Thursday, July 24, 2014

Justice for Dr.Carolina Tolentino-Talens

Lady Doctor found dead in Nueva Ecija/ABS CBN News

It had been 53 days since ABS CBN aired this news, when my classmate Efren sent me a private message “tell me about your sister”. USTMD class 75 commensurate with our prayer that justice be served. They wish to be enlightened about Carol’s abduction and brutal murder. Like an alcohol rubbed on yet unhealed wound, the request generated another bout of anguished emotion too great to bear. Truth is, we the closest of kin are at sea why a deed as devious as that was done to an ordinary citizen whose only preoccupation was striving hard to raise her children well. As a matter of fact, maybe even Carol did not have an inkling why she had to undergo such an ordeal.

“Tell me about your sister”: a statement that likewise doused all the scorching sentiments that had been consuming me for days at no end. Yes, I will tell you about my sister.

Born to a brood of seven then, Carol’s birth was an answered prayer: another girl after ten years.  Not only that: her birth heralded a boost in our father’s business career. She was considered “the Lucky charm” but was she herself lucky? Though a child was born to our family every two years, the newborn usually had the sole attention of “Nanay”; but not in the case of Carol: she had to share Nanay with 2-year old frail-heart Jojo. When Jojo died, Mel was born then Vangie and Rose came rushing by. With the flourishing business Tatay became more of an absentee father.

 Much that our parents preferred that daughters would rather stay at home, our mother would find relief whenever Carol tagged along with me in school or with Mamang Ose’ around the neighborhood. Eventually, she became the well-loved esteemed “Dete” of all the kids in the block; the leader of the pack.

The respect accorded me by patients at the Rural Health Center, awed and inspired Carol to follow in my footsteps. Ironically though, her high school teachers overlooked the fact that when she was in 3rd year, biology was a fourth year subject then when she was in fourth year biology class was relegated to third year. How could she possibly pass the entrance exam at UST College of Science unarmed with knowledge in Biology? Call it destiny or negligence of the school? After 4 years in FEU, she walked miles to be admitted to any medical school; and ended up in Virgen Milagrosa Medical School in Pangasinan.  Alone there with no soul to rely on, resilient and self reliant with unswerving determination, she merged and emerged as a board certified medical doctor.

She had her training in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Cabanatuan (Paulino J Garcia Medical Center); then she fell in love.  

Jinggoy was 4 years her junior: notwithstanding his lanky handsome next-door-boy image, he was a responsible, charming, thoughtful gentleman who at his very young age had started his onion/palay buy and sell business. A non-smoker, non- alcoholic drinker, little did we know then that he had already started dipping his fingers on mepenthamine (shabu). Deeply in loved and thinking “shabu session” was just a fad that would stop once they get married, Carol went on and built a family with Jinggoy.

It seemed to be a happy union. Jinggoy uprooted himself to be with Carol in Cabanatuan. After 3 miscarriages, Janella was finally born; a year later, Nichole followed: two beautiful daughters to complete a happy family. But it was not so!

What Carol did not know then was on nights she would be on duty, “shabu sessions” would be held in their home: she would come home to an unusually attentive husband and an overly organized home. Spells of grumpiness and disarray were attributed to non flourishing buy and sell business.

Carol might have known though, but home preservation was gilded with denial and over-protectiveness: until what was inevitable came. The disorderly behavior had started encroaching into the sensibilities of the two young daughters. Carol acted decisively, they ran away from Jinggoy. She was hunted like a criminal on the loose. Everywhere she went she was espied on and reported to Jinggoy. Her budding career was being nipped prematurely. Even our house in Caloocan was not spared by Jinggoy in search of his loved ones.

Jinggoy’s family was in denial too: they could not accept the fact that Jinggoy was “shabu” dependent. Fortunately his father consented to subjecting him to rehabilitation. Reorganizing his priorities, Jinggoy contritely entered a rehabilitation center. He did 3 times, after each he would slide back.

Witnessing the indescribable emotions and ambivalent feelings evoked on Janella and Nichole by the repetitive roller coaster life with a drug dependent father, Carol reached an unwavering decision: to completely disentangle their life from the source of discord.

 Ironically, to put normalcy on her two daughters’ life, Carol lived an intricately abnormal life: Tom and Jerry in full action; but she did survive.

