Corruption and death

As of this moment some things and details are still unclear to me. But what I do know is that in death, as in life, you cannot escape corruption.

They rushed my aunt to a local, government-operated hospital on Monday. The doctors inserted a respirator tube, and asked her sister to buy medicines at the hospital pharmacy. When she got back, my aunt’s gone. She tried returning the medicines, but the pharmacy refused. She had the receipt signed by the attending physician just to prove that the medicines were unused and useless.

Then the troubles began. Both her sister and my father have memorial plans from a reputable insurance company; the deceased did not. The service provider “accredited” by the hospital approached my relatives, offering their services. Her siblings refused. So they had the remains taken by the service provider of their choice. My aunt and my father planned to assign their memorial plans to the deceased to cover for the expenses.

The service provider refused. First, they have their own memorial plans, and they only accept clients who bought their plans. Second, they don’t accept clients that hold plans from other providers. I don’t know what happened, but the relatives got a plan from someone. This plan was issued by the service provider. All’s well that ends well?

It’s the death certificate this time. We coursed the request for a death certificate through the service provider, but the hospital refused to deal with the service provider, since the provider is “not accredited.” So the relatives tried to secure the document themselves. The hospital still refused, since my aunt was “not admitted.” Later, the hospital revised its party line; this time, it claimed that my aunt was not confined for at least 24 hours.

This issue bothered us for several days; we couldn’t schedule the cremation if there’s no death certificate. I don’t know what happened, but a death certificate was issued on Wednesday. Due to this delay, the cremation was scheduled on Saturday (which is today).

We chose to have the cremation done somewhere else; the plan does not cover cremation, and this service at the service provider is expensive. We found a cheaper alternative. However, you have to get the urn from the cremation service provider. It was still cheaper; the urns being offered by the memorial service provider are way to expensive, almost equivalent to the cremation itself.

And there’s the issue of the coffin. Because the coffin’s obviously empty after a cremation, so what is to be done with it? The service provider said they would “donate” it to indigents. What if we want to donate it ourself, my relatives asked. I never got their answer, but the discussion with my relatives was so heated, I decided there and then to abstain from participation in the decision making. Basically, the family wanted to desist from further discussion and let go of the issue. But an aunt from another side, charitable as she is, volunteered the coffin to a barangay in one of the big cities in Metro Manila. So it was another round of discussion (and I happily inhibited myself); in the end, after being bothered by everyone, the coffin was released to the barangay.

That is not the end of it. The cremation service provider wanted to have dibs with the coffin. But they were reasonable, and let go of the coffin as well.

Death is not unlike life. It is a business, a lucrative one. And a lucrative business means cutthroat competition. Also, some businesses take advantage of the vulnerability of the deceased’s love ones, offering overpriced services. The worst thing of all is the legalized corruption, which I won’t expound on, since it is inefficient to restate the obvious.