CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- He died and came back to life. But after three hours, he died again.
According to Hilario and Filomena Tapnio, this happened to their 39-year-old cancer-stricken son Alberto, in a span of four hours, which included a brief encounter with healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez.
The Tapnio couple said the first time Alberto died was when he slumped in his wheelchair as Suarez was giving his homily during the 10 a.m. healing Mass on Monday at the Lakeshore Estate in Mexico, Pampanga.
Dr. Maria Theresa Velasquez said Alberto was already dead when medics from the Pampanga Disaster Coordinating Council brought him to the emergency room of the Mt. Carmel Medical Center here at 11:40 a.m.
?He was DOA (dead on arrival),? Velasquez, the attending physician, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.
?He had zero-zero vital signs. No cardiac or respiratory activity at all,? said Dr. Rogelio Magat, acting medical administrative officer, citing medical records.
Fr. Nap Baltazar earlier told the Inquirer that after he whispered to Suarez that Alberto had died, the healing priest made the sign of the cross in the air in the direction of the man who was then being borne on a stretcher.
In the hospital emergency room, Velasquez said the doctors administered a series of electric shocks to Alberto?s heart to make it start pumping. His heart resumed beating shortly before noon, she said.
The family decided to take him home ?against medical advice,? said Velasquez. He was not brought back to the healing Mass, as reported Tuesday by the Inquirer.
Velasquez and a male nurse accompanied Alberto home to the Bulaon resettlement.
He lived for another three hours and died again at 3 p.m., his death certificate showed.
Extension, not a miracle
Although organizers of the healing Mass were quick to announce that Alberto?s revival was a result of Suarez?s blessing from a distance, Hilario did not call his son?s last four hours a miracle.
?He got a short extension on life and left this world happy because he saw and heard Father Suarez,? he said.
Alberto, an automotive mechanic who became a tailor so he could work in South Korea, left a 14-year-old son. His wife died of cancer of the pancreas four years ago.
At the wake Tuesday, Hilario and Filomena told the Inquirer that their son died happy.
?Masaya ya pangamate. Eya malulam a lupa. Dimdan na ing bendisyon ng Father Suarez. At tinggap na (He had a happy death. His face was not sad. He heard the blessing of Father Suarez. And he received it),? Hilario said.
Filomena said her son, who had colon cancer, was given six months to live. ?He?s had eight months. [He] really wanted to die in the presence of Father Suarez,? she recalled Alberto saying in early January.
Alberto, the second child in a brood of 10, insisted on going to the Jan. 28 healing Mass because he had missed seeing or being touched by Suarez in Batangas City on the first Sunday of January.
He and brother-in-law Alex traveled by bus to Batangas but arrived late. ?He was so sad he missed his chance,? Alex said.
Determined to hear the message of Suarez and be touched by him, Alberto asked his father to take him to the Lakeshore Estate a day before the Jan. 28 event.
He arrived at 6 p.m. and slept inside a tent. Early the next day, he started queuing in the area reserved for wheelchair-bound patients, Hilario said.
?During the Mass, Alberto smiled when he heard Father Suarez say: ?You who have flocked here are now blessed by God,?? Hilario continued.
A few minutes after that, Hilario saw his son slump in his wheelchair.
Tuesday, Suarez celebrated a healing Mass at the Guagua National Colleges in Guagua town, drawing some 8,000 sick people, according to Norma Cabrera of the Immaculate Concepcion Foundation, which organized the event.
Cabrera said Msgr. Cenovio Lumanog, the parish priest, gave his consent to the foundation to hold the event.
No healing today
A prelate in Bulacan, however, was not as welcoming.
The committee handling Suarez?s schedule has decided to call off the session scheduled Wednesday in Sta. Rita, Bulacan, following the complaint of the area?s bishop.
Lourdes ?Deedee? Siytangco, one of the members of the core group organizing Suarez?s healing activities, told the Inquirer that the committee would hold off all healing sessions in Bulacan ?until the issue is resolved and the bishop [gives his approval].?
Suarez?s healing activities are done in good faith, according to Siytangco, but if the Malolos bishop disapproves, it might be best not to continue.
Clarifying that Suarez?s organizers do not solicit money for the healing Masses, she maintained that the responsibility to fix problems of protocol in the conduct of the healing sessions lie with the parish priests who invite Suarez to their community.
?If the bishop is not informed then it is the fault of the parish priests [who invited us],? Siytangco said.
She explained that Suarez did not have a direct hand in his schedules and that various communities write him to request for the healing Masses.
Paz Monteclaro, who heads the group handling Suarez?s activities, just informs Suarez where to go, Siytangco said. The organizing committee presumes that the necessary permits in the diocese have already been arranged.
Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros, speaking at a press conference on Monday, questioned Suarez?s healing activities that were conducted without permission from the bishops.
Oliveros said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the congregations of the Roman Curia in the Vatican, instructs that Church-related ministries like a public healing and prayer sessions should be conducted with the explicit permission of bishops.
Oliveros said Suarez had conducted two healing sessions in his diocese without asking for his explicit permission for the activities.
Siytangco said Suarez?s group did not encounter any problem in other dioceses. She said they had conducted healing Masses in Davao, Cebu, Bacolod, Batangas, Metro Manila and Rizal.