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Posted on August 8, 2012

Alice Batuhan: A Pinay Daughter's Enduring Love

Pinays are the glue in the close-knit Filipino family. Read Amy's heartfelt story about her sister Alice's devotion to their Nanay.

Pinays are the glue in the close-knit Filipino family. Read Amy's heartfelt story about her sister Alice's devotion to their Nanay.

In the Filipino household, every member is cherished and valued, particularly the elderly. Amy Batuhan shares with us the poignant story of her sister Alice's daughterly dedication and patience in taking care of their Nanay, a story that many Pinays everywhere can relate with.

I am Pinay and Proud because we are a race that takes care of our elderly. While most people in the western world entrust their parents to another person’s care, we Pinays choose to take care of our parents in their twilight days.

One such extraordinary Pinay in my life is my sister, Alice Batuhan.  Our mother is suffering from dementia.  She started showing signs in 1999 and to this date she is deteriorating.  This is expected of every person suffering from this disease.  While I personally find this disease so unfair, our family has no choice but to deal with it. 

I witnessed the early stages of this disease since only the two of us were living together at that time. She was still capable of taking care of herself then although she was very forgetful. I have since learned to live with that. I witnessed how she once suspected my sister-in-law of taking things from our home. How she would misplace her money and think that my nephews were the culprit. I tried to explain things to her but she just didn't listen. Many times I lost my temper because she didn't want to believe in anything I said.  Looking back, I realize that those were pretty easy stuff compared to what is happening today.

Today, the disease has progressed.   

My sister Alice was thrust into the task of taking care of her.  I witnessed her difficulties of being a caregiver. My mother can’t take care of herself anymore. She has to be assisted with everything – eating, taking a bath, peeing and all the usual personal stuff that we do. Even standing up and walking is a struggle for her. There are times when my mother is just too stubborn that she will not follow simple requests. At other times she is just angry at us – shouting and cursing.  Time and again, I would lose my temper at her. 

But Ate Alice would just laugh at the two of us. I witnessed how my Ate treated her well.  I must admit she has her own share of frustrations and disappointments of being a caregiver at times but she can quickly snap out of it. She will just faithfully fulfill her duties and take care of our mother.  This stressful task is taking a toll on my sister's frail body.  She rarely completes a good night’s sleep as any slight movement by Nanay will wake her up even in the middle of the night. It is as if she has a baby of her own! I am just so thankful to God for her. I can't imagine our life without her. I can’t think of anyone else who could have the kind of love she has for Nanay. 

This dreadful disease wipes out your memories. If there’s any consolation, my Nanay has not forgotten me and Ate Alice. All her other children may have slipped her mind because of her condition, but she still remembers me and Ate, our names and who we are in her life.


In photos: Amy and her sister Alice with their beloved Nanay

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