Dr. Marcelo “Mar” Jaochico died on March 24 after fighting COVID-19, but his daughter Cielo wants everyone to remember him as more than just a victim of the coronavirus. Because he was so much more.
Dr. Jaochico, the provincial health chief of Pampanga and a doctor for over three decades, spent 16 years as a doctor to the barrio of Calanasan in Apayao. He served as the townsfolk’s obstetrician, pediatrician and family doctor.
Cielo, a 21-year-old nurse, recalled one of the stories her father shared with her about his work there. “Nagpapaanak siya. When the baby came out, it wasn’t crying and it was cyanotic (bluish ang skin color). Since nasa bundok sila at walang mga equipment, ang ginawa niya noon ay hinigop niya ’yung mga secretions sa ilong at bibig nung bata. The child cried pagtapos and was able to live.”
Her father learned to take care of people’s health with limited resources, Cielo shared on Facebook. “They battled dengue, malaria and different outbreaks in their munting munisipyo.”
Dr. Jaochico, who came from humble beginnings, studied zoology at the University of Santo Tomas, medicine at Angeles University Foundation and hospital administration at the University of the Philippines College of Public Health, thanks to a scholarship. He graduated cum laude from his master’s program. He received multiple accolades and awards throughout his life, one of which was the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Award.
“He juggled being a resident at Manila Medical Center and teaching as a substitute instructor in Emilio Aguinaldo College to make ends meet,” Cielo wrote.
Dr. Jaochico headed the Kapampangan Medical Team in assisting those who were affected by the recent Taal eruption. Cielo wrote, “He stayed there for a week. Halos walang ligo, walang tubig at matanda na rin siya. Hindi mabuti ang volcanic ash para sa kanya pero kabilang siya sa mga nag-stay at tumulong sa mga refugees sa Batangas Provincial Sports Complex. He, together with other physicians, nurses and volunteers, helped 3,952 Batangueños.”
Doctor of public health
Cielo started telling people on social media about her father while he was in isolation at the hospital, battling the virus. She said she noticed that “’pag wala na yung tao, saka lang siya mas hino-honor ng iba, sinasabihan ng mga mabubuting salita or they talk about how great that person was when he or she was still alive. I wish people would show each other appreciation habang nabubuhay pa ’yung isang tao so I decided to make an album about my dad and his journey as a doctor of public health here in the country.”
Her father’s selflessness and her mother Rose Anne Dabban’s career in nursing inspired her own love for community health nursing, she said.
She expressed hope that he would recover soon so that he could read everything she had written about him. “Magpagaling ka pa dad so you can read this. I’m sure marami pa akong hindi nasulat dito, and it dawned on me gaano kalimitado ang mga alam ko tungkol sa iyo… Fight so you can be the one to tell your stories. Fight dahil nag-uumpisa pa lang ang laban ng mga front-liners against this pandemic. Your people need you. We need you.”
But Dr. Jaochico lost the fight.
Cielo wrote, “Oh to receive such news in isolation where you can’t even hug your loved ones. Mahal na mahal kita, Daddy. You deserve better than this… Deserve mo magkaroon ng lamay at ng libing where all of your loved ones are there.”
Cielo, who just graduated and started working a year ago, lamented the fact that she didn’t get the chance to spoil her father like she wanted.
She asked those who knew her father to tell them about their memories with him. “’Di po kami magkakaroon ng maayos na lamay sa ngayon. Masakit sa puso we won’t be hearing eulogies from his friends. Please share [with] us stories about your time with him.”
Cielo is currently in isolation at Dr. Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital, the same hospital where her father had been confined.
She has a message for everyone: “You will never be prepared for your parent’s death… Nagmamakaawa akong sabihin niyo na sa mga magulang niyo ngayon kung gaano niyo sila kamahal. We are fools to think of time as a luxury. Tell your parents you love them and tell them now.”