Abandoned parents

"This is against the Asian culture of filial piety."


Santa Banana, there is a growing number of parents who are abandoned and who are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or some kind of dementia. This must be looked into by the government, particularly by the Department of Health.

This phenomenon runs counter to the known Asian characteristic of filial piety and close-knit families. I find it criminal for children just to abandon their parents just because they live elsewhere or are just too busy earning a living. They forget their obligation to take care of their parents when they get old.

My wife and I can cite more than a dozen instances where a mother or a father, already widowed, only has household help taking care of them.

We know for instance a good friend, widowed, living alone in a condominium in Mandaluyong. She was found dead one morning—she was suffering from an extreme case of diabetes. The tragedy of it all was that she had two daughters living in the US. A married son was living elsewhere.

We had an occasion to visit a very good friend of my wife, a widow, who lives in a rented one-room home. Only a dog acts as her companion.

We found her state pitiful and tragic. Her dishes were unwashed. Her room was dirty and smelled bad. A vendor delivers her food. And yet her two sons are both successful doctors in the United States.

We also know of a friend, a widow, who lives alone. At one time, she called my wife to tell her that she had fallen. It is a good thing she did not hurt herself. Santa Banana, we also know of her relative who lives with her unmarried daughter who is so busy and often goes abroad as part of her job. This relative, a widow, has no household help. And to think she has eight children!

There is also the case of a good friend of my wife who lives alone with her household help. She also has eight children.

What to me is really tragic is the case of a relation, the husband suffering from some ailment and the wife from dementia. They live by themselves with one house helper.

On occasion, an unmarried daughter visits them and helps them. This is a couple that has five children, living abroad. A son has a cushy job in a conglomerate.

I can go on and on with similar cases of parents neglected by their supposedly successful children.

Santa Banana, if this happens to parents in the middle-income group, I can only imagine what poorer parents—those living in hovels, for instance—have to endure.

That is why my wife and I thank the lord that we have a daughter who took us into her home. Two of my sons are in the US, while my youngest lives in Makati.

Parents in the United States are more fortunate. Their children can just dump them into homes or villages for the elderly. Since senior citizens have a pension plan in the States, their children can just use this money for their parents’ expenses.

We don’t have that luxury in the Philippines for senior citizens. Yes, there are a few, but what is urgently needed are homes for the elderly, both public and private.

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Along this line, I can only think of one senator who could give neglected parents the help they need: Senator Bong Go, who has helped victims of fire, flood and landslides.

Senator Go could propose a law against children who abandon their parents, and make it obligatory for the Department of Health to place sick parents in hospitals for free if they cannot afford the cost of their medical care.

This is why I find Senate Bill 2061 timely and urgent. It reinforces the duty of children to take care of their elderly, sick or otherwise incapacitated parents.

The bill, filed by Senator Lito Lapid, provides that children shall, within their means and capacity, maintain support for their fathers or mothers who by virtue of being over 60 years of age or suffering from a disease or disability are rendered incapable of supporting themselves.

The bill also says among the people mentioned in Article 196 of the Family Code who are obliged to give support to each other are parents and their children.

This means that the obligation to support cuts both ways—parents must support their children in years of their minority and dependency. Children who are already capable must take care of their elderly, sickly, or disabled parents.

Lapid noted that abuse includes physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse, abandonment, and neglect. Loss of dignity and respect has become an “invisible issue” in the Philippines, according to the Commission on Human Rights.

Both the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development need to take the initiative on this issue.

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The Social Weather Stations found that one out of four adult Filipinos are not inclined to be vaccinated, especially with the vaccine from China’s Sinovac. This fear of getting vaccinated is due to the lack of information and education about vaccines.

This is especially true with the experience of Filipinos with vaccination against dengue during the Noynoy Aquino regime. Insofar as Sinovac is concerned, the bias is more or less against anything Chinese.

I have been urging the government to undertake a massive information and education program about vaccines. That is the job of vaccine czar, Carlito Galvez Jr. Obviously, he did not take any steps toward this aim.

This lack of information and education campaign contributes to the bias of even nurses and health workers against the vaccine from Sinovac.

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Health experts say that vaccines of whatever brand are not the ultimate cure against COVID-19. They simply provide immunity. One must still have to observe health protocols like wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.

So will the vaccine rollout mean the end of the pandemic? Of course not.

Topics: Emil Jurado , Abandoned parents , Department of Health , Senator Bong Go , Social Weather Stations , COVID-19 vaccines , Sinovac
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