Friday, April 20, 2012


The past few days were hot and it was mid-morning in Manila. I was watering the pavement next to the garage  when I heard the sound of someone yelling. I knew it was Eddy. I  opened the door and she ranted: "Get dressed. Nonie is in the hospital, comatose and you have to be there."  I immediately  changed clothes, made some last minute instructions to Jay and  ran to the waiting  car, an SUV and soon we headed to St. Luke`s in QC.

As I entered the ICU on the 3rd floor, I saw a man lying on the bed....I  was shocked. This isn`t Antonio. Not my youngest brother.  This  is an old man...not the vibrant one I remember from days and years past. I couldn`t believe my eyes....but there he was, tubes everywhere. His face grey.

I said in a loud voice: "Ano ginagawa mo dyan? Ang bata mo pa, para magkaganyan! Tayo na ant uwi na tayo!  Ang lakas ko pa, pero ikaw....."
It was surreal. Totally unbelievable!

The last time my other siblings and Nonie met, it was exactly a year ago.  Emo showed me pictures he took when all of them went to Tagaytay.  Emo captured Nonie's signature smile. The smile we often a young boy,as  a teenager, as an  adult. What could have happened?

We siblings were there everyday. As Nonie struggled to wake up, and wait for the love of his life to arrive, his body grew weaker. The strong will was overwhelmed  by his weak body and went to join The Creator a day before San san arrived. We were all speechless. We have lost our Nonie. Nanay's Nonie. Sansan`s Nonie.


Nonie was 9 when he saw a picture of a young girl of 11 in a swimming pool. He told Sansan he fell in love with her that time and decided "...this girl belongs to me." That  picture was taken by Tatay when he went visiting relatives in Taiwan. After all, Sansan is also family, although not the immediate one. When Sansan`s father decided to send Sansan to Manila to study English, Nonie offered to accompany Tatay at the airport. Nonie knew Sansan when he saw her.  She was looking for Tatay but a young boy approaced  and embraced her. She said she was surprised. After all, she didn't know Nonie. She only knew Tatay had a daughter as old as her and some older siblings as well.

They went to school together. Nonie always accompanied her to UST on the way to Mapua.
He fetched her, too. They talked about almost anything under the sun. They shared their thoughts and feelings. Sansan knew Tatay would be angry and she did not want that. She is afraid of Tatay and her Father, too.  Tatay was too old to be angry, and their affair might cost not only Tatay's life, but Nanay's too. So Sansan  tried her best to make Nonie stay away from her. To leave her.

Sansan made plans and soon got  involved with an American of Iranian descent. She got herself pregnant so Nonie will leave her alone. But she couldn`t believe her ears when Nonie offered to marry Sansan instead,  leave Manila and start a family somewhere else to escape the wrath of Tatay and Nanay. He was barely 19 then. Still a student. No work and quite young to face the world.
Sansan refused.

Sansan raised her daughter in New York. She stayed there until the husband  died in an accident. She soon returned to Taiwan with US$500. to her name. She also wanted to serve her Father who was sick then. By this time, Tatay died and she returned to pay her ;last respects to Tatay. Nanay accepted her as if nothing has happened. She rerurned to Taiwan and refused all emails, letters, even chocolate boxes sent from Tokyo where Nonie was based at that time as a scholar under the tutelage of  Mr.Sakata, a long-time friend of Tatay`s  even before the last World War. She had all posts and boxes returned to sender, instructing the postmaster that there were no forwarding address left. But the letters kept coming weekly, Christmas cards every year  and other messages came regularly.

Fast-forward 2005. Sansan  was now a businesswoman, a  government consultant, and a University Professor.   Nonie was with Marubeni IIda Company in Makati then when he was made to resign by the woman he married to assist her in the dwindling small company they both started. By this time also, Sansan's Father has died.  She felt it was time to contact Nonie. She then sent him a Christmas card. She just wrote `Merry Christmas' but  she wrote her address on the envelope. She has made another plan.

A month before Nonie`s scheduled arrival, she married a  colleague in the office. She even adopted a boy  to show she had another baby with another man, a ploy to ward off Nonie. To make him leave her alone. Of course, the arrangement was only one for show. She was  not  truly in love with the Taiwan guy. Neither was he.

She introduced him to Nonie when he arrived. But Nonie`s eyes kept darting to  her. She was unaware. Her Mother told her after Nonie has left that "Nonie loves you!"   His eyes  followed you wherever you go and he kept on giving dagger looks to the husband, too.

But Nonie was humming to himself  the entire day. He was singing by his lonesome self. "What are you singing?" she asked Nonie.  "Kumusta Ka!" was the answer.  When Sansan asked Nonie to explain the meaning of the lyrics, he refused, saying  " hurts here..." pointing to his chest.

