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The tragic journey of former Cebu City judge (Conclusion)

Former Cebu Judge Rosabella Mondragon-Tormis with her lovely daughters.

Sometime in 2007, following her indefinite suspension along with three other judges, Tormis tried to fight off by filing a motion for reconsideration. She cited the lack of due process, pointing out the many legal flaws in the way it was implemented. She was resigned to the fact that it was the Supreme Court she was up against and it was supreme in everything, injustice included. She decided to use her visa and travelled to the US purposely to seek a job to finance their daily needs. Some of her children were still in school and she couldn’t wait indefinitely for the suspension to be lifted. 


The trouble with being sanctioned by the Supreme Court is that she was suddenly left destitute and penniless so she did not think twice, but decided to leave home for a while and find ways to earn money. The airline ticket was provided for free by a friend. In the States she stayed with her sister-in-law for a few days while hunting for a job.


Then she managed to get a job as a caregiver for an elderly Irish woman at her residence in New York. The 83-something woman was suffering from an advanced Alzheimer’s disease and had a string of other ailments – diabetes, hypertension, the kind that would prey on old people.


She was a temperamental old lady, typical of an Irish and having studied in a school ran by Irish nuns. Her job was to give her a warm bath in the evening, change her diapers, put on her nightclothes, and put her to bed. It was quite a heavy job considering that the old woman was of a heavy build. 


She had to constantly check on her blood sugar and her blood pressure so that she would know what medicines to give and whether she would have to inject Insulin on her stomach or on the thigh. Whenever the old woman would have a tantrum, she would try to calm her by singing Irish folk songs which she learned in her elementary days and soon she would be singing along with her. Other times, she would ask the old woman to pray the Rosary with her. Her family was a devout Catholic and there was even a plaque awarded by the Vatican to them which hung on their wall, bearing the signature of Pope John Paul II.


Tormis would work/stay as caregiver for Mrs. Keegan from Fridays to Mondays and from Tuesdays to Fridays morning. She would go to her second employer also in New York. Her second employer was a young couple probably of Middle East descent – the Nahases. They had four children with ages ranging from 6 to 12 years old and were all in school. The wife, as is typical of the noveau riche, would try to show off to their friends and she had to see to it that the house was perfectly neat and clean. The children would also sometimes bring friends to the house and it was an additional workload for her, naturally.


According to the former judge, the house had six huge bedrooms with individual baths and toilets and bath tubs. Each room had two king size beds which she had to fix every day. The beddings were also quite heavy. She had to clean each and every bathroom, scrubbing, etc. All these rooms were located in the second storey. 


“I vacuumed, scrubbed, and mopped and by the time I was done with the second storey, every nerve and muscle in my body was aching. My room was located in the basement and like all American homes, I had my own toilet and bath. I would then take a lukewarm shower before going to bed,” Tormis said.


The Nahases had a store in downtown New York so all the day she would be left alone in the house to do the household chores. The wife made it clear to her that she wanted her kitchen to be spotless. Their dishes and pots were made of stoneware and you can just imagine how heavy they were. She told me to do the laundry in my “spare time”.


Tormis had Sundays off work and she would hear mass at the Church where Latin American Catholics would converge. Masses were said in Spanish, but she attended anyway. The Church would be full to the brim considering that Latinos are predominantly Catholics. After mass she would meet with her sister-in-law and eat lunch at a Chinese restaurant.


“Then my husband called me up telling me that the Supreme Court had lifted our suspension and I could report for work again. It was almost Christmas time and I started to get homesick. So I said goodbye to my employers. Mrs. Keegan’s children didn’t want me to leave, saying they were pleased with my work and offered to pay me double. I hadn’t told them I was a judge in the Philippines,” Tormis recalled.


On the whole, her stint as a caregiver and housekeeper in a foreign land gave her an insight into the kind of life our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) live.


“It was a very enriching experience,” Tormis concluded.

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