Representative Escudero never complained… until last SundayBy Gil C. Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III was not one to complain about using a wheelchair or losing his appetite for food even after being diagnosed with cancer two years ago.
Until Sunday morning, when the former agriculture technocrat and public education stalwart whispered to his wife of 47 years, the former Evelina Guevarra, “Mommy, pagod na ako [I’m already tired].”
Less than 24 hours later, Congress lost the man whose wit and cherubic smile had lit up the House of Representatives since the 1980s. Escudero died four months before his 70th birthday.
“It took all of us by surprise,” said Bernadette Escudero-Quirante, the youngest of Escudero’s three children (the others are Philip and Sen. Francis Escudero).
“My father never whined about his pain or how difficult it was for him to continue living normally. We knew he had cancer, but we never talked about it because he said that was the way he wanted it to be,” she said.
The family had to make preparations for the funeral on the fly on Monday, as Escudero never told his wife or children his wishes. “Tatay did not want to talk about death. Kaya wala syang bilin (That’s why he had no last instructions),” Quirante said.
Quirante said she and her family really felt that her father was on his way to recovery as he continued with his work in the House and even visited his hometown a few months ago.
She said her father was in relatively high spirits until June this year when he was told that his youngest sister had also been diagnosed with cancer.
“He took it hard that his sister’s life was at an end,” she said. “He fell into a depression and I think that made his own illness worse. He lost his appetite. There was sadness all over him.”
His last day
On the last day of his life, Escudero and his family were gathered at their modest home in Quezon City for their weekly Sunday Mass gathering. “I noticed that he just sat in his wheelchair throughout the Mass, unlike before when he’d make an effort to stand and join the celebration. That night, he just sat there,” Quirante said.
Escudero did not join his family for dinner but he called his grandchildren to join him at the main table.
“He did not say anything,” Quirante said. “He just looked at all of us. He was really weak at that point.”
Escudero was never fond of seeing a doctor and he did not want to go back to the hospital that night, she said.
Escudero had dinner at midnight before he was tucked in bed by his nurse. “He slept on the ground floor where he had been staying for the last two weeks,” Quirante said. “My mommy told me that Tatay was probably preparing her to get used to sleeping alone at their second-floor bedroom. He was really like that.”
Escudero died at 3:30 a.m.