SCMP Saturday, November 11, 2000
Deathbed brings out mother's love
The mother of rabies victim Cristina Solano has told how her daughter did not realise how much she was loved until she was on her deathbed.
Alejandra Domingo said she had cushioned her daughter's head in her lap to comfort her just hours before she died because Cristina had not wanted to lie down in the bed.
"I told her to put her head on my lap and she looked up at me and said, 'Mother, I did not know you loved me'."
Mrs Domingo said she replied: "I sometimes get angry and cross, and I say things in a way different to what I mean, but I do love you very much."
In the 16 months since her daughter's death, Mrs Domingo said her emotional strength had been tested to the limit by police investigations, an independent inquiry panel appointed by the Tuen Mun and Princess Margaret hospitals and now the inquest.
"It has been very difficult to relive what happened to my daughter over and over again," she said. "I got impatient it was taking so long to get to the bottom of what happened and now I just want it to end."
Mrs Domingo's mother and eldest daughter in the Philippines are caring for the victim's three-year-old daughter, Gleris Toenge Solano, while Mrs Domingo, 43, and her husband Hil, 42, continue to work as domestic helpers in Hong Kong.
"Before my daughter came here I was working to pay off a loan and to send as much money as I could to my children in the Philippines," said Mrs Domingo, who has five children from her first marriage and two from her second - four boys and three daughters, the youngest just five years old.
"Cristina wanted to help out by coming to work in Hong Kong as a domestic worker," said Mrs Domingo. "She did not want the whole family to be dependent on me - she wanted to help me support them financially."
Cristina was planning to work in Hong Kong for two years, until her contract expired, and then return to the Philippines.
"She did not want Toenge to grow up here," said Mrs Domingo.
Mrs Domingo said that when Cristina first arrived in Hong Kong they were very happy. "We had not seen each other for six months and we had a wonderful time," she said. "She was my daughter, but we were friends too - we would pretend we were sisters."
Mrs Domingo remembered going shopping with Cristina and buying her a white blouse and skirt. "I didn't realise then that a few weeks later I would buy her a similar outfit, but this time for her funeral."
Mrs Domingo said her daughter's death had not caused only emotional suffering. "Two of my boys in the Philippines have not been able to finish school because I cannot pay for their fees."
Mrs Domingo said Cristina's employer had asked her if any of her other daughters were interested in coming to work because Cristina had done such a wonderful job in the short time she worked there. "But I have very mixed feelings about it after what happened to Cristina," she said.