‘Hospiphobia’ is not in the dictionary, but…

By Herbert Vego

THE other day while driving into my garage, I noticed an elderly neighbor being lifted into a waiting ambulance marked “ICER” (Iloilo City Emergency Responder). He needed immediate hospitalization.

The night of the same day, he came back still in a horizontal position – too weak to stand up. He had not been admitted due to the “no room available” alibi that is no longer unusual today.

If I were to coin a word, it would be “hospiphobia” to define fear of hospitalization. Everybody knows of sick people today who rush to the hospital to get a life, only to come out “sicker” in both body and pocket.

I remember my own fight with a lingering hypertension that had shot up beyond 150/100 despite my usual medication. My better half took me to the nearest hospital.

Better to get in and out of the hospital alive, I thought, than to sleep eternally.

After what seemed like an hour of “interview” by a resident physician in the emergency room, an orderly came to wheel me to  a private room, where I swallowed three tablets and got tethered to a bag of dextrose. I prayed for fast healing so I could go home in the morning.

It did not turn out that way. On my third day, my doctor required me to undergo a cardiac scan known as “two-dimension echo”. It was my second “2D” in ten years.

The hospital is one place I would rather be spared. I had been there many times and found it inhospitable, always draining the money that had taken me months to perspire for.

On the brighter side, I have hit age 73. Not bad in our country where the average life span is 72 years. But I often look back reminiscing the proverbial good old days. It seemed only yesterday when I was young, struggling to be a successful journalist.

Well, as the saying goes, “been there, done that”. Moreover, being a septuagenarian has not stopped me from writing for a living. I must be luckier than the majority. According to King David, men who stay alive after age 70 enjoy “bonus” years: “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).

For me, a journalist has a “till death do us part” covenant with livelihood. Journalism is a lifetime career. After 53 straight years of professional writing — since 1970, if I may brag — why should I give up? I enjoy the company of younger colleagues. However, I need to be healthy to write well.

The vitamin ad “Bawal magkasakit” strikes at the core of the bitter reality that the average senior citizen dies poor in our country, partly because of expensive medicines and hospitalization. My late parents, both educators, had exhausted their retirement money while confined in several hospitals.

If I were working in the United States where my only son works, I would not worry. The US government would probably foot my medical and hospital bills.

I often check my memory by recalling the names of my classroom teachers. I always succeed in naming all my teachers in the elementary grades but not all in high school and college. That makes me wonder whether our earliest memories naturally fade last.

I still remember an incident with my late great grandfather Catalino. I was only three years old in 1953 when he took me for a ride on an airplane.

It turned out to be my earliest motivation to go places, literally.



I don’t see any logic in the position of a small consumer group in Negros Occidental opposing the joint venture agreement (JVA) between Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) and Primelectric Holdings, Inc. It is already a “given” that Ceneco is fast going bankrupt due to heavy operational losses – between 20 and 40 million pesos per month.

There is therefore a need for Ceneco consumers to ratify the JVA is a six-day plebiscite that has been postponed for 60 days after two days of voting.

Under the JVA, Primelectric will pay Ceneco 100 percent of its distribution assets, of which 70 percent will be in cash and 30 percent in shares in the new distribution company that will be put up through a congressional franchise.

A total of 21,674 member-consumers voted “yes” to the JVA during the first two days (June 24 and 25) of the plebiscite, while only 6,067 voted “no”.

The JVA will take effect once the majority (50 percent plus one) of 192,188 Ceneco’s consumer-members ratify it through a “yes” vote.

(CONTEXT: The turnout in the June 24-25 voting, however, is only 14 percent of the eligible voters then-Editor)

Incidentally, we heard Senator Grace Poe at the Senate floor lauding MORE Power (Primelectric’s sister company in Iloilo City) for setting an example of being “mas maayos ang serbisyo” to drum up her colleagues’ support for the bill to expand the territory of Davao Light and Power Co. (DLPC) from Davao City and suburbs to Tagum City, Samal City, Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro and Talaingod in Davao del Norte and Maco in Davao de Oro, which are still being served solely by the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative Inc. (Nordeco).