoglycemia…I haven’t seen her awake since Sunday… I saw her doctor at thebedside pero I avoided him… I refuse to know her condition…her tracheostomy waspostponed because of her vital signs…ganito pala ang feeling when a loved one isvery sick…one refuses to think…emotions overpower one’s thoughts.December 22, 2006She opened her eyes and stared into nothingnessHer eyes used to reflect her thoughts and emotions,But not todayI don’t know if its just because her eyes lacked its usual luster,or is it because she is not capable of thinking or feeling now.The grayish-white ring around her iris is more pronounced,Her eyes are a picture of a cloudy mirror--– no image of my face in sight, no reflection of the environment around me,Her sclera has the color of the sun.Mommy,All I want for Christmas is that God give you the peace that you deserve.December 23, 2006Ganun pala yon.When a person you love deeply suffers, you suffer too…Deeply.But yours is a different one,Perhaps, more painful,
The main burden comes from the thought that she is sufferingBut the anguish, that which is more excruciating,is the fact that you cannot do anything to ease her pain.Drama ba? Pasensya na.Just verbalizing…December 23, 2006For the past few years, the PGH chapel has been a witness to my joyful moments…Iused to drop by to thank God for all the things that HE would give me, big or small,positive or negative… I knew that it’s a sanctuary for aching souls because of thepain in the faces of those occupying the pews… I guess, back then, I was the onlypositive soul among the crowd… now, I join them in sorrow…December 24, 2006Within me,I know I wouldn’t want my mom to sufferBut my consciousness compels me to ask her to fight.I don’t know what she wants,Her face is a picture of pain.I want her to fight death offFor herself? or for us, her children?If I ask her to fight death for us, am I being unfair to her?I don’t want to be unfair to herShe gave us everything she could provide usAll I know now is that I don’t want her to suffer.January 8, 2007Bakit ganun? Sabi ng doctor ng mom ko, for discharge na daw sya next week. I’mworried. She’s still stuporous, with oxygen per tracheostomy and on NGT…sheneeds utmost care…baka mamatay lang sya sa bahay namin? Nadidischarge batalaga ang stuporous patient? What if mag-arrest sya while in transport?January 8, 2007Pinaiyak ako ni Dr. M … I told her na for discharge na si mommy … eh stuporous paand with NGT… dami ko worries … I was exploring possibilities of getting a hospitalbed, kahit second hand, suction machine and oxygen equipment for home use …until I said baka mamatay lang sa bahay si mommy… then Dr. M said, baka that’s
the reason why she will be discharged… so she would have peaceful death … I cried… Sabi ko, akala ko kaya sya ididischarge coz resolved na yung infection … Ithought discharge is a positive thing … I feel so naive… Kahit nurse ka pala, bastamahal mo ang nahihirapan, parang lahat ng pinag-aralan mo biglang nililipad nalang ng hangin.We did our best to prolong mommy’s life … she said, my mom is living on borrowedtime … I should give her daw the peaceful death that she deserves … akala ko,everything is okay na … until now …January 8, 2007Imagine that … a loved one having respiratory arrest in front of you … tapos walakang magawa … I’ve seen that before … I was seventeen and I was studying for myNatural Science Final Exam while looking after my lola at the same time … I wasalone with my bedridden and very weak lola in our house because my dad was outto buy her medications … then it happened … it was around 10 am … she startedgasping for air in front of me … I had to call my dad’s office. Though I know that heis not there, I did it just the same just to let someone know that something terribleis happening … I was trembling … then it happened … it was so fast … just when Iheard my dad open our gate, my lola gasped for her last breath… I ran to my dadand told him everything … dad called the doctor, but she was gone…she was 93years old … I was mad … Nakakainis di ba? Namatay ang lola ko sa harap ko atwala akong nagawa. Nakakainis yon.January 8, 2007Alam mo, alam ko namang Encephalopathy is irreversible … But these doctors, whyhide the truth behind the word “discharge” which sounds so positive for us … whycant they just tell it to my face na they did their best, na hanggang dito na lang angkaya nilang gawin … na pauuwiin na nila kami kasi wala na silang magagawa papara sa mommy ko? Na kahit lahat na ng medical equipments eh ikabit nila samommy ko, it cant save her anymore … My mother is dying… Please tell me thetruth… I can accept it naman eh … in due time … I may cry … but that’s normal …mahirap kasi na pinapaasa pa kami … mas masakit di ba kung iba pa angmagsasabi sa akin?
January 8, 2007Mukha nga akong tanga eh … I was telling friends in UP na for discharge na simommy and I’m happy though may konting anxiety … yun pala, for discharge syato wait for death to visit her at home … or probably sa vehicle on our way home…January 9, 2007Now, they want to discharge her this week … on Wednesday na daw … mayclearance na … 2 doctors na lang ang hinihintay … minamadali naman ngayon angdischarge … at least one had the courage to say that we should accept the fact nathey cannot do anything for her anymore … ang hirap … parang nagbibilang ako ngaraw…January 30, 2007I’m afraid. I’m in the hospital. When I got inside my mom’s room, I saw one of hervery close friends, Tita Tes. I’ve been looking for her for a long time to inform herof my mom’s condition. But, I was not successful. Then, she told me her story. Shesaid that she dreamt of my mom last night. Apparently, my mom told her in thedream that she is sick. This prompted her to look for my mom. No one told her thatmy mom is in PGH. She said, she just took a cab and told the driver to bring her toPGH. That’s why I found her inside my mom’s room. I don’t know what to feel.January 30, 2007Then, in the afternoon, my youngest brother came. He said he also dreamt of mymom last night. He saw her without legs in his dream. Ano bang mga panaginipiyan? Natatakot na ako.February 1, 2007When will this agony end?February 2, 2007Been doing my best for her.Been exhausting all means to take care of her.
Been telling her I love her.Ang hirap.Been preparing myself all this time,But, I think, no amount of preparation would spare me the pain.Pagod na ako.April 12, 2007It was December 7, 2006 when I thought my mom would leave us … but God isgood. He gave her a longer life … today, we celebrate my mom’s 73rd birthday… andI THANK GOD for giving us another chance to prove our love for her… in the sameway, I thank God for giving us YOU (our friends and relatives) … coz you helped usthrough those very hard times in our lives … thank you for being there when weneeded help.May 14, 2007My mom, DOLORES BANDONG AROMIN HERNANDEZ, joined her Creator thismorning at the age of 73 years. She was a very responsible daughter, a supportivesister, a loving mother and wife and a woman of intelligence, strength and honor. ISALUTE the woman to whom I owe everything.With all our love to our mommy, who gave us her BEST in this lifetime … may shefind peace that only another life can provide.--- Monina Hernandez Gesmundo