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  • Daughter Pays Tribute To Physician Dad Who Lost The Battle To COVID-19: 'He's My Hero'

    She wants people to remember him for his good deeds, not as a victim of the dreaded disease.
    by Kitty Elicay .
  • As doctors fight to save patients from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), they are also at risk of getting the virus. In the Philippines, 17 doctors have succumbed to the disease, according to the Philippine Medical Association. One of them is Dr. Marcelo Jaochico, the provincial health chief of Pampanga and a former Doctor to the Barrios.

    On March 24, 2020, Dr. Jaochico’s daughter, Cielo Jaochico, confirmed her father’s death through a Facebook post.

    “You will never be prepared for your parent’s death,” she writes. “Nagmamakaawa akong sabihin ninyo na sa mga magulang ninyo ngayon kung gaano ninyo sila kamahal… We are fools to think of time as a luxury. Tell your parents you love them and tell them now.”

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    In a series of posts, Cielo writes that Dr. Jaochico’s symptoms started with a fever on March 11, 2020. “During the subsequent days, he experienced loss of appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, and shortness of breath,” she writes. He was admitted to the hospital and was tested for COVID-19 on March 16.

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    Cielo says they got Dr. Jaochico’s test results after 7 days, on the day he passed away. “At least ‘di siya naunang pumanaw bago dumating ang diagnosis po niya,” she wrote.

    In another post, Cielo asked all those who knew her dad to remember him for his good deeds, and not as a victim of COVID-19. “When you speak of him, please speak only of good words. Please do not remember him as someone just died because of COVID-19. Sobrang dami niyang ginawa para sa bayan,” she wrote. “Please pray for his soul. Please pray for the souls of those who are still fighting.”

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    Doctor to the barrios

    In a separate Facebook post, Cielo detailed her father’s achievements in a photo album, naming it, “My Modern Day Hero.” According to her, Dr. Jaochico, in his early days, became the all-around doctor of Calanasan, Apayao: “Their obstetrician, pediatrician, family doctor… Naging Municipal Health Officer din siya,” wrote Cielo.

    During that time, Dr. Jaochico was able to care for his patients in the barrio even with a lack of equipment and resources. “They battled dengue, malaria, and different outbreaks in their munting munisipyo,” Cielo shares, adding that her father stayed in his post for 16 years. “Ganoon talaga ‘pag mahal mo ‘yung ginagawa mo.”

    While he worked as a doctor in Calanasan, Dr. Jaochico received various awards, most notably the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Award. Unfortunately, many of his certificates and awards during his prime years got burned in a house fire.

    "I know his heart is in the right place because he has always served the people.”

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    After his time in Calanasan, Dr. Jaochico transferred back to Manila so he can be with his family. He worked for the Department of Health in the Bureau of Local Health Systems and Development for a few years, before becoming a provincial health officer for Pampanga in 2013.

    There, Cielo says her father fought for his people. “Na maging pantay at level-headed ang pagsingil sa mga diagnostic tests sa mga ospital na nasasakupan niya (lalo na noong nagka-dengue at measles outbreak). Maliban doon, active din siya sap ag-reach out sa mga far-flung and indigent communities ng Pampanga. ‘Pag may nagpapareseta sa kanya, ‘di siya naniningil.”

    She adds, “Marami siyang mga nakaka-clash na mga tao, but I know his heart is in the right place because he has always served the people.”

    Cielo says she hopes to be as selfless as her father, who even became a frontliner in Tacloban, Leyte, when Typhoon Yolanda struck the province. Most recently, he was also part of the Kapampangan medical team who went to assist refugees in Batangas during the Taal eruption in January 2020. “He, together with other physicians, nurses and volunteers, helped 3,952 Batangueños,” Cielo wrote.

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    ‘My modern day bayani’

    Cielo, who curated the photos before her father passed away, was inspired to share Dr. Jaochico’s story because so many people attested to her father’s kindness and achievements. “Pinili mong mag-serbisyo sa mga tao higit pa sa kalahati ng buhay mo kaya sobrang paborito ko rin ang community health nursing,” Cielo wrote.

    “I love you. You are my modern day bayani,” she said.

    In her post announcing her father’s death, Cielo shares that though their family was unable to be with Dr. Jaochico in his final moments, he was with another family: his fellow frontliners.

    “Yes, he died without his loved ones, but the other frontliners who were with him during his final moments never left him by his side,” she wrote. “Maraming salamat sa mga medical staff na nag-alaga at pinilit na lumaban with him sa Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital. Maraming salamat din sa nag-handle sa yumao niyang katawan with the outmost care you all can muster. You really never made him feel alone.”

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    Our frontliners are at risk of getting COVID-19 due to a shortage of personal protective equipment. Click here for ways you can help them and here to remember another doctor who sacrificed his life to save patients.

    For more stories on COVID-19, click here.

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