Focused on her dream of raising Janella and Nichole to become medical doctors, she must not spread herself too thinly. She handled every single OB-Gyne case in any hospital or lying in clinic in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan at any hour of the day or night, weekdays and weekends even on holidays. Her Isuzu Sportivo was her home; she considered a short stay in her Violeta Mansion townhouse in Bulacan and cooking for the children her only luxurious respites.  She could be too tired but she would happily cook for all of us. Her only compensation: you savor her cuisine and never ask her to contribute for the expenses. Her usual lines: I am a single mother; I need a lot of saving to do to send Jan and Nicole to school. Very well said!

Notably, Nanay and Carol gravitated towards each other. Once I asked Nanay why was Carol her favorite. Her answer was simple: nurturing Carol during a bout of severe anemia evoked a deja vu feeling on her; not again should she lose a child from a debilitating disease. And anyway, she had never heard Carol complain. Well, I too never complained: but I pouted a lot (which I am sure Carol never did to her).

I am just too glad that Nanay passed away 2 months before Carol was reported missing.

June 6, 2014, 5:00 PM, Rose, our youngest sister told me that Carol was missing.

June 5 2014, Carol attended the induction party of the Nueva Ecija Medical Society; after which she went on duty at the Cabanatuan City Hospital where she delivered one child via emergency caesarian section. At 6Am on June 6, 2014 she left the delivery room, passed by the OB ward, ordered in the chart and left to sign the Philhealth form. Around 7 AM she called up her friend and started talking about the induction party but then remembered that she was to meet up with somebody. She told her friend she would hang up and get back at her later.

 After about 30 minutes Carol ringed the said friend again and continued talking about the induction party. About 14minutes into the conversation the friend asked Carol why was she talking in such a slow manner; to which Carol answered “ dahil siguro hindi nakatulog kagabi”. The friend insisted “pero bakit ka nabubulol?” To which Carol answered “Hindi ko nga alam kung bakit ako nabubulol” in much exaggerated manner. The friend advised that her blood pressure be taken to which Carol complied by asking somebody apparently with her “may pang blood pressure ka ba?” Then the line was cut. The friend tried calling her but was answered "Hello" by a high pitched female voice other than Carol’s. From then on, no call was answered nor made by Carol: neither from or to her friends nor her children. Text messages were sent however, the content of which seemed not to be coming from Carol.

What could have happened to her then? First consideration was stroke. Inquiries on all the hospitals in Cabanatuan were done: negative. Reports were forwarded to Cabanatuan PNP, highway patrol, and missing person page in the internet.

June 7, 2014: All police stations and hospitals in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan were alerted. 1:30 PM: a body of a woman was found floating in an irrigation dyke in Munoz, Nueva Ecija. SOCO reported that based on the advanced decomposition, she could have been dead for more than 24 hours. That meant it took only about 3 hours to abduct, torture and kill Carol and about an hour or two to dump her in the dyke.

Everybody’s unsolicited impression: the abductors were“ galit na galit”: might be an innocent statement but very upsetting for us to hear.

Naturally all fingers would be pointing at Jinggoy: possibly connected to his vice and his enemies but he doing it?: very unlikely. Crime of passion?: unbelievable! Lending business?: irritating! Inheritance dispute?: very funny!  

PNP, CIDG and NBI told us the case can be easily solved in a week’s time: today is July 25, 2014…quite far away from one week hence.

One CIDG sergeant assigned to Carol’s case told me the government is not giving them enough ‘budget’ to solve crimes.  Another CIDG agent told my brother that the case could have really been solved in a week’s time had the aforementioned sergeant allotted enough ‘budget’ on Carol’s case. In his own word ‘iniipit yung budget’. In fairness to them, they would not like to receive monetary help from us.

 Could these statements mean Carol is being murdered twice over through red tape and bureaucracy? From the time Carol was deprived of a mother’s 100% attention as a newborn and as a toddler, to a deprivation of a biology class in high school that rerouted the whole course of her life, to being a consequential prey to illegal drug abuse, Carol had been a victim of injustice, but she survived and made the best out of life without even realizing that she had the right to complain. 

PhotoHer earthly life ended with the most gruesome transgression that could ever be done to any living creature. Is she complaining? It is my hope that she has already crossed over; that she is now enjoying a perfect life free of injustice.

