MANILA — (UPDATED) The son of showbiz icon Caridad Sanchez, Alexander Joseph Babao, has disputed the statement of his sister, grief counselor Cathy Babao, that their mother is going through dementia.
Mr. Babao told ABS-CBN News Sunday night that Sanchez, 87, only has a “mild cognitive handicap that goes with aging.”
He also reiterated that the veteran actress, whose medical condition was reported in several media sites over the weekend, remains physically fit under his care in their residence in Quezon City.
In an ABS-CBN News interview last Friday, Cathy Babao spoke of the long process of farewell to her mother, who she said was diagnosed with dementia in 2015. She first made public Sanchez’s condition in her social media accounts last month.
“It’s a long goodbye. Over time, you slowly lose the person. You just prepare for it," the grief educator and counselor said, referring to her anticipatory grief.
The moral thing to do, she said, was to rise above the stigma of dementia and talk about the disease to provide a light for others going through similar pain.
“Why keep it a secret? Hindi naman nakakahiya (It's not shameful) if we can help others with their journey. I know there are other families going through it but who don’t speak about it. Kaya nga dapat may (That's why there should be) early detection, awareness and acceptance, so we can arm ourselves with the right information and access to right medicines and care. I believe my mom will be happy too knowing she was somehow able to help,” she said.
Her brother, however, lamented that his sister’s accounts violate the right to privacy of their mother. Mr. Babao also questioned the motive of his sister. Here’s the full statement forwarded by Joseph Babao to ABS-CBN News.
“I Alexander Joseph S. Babao, son of Caridad Sanchez Babao, was shocked by the article published by my sister which was done without permission, violating the privacy, legacy and honor of my Mother. My Mom has a mild cognitive handicap that goes with aging. But it is unfair for her to be disrespected like this.
“Under my care, she remains very physically fit, a source of wisdom, strength and blessing to me whenever we have our late night mother and son conversations.
“I thank the public who still continue to show their support, love and respect for my mother.
“However I question the opportunistic timing of its publication by my sister.”
Babao also posted the same statement on his Instagram account @josef_aleksandr on Monday.
In a subsequent statement, Cathy said it was not her intention “to disrespect or disparage my mother’s image when I started to write about her dementia on social media.”
“It took me a very long time to decide whether or not I would share our family’s story.”
Explaining her decision to share Sanchez’s condition, she wrote: “There is nothing shameful about admitting that a loved one has dementia. It’s a condition that afflicts a huge percentage of the senior population. It’s a condition that is highly misunderstood and sometimes even maligned. What persons with dementia need above all is time, patience, love, understanding and respect. To be able to give this, you must understand what dementia looks like and what it requires of the person/s caring for the person with dementia.”
Sharing her second reason, Cathy added: “In sharing my mother’s story, my only motivation is to help other families understand, and come to an acceptance of their loved one’s condition. I cannot overemphasize the importance of early diagnosis, and acceptance. In families where there is no total acceptance, where family members are not on the same page, discord and misunderstanding are most likely to occur. Denial is only to the detriment of the person with dementia.”
The statement will be the “last thing I have to say about this issue,” according to Cathy.
She then thanked those who have reached out to her, for the “kind words, pieces of advice, and memories you have shared with me about my mom.”
“It warms my heart to know that you continue to remember her fondly, and hold her in high esteem.”
Addressing her brother’s statement mentioning Sanchez’s physical health, Cathy said: “Mommy is physically strong. No question about that. Decades of daily running and walking have paid off. I am grateful that she is able to still exercise and walk unaided. It is the dementia that is affecting her memory. It is a fact that I have now accepted with all my heart.”
“When mommy was widowed in her late 40s, she would often go out of her way to console the newly widowed. She also always carried a soft spot in her heart for the elderly. ‘Magpakatotoo ka palagi,’ she would always tell me that growing up. Knowing mom, she would not want to hide her condition if she knew that sharing our story would help others who are on a similar journey much like the one we find ourselves on right now.”