Archive for September 2010

Oca Francisco by Ed dela Torre

September 9, 2010

On September 23, it will be the 40th day of Oca’s crossing over. Ruth Alejandro, Oca’s daughter had requested it be held on September 25,Saturday at the Bantayog ng mga BAyani in Quezon City. Am reposting here in wordpress a story written by Ed for friends and comrades who didnt read Oca’s stories in Facebook.

Last August 14 , Girlie and I had lunch at Gerry and Sally Bulatao’s place, together with Dok Eddie and Oyen Dorotan. As Sally said grace, I asked to include Oca in our prayers, and that started our reminiscences.

As we were leaving. Girlie told Gerry, “We better visit Oca tomorrow.” On August 15, Gerry and Sally picked us up at 9:30 am and we went to ICU Room 116   on the fourth floor of Makati Medical Center.

Edna got out of the room to meet us. “I thought you transferred Oca out of the ICU,” I said. She explained that they did want to transfer him to a room where more friends can visit, since only one visitor at a time can enter the ICU. But they decided that it was better to have Oca taken care 24 hours by the special nurses and the doctors.

Ruthie, Oca’s daughter who is a doctor and  has just given birth told us later that she was with her father when he had his massive heart attack. It took almost 15 minutes to revive him, and she knew that even if Oca survived, he would not have his brain functions anymore. But she also knew that her mother and siblings would not want to face the implications. “Let’s try everything,” was Edna’s response.

That was August 10. After a few days, the brain activity had dwindled even further, and Oca had seizures. Visitors came, including his Student Catholic Action and NUSP barkada.

When we came to the ICU, Girlie asked to be the first to enter and  we watched through the glass window. She asked Edna, Ruth and Oca for permission and did “bodytalk” on Oca. When she got out, she said that the feedback she got from Oca’s body was two questions, “Why am I here? What happened to me?”She explained to him that he had a massive stroke.

She asked further about his state. His body gave feedback about his spinal column, and his left lung, which was clogged with phlegm. He said his heart’s valve was not functioning well especially the backflow, and that the pericardium had lost hydration. Oca’s brain, specifically the cingulate gyrus and thalamus needed to activate so he could communicate bette . There were other feedback which Girlie asked Ruthie to write down on paper.  Girlie linked all the body systems that Oca indicated  by tapping them .Then Oca asked for the three of us to go in.

We went in one by one. I went in first, tapped his cortices and sternum. Then Gerry, then Sally. As Sally came in ,we noticed that Ruthie looked at the monitor, and called the nurse. They called the doctor, and more. Oca’s heart was  failing.

We were all asked to join the family. Girlie said later that she didn’t want to look at our tears, since she was focusing on whatever messages she was receiving. Oca complained about deep pain in his chest ands tomach. But he also said he didnt want to die. He wanted to do more. Then he said he didnt want to be a vegetable and a burden to the family.

At that point Ruthie asked Edna to talk to Oca. She asked if he was very tired, “Sweetie, gusto mo nang mamahinga?”  and told him to accept that he may have to rest. Edna said not to worry about her and the children.  She managed even to make lambing  “You did not wait for me to turn senior citizen in October?  And what about our 40th anniversary in two years”? And your promise to pay for my face lift.”

The doctors and nurses went through the standard procedures of resuscitating. But after a while, Oca flatlined, and Ruthie allowed them to leave. Girlie gave feedback that Oca is still around. His request is that his body be cleaned so that his grandchildren will not see him with all the tubes and get scared. He even wanted us to sing. Gerry said “Army of Christ” but no one had the voice  and energy to sing.

Then Oca gave instructions that his obituary should be unique, and that his wake should not be long. There should be no flowers. Donate to his favorite causes. Asked that his writings be published.  Oca also asked for his wedding ring . I texted Alex Soto to start the process of collecting his writings and photos.

He wanted us to sing. What do we sing? An Army of Youth from SCA days? I thought of a farewell song, but did not dare, because we would have cried.

