“Siya ang kumuha ng gamit ko,” claimed an old woman. “Lagi ka namang nawawalan, hindi na naubos ang gamit mo,” declared another old woman and another said, “Ang importante ay buhay dahil pag namatay ka, hindi ka na puwedeng kumain.”
That’s the normal argument of the aged patients according to Lola Beng who quipped “Mga wala na kasi sa hulog.” Lola Beng, it seems, is the only patient without Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia. The head caregiver reminded me of my patience because talking with forgetful people may be irritating.
What would you do when you are surrounded by senior citizens with their blank faces and seemingly empty heads? Perhaps you can sound nostalgic. Better yet, why not talk of old movies?
The argument persisted for a while until I showed the candies in my hand. Peace and quiet at last and their smiling faces told me that I hold something that is precious to them.
After distributing the candies, I started the topic about celebrities. Nanay Charing opined, “Si Susan Roces ang pinakamaganda. Maigi nga’t hindi si Romeo ang nakatuluyan niya.” Lola Estring offered a rebuttal, “Ang guwapo ni Romeo Vasquez ba!”
The nursing home patients
Before the smoke ignited a fire, Lola Beng interposed, “Hindi nga sila nagkatuluyan pero sila ang magkatambal sa Maruja. Napanood nyo yun?” She’s right, it was shown in 1967. “Kung Susan yun eh malamang na napanood ko yun,” said Nanay Charing with obvious hesitation. She continually chuckled so as to hide her ignorance of the topic.
“Bumangon ka, Maruja,” Lolo Ramon said with his booming voice which caused laughter from everyone. “Hindi ba’t ang gandang lalake ni Romeo sa suot nyang pamburol?” Nanay Estring hastily issued a rejoinder.
“Sa pagandahang lalake ay walang tatalo kay Ric Rodrigo,” Lola Elvie, who just arrived from the bathroom, said. “Ilang pelikula niya ang tumakilya.” Lola Beng asked, “Anong tumakilya? Baka kumita sa takilya.” Lola Elvie smirked, “Pareho yun!”
Estring stood up, “Anong pareho? Tumakilya,” Nanay Estring stood up then laughed. And before Lola Elvie could react violently, Lolo Ramon tossed his ten cents worth of opinion, “Napanood nyo ba ang Kurdapya?”
“Aba’y ke gandang bata ni Gloria Romero sa Kurdapya,” Nanay Charing said while squinting her eyes as if trying to remember the movie which was shown in 1955. Nakakakilig yung nagkantahan si Ric at Gloria sa ilalim ng puno.”
Lolo Ramon stood up and motioned with his hands while singing like a moron. “Silvery moon, umaambon, wala tayong payong kaya sinipon!” He laughed before explaining, “Yun ang kanta ni Insyang.”
Nanay Charing with a squint in her eyes blurted, “Chona! Oo nga, si Chona yung mayaman at si Insyang yung mahirap. Dalawa kasi ang katauhan ni Gloria doon.” Insyang or Kurdapya, the poor and uneducated character in the movie, later turned into a lovely lady with Ric Rodrigo as the consort.
“Teka ha? Si Gloria din yata ang bida sa Reyna ng Vicks,” Lola Pelagia was unsure of her statement so Lola Elvie had to support her with facts. “Si Gloria at si Rita Gomez ang mga bida.” Mga Reyna Ng Vicks was a hit in 1958.
“Teka rin,” Nanay Estring interjected. “Kung hindi ako nagkakamali ay kasama dyan si Susan at si Amalia.” Again, Lola Elvie lent her factual support. “Naalala ko na. Si Gloria at si Juancho. Si Rita at si Ric. Tapos si Amalia at Romeo saka si Susan at…” She couldn’t remember Luis Gonzales and her pairing was a little off tangent.
Nanay Charing said with a smile, “Naging mag-asawa si Rita Gomez at Ric Rodrigo sa tunay na buhay.” Nanay Estring added, “Aba, si Amalia at Romeo, hindi ba’t may anak din? Yung asawa ni Albert Martinez yun. Magandang bata dahil guwapo nga si Romeo.”
Lola Julieta who arrived carrying a cup of milk joined in. “Wala namang tatalo kay Leopoldo Salcedo sa gandang lalake. Hindi mo matatawaran dahil naging nobyo ni Carmen yan.” There was silence. It is apparent that Lola Julieta had a scoop of sorts.
“Talaga lang ha?” Lola Beng said. “Baka magalit sa iyo si Rogelio Dela Rosa. Lola Julieta was firm in her resolve, “Totoo nga si Polding at si Mameng. Sinikreto nila upang hindi mabahiran ng duda ang tambalan ni Mameng at Roger.”
Lolo Ramon broke up the conversation with his humming of the song Maalaala Mo Kaya. The old women joined with their croaking voice. The music was like a philharmonic rendition played in a broken phonograph.
Lola Beng whispered, “Totoo kaya iyun?” When asked for clarification, she said with a grin, “Baka totoo nga na mag-dyowa si Leopoldo at si Carmen. Dati kasing reporter yan si Julieta. Sa Tiktik yata.” Lola Beng laughed with genuine joy in her heart.
I started to fix my things while looking at the elders who appeared to be having a good time with their singing, humming and clapping of hands. I looked at them one by one, trying to memorize their description.
Lola Beng in her wheelchair due to diabetes stroke is the sanest. Nanay Charing, still spry at 75, is already forgetful. Lolo Ramon, another diabetic patient, is a die-hard candy-eater. Lola Elvie with her ill-fitting denture has violent tendencies, she had run amok twice. Lola Estring, the youngest at 65 yearns for home all the time.
Lola Julieta’s crooked body is evidence that she’s nearing 90 years old. There’s Lola Pelagia in her wheelchair and some other patients whose names I couldn’t remember.
Lucky are those who easily forget. Sometimes it makes me wonder why old movies always make me cry.
(Note: Names have been changed to protect the identities of the characters.)
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