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MARTIN HALUM PASSES AWAY

            After having been bedridden in painful agony for a year and a half, Mr. Martin Gaylon Halum finally succumbed to lung cancer on August 11, 2004 at the family residence in New Jersey, USA.  At his bedside were his loving wife, the former Marietta Moraleda of Sorsogon City and their children, Marissa, 26 and Martin II, 24.

            His remains were brought home to Bulusan on August 20 and were interred at the Halum family mausoleum the following day at 12:00 noon.

            Earlier at 9:00 A.M., a concelebrated mass and necrological service were held at the St. James Parish Church before a big crowd of family members, close relatives and friends, former classmates, and symphatizers who were all so saddened by his untimely demise.  Among the speakers who spoke highly of him were his former classmates at the seminary.

            But what touched most the hearts of those who attended the funeral rites was the letter of the late Mr. Halum himself which was read by a sister-in-law.  In the letter, he related all the sufferings and mental torture he endured from the time his illness was detected until his dying moments.

            It was after his vacation in Bulusan with wife Marietta sometime last year that he was diagnosed in the US to have a lung cancer in the fourth stage.

            The whole family who loved him so much tried hard to save him from the dreaded disease by getting the services of known specialists in the said country but they were only able to prolong his life until finally the end came to him at age 66.

            This very kind-hearted, humble, and mild-mannered gentleman was well loved by those who know him.  In fact, upon knowing of his physical condition, many prayed fervently for his recovery.  Despite his high social stature being the son of a prominent couple, the late Don Ramon Halum, Sr. and Doña Salvacion Gaylon of Barangay Dancalan, his humility was beyond question.  He had a soft spot in his heart for the poor.  In fact, he had planned to continue helping uplift the living conditions of the indigents upon his retirement.

            A few years back, he met with his childhood friend, former classmate and Igsoon Elio Fuentes at the Philippine Village Hotel in Parañaque City.  He was then to depart for the US the following day after attending the burial of his late brother Pacien in Bulusan.  In their conversation, Mr. Halum signified his desire to sponsor a scholar in college through the scholarship program of Damayan-Buluseño, Inc.

            Last March, his scholar, Salvacion Gardon, graduated in Education from the Bicol University.  Last June, just two months before his death, his scholar started teaching at the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Bulusan.

            He wanted to sponsor more scholars from poor families so that Bulusan could have more professionals but all his dreams were cut short in a very painful way by the treacherous disease.

            For the readers to feel and understand how it is to be afflicted with cancer, here is the full text of Mr. Martin Halum’s letter:

 

            In the past, I saw a few people suffering from cancer.  Some acquaintances, a friend here and there, no family member though, except my wife’s, and I thought I knew how much they suffered.  I was wrong… what cancer does to you is more than what it is cracked up to be.  Before it takes your life, it has already taken away your living.  It robs you of your very being and replaces it with a nightmare of endless pains and deep anguish. I see cancer with my own eyes each morning as I face the mirror.  Even now, I cannot believe what I see – what is here and now: a pitiful shadow of what I was a mere year and a half ago.

            Pain, the one that foreshadows the finality of life, is beyond words and so personal. It is yours and no matter how much love and devotion from people around you, it’s yours alone.  It keeps you from sleep, and when exhaustion takes over, sleep is never serene or relaxing.  [The pain] is there from the time you awaken and accompanies you through the long hours of the morning, afternoon and evening.  There’s no hiding from its relentless and degrading onslaughts.

            For it has reduced me to no more than a moving mass of tissues unable to even feed itself.  Gone is the proud strength of being a man, a husband, a father, perhaps a human being.  I cannot drive, cannot go anywhere without a companion even to the toilet.  Cannot move around without help.  My wife…she has practically given up her dental practice; my daughter and son…they had to go through very challenging academic years with my situation weighing on them; Tini, my son, even suggesting that he take off from medical school so he could help in my care.  I have become a burden to the very people I committed my life to support and protect.

            As bad as the physical suffering is, it is not the gut-wrenching and heart-breaking torment of my soul. Life was good, very good before all of this.  I took [forced into] an early retirement.  Happily, it turned out.  I worked hard for so long – while Marietta went through dental school and our two children through college – and the hard work was just beginning to bear fruit in the success of my wife’s practice and the accomplishments of our two children.  The pride and joy of my life who were going on to doctoral programs in health care.  I could not have dreamt of a more blessed fortune.  It was a time full of promise—graduations, family get-togethers, then perhaps weddings, and finally grandchildren, baptisms, holy communions…they were all within sight, when this cruel monster struck and cut me down and all of my dreams, yearnings, hopes and happiness came crashing down.

            Last week, the results of the last MRI of my brain finally came in after 6 weeks of waiting and the doctor said in so many words that there was nothing else really that can be done for me. We did not want to break the news to my son who was preparing for board exams and to my daughter who was actually taking her boards, not as yet anyway.  But they knew, and I know they knew because I heard Tini sobbing in his room last night…Tini – the wholesome, young man who embodies my ambitions in life, my golf-buddy, my friend…I now won’t see him in his doctor’s garb.  Marissa – my beloved and precious one who has grown up to be a source of pride, following the footsteps of her mother.  And my wife who is loved and loves a hundred more times back in return – these are my greatest losses and it just breaks my heart to think that I have been robbed of years of sharing, of caring, of just being with them.

 

Vol. XVI No.4 (August  - September 2004)

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