A grieving brother’s plea – take deadly virus seriously, it’s fast-moving
WASHINGTON, DC — Following the death of his younger brother Filipino American home contractor and community leader Penn Baluyut, 70, of New York City is appealing to the public not to take the deadly coronavirus for granted and follow all necessary precautions mandated by health officials. Penn’s brother, Ed Baluyut, 68, died of coronavirus on March 12 in Manila.
“I want to save lives and avoid another tragedy like what happened to my family,” he told Manila Mail in a phone interview recently. “Had we known earlier how to protect ourselves from this deadly virus, my brother Ed would still be alive today. I don’t want his death to be in vain. Ed is my hero.”
On January 20, Penn’s 75-year-old sister who lives in Chicago flew to Manila. After spending a week visiting with family, she went to Singapore to take care of their youngest brother who has lung cancer. After five weeks in Singapore, she returned to Manila on February 22. Their families in Manila gave her dinner and despedida parties and their brother, Ed, was her official driver. The sister then returned to Chicago on February 28.
On March 8, Ed and his wife, Ging, got sick with fever and coughing.
“Ed became worse and was rushed to the Manila Doctor’s hospital. He tested positive of the virus. Our brother-in-law, who is a director of cardiology department, tried everything to give him the best medical care but on March 10, Ed succumbed to severe pneumonia. His wife is still critical with the virus,” Penn said.
Ed was cremated right after his death. His wife was not able to see him and say goodbye. They don’t have any children.
“My other older brother just died of lung cancer last January this year. And now Ed is also gone. Two dead beloved brothers in two months,” Penn said sadly.
Meanwhile, their sister in Chicago and her husband are also sick. Their brother-in-law in Manila who always hosts the dinners and parties is also sick with the symptoms of the virus.
“For two weeks my families in Chicago had dinners and welcome parties with everybody. Five families in Chicago. Everybody is under 14 days of self-quarantine now,” Penn shared.
Penn is calling on the community to be safe and on people who traveled from other countries or states to practice self-quarantine for 14 days. “Do not let your families see you or visit. From [the] airport, you must remove your clothes and shoes straight to laundry to wash or put in [a] big black bag. Inform your family to prepare your change of clothes and not bring your clothes inside the house,” he cautioned. “There is nothing to lose but beat the virus. There is no winner except the virus. Listen and follow all the precautions even if it seems to be ridiculous or overreactions. Better be safe than sorry.”
More than a brother, Penn considers all his other brothers as his best friends and he is willing to take their place in death. He remembered that when they were in grade school at Paco Catholic School in Manila and high school in Letran, he was the guardian, being the older brother among them.
Ed, on the other hand, was known in the family as the most religious. He was the president of the Holy Name Society and Student Catholic Action. He also became one of the board of directors of Letran Alumni Association. He graduated with an accounting degree from La Salle and took up Masters in Business Administration at Asian Institute of Management. He worked with the Guevarra Group of Companies then he succeeded in managing the family furniture business in the early 80’s.
Prior to being diagnosed with coronavirus, Ed was in great condition with no underlying disease. The coronavirus infected him suddenly, swiftly and fatally.
“God chose him to die for the sake of saving many and he’s always helping people to be closer to God. By dying, he brought us all closer to God to make this a wake-up call to be closer to God,” Penn added.
The Baluyut family wants Ed to be remembered as a man of God, a Christian of strong faith, a friend to everyone and especially a best friend of the family. The virus will take many more before their time until there is a vaccine, a treatment or space between us, even among the closest of family members.