Here is the song you wanted us to sing

Kailan pa man ay di ka lilimutin / Alam mo namang minamahal ka namin / Sa araw at gabi lagi naming dalangin / Na pagpalain ka katulad ng anghel / Kung dangan ay wala kaming kapangyarihan / Na ang pagpanaw mo’y among mahadlangan / Kung wala ka man ngayon dito sa aming piling / Kasama-sama ka sa diwa at damdamin / Sa dulo ng landas na aming tatahakin / Kahit sa ala-ala’y lagi kang hahanapin.


How to rediscover oneself when turning 60

September 9, 2010

Last night Ed gave me another gift for my coming 6oth birthday. A book on “Things To Do When You Turn 60” edited by Ronnie Sellers published in 2006 USA. I read some of the stories and decided I would write what Gloria Steinem said “Aging is a journey toward self-discovery and perhaps a revolution of sorts.”

Many of my class 66 in high school ( two high schools: Maryknoll and Luzonian in Lucena City)  have turned 60 and what a joy to rediscover them again as friends. My facebook account is full of these friend-classmates and we share a variety of joys – from posting our photos and sharing music  downloaded from the 60s. A few have posted their love stories and status of  their grandchildren. I open my email and social websites daily because it is what makes my life connected electronically to many.  I cherish the face to face interaction with family and loved ones and in this age of virtual spaces, I appreciate being a member of  a global community. I cultivate a concern for everybody, a joyful act to love as many as myself.

Not only have I made  my compassion  and empathy expanding but am experiencing an inner challenge to answer the question so many have wondered : is there a consciousness beyond death?

When I turned 40, my mother  Nene asked me more often to accompany her in her round of visiting the ill and going to the wake of  relatives and friends. I was impressed with what she was doing. Later she told me it was to assist the dying to cross over. She called it “PagpapaHesus.”

Flashback to an earlier stage. When I turned five, my mother was taken ill  and my father brought her to the hospital. I was very worried and couldnt sleep.Then a woman glided into our room and said” We will pray so that your mother will return to you.” I knelt and followed her saying  a prayer my mother taught me – the Hail Mary. After that night, I found out that my mother had an operation and would come home after a week. When she was home, I approached her and pointed to a picture on the wall ” Nanay, who is that woman in the frame?” “She was my mother Beatriz,”replied my mother. My grandmother died in the 1940s and I never saw her until that evening.

During vacation when I was in my primary age 7-12 , I became immersed in the  Catholic rites of praying and followed my other lola ( my grandfather’s sister ) in her tour of the homes of the sick,dying and dead in Liliw,Laguna. I didnt understand what she was doing but I tagged along because she fed me with snacks and meals in those homes. But I was mindful of the deep respect and devotion that my lola had for all the people she prayed for.

It took  all of 50 years to discern that my mother and grandmother had bequeathed me their gift of empathy for the dying. I began to sense a message coming from people who died . At first, being a trained psychologist, I examined my own mind  and noted down if I were having delusions.  I asked Ed if I were still normal when I sense  a phenomena  called “pagpaparamdam.”  

I told Ed and my mother  what I was experiencing but kept it private. Then in 2003, the link  to this dimension became very palpable and I could no longer dismiss the call to serve. From that time on, I would be called to assist the dying to transmit their “bilins“.

In ten years of assisting the dying and the dead, I meditated daily and studied  this dimension I am becoming part of. I am a social psychologist and my studies led me to the following insights :

1. The dying person, even if comatose or in the ICU, can sense our presence. The person can feel pain when doctors conduct  invasive procedures and she/he  needs all the gentle and  loving touches. The dying can also express regrets, fears and dread. One of the things the dying is concerned with is how her/his legacy will be taken cared of.

2. Praying, laying of hands, singing and other acts do help the dying but it has to be performed with permission from her/him. The one who will perform the rites of passage need to ask permission not only from the family but from the person herself/himself.

3. Even when current medical technology indicates a flatline, the person’s consciousness is still active.  The keyword is  psyche or soul.  I quote a line from Karen Armstrong on what Socrates and Plato discovered in their time. ” Unlike the atman (sanskrit term for eternal self), psyche was separate from the body; it had existed before the birth of the individual and would survive his/her death. It enables human beings to reason and inspired them to seek goodness. The cultivation of the soul was the most important human task, far more crucial than the achievement of worldly success.”

I close this blog  for the moment so that people will have time to think and feel what resonates in their psyche.

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