Monday, June 19, 2017


Alam mo ba nung pinanganak ka
tuwang-tuwa ang papa mo.
Naka-buo din sila ng lalaki.
(an uncle to me days before I left for Singapore)

They say that there are moments in time when our lives change profoundly. Moments we remember for a lifetime. For our family it happened on Feb 2, 2009

It was around 7am, my mother roused us from sleep.
“Gising, di ko kaya buhatin papa nyo”.
She’s calm yet you could tell that there’s an urgency in her voice. When we reached their room, I saw my father sprawled on the floor, a puddle of urine a few feet away from him.
“Pa, napano ka?”
No answer. Just a blink and a blank look but one would notice the tears streaming down his face.
My sister and I tried to carry him back to bed but he was way too heavy for us that we needed the help of my bro-in-law.
While I was on the phone with my cousin-doctor to let him know of my father’s condition I could hear my mom whispering to my sisters
“Na-stroke ata papa nyo”


In 1997, when I was in my 4th year in college, my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Open surgery was the only option. I was with him when he processed his papers at the PNB bldg in Roxas Blvd. He was only 55 at the time and no plans of retiring yet. Bless the bank, it was agreed upon that they would shoulder all the expenses to be incurred during the hospitalization but my father had to waive the lump sum severance fee. It was good enough for us.

The surgery took place at St Lukes performed by Dr. Renato Sibayan (RIP). It was one of the longest days of our lives. The surgery lasted more than 12 hours, the tumor the size of an egg. It was successful. My father had a speedy recovery. Months later, he would join politics. He served 3 terms as a municipal councilor.


He was confined at the Iloilo Doctors. His MRI showed that there was a bleeding in his brain. Stroke nga. And so certain medications were prescribed by the neurologist.
The next day another cousin who is also a doctor explained to us that there’s a problem with regards the treatment. Apparently, the drug being administered to control the bleeding in his brain was affecting my father’s heart.

My father has a coronary heart disease. About 3 months before the stroke an Angioplasty was performed on him- a procedure in which some wire mesh tubes called the stents were inserted to keep the arteries open to improve blood flow. He’s taking Plavix to prevent blood clots. This antiplatelet drug that keeps the arteries from getting blocked does not help in the treatment of the bleeding in his brain.

To stop the bleeding, my father should stop taking plavix which can result in a heart attack. If he continues to take plavix, there’s the possibility that the bleeding will worsen and he might go comatose.

It’s a case of “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”

My mother told the neuro to do whatever she thinks is the better alternative.

That night I prayed really hard. As hard as I prayed in 1997. Maybe even harder. It was different this time. I prayed for a lot of things actually.
That my father gets better.
That if it is my father’s time to go, I prayed that it should be painless for him
That my mother will be strong enough.
That her depression wouldn’t visit her again because of this blow.
That we will be ready for this.
Finally, I also prayed for money.


We were never rich but we have always lived comfortably. What happened to my father drained us financially. Whatever’s left from the sale of a (parcel) of land in 2006 has already been used up. The insurance too has its limits.

On our 3rd day in the hospital we learned that my mother’s sister passed away. She too had a stroke, a fatal one. Again I prayed to make my mother stronger. It was a double whammy. I believe mama never had the chance to grieve for her sister’s passing.


I practically lived in the hospital for a month. How ironic since I consider it as one of the places I like least. Maybe it’s the smell. Maybe it’s the feeling of uncertainty that permeates the place.

My father was in the ICU for the first 2 weeks and I would sleep in one of the benches in a room shared with other “bantays” of other ICU patients. My sister works in a university nearby and she would sometimes stay with me. My mother slept in my cousin’s place. We needed her to have enough rest, we could not afford her getting sick too.

Having an ICU patient was not only hard and uncomfortable, it was also depressing. Sharing stories with other families, the prognosis of the patients, the dwindling finances, the death of this patient, the signing of the waiver of a wife to remove the respirator her husband etc etc.

My heart would practically slam on my chest every time I would hear “bantay ni _______” on the intercom. And then a sigh of relief as the nurse only needed a fresh supply of diapers or it was time to feed my father.

When he was stable enough, we transferred to a private room. Here, the nurses and the caregivers taught me how to change diapers, how to clean and wash him, how to change sheets.


My sister recently uploaded some pics of him on facebook and tagged me. It is heartbreaking and difficult to reconcile the man whom I looked up to as a kid; whom my sisters and I respect, love and sometimes feared when his temper acts up, to the man on the photograph. He, the head of the family, now relies on the people around him to be fed, dressed, bathed and cleaned.

Sometimes I wonder where does my father get his strength and will to live. He continues to fight. Papa is a survivor. If you’ve been following this blog then you’d know that he has been through a lot- a brain surgery, diabetes, tuberculosis, angioplasty, hypertension, cataract, (enlarged)prostate, cystic. He’s athletic in his prime. He played basketball. But then he’s a good cook too: food that can only be appreciated by a true-blooded carnivore- dinuguan (both pork and chicken), kare-kare, bulalo, crispy pata, liempo. Some uncles who are based abroad would always request for his bagoong na may gata every time they’re on vacation. In fact I got a bit of this skill from him. The night before the attack, I prepared our dinner: chopsuey and tinapa rolls. I wondered if it contributed to my father’s blood pressure shooting up. Because he ate loads of them that night .


In December 2008, a month after my father had the angioplasty, I left Dubai for good. Two months after that the stroke happened. My exit from Dubai was not graceful. Some would say it was a blessing in disguise since I became my father’s caregiver for 7 months. I sometimes think, maybe it’s karma.
Maybe I’ll blog about it in the future or maybe not

It’s been one year and 8 months since the stroke.
Today is my father’s 69th birthday.
This post is for him.
(and to my cousins, uncles, aunts and friends who have never ceased helping us)
Happy birthday Pops! Just hang in there.

