Nuns take care of abandoned elderly in Laguna home

In Photo: The elderly residents of Mary Mother of Mercy Home for the Abandoned and Elderly in Barangay San Antonio, San Pedro, Laguna. With them are (standing from left) Sr. Venus Marie S. Pegar, Sisters of Saint Francis Xavier (SFX) formation director; and Sister Emerita, the SFX community superior, who is a Myanmar national.

ABANDONED elderly from different parts of the country found a warm home in the company of nuns who personally provide them with care in a community for the deserted in Laguna.

All female, the 18 residents of Mary Mother of Mercy Home for the Abandoned and Elderly in San Pedro hailed from as far as Camarines Sur, Bacolod City, Dumaguete City and Zamboanga.

Most of them are octogenarians, said Sister Emerita, a Myanmar national, who is superior of the only community of the Sisters of Saint Francis Xavier (SFX) in the country.

The seniors occupy the two-story house for the neglected, originally founded by Dr. Mercedes Oliver, a philanthropist, prior to her trip to Myanmar to invite the SFX to come over and take charge.

It stands in communion with a formation house, a chapel, a nipa hut, a Way of the Cross, and the house that showcases Oliver’s memorabilia in a piece of land measuring over 1,500 square meters.

With two floors, the house can quarter 25 people, Emerita said.  Male elderly were its pioneer residents who were cared for by a group of “brothers.”

The Servites also had their share of running it for two-and-a-half years, said Sr. Venus Marie S. Pegar, SFX formation director. 

Her congregation took over in July 2002.

Only four nuns—three of them Myanmar nationals and one Filipina—are the caregivers to the 18 resident elderly.  They prepare their coffee; the elderly prefer coffee and bread over fried rice for breakfast.

After breakfast, the nuns bathe them, wash their used cloths, and mop the floors.

Eight of the 18 residents can still bathe  themselves and do their own laundry. Since they can still walk, they let their weaker companions occupy the first floor and climb the steps to the second to retire every night.

Students who undergo 100 hours of on-the-job training, which usually runs for about two weeks, provide the nuns with a breathing spell from their hard daily routine, Pegar said.

On Monday mornings, the residents bond for about an hour on Gospel-sharing together with the congregation’s aspirants, who are currently two young Filipinas.

The elderly recount the lives of the saints on Tuesdays.  Everyone is reminded to try to be like one and talk to her saint at night.

Wednesdays are working days. The seniors, particularly the still able, weave strips of old fabrics into rugs for their own use. In recent years, when they were not as old as they are today, they produced more.

On Thursdays they listen to meditation music. Fridays are for singing and dancing. But they watch wholesome and happy television shows every day after lunch.

The nuns do not eat until the residents are done with their meal.

The home is sustained through the financial assistance siphoned from the foundation that was purposely set up to provide neglected seniors with free shelter—the Mary Mother of Mercy Home for the Abandoned and Elderly Foundation.

The gate swings both wings  wide open to deserted seniors, regardless of religious affiliation, and folds them back close not to isolate them from the rest of the world, but to embrace them through the remaining years of their life.

Once the social welfare nods in approval, the nuns formally admit them into the community without questioning.

In the past, they took care of neglected elderly from other denominations, like Iglesia ni Cristo, born-again Christians and Seventh Day Adventists, Emerita said.

The residents are still fortunate, she added. They have a home, do not scavenge their food and are not filthy.  A volunteer doctor comes to check them.

One resident drinks half her cup of coffee on mornings and spares some of her bread for a visitor she expects to come and eat part of her breakfast.

This mother did lose her maternal instinct for her brood despite years of desertion by her own children.

Another spends hours each day staring at the gate earnestly, like expecting someone to come and take her home.

But no one is coming, Pegar said. The nuns don’t tell the residents they have been abandoned.

Petty quarrels happen when one takes another’s spoon or sits on her chair, Emerita said. But any row among the residents, most of whom enjoying a second childhood, does not last long. In a matter of minutes, they are friends again.

They sleep like children even with the loud clap of thunder during typhoons, Pegar said.

The residents seem to have stopped worrying  about earthly concerns, like dying. They have regressed to being children again.

Image Credits: Oliver Samson

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Oliver Samson covers cybersecurity for the Business Mirror as correspondent. He wrote for the Manila Standard and the Philippine Daily Inquirer as correspondent before joining this news outfit in 2013. He publishes Rapid Planet Slashers, a website on cockfighting.

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