We who are left behind are outraged; are the ones crying for justice. Would justice bring Carol back to us? Somehow, justice served would bring back our faith in our system; more importantly, justice served would save future victims.  

Ultimately, it is my ardent prayer that illegal drug trade be contained in our country. It is the devil that destroys families, corrupts humanity and strips the spirit of righteousness: these it does even to the best of the human species! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Potipot Island: The Zambales Traverse

"I tried to make travelling and film making a career and it sucked. It pulled out all the happiness and just made me angry with it. This is just to say that not everybody will be happy in the career you are happy with and we shouldn't be pushing our careers to anyone's face just because of that" says my son Dane. Tongue-in-cheek, this made me consider the 'what-could-have-been' in my life.          

Friday, December 14, 2012


All my life I have searched for YOU.
What is life anyway?
Waking up in the morning to do the chores of the day.
I have to do this, I need to do that.
The hour is ticking fast, I have to hurry.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Medicinal Value of Chinese Chives (Kut sai/Kutsay/kutchai)

One night in the early 1990's, I stood aghast as I looked at my father's black dog swerving towards us. My father had this penchant for breeding dogs, neither the renowned Labradors nor German shepherds, but the one breed typical in the Philippines: the askals (mnemonic for asong kalye or street dog). As far as I could reckon, all his dogs came from the lineage of his two fine askals way back in the 1960's. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Mystifying Aspect of Death

When my son Dane texted me that my cousin Kuya Genie died, I felt not sadness but regret that I was not there when it happened. Do not get me wrong for it is not because I did not love my cousin that I did not feel the sadness usually associated with death. I can not deny the fact that there is something morbid and uncanny about death. In fact, the most harrowing experience any anesthesiologist can ever get through is patient's death on the operating table. The haunting memory would last forever.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The hitches of large social network groups

As I watched the midnight sky glittered with colorful fireworks, I could not help but reminisce one New Year's Eve I spent all alone while looking out of the window at the 4th floor of Jose Potenciano Memorial    Medical Center (then known as Polymedic). I had spent so many Christmas and New Year's Eves while on duty but what made that New Year's Eve at Polymedic so poignant was the fact that I felt so out of place.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Traversing the Shaded Lights in Philippine Politics and the travail of the 'One Centavo Coin'

"Mambo Mambo Magsaysay"...thus went the chant that shaded my first perception of Philippine politics on March 17, 1957. Observing the tears and the sad faces of adults around, I sensed  a profound grief undeniably brought by the tragic death of President Ramon MagsaysayLiterally transfixed, the hardness of the one centavo bronze coin enclosed within my palm jolted me back to my designated chore: the one centavo coin I had to bring to a store down the bend of the road to buy my mother one bottle of vinegar, 1/4 kilo salt, a sachet of pepper with one bay leaf in it; and my mother admonished me never to forget to ask the store owner for 3 cloves of garlic as 'tawad'

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GMA's and P Noy's Magics: Trick or Treat?

Okay, I never really liked the idea of Nonoy Aquino running our country but it does not mean I have ever favored former President GMA over him. As a matter of fact, due to unrelenting  frenzy on some despicable issues, I preferred anybody but GMA to run this country: and regretfully, although I had many other choices, that 'anybody' included P Noy, who I accepted as our president the moment he was declared the winner. I therefore pined my hopes and entrusted our fate on his administration; sadly though, the frenzy dramatically escalated into a mania, and I felt like riding a roller coaster or watching somebody play Grand Theft or Illuminati.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book review: The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo

"Well, we're mortal, and the old must make way for the young, otherwise there would be no promotion", thus starts the story of Edmond Dantes. With a very promising career and a beautiful fiancee whom he loves so very dearly, this handsome nineteen year old lad has the world at his feet, but it is not meant to be since jealous hearts masterminded a  devious scheme that screwed up everything he should have had.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dambana ng Kagitingan: Mt. Samat

Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor), Mt. Samat

Towering 555 meters above sea level sitting at the highest peak of Mount Samat at Bagong Diwa, Pilar Bataan, at 92 meters high (with 30 meters arms) made of steel, reinforced concrete and  marble, this majestic cross was erected in memory of the
gallant heroes, who with all the might that could still be possibly unearthed from their embattled bodies and  worn out spirits, valiantly fought to protect the last bastion of freedom in our then war-torn country.