WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF LITTLE
(by BUTCH FRANCISCO, PHILIPPINE STAR)
Manila, July 18, 2000 - "Serena Dalrymple's mother dead." This bit of tragic news sent shock waves to the entire showbiz community -- especially to those who personally knew the deceased, Wilma Billones Dalrymple, a simple unassuming Cebuana who always remained in the background while Serena basked in the glory of the spotlight.
But what was more jolting was the realization that nine- year-old Serena is now a complete orphan -- having lost her Scottish father, too, about five years ago. Serena shares this grief with her two older sisters, Sara, 13 and Samantha, 11.
It has been three weeks since Wilma died, but the cause of her death is still undetermined. Sure, an autopsy had already been performed, but the National Bureau of Investigation has yet to release its findings.
Wilma's death certificate actually states that she died of pneumonia. However, this was already the result of so many complications her body went through since her health deteriorated less than a month ago.
Death started knocking at her door last June 21 -- the day she arrived from a business trip in Singapore. She was feeling weak and was starting to vomit. In fact, she complained about this when she sat in a meeting with the Channel 2 people the day after she arrived from Singapore. "Kumain kasi ako ng lobster," she told Chris Navarro of the ABS-CBN Talent Development Center.
"But we asked naman her companions in Singapore -- and they also had lobster -- pero wala namang nangyari sa kanila," discloses Chris.
When her condition didn't improve, she was forced to check in at the Manila Sanitarium. During her entire confinement at the hospital, she forbade all three kids from visiting her there -- maybe because she wanted to spare them from that ugly experience of seeing her wither away. Little did she know that she would never see them again.
When Wilma finally called for her three daughters on June 27, she was already at the brink of death. By the time Serena and her sisters got to her bedside, it was too late. Wilma had passed on to the other world.
Oh how Serena wept at the sight of her mother's lifeless body. But contrary to reports, she didn't go into a fit of hysteria.
While Wilma was lying in state at the Rizal Funeral Homes, ABS-CBN Talent Center head Johnny Manahan saw to it that her wake wasn't turned into a circus by the curious public. Television crews were banned -- including the network's own TV Patrol. Among those who condoled with Serena was Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos, who played her mother in Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?
Wilma's remains were cremated last July 5 -- two days before her 42nd birthday. Her ashes are now kept at the Dalrymple home in Las Piñas.
Looking after the young girls at the moment is the family's trusted mayordoma, Nanay Milen. Wilma's brother Boy, the only one who saw her breath her last at the hospital room, also sees to the children's needs constantly.
The Dalrymple girls are now back in school (all three go to Montessori). Serena is also set to resume television work anytime this week. (Again, contrary to reports, she never said that she was quitting show business as a result of her mother's death.)
Their biggest concern now is how to put the family's assets in order. (ABS-CBN is currently looking for the right lawyer to do this.) Fortunately for Serena and her sisters, their late father left something behind for his family to live on even after his death. On Wilma's part, she also made some money on her own by wisely investing on stocks before she died. (And bless her soul -- she never required Serena to act as breadwinner in spite of the child star's substantial earnings from films, television and product endorsements.)
But there is still the question of which blood relation should be made guardian of the Dalrymple orphans. Wilma is actually survived by eight siblings scattered all over the globe -- from Australia to Kuwait. All of them love the Dalrymple girls dearly, except that they already have their own lives and families to look after.
The most likely candidate at this point seems to be the girls' Uncle Boy because he is the one closest to them -- Serena in particular. But even Boy has his own family in Cavite and would probably have difficulty dividing his time between his wife and kids and the Dalrymple girls.
While it is certain that Serena and her sisters won't suffer the same fate as the characters in the film All Mine to Give (where the orphans are farmed out to other people), it is still quite difficult to determine the kind of future they'll have without a real parent guiding them through their formative years.
But the poor kids are left with no choice but to accept life's bitter tragedies -- no matter how difficult and painful. At this point, they could only hope their dearly departed parents are watching over them ... from up above there -- with our loving Father in heaven.
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