Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was first published in Interaksyon.com on December 14, 2011.

“There are two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better.”

I scooped mainstream media again. While they were camped out in the driveway of St. Luke’s Medical Center waiting for Gloria Arroyo to board the vehicle that would take her to the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center, I was receiving live audio and video feeds from inside Mrs. Arroyo’s fifty thousand pesos per day hospital suite.

“Why aren’t you at the stakeout in St. Luke’s?” my wife asked when she saw me getting ready for bed.

“I’m already inside the little girl’s suite,” I replied smiling.

“You have a mole?”

“No, Gloria has a mole. I have a bug.”

Dec. 9, 2011 (Presidential Suite, SLMC, Taguig)

2:00 A.M.  (Gloria Arroyo is still awake. She rouses her personal assistant Elena Bautista-Horn, whom she calls Sungay, who is sleeping soundly on a banig at the foot of her bed.)

“SUngay, wake up! Help me dress for the trip to Veterans.”

“Ma’am alas dos pa lang ng umaga… matulog muna kayo. I’ll ask the nurse for something that will put you to sleep.”

“You want to put me to sleep?”

2:20 A.M.

“Sungay! Where is everybody?”

“At home, in bed, asleep.”

2:45 A.M.

“Sungay! What time exactly are they going to take me away?”

“Six pa poh. Ma’am try to get some sleep, you haven’t slept in days.”

Elena beckons the night nurse and whispers, “Do you have something to put the little girl to sleep?”


2: 48 A.M. (The nurse brings Gloria’s pill tray.)

“Your medication, poh.”

“What is this blue pill, nurse?”

“It’s supposed to relax you, so you can get some sleep.”

“Why is everybody trying to put me to sleep?”

3:30 A.M.


 “(Joskopo, hindi niya ako hahayaan makatulog)  Poh?”

“Open the curtains, I want to watch the fireworks.”

“Fireworks? There are no fireworks poh.”

“What do you mean there are no fireworks? I can see bright flashes behind the curtains!”

(Elena signals the nurse. The nurse approaches her.)

“Nurse, ano ba yung pinainom mo sa kanya?”

 “Yun pong pinescribe ni doc na pampatulog pero mukhang nabangag lang yata siya.”


3:48 A.M.

“SUNGAY! Why is the keyboard melting?”

 “Poh?” (Elena jumps out of the banig and rushes to Gloria’s side.)

“Ma’am the keyboard is not melting, please ma’am magpahinga na kayo.”

4:10 A.M.

“SUNGAY! Why is the laptop not responding?”

“You have to turn it on first, poh.”

5:00 A.M.


(Hay naku! Ano naman ang kailangan niya?)  “Poh?”

“Are you sleeping?”

“I was.”

“I am sorry.”

“Okay lang poh, did you want anything?”

“No, I just wanted to know if you were sleeping.”

5:25 A.M.

“Nurse hindi pa ako makatulog, Can I have another pill”

 “Ubos na poh.”

6:00 A.M.

“WAKE UP SUNGAY! Do you hear that?”


“That one… there…do you hear it?”

“Oh, that’s the helicopter you will ride later.”

“Tell them I’d rather walk than fly in one of those choppers that my husband sold to the PNP.”

6:06 A.M. (Attorney Ferdinand Topacio arrives.)

“Good morning poh, ma’am. Did you sleep well?”

“I’m still alive am I not?”


“Topacio, why am I still under arrest? I want to be out of here before Christmas!”

“Yes ma’am, I will relay your orders to …”

“Just remind them who pays their bills.”

6:10 A.M. (Spokesman Raul Lambino arrives.)

“Good morning, ma’am.”

“You look like you didn’t sleep, Raul.”

“No ma’am, I stayed up all night writing statements condemning the Palace. Would like to go over them?”

(She skims through the statements.) “I’m being harassed, how?”

“Yes ma’am and it’s also mental torture because despite your condition they are asking you to make a very stressful decision. They want you to choose between a chopper and a coaster to take you to Veteran’s Memorial.”

“Memorial? Hoy buhay pa ako, noh!”

6:30 A.M. (Mike Arroyo arrives)

 “Buenos dias mi amor, has dormido bien? Me pidió que le pusieran a mi niña a dormir.”

 “PUÑETA! Tu tambien?”

 “Ano daw? Bakit nagmumura si Ma’am?” Elena whispers to the nurse.

Sabi kasi ni Sir Mike, ‘Good morning my love, did you sleep well? I asked the nurse to put my little girl to sleep.’”