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Paciano Rizal’s Caretaker |


Paciano Rizal’s Caretaker

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star
Paciano Rizalâs Caretaker
Graphic by Scott Garceau

By now you know that I am a descendant of Maria Rizal, the sister immediately before Jose. We are many cousins, some closer than others. Lately we have become closer friends as we grow older.

The family “shrine,” if I can call it that, is a bungalow beside Laguna de Bay in Los Baños. This is the residence of Paciano, the oldest brother of Jose. If you begin by counting Francisco and Teodora Mercado Rizal as the first generation, we are the fourth generation. Sometimes people think that Rizal descendants enjoy privileges. There are no Rizal privileges. The privileges we get we earned ourselves.

Last weekend I got a text in our Rizal Family chat room from Marlene, a descendant of Lolo Paciano. She was asking for help for Armand Riano, the caretaker of Paciano’s house in Los Baños. Armand had a stroke and needed to be treated at a government hospital.  First, he was brought to the Pagamutan Pangmasa ng Laguna (PPL) hospital in Bay, Laguna but they had no equipment for a CT scan. They then went to the private Doctors Hospital in Los Baños. There Armand got a CT scan and was given meds.

He needed to be confined and observed in the ICU but it would cost P100K a day. They recommended taking Armand to a government hospital instead. Doctors Hospital assisted in calling for an available room in Sta. Cruz hospital but apparently there was no neurologist there. Stroke patients need neurologists. The J.P. Rizal hospital in Calamba had no room. They were told that Batangas Medical Center had an ICU and doctors but they also had lots of people waiting.

Nevertheless, Armand’s family brought him to the Batangas Medical Center. The Emergency Room (ER) wanted another CT scan, disregarding the one the patient had just had, before bringing him to the ICU. But their scanner was broken. The stroke patient waited. The next day, the scanner still wasn’t working. Meantime, Armand’s internal bleeding must’ve gotten worse. He was finally brought from the ER to the second-floor ward to share a bed with another patient. How can a stroke patient who can’t move his left arm and hand be asked to share a bed with another person? Also there was no doctor to administer to him. Marlene couldn’t even talk to a doctor on the phone. Someone on the hospital staff said that if the family knew someone (with influence) they might be given a bed with a comfort room.

Gerry, another cousin and assistant to still another cousin, Ted Herbosa, descendant of Lucia, who is now the Secretary of the Department of Health (though none of his cousins want to ask him for help), replied to Marlene. He recommended that Marlene contact Jose Reyes hospital and arrange a transfer and facilitate with Malasakit Center of Jose Reyes Hospital beside DOH or PGH.  Then he said, “I will coordinate on Monday. I’ll ask Kaye at DOH to help and endorse you to PGH or Jose Reyes.”

On Monday morning Gerry sent a copy of a text he had sent to a “Mam Thess” endorsing patient Armand Riano, caretaker of the house of Paciano Rizal, “case of cerebrovascular accident for medical assistance and possible transfer to PGH and or Jose Reyes Hospital. Mam Thess, Ate Tessie Herbosa (a cousin who was once head of the Securities and Exchange Commission) also knows of the request. Can we ask someone to assist them?”

Gerry gets a response from Marlene: “Please pray for the soul of the caretaker of Lolo Paciano’s shrine, especially those who saw him there behind the scenes. Gerry, thank you anyway but Armand Riano passed on just a few hours ago. He wasn’t even attended to by a doctor. The state of government hospitals in the provinces of Laguna and Batangas is sad. No authentic service for the poor. I hope there will now be more effort to improve.”

At this point I ask if I can write about this. Marlene says, “Yes, by all means. It might reawaken people’s minds to the basic rights of everyone, especially the poor... and a call to improve the local government health system.”

So I write about the tragic passing of Armand Riano, the priceless caretaker of Lolo Paciano’s house, where there are many undergraduate field trips. Please join me in praying for an improvement in the provincial government hospitals all over the country. They must learn that the purpose of all hospitals is to help everyone who comes to them for healing, not to make them wait and simply shrug their shoulders when the patient dies. Doctors and hospitals must spend Holy Week thinking about the role given to them by God: to help other people. If we all are here to help, the world will become a better place.

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