Sunday, April 17, 2011

Of Deaths, Waiting and Never Forgetting (April 17: Remembering Velinda Amigleo Samonte)

For years, I've been thinking of writing this because the words were just right there in my mind but I just can't seem to put them all together. I remembered her today, April 17.

Velinda Amigleo Samonte, worked as one of the bigwigs in Philippine Normal University. I'm not quite sure what post she held but as what my mother told me, she was an important person in the university. Mommy, as we fondly call Mrs. Samonte, would normally tell me back then, that in her 40 or so years in the university, never had she been late nor absent. Later on, I found out, that she had her own room to stay inside the university compound so she need not to go home when there's heavy rainpour or whenever Manila was submerged in floodwater.  

Her husband, Sir Ernesto Samonte, who passed away last year was my father's boss in MWSS. It was in 1993 (or so) when Mrs Samonte had stroke and caused to immediately paralyze almost her entire body. Sir Ernie asked among his team in MWSS who could work as a private nurse for his wife. My father volunteered my mother Flora for the job albeit she was not a nurse but a midwife although she knows the basic things and skills in taking care of almost-paralytic people back when she was still single. She got accepted for the job but since she was not a registered nurse, she earned lesser compared to the two other nurses working for Mommy (as what we fondly call Mrs. Samonte) and she worked at night. 

They lived along New York, Cubao so when people ask me where does my mother work, I would usually answer " New York...Cubao". Back then, the term "Caregiver" was not yet a household word. My mother, I could say started the local version of the trend.

On Saturdays and Sundays, I would tag along and spend my weekends in their house as her grand daughter, Kristine would play with me. I met the internet, yahoo messenger, email and all that stuff with her, back when prepaid cards for internet cost quite a fortune. When we get tired of the internet or playing with her Power Rangers action figures, we'll feed the tilapias in their murky fishpond. This was one of the reasons why I never like eating tilapia at all. We'll feed the small frogs, about a hundred of them inside a drum. Sometimes, we'd go to Alimall or Fiesta Carnival and would eat Maki at the Isetann foodcourt. I never liked Maki so I'd order halo-halo because that's something familiar to me (even if it's already freezing at the mall).

On Saturday nights, I'd usually sleep in Ate Tin-tin's room. Mama will be leaving the house early morning and she doesn't want to wake me up just yet. I would usually go home by dawn of Monday. Most of the time, we'd wait up for National Bookstore Superbranch in Cubao to open so I could buy pencils and other school stuff or sometimes whatever that I see and then invent something that I could use it for. My love for bookstores probably started back during these times.

On Sunday nights, when I sleep in Mommy's room, beside my Mama, she would repeatedly tell me to study real hard. According to her that's the best I could give Mama back. To which Mama would butt in, "Naku Mommy basta mangako ka, wag ka muna mamamatay hanggat hindi pa graduate si Karen..". It was of course a joke but somehow, in the midst of it, Mama meant it.

My parents separated when I was in grade five (or six). I spent my first year in high school in The National Teachers College and then moved to Manlabang National High School in Biliran the year after. Mama could no longer afford sending me to school all by herself. In the province, apart from there was virtually nothing to spend much on, most of my relatives could adopt me so it was a big part taken out of Mama's financial burdens. Lola Ping, Mama's mother, took care of me. During droughts, when Mama could not send a penny, Lola Ping was there to rescue. Her SSS check saved us. Apart from  the financial challenges of living in Manila and me studying in NTC, I had to travel from Makati to Quiapo everyday which also worried her. Quiapo was not a reputable place when we talk about safety and I was only 13 back then.

I still managed to go to Cubao to visit Mommy but only during summer vacations when I visit Mama in Makati. But I no longer stay as often as before. Ate Tin-tin was all grown up and we simply could no longer play with Power rangers anymore. The same spiel Mommy gave to me everytime I visit her stays the same-- to which Mama would respond with her very same spiel: "...basta wag ka munang mamamatay Mommy hanggat hindi pa nakakatapos ng college si Karen".

I finished High School as Salutatorian. I remember Sir Ernie giving me a thousand pesos as gift through Mama. I never got the money. Mama probabaly used it to buy lechon to feed my guests after the ceremonies.

