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SONIA Roco, living life’s miracles



What’s Sonia Roco up to?

By Ma. Carmina Zarraga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:22:00 07/13/2008

Filed Under: People, Lifestyle & Leisure

MANILA, Philippines - That?s a question a lot of people have been asking. This poem, written by Sonia, answers it in a way she alone can express.

What do you really do?

What do you really do?
I paused to think of a smart answer.
all i could say was, ?nothing.?
?Nothing?? she politely smiled,
that?s nice. to be doing nothing.?

That night, the question kept bugging me
?What do you really do??
?What do you really do??
?What do you really do??

First I was at a loss
was there cause?
Was I that useless, unproductive?
With no significant contribution
Done for the world?
What have i done all these 63 years?

As a child at play, I imagined
I could be a nurse like my mother
Or a teacher like Miss Amador
Or an actress, a singer, a dancer
I could be anyone I dreamed I wanted to be.

As the years unfolded, I was growing to be a leader.
A student who excelled in academics
and extra-curriculars?the pride of my parents, my school.
I graduated magna cum laude,
was awarded the most outstanding student of the Philippines.

After college, I became a teacher
of catechism, of speech and drama.
Instead of single-blessedness or the nunnery
I got married, bore children, raised a family.
as a young adult, I got involved in all kinds of activities:
Travelled extensively with Raul
abroad and all around the country
while he was building his career
as a litigation and corporate lawyer,
then as a constitutional convention delegate.
After working in the private sector
he went into public service
as a congressman, a senator and secretary of education.
Leaving behind a legacy this country could very well be proud of.

Where was I in all these?
Was I a mere shadow?
What did I really do?

Is sharing and supporting a dream with someone you love
Doing nothing?
Is giving time and presence for a good cause
doing nothing?
Is being a teacher, a lover of the theater and the arts,
Doing nothing?
Is being a mother, a grandmother, a home manager, a caregiver
?though not a perfect one?
doing nothing?

Is being alone,
when RAUL has moved on and the children who have grown and flown away
from their nest to do their own living and discover their own life?s

Have I become nothing?

No and yes?yes and no

No, because by my living
My life goes on
I must find new meanings for my energies to blossom

Yes because by my living,
my sharing and my giving
by being my best imperfect self
I was emptied completely till nothing was left at all.

What do you really do?
Nothing, really, nothing
How nice to be doing nothing

Now, I understand why
I said, ?nothing.?
?08 June 07

The months of May, July and August seem to be the more eventful periods in the life of this lady from Bohol.

On July 16, 1990, she was trapped under the rubble of Baguio?s Hotel Nevada, her head resting on a dead man?s leg, after the big earthquake hit the city while was attending a seminar. She was rescued 32 hours after.

Now she celebrates two birth anniversaries?her actual birth date, July 20, and her re-birth in Baguio, July 18.

On Aug. 7, 2005, husband Raul, the statesman, succumbed to multiple organ failure, a complication of prostate cancer. Last May, the ?official? results of the national elections found her missing from the Magic 12, but with a credible showing of getting more than 10 percent of the total number of votes cast.

In early May, this year, she had to keep her head bowed (a state her friends called a ?humbling experience?) due to a procedure performed on her right eye for a detached retina.

For two weeks, she was looking down, literally, but that did not stop Sonia from making good her commitment to many causes, operating from her home in La Vista with one eye patched and the other used to full advantage.

When Raul passed away, some said she?d fade into a world of grief and inactivity. She confesses to ?feeling all alone? while in private mourning.

But with quiet and strong resolve, she forged on, especially with regard to the vision and mission of her late husband. She?s composed another poem in memory of a husband much cherished and loved.

Tomorrow will be a better day

The healing Mass was all set
At the chapel, for five p.m., August five.
Doctors assured us tomorrow,
All pigtails connected to the lungs
Would be removed.
There were no obstructions
To round one of the dialysis.
The ventilator was a great help.
The strongest antibiotic was given
To combat the infection.
Our hopes were raised.
Tomorrow will be a better day.

And yet, Neena and I
Looking at him
Fully sedated, his eyes closed.
Tubes of all kinds attached
Lying flat, straight and still
We couldn?t help our tears
From falling and in between the sobbing
I had to tell her
That man, your father, my husband,
Our friend cannot stay that way for long.
He deserves a better place.

I left the room. Neena stayed with him.
A few minutes later, Neena called out loud
?Ma, come here.
Look at papa, his eyes are opened.
He can see us. He is looking at me.?
Yes, he looked at us
lovingly, quietly.
Our hopes were raised.
Tomorrow will be a better day.

Ruarri and Ninoy did the night watch.
They made him listen to his favorites:
?The Phantom,? ?Les Mis,? ?Chitty,Chitty Bang Bang?
and he did.
When it was time for the usual change of duty
Sr. Ninggay had arrived and the two had left.
It was 8 a.m., August 5, first Friday of the month.

I was still at home, when the phone rang.
It was Ninoy. ?Tita Son, come over quick.
Tito Pompon?s heart monitor is not good.
His BP is down.?
I dropped the phone. With Neena we rushed
Through the traffic, up the elevator,
my heart pounding?
I entered the room, there was quiet.
Doctors, nurses, staff all standing still.
His eyes closed, his color still pinkish,
his body warm, but the monitor
the monitor showed a straight flat line.
He has quietly moved on.

Sr. Ninggay told me,
?He was listening to Titan,?
His sister, who called from Naga
to tell him that Ina of Peńafrancia
was crossing from the Cathedral to Sta. Isabel.
The procession was singing his favorite hymn
?Resuena Vibrante El Himno De Amor
Que Entona Un Pueblo Con Grata Emocion
Patrona Del Bicol, Gran Madre De Dios
Se Simepre La Reina Del Nuestra Region.?

The monitor flickered.
Ninggay looked at Pompon
he had slipped away unnoticed.
Ina had fetched him and
accompanied him to a better place.
A place of eternal grace.

August 5th at 9:15 a.m.
Raul Roco was declared dead.
Tomorrow came...
For whom was it a better day.



Sonia always finds something inspiring and beautiful in life. With Dr. Patrician Licuanan, she helped set up the Metro Manila Community Orchestra. With Corazon Alma de Leon and Tony Arevalo, she has a radio program, ?Kapitan del Baryo,? aimed at strengthening grassroots democracy.

Even death is something she accepts with full resignation. She tries to share this acceptance with the terminally ill and their families, to make them see it as part of the cycle of life. She and some friends organized the St. Michael?s Hospice in 1996, in Marikina to give palliative care, a thoughtful process to make the patients accept the inevitable when medicine can no longer do anything for them, so they can leave this world with dignity.

Concerned about old Filipino culture disappearing amid the Western invasion of local airwaves and theater, Sonia is into the revival of the beautiful kundiman, encouraging semi-retired artists to continue singing haunting melodies.

Recently she discovered, through her eye doctor Noel Laxamana, a young baritone, 26-year-old Lorenzo (Frank Lee) from Pampanga, whose voice is a cross between Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban. Through her, Lorenzo is slowly gaining a following.

The artist in Sonia (she took up Dramatics in the UK) is insatiable. Always wanting to improve her craft, she enrolled in the writing Class of Barbara Gonzalez, where she composed a series of poems.

Sonia?s children have taken over from their dad. They introduced her to diving, to the beautiful undersea.

The moment she surfaces from the bottom of the sea, she is re-charged, ready to face the challenges of being herself, of doing her bit for the country. So what?s Sonia Roco up to now? A lot!

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