The trip to Taiwan on the way to Japan had been a regular one in the succeeding years. They met once each season of the year for five days. Five beautiful days. Sansan recounted." If one year has 365 days, the wife [here] has Nonie for 345 days while I have him for 20 days only. But our love  continues and we communicate morning, noon and night, and whenever possible. He doesn`t sleep without saying Good Night to me. As soon as he wakes up, he emails me, Good Morning, I love you. He never say `I Love You` to  Giri....but he always say it to me."


Nonie was willing to leave Giri in 2006. That was also the year when Nonie started to faint and suffer blackouts. He never had himself checked in the hospital.  Giri  didn't bother as well.
Nonie wanted to divest himself of his company share of 50%. He gave 20% to Greg when he graduated from college. He planned to give 20% also to Jovit  and the last 10% to Poochie . He was giving up all his shares in the company and stay in Taiwan for good.

But Sansan refused. She told Nonie to wait untilJovit who was still in  high school then, to graduate in college. By then,  he will be free of the obligations as a Father. Nonie was adamant.  Nonie said "they're not kawawa.  Giri  have  the kids. I only have you."  Sansan`s heart prevailed. They waited several years more. But not after a really big fight. With  Giri.

Giri often shouted invectives at Nonie. The sons, too. Nonie was the silent type, just like Tatay.
He never  shouted  nor showed  anger at anyone, unless necessary. He always had a ready smile for everyone. He never say bad words to anyone, most especially the children he cared most...and of course to the mother of his children.  One time, perhaps intentionally, Nonie left his phone open during one of  their  fight. The time when he told Giri  he was leaving her for good. Giri  emailed Sansan to stop taking Nonie away from her. Sansan replied:  "IF you treat Nonie badly again, I will take him out of there. Never ever say bad words against Nonie again. Do not say he is a bad man, a liar, and all those things.....Promise me!"


Unknown to Giri, all replies were edited an reworded strongly by Nonie before being sent back to Giri. Sansan is  Taiwanese....and her long stay in America did not alter her grammar, but she could express herself well, only not perfectly.  Nonie was speaking through Sansan in those emails!

 Giri promised and wrote a handwritten apology to Nonie.  She  begged Nonie on her knees not to leave her. She  swallowed her pride and  knelt in front of Nonie. He decided to stay after Sansan  advised him to stay and wait awhile....after the youngest graduate from college, least.

Things got better after that. There were less fighting and bad mouthing. There were lesser tensions. Things appeared to be smooth...until this year. Until this March. Until  I saw him in the 3rd Floor ICU of St. Luke`s in QC.


What most do not know is that Nonie suffered blackouts six or more times in the past 6 years.  He told Sansan so. He was bedridden the entire February. He passed out again in March. He woke up all alone with blood on his nape. Then he lost consciousness again last 26 March. He locked himself [a habit, says one of the sons] in the room as he was about to take a bath. He entered the room at 5PM, and was admitted to the hospital at 7 PM. They live near the boundary of Manila and QC.
Why it took that long, I often wonder. Traffic, perhaps?

The doctor took the medical history of Nonie and asked Giri if he has had blackouts in the past. She  said there were none. Sansan who is in far off Taiwan knew Nonie had passed out 6 times in the past. She had insisted Nonie to go visit a doctor and have a medical check-up to see what is wrong. "Sayang!" was the usual reply. Besides, Nonie never had cash on his pocket. He only had a Visa CC. That way, his cash transactions were monitored and directed by Giri, she being  the comptroller in the company. The  small cash he had were  all  sukli...and he kept them hidden under the carpet, inside his car.

During the first week, things were  better. Nonie could move his right arms and legs. When  Emo and his wife were there,  Nonie tried his best to  survive. He did not want to let go of Emo and his wife`s hands when they were about to go home. He did not want to be left alone in the ICU. He seemed afraid. Of what?.....Now, I wonder.

Earlier, as he held Emo`s hand, he started scribbling something on Emo`s palm. Emo did not understand at first, so he called another brother,Boy. Boy took a paper and a ballpen and placed both on Nonie's  right hand. Black bag, H20, coke and more. Giri heard what Nonie was trying to say. Soon enough, Giri was nowhere to be found in the vicinity of the ICU. She flew home and started wrecking the safe of Nonie. She forced open Nonie's last vestige of privacy and took something that does not belong to her. That Black Bag belonged to Nonie and it contained Nonie and Sansan's life savings. The savings intended for the house and business they  both will share. Soon.


Meanwhile Nonie suffered another stroke and he has to undergo angioplasty. Hospital policy dictates that existing balance be paid before they  do the procedure. Giri  said: "Ganyan din nangyari sa Tatay ko, ayun, namatay rin!   Isa pa, hindi ako pwedeng mag-release ng pera ngayon. Hindi pwede."

Wow!  Nonie's sisters were there and one of them gave 500K. All for Nonie.

