My girlfriend's brother, Robert, who lived in Cebu, died of a massive heart attack a couple of days ago. He had visited a hospital earlier in the day. The doctors told him that he needed double bypass surgery.
Filipinos don't have health insurance. So, doctors and hospitals demand cash payment in advance of performing any procedure. Since Robert didn't have the cash to pay for the bypass, he was sent home. The extended family was in the process of gathering up the funds necessary to pay for the surgery when he died from that heart attack.
"He never would have been sent home from the hospital in the U.S.," my girlfriend said.
Filipino funeral customs are quite different from ours. The family parks the coffin in the front room or on the patio for a seven day wake before burial. Church and family members visit every night for dinner and to comfort the family. As you can see in the photo above, it is common for there to be a window in the closed coffin so that the family can view the deceased's face.
Filipinos in the U.S. constantly talk about retiring and dying back in the Philippines. One of the most important reasons is that your family will tend and visit your grave.
"Here in the U.S., they just throw you in the ground and forget about you," the girlfriend says.
Robert was only 66... my age.
I don't have a sermon to offer here. There are good and bad things about living in an over insured society, as opposed to living in a society in which nobody is insured.
On the plus side, Filipinos aren't litigious. People accept injury and death in accidents with a shrug and go on with their lives instead of engaging in a vendetta for money. Few people have the money to hire lawyers.
I'll be forgotten when I die. Nobody will come to pray over my grave. I don't know whether that matters. Filipinos think that it does. Then again, most Filipinos are seriously religious.