"When you resign yourself to it, you find meaning in life and death."
The months of January and February 2021 are two months of my life I’ll never forget.
In early January, my wife and I got a call from the wife of my eldest son, Vic, who lives in Los Angeles with his family. They are Filipino-American citizens. She said that he had been diagnosed with cancer and that he was scheduled for chemotherapy.
It’s a consolation that the United States provides health services to its senior citizens. Vic and his wife are both seniors and both have pension plans. They have two daughters -- both married – and a granddaughter.
Santa Banana, the shocker was the fact that my grandson, the only son of my only daughter, Nina, was also diagnosed with a cancer that had already spread over his body, needing immediate operation.
Elvin, my grandson, was only 23 years old and in his final year at De La Salle College of Saint Benilde where he was studying Computer Application. The doctors told us that with his condition, he would need to miss school for a year. He underwent two operations, the last one on his brain where a tumor was growing.
Despite the medical attention, Elvin died in the early morning of February 5. He was cremated and interred into a niche at the columbarium at Heritage Memorial Park Cemetery.
My gulay, all these happened when I was also taken to the hospital after I blacked out for reasons unknown! The only thing I recalled was that before that episode, I was so hard-pressed in meeting my column deadline the day before. I was under a lot of pressure.
It was only after I was released from the hospital that I learned about my grandson’s death. I was very close to Elvin. I saw him as an infant and I saw him grow up. I asked my wife and daughter why they did not inform me of his death sooner. They said they did not want me crying at the hospital alone since there was nobody around, except a household help.
It was only when my daughter narrated to me how Elvin died that I wept and grieved.
I was not surprised by the fact that my daughter was so composed and calm. Others would already be grieving so much over the death of their only son.
Nina told me, pointing upward, that she “left everything to the will of God.” It’s the same sentiment that my wife and I have. Indeed, everything that happens is the will of God. Nothing happens in this world unless it’s the will of God. When you are resigned to the will of God, it’s when you find meaning in life and death.
In the Lord’s Prayer we say: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I am certain Elvin is in heaven. Before he died, he underwent the Sacrament of Penance and had Holy Communion. He was given the last rites.
* * *
President Duterte was scheduled to announce his decision yesterday on whether he would place the country under Modified General Community Quarantine starting next month. This was the recommendation of nine out of 17 Metro Manila mayors and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. The National Economic and Development Authority also recommended this to jumpstart economic recovery.
As of press time, Duterte had not yet made his announcement.
Santa Banana, I am not an economist. Nor am I a health expert. While I can understand the need to jumpstart economic recovery at the soonest possible time, I am also worried that the relaxation of the General Community Quarantine this early could trigger a surge of more COVID-19 cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that the too-early adoption of the MGCQ could trigger an upsurge of COVID-19 cases.
By the looks of it, Duterte appears to be more concerned with the jumpstart of the country’s economic recovery than the health and safety of people. That the President gives much importance to what mayors want, and that the IATF is headed by non-health experts, worry me.
Why can’t the President just wait until the vaccines that were supposed to be already here are completely rolled out? This is only logical. Haste makes waste.
* * *
It has been reported that President Duterte is getting impatient over the delay in the delivery of vaccines despite the fact that all requirements needed to finalize their procurement have been made, like the approval of the indemnity clause. This exempts vaccine makers from being responsible for any side effect of vaccination.
If the President is impatient, we are so much more so! We have been waiting for the rollout for a long time.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has apologized for the delay. According to him, rich nations have procured more vaccine doses than they need. He calls it geopolitics.
I don’t buy the apology of Galvez. I do not blame what is happening – or not happening -- on geopolitics. As vaccine czar, Galvez should have anticipated this, considering the fact that we are a poor nation. Other poor countries like Pakistan and Nepal have already started their mass inoculation. This tells us that geopolitics is not the problem. It is the fact that the President has relied too much on a former military officer for the success of the vaccine rollout.
As vaccine czar, Galvez should have known that. He should have and anticipated that rich countries would procure more vaccines than poor countries like the Philippines. Obviously, Galvez was thinking like a military officer, ready to obey and follow orders.
That is the President’s problem. He relies too much on former military and police officers for jobs that require thinking out of the box.
* * *
Mr. Duterte said that the United States “should pay” for the continuation of the VFA or the Visiting Forces Agreement. The ensuing controversy could have been avoided if he had said it more diplomatically. When the President spoke his mind, it sounded like extortion.
Somebody should advise him on how to be more diplomatic.