A dog bit her. One day she just died.

“Fev, nagralaway kag nagwaras tana.” (Fev, she salivated uncontrollably and ran amuck) It was my best friend describing in a text message our college batch mate who recently died because of acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) due to rabies. Her very colorful description how that batch mate of ours died seemed to be too poetic a description for a death as prosaic as dying from a bite of a deranged dog.


She was bitten by a stray dog in the neighborhood early January. It took three months for the virus of the Lyssa genus to travel from the bite wound and reach her central nervous system. By mid-March she was already experiencing malaise, headache and fever. According to my best friend this batch mate of ours showed uncontrolled excitement, depression, and in her last days, hydrophobia, mania, lethargy that finally led to coma. They were classmates in a public high school in Antique and eventually in all their Literature classes at UP Visayas, as they took the same major in college.

She was interred for a day in their house and was immediately buried, without being embalmed, for fear of the spread of the virus. My best friend and their high school classmates were discouraged from seeing her body to contain the contagion. Her entire family is placed on quarantine until this time.

She is survived by her seven-month old baby.

She was one of those very quiet people of generic appearance and personality one meets in college, becomes a classmate, spends a few times with, and as is always the case, forgotten easily after graduation.

My only recollection of her was how she ruined the afternoon of our professor when she read entirely from a book her report about the Babaylans of Panay in a History class we were both enrolled during our first year in college. Although I couldn’t remember her talking much, not even about literature, there were times I think I remember about her few moments of unconscious abandonment when she laughed in class at jokes I didn’t find funny or just did not comprehend.

She also had this unforgettably long her that reached down to her waist. Never did I see her long black hair unkempt; it’s always combed, shiny, freshly washed.

Because of poverty and inability to continue college, she applied for a leave of absence in our junior years, and I did not see her since then except for one time when I bumped into her at the office of the university registrar falling in line for her transcript. I was already teaching then. She only showered praises for me, which I did not take seriously. I wanted to ask question about her and her new life outside the university, but I held back and shelved the idea thinking we were never that close for me to ask sensitive personal queries.

Since then, I heard vignettes about her: she having a new boyfriend, being pregnant, breaking up with her boyfriend, finding a new one, and taking odd jobs in the city. But these stories were often shallow, almost always taken out of context. Simplistically unreal stories that I refused to believe about a former classmate whose life is as uniquely complex and interesting as anyone’s. I did not believe in their truth not because they were lies but because they were bare.

But probably I never really cared because they were insignificant stories related to me by my best friend about somebody who was ephemeral and insignificant a character that would never figure in my universe.

As a token, I wrote this post, and to remind me one day, in the event my memory fails, of a girl who was seated in the front row of our classroom in my History class who one drizzly July afternoon, to the consternation of our veteran professor, just read in front of the class while seated on the teacher’s table the whole report assigned to her verbatim from Renato Constantino’s book.

And her hair that reached down to her waist, only that on her last day, that long, black hair, might have been unwashed, disheveled, unkempt because she spent her last day on Earth fearing water.

18 thoughts on “A dog bit her. One day she just died.”

  1. sure, joan. you may. this post is for people we thought we’ve already forgotten but only to be reminded about, only too late.


  2. nakakatuwa at nakakalungkot isipin na saka lang ulit natin naaalala ang isang tao when something like this happens,because they were, what you said insignificant to our lives.but then so as we, to them.

    i remember a classmate in highschool who died of a car accident,then a close friend told me about it then dun ko na lang ulit cya nalala, and along with that i remember a time when i saw him and he said to me “buti pa daw ako”,i didn’t get what he means by that so after some hi and hello’s i bid goodbye.so if you may,i want to dedicated this comment to him.

  3. I was never bitten by a dog but I was bitten by a cat, not once but twice. That was almost eight years ago but my parents took me to Research Institute on Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang. It was really expensive because it costs us 3,000-5,000 pesos per session I think.

    Mas malakas daw kasi yung rabies ng cat kesa sa dog.

    I think people should really be informed about rabies. I just got informed about it when I was bitten.

    Like for example, when someone is bitten by a dog, the area where s/he was bitten should not turned violet coz when it does, whether s/he like it or not, s/he should go to a doctor coz it’s dangerous.

    By the way, I did add your blog to my blogroll. I hope it’s okay.

  4. there is 3-month time frame when the victim was bitten and when the signs and symptoms occurred. in that 3 months she could’ve been taken to the doctor and should’ve been treated for rabies.

    regarding her family being on quarantine, i only heard of that being done to animals that were bitten and are suspected of having rabies. they are quarantined for two weeks and observed for signs and symptoms of rabies and when they die the vet cuts off their heads, cracks their skulls open, and looks for the presence of negri bodies in the brain to ascertain rabies infection. is that the rationale too for her family being put in quarantine? to wait for them to die so the vet can look at their brains? if the family members were indeed scratched or bitten by the victim then by all means they SHOULD be treated now and NOT quarantined.

    regarding the classmates being discouraged from seeing the body to contain the contagion: rabies isn’t airborne. nor is it transmitted through eyesight. the probable reason for the discouragement is either shame or ignorance of the disease. my bet’s on the latter.

    based on what you’ve written, the victim died because there was no treatment. based on the family’s reaction, they are ignorant of the disease.

    i’m not bitchy about it. i am angry. . . and possibly a tad insensitive. for the insensitivity, i am sincerely sorry. as for the anger for the lack of treatment and information, no.

    and tell your bitchy-er friend that s/he is a judgmental cunt!

  5. carfuffle, this isn’t the time to be bitchy. according to a friend who is a lot more bitchy than you, you whine like a vagina. that’s according to that friend.

  6. Sir, indeed you’re Brilliant..

    you deserve a salute for making stories like this one..interesting at the same time imparting knowledge..

  7. that’s 3 months. THREE FREAKING MONTHS. couldn’t they have taken her to the frigging doctor?

    and why the hell is her family on quarantine? and rabies is not transmitted through eyesight for godsakes!

  8. le oi!

    toi cam thay khong tot sau le noi vi ban cua le an bang con cho. hehehe, tieng viet cua toi rat ham ham.

    i hope your friend gets well.

  9. First off, I think what you did, writing this post and dedicating it to her memory, is wonderful. I don’t know if I’m correct, but in your writing, I sense regret.

    Your writing is beautiful, intense and nostalgic at the same time. I hope it would be okay if I added you on my blogroll. 🙂

  10. My colleague got bitten by a dog last week. I just urged her to go see the doctor (she is lazy and hesitative to go) after reading this post of yours….
    (thanks John)

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