After I took the UPCAT, I told Mama that I may not pass the exam since it was pretty tough. So I told her, I might need to apply to other schools. I was becoming a little depressed since I always wanted to be in UP when I go to college and then shortly after UPCAT, I began to accept the fact that it was not the school for me. Mama consoled me by saying that Mommy could settle the school for me. According to her, Mommy promised to write a letter to whoever was the Dean in PNU College of Education to provide whatever assistance I may be needing during the enrollment. After all, she was once and will always be an important person in the university.

I managed to get in to UP anyway. So there was no need for her letter. While in UP, she would usually ask Mama if I knew Professor this and that, telling her that he or she was either a friend, a colleague or a student from way back then. I knew some that she mentioned but never dare to tell them that I knew Dr. Samonte. It's just not the trend in UP. It doesn't matter who you know or what you have--it is what you know.

Year after year in the university, everytime Mama and I would have a kind-of-serious talk, we'll reflect on how we are going to get by college if Mommy would die. It was, may be for some, kind of trivial to talk about these things and perhaps even selfish of worrying about her death not because of her dying and leaving this world, but because we would lose everything if she died. Practically, her family, particularly Mommy, was our very source of income. If she dies, who was there to take care of? Mama also works as a volunteer in Pitogo Health Center but is hardly compensated. Our world was dependent on Mommy. For the longest time, that was what Mama knew how earn a living. She was too old to apply for hospitals or private sectors. Call centers were almost non-existent back then apart from the fact that Mama was a staunch defender of lowtech-hood.

Soon, it was March 2006 and I was ready to graduate. I remember mama sending my very early graduation gift-- a Kodak c330 digicam. I was the first, I believe among my Comm Arts friends to finally have a digi cam. And it arrived exactly a month before my graduation. Even before the presentation and defense of our thesis, even before the deliberation of our Division. We were still in a chaos and agony of whether we'll get by the dreaded 3 of UP Tacloban--namely, Sugbo, Alunan and Alegre or to wait until another sem or year to finish college. But just like any other student, especially if your parents already sent their graduation gift a month early, the least you want to happen is to postpone graduation until after a year.

Our worries and sleepless nights ended when finally the Division of Humanities finally deliberated on the graduating class of 2006. We were all going to graduate. I couldn't recall if I called Mama right after knowing that but I knew I wanted the world to know that I was graduating. That I am worthy to receive my Kodak c330, that I can now start scouting for a designer of my graduation dress, I can now finally order my very own sablay and the list go on. At night time, I prayed and for a moment I thought of Mommy. Not that she can now die since I'm almost through college but I waned to thank her for making it through and helping us make it through as well. For the very first time in 2 months, I was able to sleep soundly and continuously.

The next day, I received a text from Papa that Mommy passed away that morning.

That was six years ago. And whenever I am to share this to anybody, like now as I am writing this to tell her story, I never failed flood my eyes. I will be forever thankful, Mommy-- thankful for the love, memories and for waiting.

You will forever be remembered.


  1. Thank you for this post! Even if the news had cost me a lot of grief. I was looking through old letters from friends this week, and determined that I should write my Ate Linda Amigleo. Years! of teaching and then raising my four children and now enjoying 4 grandchildren had kept me from keeping in touch with dear friends, and now this finally having time to contact friends! Sadly, in trying to apologize to Ate Linda for not stopping at Philippine Normal to make contact with her (on what might be my last homecoming), I find this very sad news! Our reunion would have to be up there. For now I am sending her my love! I wonder how many more of my PNC friends are like her, no longer there! We shall see one another soon, but know that I mourn! LOVE, PEPITA (Jimenez-Jacobs)

  2. Am I to understand from this posting that Dr. Velinda Amigleo Samonte passed away on April 17, 2011? Almost 5 years ago? Please verify or tell me who at PNU (Philippine Normal University) could verify this for me. Thank you very much! PEPITA JIMENEZ-JACOBS (By e-mail:

    1. Hi Ma'am Pepita. I posted this in 2011 but Mommy Velinda died in 2006, the year I graduated.
      I'm sorry I no longer man this blog that much and I am so sorry you had to know the sad news through this. I think your love has somehow reached her.