Monday, December 05, 2005


Aling Rosalinda was down in the basement folding the clothes from this morning’s wash. From where she was, she could hear her son, Willy, and his wife, Ishang, upstairs—still at each other’s throat. Arguments between husband and wife have been happening more frequently since Willy’s unemployment benefits had run out and the cash from his severance package began to dwindle.

With their older son attending college in Ohio and the youngest a senior in high school and a member of the hockey team (the most expensive sport in terms of equipment) the boys’ school expenditures are eating up the family’s cash reserve at an alarming rate. They have staggering loan payments that must be duly attended to, plus the monthly utility bills. The couple is at their wit’s end; constantly scrambling which obligation to prioritize.

At 48, Willy is enduring a growing frustration. His resume was unable to generate any promising leads. To make matters worse, his profession as a medical technologist has basically gone extinct; recent advances in technology has made his job obsolete. He knew this was coming 15 years ago yet, he remained complacent.

Ishang on the other hand is tired. She’s no longer as agile as she once was to handle recalcitrant geriatric patients. Her physical resilience is also being gnawed at by her nagging back pains. If only she could, she’d put in less hours at work. Nursing, she would now concede, is for the young.

There was a time Aling Rosalinda would receive the brunt of the couple’s quarrels. To spite her husband, Ishang would take it out on her with silent treatments and condescending insinuations. Lately, however, the $700.00 a month supplemental income she receives from the government has earned her leverage in the family’s power structure. The couple has begun to depend upon her monthly check to help defray their household expenses.

Aling Rosalinda had a comfortable life in Manila. When widowed at sixty-six, Willy convinced her to sell everything and move to New York with him and his wife. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be as auspicious as she had expected it to be. Willy had borrowed most of her money and lost them all in get-rich-quick schemes and half-baked business start-ups. To date, Willy has not paid any of it back. Worse, when the boys were born, Aling Rosalinda became their fulltime nanny; a job she had never done before in her entire life. Her own children were raised with a couple of hired help. It was a pitiful sight to see the ageing Aling Rosalinda nervously running after those hyperactive tots.

When the boys began going to school, with her newfound free time Aling Rosalinda started taking care of the laundry, cleaning the house and cooking the meals. However, whenever she would make a mistake or forget things at times, the couple would tease her relentlessly as if she were a paid help. There were many tearful nights that lulled Aling Rosalinda to sleep ever since living in New York.

Last year, her daughter who lives in California took her to Manila for vacation. She was appalled to discover most of her old friends had passed away; whereas the cousins she grew up with had migrated to the States or Canada as well. After having been gone for nearly 20 years, Aling Rosalinda had become a stranger in her own land. Her dream of spending her finals years peacefully in the city that she loves proved elusive.

She’s nearing her 90s now. Talks of nursing homes would come up every now and then, but her supplemental income benefits, once she moves into one, will be sent directly to the nursing home as payment for her care and lodging. Willy and Ishang cannot afford to give up this monthly check at this time; at least, not yet. Actually, they have been scrimping at almost every turn. To reduce their oil bill this winter, for instance, Willy calibrated the thermostat for lesser consumption even if it resulted to being cold inside the house.

Aling Rosalinda is mostly by herself in this chilly cavernous abode nowadays; lonely and isolated from the daily grind of life. Willy has found himself a temporary job at The Home Depot; Junior doesn’t come home from team practice until early evenings; and Ishang would usually stop by the supermarket and won’t get home until 5 p.m. just before Willy.

Aling Rosalinda has the La-Z-boy lounge chair for comfort, a thick blanket for warmth, and the TV for company. She has no one to reminisce with; to talk about those days when she was an enchanting socialite from Malate whose gentlemen callers came regularly. One of them swept her off her feet and offered her a charmed life; it was Willy’s father.

As she approaches her final years, Aling Rosalinda finds herself with no one to water her roots or warm her soul. She has only opportunistic ailments that come calling regularly. Secretly, she wishes one would just whisk her off to a fabulous afterlife.

Mostly alone and feeling desolate, Aling Rosalinda could only while away her time with daydreams of ballroom gowns and magical evenings. Indeed, a grand woman until the end.


Caring for Elderly Parents
Immediate Help; Long-Term Hope

How to Cope with Elderly Parent Moving In

Burden of caring for elderly parent doesn’t have to be shouldered alone
By Jean Tarbett - The Herald-Dispatch


posted by Señor Enrique at 7:13 AM


Anonymous NoelG said...

What a predicament. Unfortunately, Aling Rosalinda has very few options, if any.

A long time ago, I met a man, Mang Gorio, who was in a similar situation. Fortunately for him, though, he still had his house and a son back home. After many pleas his daughter finally relented and bought him a one way ticket home. This came about, however, only after he threatened to haunt his daughter when he dies, if she does not heed his pleas.

December 05, 2005 2:21 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I like his threat :)

But seriously, Noel, I've seen too often of this sad predicament among our Filipino senior citizens in New York. And unlike Mang Gorio, most have no other alternative.

I am posting the first of your Soho pics tomorrow! Thanks! :)

December 05, 2005 4:27 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

In a way it is the plight of a lot of old people the world over...

December 05, 2005 6:15 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I'm afraid you're right as well, Sidney. And it's sad.

December 05, 2005 7:11 PM  

Blogger FilMasons NSW said...

I think the solution is a retirement home with more Pinoy companions.

As for myself, I'll be on the net and blogging till I die... heheheee.

August 27, 2008 10:11 AM  

Blogger FilMasons NSW said...

As I was reading your story I read this:

"Older Aussies have more sex than thought" I am glad I move in the right country... heheheee.

August 27, 2008 10:19 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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