Lorna on The Buzz: ‘I was helpless while Daboy was in pain, dying’

“Nung 6 o’clock siguro… pinakamasakit na ungol na narinig ko sa kanya, na pinakamasakit siguro na din para sa akin, dahil alam ko na yun yung hirap na hirap siya pero wala kang magawa.

“Siguro yun yung pinakamasakit na makikita mo, na pag mahal mo yung tao gusto mo parang ibigay na lang sa iyo di ba lahat? Wala na eh, wala kang magawa. Yung wala kang magawa, yun yung masakit.”

(Around six in the morning I heard the most painful groan I ever heard from him. It was most painful for me as well, because I could see how much he was suffering but I could not do anything for him. I think that’s the most painful experience: to watch helplessly as your loved one suffers excruciating pain. If possible, you want him to just give it all to you instead. But you’re helpless. There’s nothing more you can do. It’s that helplessness–that hurts you the most.)

And so actress Lorna Tolentino described her final moments with husband Rudy Fernandez, the beloved showbiz figure and action star who passed away Saturday after two years of battling periampullary cancer.

In an interview on The Buzz on Sunday, Lorna gave her first full-length interview to The Buzz host Cristy Fermin. Viewers thus had a glimpse into the very painful, very personal journey Lorna is going through in accepting life without Fernandez, her husband of 25 years.

Considering that her husband passed away less than 48 hours before the interview, The Buzz viewers also caught a glimpse of how courageous and how strong a person she is–she gave the interview without once breaking down and losing her composure, although there were moments when her voice wavered and a few tears fell.

Secret tears

Lorna said that Rudy (fondly known by his nickname, “Daboy”) kept on reminder her throughout their ordeal that she shouldn’t cry.

This request was really not unusual, since Rudy is known as a happy, cheerful and affectionate person who was always smiling, chuckling (it’s amazing how in nearly all the video clips being shown on TV, the actor is always all smiles, shaking hands with friends, hugging them, etc.) and making others feel good.

Lorna said that it was her Daboy’s positive, happy personality that gave her strength as she watched illness slowly destroy his body and finally, take him away.

“Siyempre unang-una sa Panginoon. Pero ang pangalawa na mas nalalapitan ko, siya. Siya nalalapitan naming lahat. Siya nagbibigay ng pag-asa, yung courage na harapin kung ano man itong laban na nilalabanan niya,” she said.

(Of course, first of all the Lord was helping me. But in close second was him. He was the one whom we went to if we needed anything. He gave us hope, the courage to face the battle.)

She added that Daboy never got tired of reminding her not to cry, because he never likes to see those around him sad or in tears.

“Madalas pagka meron siyang gustong sabihin sa akin, sasabihin niya agad ‘Huwag kang iiyak’,” she said.

And so whenever the urge to weep over her husband’s suffering became too overwhelming, Lorna would go to the bathroom or some other place where she could unburden herself in secret.

She said that she wept constantly whenever she was taking a shower. It was the only way for her to release her pain without letting Daboy know.


There were two occasions, however, when Lorna did break down in front of Daboy. First was at the hospital, when his lungs were dangerously filling up with fluids. Doctor’s told her that if the fluid build-up became too much, they would have to cut a hole into Daboy in order to shunt and drain the excess fluids out. They wanter her permission to undertake the procedure if or when needed.

Since at the time Daboy was still able to communicate and think clearly, Lorna told physicians that she would much rather discuss it with him first. Daboy at first did not want any such procedure done, believing it would prolong everyone’s suffering.

“There was ano kasi, sumobra yung, hay, mahirap mag-rewind. Ano, pero, um, kasi itong incident na sinasabi mo, this was the incident na nag-breakdown talaga ako sa kanya,” Lorna began, recalling the moment to Fermin.

“It was the only time na talagan umiyak ako ng husto sa kanya; na nakikiusap ako nung time na yon dahil yun yung sinabi niya. Dahil nagkaroon siya ng congestion sa lungs sa dami ng fluids na dumaan sa kanya.

“And then um sabi niya ayaw daw niya. ‘Kasi may tanong ang mga doctor, tanong sa akin at tanong sa yo: Kung sakali mang masyado nang nahihirapan ang lungs mo, bubutasan ka’.

