A Testimony from my Grandmother: Introduction

My grandfather is a believer in miracles. He’s not your typical religious nut — he doesn’t even get to go church every single Sunday. He even talks about his colleagues in church in vain when they try to bring the church to him when they start missing his presence — that can be attributed to his age and concerns with the weather. But he’s a prayer warrior, and a devout follower of the Word of God. The biggest reason being that my late grandmother was a recipient of such miracles. She had tumors in her ovaries; however she had a strong aversion for hospitals and wasn’t about to let anybody touch her vital organs. She chose right. And both her and my grandfather became witnesses.

And that story will be told to you by her. This is a testimony she wrote about her survival of cancer. Written by her, and proofread by her husband, my grandfather. I am publishing this with his permission and instructions.

I am a grandmother; a retired schoolteacher. I was born in Tondo, Manila, went to school in Zaragoza Elementary School and Torres High School, and finished college at the University of the Philippines. My husband is from Visayas. He is a retired engineer educated in the Visayas, moving to Manila in search of the proverbial but non-existent “greener pastures”. We have five children and six grandchildren.

My report begins in the early 60s when Dean Dioscoro Umali of UP Los Baños gave me terminal leave – a polite way of telling me I was fired. I was, during those times, not exactly the easiest person to get along with. My firing was not too traumatic. While my difficulties in putting up with the intrigues in the Botany Department of UP Los Baños were steadily mounting, I was already hunting for a new job. So when my walking papers arrived, the hurt did not cut too deeply. But they were deep enough. My bitterness was filtering down to my family. I was taking it out on them and my husband was beginning to complain. He threatened to get rough. Fortunately, my job hunting was beginning to bear fruit soon enough. In a few weeks, I found myself hired by the University of the East in Recto, Manila.

I joined the teaching staff of their Botany Department. I did not know it then, but God was already introducing me to the next step in my salvation.

The atmosphere of my new job was just as bad as the atmosphere of my old job. The intrigues, in-fighting and professional jealousies were just as intense. Being a new face, I was considered a threat. More so after my Department Head encouraged me to write a laboratory manual for use of students taking Botany. The Dean of Arts and Sciences seconded the encouragement. This was a slap in the face of the “old guard”. Why was a newcomer asked to write a manual? What was wrong with the veteran old timers? Why weren’t they asked? And just think of the oodles of money that the sales of the manual would bring. That would make just one person rich. How unthinkable!

Having a shortage of patience and goodwill myself, I chose to fight. This, of course, was a mistake. Although like an ordinary mortal, I did not know it at the time. To give the proposed manual presentable credentials, I invited Daisy B. to be my co-author. She was also newly hired and was the only PhD in the staff. This raised the jealousy levels higher. Daisy also became a target. She was considered another threat. It became so bad Daisy ended up resigning and moving to the U.S.

I needed co-authors to blunt the attack. I decided to reduce the number of opponents by inviting two former classmates who were my co-teachers. I thought this would reduce the trouble. It did not. My new co-authors were a little careless with their contributions that a case of plagiarism was filed against us by our former professor in UP. One blame led to another and the three of us ended up fighting. We had to part ways. They left me alone to face the music. I had to practically go on my knees and beg for the forgiveness of Dr. S, the aggrieved party. He relented. After all, I was one of his favorite students.

In the meantime, the fracas continued. My enemies wanted my manual disqualified.

 

Enter the Medical Problem

I started to bleed. This was not the first time I had experienced this. My first encounter with bleeding ended up in the loss of my first baby. This happened in Los Baños, intrigue-related. The second time was interesting enough. I rushed immediately to the UERM Memorial Hospital where my gynecologist, a former classmate of mine, treated my case by hypnosis. The bleeding stopped immediately. Of course, we did not know that this practice was arcane and dangerous but we were impressed by the results. This time however, the bleeding was worrisome. I was not pregnant. The bleeding was continuous, for almost two weeks. Dr. E was no longer in UERM Memorial Hospital. I then decided to consult the gynecologists at the Del Mundo Hospital at Banawe St. I heard the terms “stress-related” and “hysterectomy is indicated, urgently.” My husband started raising money for surgery. Approximately P7, 000 was needed, a whooping sum in those days. This was in the mid 60s.

I recoiled at the thought of surgery. The thought of being cut open always terrified me. What was more, superstitious folk in my home province say that if I underwent surgery and my enemies knew about it, they could cast a curse on me and I would die on the operating table. I like to think that I am not superstitious, what with being a science professor and a graduate of UP at that, but I thought there was nothing wrong in playing safe. After all, I had many enemies. So, no surgery. My husband insisted that I undergo surgery. I told him to undergo the surgery himself. That shut him up.

Meanwhile, the bleeding continued. I was steadily weakening. Going to school was an ordeal. I practically had to crawl to school. I had no appetite. But I continued to have a combative spirit. My enemies knew about my medical problem, and they were merciful enough to slow down. But the bleeding would not stop. In my despair, I was willing to try anything — except surgery. So I went around hunting for herbs; yes, herbs.

One afternoon, I found myself strolling along Blumentritt St. There is a big market there. I met this woman selling herbs. Her name was Aling Nena.

I paid her, thanked her, and went on my home. I did as instructed. After a day or two, the bleeding stopped. MIRACLE! Elated, I went back to Aling Nena and reported the results. I befriended her and invited her to my home. It was good to have a “personal physician” around. Aling Nena refused money but requested for a supply of ‘Mompo’, a communion wine used by Catholic priests. This mild wine was part of her “pharmacy”. Nice. She did not talk money. But we gave her some anyway.

I continued with the concoction. Its taste was awful. It was not only bitter but gagging. This was excusable, I said to myself. After all, the same can be said for any pill we buy at the drug store. The pills are purposely sugar-coated to mask its awful taste. And they are supposed to be swallowed in one gulp and not allowed to linger in the mouth or else the sugar coating will wear off. Anyway, Aling Nena’s treatment stopped the bleeding. That was good enough for me. You can’t argue against success. So Aling Nena became a frequent visitor in the house.

It was not long before my husband confronted me squarely and growled, “What happened to you? You look like a corpse.”  I went to the mirror to check and sure enough, I looked terrible. My face was ashen, wrinkled and bluish. I looked like the legendary old hag, a crone.

My husband started to become cold to Aling Nena. He no longer wanted her around. She took the hint. She stopped coming to the house.

Click to proceed to part 2 of my grandmother’s testimony

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