On the fifth day, Nonie suffered another stroke. His condition worsened.  It was one of those arteries again. A  friend, Marcia  came visiting  and mentioned something about RCB {Rapid Cellular Balance} pioneered in the Philippines by Dr. Robin Navarro. Since Giri was just waiting for Nonie's last breath, Eddy decided to try RCB.   So we rushed to Pasig Crossing  and brought the medicine to St. Luke's.  Giri  asked Boy: "Pang ilang araw ba yang gamot nyo?"  Boy said "Five days, initially...kasi pag OK ang reaction, itutuloy natin." Giri replied:  "Dalawang araw na lang ang balak ko dyan, eh!"   Giri did not sign the waiver to administer the medicine from outside St. Luke`s, and so the medicine wasn't given. The next day, Nonie died.....

All the days we were there, we kept on talking to Nonie, telling him that Sansan is on her way to Manila. Nonie wanted her to come to her side in case anything like that happened. They have talked about these a lot of times in the past.  Sansan brought with her Nonie`s Taiwanese passport. She is willing to bring him to Taiwan for treatment and has made arrangement for his hospitalization there. Sansan  also specified that in case Nonie wakes up and remain invalid for the rest of his life, she is willing to bring him to Taiwan still, and take good care of him for the remaining days  of his matter what. Regardless whether he be on a wheelchair. Anything! For Nonie.

She can`t come sooner because the Cultural Office in Taipeh was  closed due to  Holy Week. She just waited and wailed and cried her heart out. She wanted to reach Manila as soon, but she was helpless. She arrived a day after Nonie expired on 11 April 2012.

His remains were brought  to a small room in Arlington a day after he died. He was buried beside Giri`s  grandparents....on the left side of the lot. When we visited the grave two days after the interment, we were surprised to see garbage atop it.  Sansan wailed and cried. She said she never was so angry in her life before. "They treated my Nonie badly even after he died. They didn't give him the best; they did not respect  him  in his lifetime. Even in death? Why treat him like this?"  

She decided to make the grave beautiful. She hired the caretakers around, all seven of them, to flatten the grave, plant blue grass which she did herself  near the head area and bought 100 flower arrangements more [we bought two at the gate before]. The place looked  great and she felt better.
The two guards asked why  we brought so many flowers. People kept looking. They say they have never seen such thing done before.  Well....they haven't heard the great love story Sansan and Nonie shared, have they?

I do not know if I can condemn such love...such passion. I have never thought Nonie could be so romantic. He never confided  in any of his siblings. We all thought he was happy with his family here. We never thought it was only a front,....a window to show his neighbors and friends. That he was living a life miles and miles  different from the image he projects  in the neighborhood   was unbelievable. Had he told me these things, I could have sided with him, because he knew I never wanted that woman to be his wife here. That woman is a snob and hated me for my guts to tell her pointblank that she is a non-entity as far as I am concerned.  Besides, I knew Sansan  and him had a relationship when he was just 17, she 19. But I never mentioned any of these to anyone because Nanay told me it was a secret.

Their  secret is no secret anymore.
They were willing to come out in the open.
They did that when Nonie visited us in Japan.
Both of them were sweet to each other.
Both were  looking good.
Both were happy.

I hope Nonie is happy now.....because he is free.
Free from the obsession of Giri.
Free from the crazy little things she did whenever he opened his luggage
and found ALL of his briefs with kissmarks on the crotch area.[she did that, huh?]
Free from the pictures of her and her children which she always put on Nonie`s luggage,
Nonie`s pockets and inside his wallet.
Those pictures which Nonie threw  away  as soon as he saw them....
Free from the invectives hurled at him by his very sons....
Free from the disrespectful actions of his sons towards him and towards Nonie`s siblings.


Theirs is a great love story.
A story that transcends barriers:   place/country, language, age and culture.
A love story that spanned 32 years!
Separated for 25 years [the years he spent looking for her; she spent those years hiding]......and 
spending the last 7 years together:  the happiest for them.

I hope and pray that both of you be happy.
If not in this lifetime....may it be in the next.
Where Nonie proposed to be born first,
perhaps 10?...20 years  ahead. And he'd look for Sansan.
Where Nonie instructed Sansan to wait for him and he'd surely look for her.
Just like the way he combed Taiwan to look for her for 25 years.

Rest awhile and smile.
Wait till she joins you.

In the meantime...sing your songs.
Hum it to she can sleep....dreaming of you.

Good  Night, Little Brother....Good Night!

*From your siblings  who love  you


Anonymous said...

love survived all those years?? geez!
sad ending, though.....
thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

aneurysm and high blood pressure can easily be contained had he been rushed to the hospital asap, what with modern science and technology everywhere; alas, such is fate.
pray brothers, that we choose the right gal before we sign the contract.