WHEN A CAREER WOMAN IS IMPRISONED
“No one can make you feel inferior
without your consent.”
Nanay Delada is one among the hundreds of female prisoners at the correctional facility for women in Mindanao. And she is also one among a handful of senior citizens serving time. What sets her apart from the rest of the population is her gait. She could barely walk and lift herself. She suffered two cerebrovascular disorders or stroke affecting the left side of her body, her speech slurred and even her eyesight literally damaged. She moves around propped up by her indulging fellow inmates and almost dragged because of her numbed and springy leg movements. She was convicted of parricide, almost classified as heinous since it’s a crime imputed for killing a member of one’s family. The offense carries a penalty of 15 years. She was 63 when her sentence was promulgated and if she would serve the full term, she would be released at the age of 78, assuming that her health condition would restore to her former vigor.
It is not much of a storied episode in prison that her life moved sparingly that makes it something for the books. It is just an ordinary chapter exactly lifted from any dramatic teleserye reflecting a plot which is common and yet too fictional to portray. Before Nanay Delada was incarcerated, she was a serious worker in Cagayan de Oro City, given a rank somewhat managerial as secretary to the top honcho of a successful private firm. She was the typical career woman in the modern sense. Her work and commitment to the mission of her company takes precedence over all matters—including that of her family. She must therefore dedicate herself on the job since this is needed in the maintenance of their homely affairs. After all, she has got a big brood to sustain—a fledging husband and 7 children. She must be a Vilma Santos, a star for all season to her family, not to mention the fact that she must also play the same role in her organization to uphold her sensitive position.
She must balance her schedule, but this is easier said than done. The reality is that her prime time is devoted to the company and what is left, and this for sure has nothing qualitative to offer, is for her family to consider. As she ascends the ladder of the organization, she descends on the personal estimation of her family. She would one day hear that two of her children have decided to move out and transfer to another residence in another city. Another followed and the rest went through similar path, most were able to leave the country and found job abroad without her blessings. The youngest would remain and the husband would have nothing to depend on except in the company of his peers. One pressure after another led to a series of misunderstanding in the family. She was no longer getting younger and the higher she rises in the company, the stress and anxieties she gets when at home. It would be repeated on days on end. It’s a cycle of squabbling, a serial on falling out and instantly a fuse on daily disagreement. Until she snapped.
She was not feeling well that day and must have to go home. As she alighted from a public transport adjacent her house, she noticed the gates splayed wide open, and on the inner side, several men lumped in her favorite furniture on a drinking spree. Everything was tupsy turvy. To top it all, she was aghast to see her husband, simply out of tune, singing and swinging while the youngest son accompanying him on guitar. The whole neighborhood was nonplussed and quite agitated because of the noise.
There was merriment all right, a contrast to her bad hair day. She was feeling embarrassed by this display of irresponsibility. She felt her blood pressure shot up, as she continuously hear the loud clattering and laughter. Her demeanor was slowly showing a form of disgust, her eyes gazing at her husband and then to those splayed around. She was quiet though but her facial expression says it all. She was a picture of objection. She showed it by clipping her lips and the contour of her eyebrows. She could not hold herself but control she did. She went straight inside the house, until she heard rushing footsteps behind her. She was boxed at the back for no reason at all. She could not turn around to check because there was another blow which rendered her rolling unto the muddied flooring. She went dizzy. She finally got hold of something metallic, a bolo strewn still embedded in left over of grilled chicken which was served as condiment for wine. She used it as support to lift herself up. She could not understand the shouting and the pandemonium. She could not make do with all the fuzz and the violence. Her being peeved was instantly replaced by shock. Everything turned hazy until she defensively swayed the cane and unluckily found its bladed side on the neck of the attacker, who it turns out to be her husband. He was disrespected and felt humiliated with her sudden appearance and serious entry. For a drunken fellow that means defiance. He leapt to confront the wife in a violent manner and things got messy. The gaiety of the day turned into horror. The redness of the occasion became purple and bloody. The neighborhood was transformed into a site of dreadfulness, the house changed into a theater of terror.
A police car, which was earlier tipped as a consequence of the blaring occasion, finally arrived. The neighborhood was up in arms, anticipating that the drinking spree might turn violent as it was previously. It indeed came true. The police came instantly as if on cue and there it was in front of them, a bloodied man splayed on the floor, a youthful lad hugging the victim, crying and cursing, and over in the further side near the sink, an old lady, dirt all over, and bolo still on her hand. A rookie police officer moved swiftly and inquired from the lady where the culprit was and if she still could identify the person. There was silence and she could feel her knees giving in. There was no more energy for her that day. It was a nightmare she could not shake off. She could feel her weight and eyesight dimming. Until she heard a wild scream. It was her son’s voice wailing. A police cordon was made while a group of by-standers wrapped the bloodied man onto a makeshift stretcher for emergency evacuation.
The police milled around the lad as the youth unabashedly howled and pointed at his mother as the assailant. The shrieking voice and widened eyes, indicating distance from her mother, indicating contempt at her absence in the house, indicating that she was bereft of concern for her loved ones, assailing the woman as the very person who whipped the old man. Like cornering a newly caught prey, the police immediately drew their firearms, aimed it at the woman, instructing her to throw the weapon and to raise both her hands. She could not fathom what was happening that day, until she came to realize, while inside the precinct that indeed she was the one who killed her husband. She was booked and kept in jail during the duration of the trial.
It took only a few dates for the hearing. Much as she wanted to stand and defend herself, the sight of her son as the very complainant, the very witness positively identifying her as the culprit, melted her resolve to seek the fairer side of justice. She pleaded and admitted although deep in her heart, it was only an accident. Although deep in her heart, the merriment she saw, a depressive sight to behold was already an accident waiting to happen. And deeper in her heart, she could not even believe that she would even figure out as a major player in said accident. But the career woman in her, the almost iron hearted, a cold calculating lady as she is, inured in pressures and tension, still would accept with grace her appointment with destiny, notwithstanding the fact that it was not what she bargained for.
She dedicated her youth to support her family. Ignored the pleasure of staying and playing with her kids at home. Painful as it were outside her home and family, she persevered to give them everything they need. She must work for them even if her heart is denied of their presence. Worst, her brood would never know her up close. The distance of one’s career with that of family is indeed a world apart. It is the distance between make and break. A distance so distraught as to even spell the difference between innocence and guilt.
Nanay Delada was finally convicted and as a result, her health would subsequently disintegrate. Age and sorrow combined to extirpate whatever remains in her poise and bearing as a former career woman. As she was about to start her day as a convict, her blood pressure rose and she collapsed for exhaustion. She suffered a massive stroke but was immediately attended to. As she was about to be shipped to the penitentiary, the Calvary or mountain of skull for offenders, she heard that her children finally met and were convinced that indeed she merits no mercy at all from them. Hearing this, she again suffered her second stroke. She woke up eventually from such a heart ache, her body already a mere shadow of her former plump and elegance. She knew that she would serve time for more than a decade, spending her senile years in prison, and like a career person, all by herself, but this time, without even the concern of the very people she committed herself to work and sacrifice for.
P/Supt IV Venancio J. Tesoro
July 30, 2010