By JULLIE Y. DAZA
She saw it coming. She heard it, too. The truck behind them on one lane of SLEX was coming too fast, roaring so loud it frightened her.
But only for a second. The next second, with an obscene groan, the truck came to a crashing stop, within six inches of her back. “The noise was unearthly.”
When former Tourism secretary Mina Gabor recounts the incident of Dec. 12, 2019, she automatically leans forward with her head down and eyes closed, crosses her arms on her chest, and murmurs, “Mother Mary, save me.”
Nearly four months later, some of the pain from the injuries remains. The memory is painful, too, as is the realization that “when a terrible accident happens, you’re practically on your own.” The ambulance crew of one driver and an assistant seemed to be in panic, but they managed to ask Mina, who was barely able to talk from shock, “Which hospital do you want to go to?” When she told them, they said it was too far. She asked back, “So where?” The hospital they suggested was even farther away.
It took an eternity before Mina, who was seated beside her brother-driver, was extricated from their SUV. The hospital was another story. Left alone in one corner, she did not feel she was being treated as an emergency case, until a doctor noticed her. “Secretary Gabor?” he asked. The brief question-and-answer exchange proved to be a waker-upper to hospital staff.
Mina’s current advocacy with a passion is sustainable tourism, emphasis on farm tourism. Lately, some of the latter has been sprinkled with the blessings of what she labels faith-based tourism. In her capacious bag she carries a fat pouch containing pictures of the Virgin Mary and rose petals collected since 1991 from a chapel in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. The pictures show different angles of the Virgin’s face, close-up. The fair skin is evocative of an ivory image.
Every first Saturday of the month devotees gather for mass and the chance to pick up more petals, which show X-ray-like images engraved on them of the Virgin, angels, St. Anthony, among others. Two Polaroid cameras are shared – selfies and other cameras don’t work – but lately Mina has donated a third Polaroid.####