Pacencia na Pa, mukhang di talaga kita mabibigyan ng apo.


  1. happy birthday to kuya Bien's dad!

    I was teary-eyed when I finished reading this post. I wanted to just appear next to you then grab you by the hand and squeeze it real tight and tell you how strong you have been and that I admire you for that.

    He would surely love to see your kids as his grandchildren but I know that he is already grateful for having to receive such a wonderful son like you.

    this is a beautiful post. :)

  2. papa oy! *clap clap clap*

    hongboit mo na anak! sobra! i admire you!

  3. Happy Birthday to your Dad, and I wish him good health!!!

    Now I miss my dad, too... :(

  4. Syet, naiyak ako.. Nakarelate Kasi ako..i know how you feel - buti na Lang nakapunta ako sa states otherwise di ko alam Kung saan kukuha ng pangbayad sa Asian hospital when my dad had a stroke! Sa Asian hospital Na yan, sobrang mahal maningil! Ginto Ang bawat oras! I admire u fafa..keep it up.

    JR greatkid_08

  5. I don't know what to say about this post. It's heartbreaking yet full of strength and courage. And you wrote it so matter-of-factly, devoid of sentimentality or drama.

    I guess life - with all its slings and arrows - is but a matter of fact. Best to soldier on, really, with a minimum of drama, and just a smidgen of sentimentality.

    My good thoughts go to you and your family.

    And happy birthday to your pop.

  6. happy bday to your dad. sana gumaling yung mga kalooban niyo. kaya mo yan! hugs

  7. bien, super MMK-worthy ang highlights... i also don't know what to say pero makikigreet na rin ako kai popsicles.


    for being a good daughter? ching!

  8. happy birthday to your dad kuya o. and for sure sa lahat ng sacrifices mo for him, kahit wala ng apo apo, he's very proud of you. sure yun.

    i'll include your dad in my prayers tonight. ingat ka dyan kuya. :)

  9. Cheers to you and your dad!

    You may have not given him the expected 'apo'. but you sure did make him proud for being the best son he could ever have.


    Vongga ka dad!

  10. this definitely moved me, walangbiro... it was as if im reading an entirely different version of tuesdays with morrie...

    yeap. just hang in there. i know your dad is getting his strength from you guys!

  11. happy birthday to your dad! such an inspiring story. :)

  12. happy birthday din to your dad

    ok lang kung di mo siya mabigyan ng apo pero love, care and attention maibibigay mo sa kanya

  13. aww can i give you a hug?hehe
    Happy BDay kay Dad!
    least fave ko din ang hospital. but for some reason, i keep on coming back dhl sa mga kabwisitan sa buhay ko..hehe

  14. i knew the feeling, when there is reversal of roles.

    i was once you. tatay died 5 years ago.

    happy birthday to your dad.

    (iloilo doctors? really? i live in iloilo city. la lang. :)

  15. Props to pops!
    I hope for his speedy recovery. And I love my dad's bagoong na may gata, too! <3

  16. Your father, he is quite a man.

    Happy Birthday to him.

  17. kakalungkot pero I know na ultimate survivor ang dad mo! saludo ako sa inyo sobra!

    hapi bertdey sa dad mo!!

  18. I haven't had a cigarette for more than twenty hours now. Wala lang, maiba lang. Cheers you!

  19. Well written post! Di na kinailangan ng embellishments. Kudos. I just find the last line (no matter how serious it may be) funny--I actually admired you having the balls to admit ( whatever reason the reason is) that your exit from Dubai wasn't that good. I believe you will find your redemption in due time. My sincere birthday greeting and prayers to your dad and wish of showers of strength to you and your mum Ms. O!

  20. Orally,

    I wonder if your Dad, whom this is for, would ever get to read this?

    It's strange how you can share so much to strangers, and so little to people we love.


  21. Aww heartbreaking thought but wowww happy birthday to your dad! :)

  22. saludo po ako sa inyo : )
    belated happy birthday to ur dad. I wish him well : )


    In today’s modern world, changing lifestyles are leading to increase in the number of diseases related to the heart. With that, many techniques of surgery for the heart have come up. Of all the available options for surgery, Angioplasty has proved to be one of the safest ways.

    Angioplasty was first used in the late 70’s. It involves the widening of an obstructed blood artery, which has happened because of atherosclerosis, by mechanical means. A balloon catheter, which is an empty one and is collapsed, is taken and it is passed through the location where the surgery is to be done. Then the catheter is inflated by pressure which is around 200 times compared to that of the blood pressure.

    The inflated balloon has sufficient pressure in it to crush most of the fatty deposits on the sides of the artery walls. Thus, the artery opens up properly and the flow becomes proper and the obstruction is now minimal. After this is done, the catheter is collapsed and made empty and is finally withdrawn.

    Angioplasty is of several types based on the location of the arteries which have been blocked. Some of these are Renal, Cerebral, Coronary, etc.

    Once Angioplasty is done, the patient is kept under observation for a day or two. The blood pressure is monitored continuously along with the heart beat rate. Proper medications are given if necessary.

    Since the time from which it has been put to use, Angioplasty has helped lot of patients and has saved their life. The best outcome of it is the prevention of heart attacks and bypass surgeries.

  24. Bien, nalungkot ako dito. Naalala ko rin mommy ko. :(

  25. Your blog post is awesome, i really like your post and this post pops is awesome, keep writing, your work is excellence.

  26. Its fantastic blog

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  27. Lovely blog. Thanks for sharing with us.