“Tapos ang sagot niya sa akin, wag na. Hindi niya gusto na mabubuhay siya sa ganung paraan. Mahihirapan pa daw kami lalo ng husto and then yun yung time na nag-breakdown ako. Sinabi ko sa kanya, ‘Huwag namang ganyan. Sabi ko, ‘Huwag mo namang gawin sa amin to’.

“Siyempre ang gusto ko ay yun talagang kung, kumbaga may paraan pa, diba? Ganun siguro talaga kapag–alam naman natin sigurong lahat–pag mahal mo, hanggang sa huling-hulinig sandali… hindi mo gustong mawala sa yo. Lahat gagawin mo,” she said.

After Lorna cried and begged Daboy to agree to the procedure if it would help keep him alive even for just a bit longer, he relented.

“Niyakap niya ako, ‘O sige na nga, basta wag ka nang umiyak’. Pinagbigyan niya ako dahil umiyak lang ako,” she said.

When Daboy recovered however, and it was obvious that the shunting of fluids from his lungs would no longer be necessary, he talked to Lorna again to explain why he didn’t want any extraordinary means done to prolong his life.

Daboy’s explanation was consistent with how he conducted his relationships–he didn’t want to burden others and give them added hardships. He didn’t want to burden Lorna and the family with a broken-down body that needed extraordinary care.

“Pero kinabukasan, after two to three days siguro na naging okay na, alam namin pareho na hindi na aabot doon, in-explain niya sa akin; kung bakit niya mas nanaisin na wag nang ipagpatuloy pa yung buhay niya sa ganoong paraan. Dahil lahat daw mahihirapan,” he said.

The second time Lorna broke down in front of Daboy was when his veins collapsed during a transfusion. She was afraid that he was going to die right then and there.

“Medyo mas lumayo ako ng konti. nakaupo ako dun sa may sofa na nakataas ang mga paa ko; kasi wala na akong pakiramdam nung mga panahong yon. Parang hindi ko na kayang itayo. Nakikita ko na lang yung doktor na ginagawan ng paraan.

“Alam ko nag-collapse na yung mga veins niya. Hindi na talaga tumutulo yung ah dugo na binibigay sa kanya… Noong first unit noon, pumasok pa sa pinaka-portacut niya. Pero yung second one ayaw na, hindi na tinatanggap.

“So yun, yung talagang hindi ko na nakayanan talagang pinipigil ko na huwag umiyak, pero yun yata yung pinakamasakit na pigilin mo,” said Lorna saying that she cried out loud when she saw that the second blood transfusion was no longer getting to Rudy.

“Talagang nadinig niya kung gaano kasakit na yung iyak ko, tinawag niya ako, ‘Mama, mama’ yon,” she said. In that instance, it was Daboy again who reassured her that he was still all right.

Last words

Lorna said that she and Daboy were still able to say “I love you” to each other right up to the moment he breathed his last.

“Nasabi ko sa kanya at nasabi rin niya sa akin. Ang hirap na hirap na siya magsalita nung madaling araw na yon… sinabi ko sa kanya, sinabi ko ‘I love you, babe’; sabi ko, ‘I love you

“He tried his best, actually naka-lift yung ah face niya… pag kasi, ah, hirap ka na, hindi ka na masyadong makasalita… yung tongue mo medyo parang umuurong… He really tried his best to say and to respond to me, and he said ‘I love you’.”

Lorna said that up to the end, she knew and felt that she was the only person in Daboy’s heart and she in his.

“Basta’t ang alam ko, ah, ako yung tao na nasa puso niya. Ako yung taong minahal niya na sinasabi nga niya, ‘Ikaw ang nasa puso ko most of the time, and, uh, yun din siguro ang pwede kong , at alam niya sa puso niya na siguro…

“Ah, maraming pagkakataon na may nangyayari sa buhay ng mag-asawa na dadaanan kayo, pero sa huli, sa huling sandali, alam namin pareho na nasa puso namin ang bawat isa,” she said.

(I know that I’m the one in his heart. I”m the person he loved… As husband and wife we went through so many challenges together in life, but in the end, at the very last moment, we both knew that we are always in each other’s hearts.)

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