Every school had a “terror” teacher; every exclusive girls’ high school had the stereotype spinster administrator who made sure all the rules were followed and everyone followed the straight and narrow. In St. Scho, Miss Salazar was ours.
She wore big glasses, had curly hair and being called to her room meant that we were in trouble. I remember always dreading being late because that would mean having to explain ourselves to her. We would heave a sigh of relief when it was Vicky, her secretary, signing the tardy slips for her and making the appropriate notations on our index cards. Even then though, we always held a grudging respect for her conscientiousness. And looking back, even if some of her methods were a tad outdated, the discipline and work ethic that we carry with us to this day are due in no small part to her steely resolve to make us behave like “proper young women”.
After graduation, as we moved on with our different lives and chosen paths, it was regrettably all too easy to forget the gray-haired prim old lady who made sure that the high school ran like clockwork.
Until two days ago, when Jordan sent me a very sad email about Miss Salazar’s physical condition. The email is quite hard to cut and paste because it’s a running thread of emails from different individuals. Summarizing the emails, Miss Salazar had been suffering from bed sores for a long time now as well as a variety of illnesses usually afflicting the aging. Apparently, the apartment she lives in all by herself is infested with rats. One day, some rats crawled in and, attracted to the bed sores, gnawed on them. Vermin bites were seen on her head, chin and forearm. She was alone and could not move.
Eventually, she was brought to the hospital for treatment, but is now back in her apartment recuperating with the assistance of her niece, Tett Salazar, who lives nearby. Her knees are constantly in pain.
In emails and Friendster bulletins posted back and forth, her specific needs were listed. To quote from Mrs. Pengzon’s Friendster entreaty: “The other items we could help out with aside from adult diapers (size L) would be the food supplement PEPTAMEN (very expensive according to Tett) and the medicated patch AQUACEL by Convatec for her bedsore. BTW, the bedsore has been reduced in size due to this patch. However, the patch is hard to find in Manila so perhaps the girls in the US could help with this.”
I know how it feels to be sick and scared. You feel cheated by destiny. But during all my illnesses, I never found myself alone. I’ve never had to go through a major tragedy with no one with me. I’ve always had my family and my loved ones by my side, forming a steady and happy little barangay for me, and yet many times, I still find myself complaining. After reading Jordan’s email, I could not stop myself from weeping at the thought of vermins biting at a person immobilized by illness because no one was around to shoo them away.
My heart bleeds at the thought of what Ms. Salazar had gone through and what she continuous to go through. I can only pray that God extends His kindness and grace to this woman who has been such a faithful servant of His, and ask for prayers from my fellow Scholasticans and other friends. I also pray that this entry be read by a kind soul in a position to extend material assistance to Ms. Salazar in this time of great need.
Those who want to help may get in touch with Tett Salazar at 4007070. I suppose you can also call the High School Department of St. Scholastica’s College.