By Gel Santos Relos
Filipina nurse receives an inheritance of a lifetime from the multi-millionaire New York heiress Huguette Clark. Read the beautiful story of a patient who was taken care of by our kababayan like the daughter Huguette never had.
Definitely “hulog ng langit” windfall blessing, a perfect plot for Pinoy teleserye but they happened in real life. In the 90s, I heard about a Pinoy couple who inherited a home and a lot of cash from their behind-the-scenes Hollywood celebrity employer who died old and single. Just last year, the whole world was fascinated by the story of a Pinay domestic helper who got more than $4.3 million dollars from the estate of her medical doctor/philanthropist whom she took care of as well as this employer’s late mother.
Just last May, a 104- year old Manhattan heiress Huguette Clark reportedly worth half a billion dollars, passed away and through her will left her 60-year old Filipina private nurse of twenty years an inheritance of a lifetime: $30 million after estate taxes.
Clark left nothing for her blood relatives. “I intentionally make no provision…for any members of my family, whether on my paternal or maternal side, having had minimal contact with them over the years,” she stated in her will. “The persons and institution named herein as beneficiaries of my Estate are the true objects of my bounty.”
In addition to this, Hadassah Peri received in gifts and inheritance, including two million dollars which Peri used to buy prime real estate properties with, including $700,000 home in Brooklyn, New York; a $500,000 house in Jersey Shore, New Jersey, and posh upper east side pads in Manhattan New York, which Peri said her employer wanted her to have so her kids can have somewhere to say in when they were in New York attending college.
To those who know Huguette Clark, such generosity is not news at all. She has been known to be generous to those people who genuinely cared for her, and her $10 million gift to her social secretary preceded her blessings for her long time trusted Filipina nurse.
After all, Huguette grew old alone, having been married but divorced without any children to love and take care of her especially during the last years of her life.
Though she was born to a rich and powerful parents (her father was the former U.S. Senator and industrialist William Clark) who owned a 121-room mansion in Fifth Avenue among other prime real estate properties; a family that walked along side the Astors, Guggenheims, the Vanderbilts of New York, Huguette chose to avert the limelight and live a quiet solitary life until the day she died. It was our kababayan Hadassah Peri, an immigrant registered nurse from the Philippines who stayed with her 24/7 everyday in the last twenty years of her life, and took took care of her like a daughter she never had.
This beautiful story, however was marred with suspicion, as Peri’s name was embroiled in a legal battle that investigated Huegette Clark’s attorney Wallace Bock. MSNBC’s investigative report stated that Clark also gave lavish gifts to her Bock’s family, which included a dollhouse the attorney’s grandchild worth $10,000 and a $1.5 million security system after 9/11, for the settlement in Israel where the attorney’s daughters and grandchildren live.
Whistleblower was Bock’s paralegal Cynthia Garcia who worked for his law firm for two years. Garcia told msnbc.com that Clark's attorney and accountant tried repeatedly to persuade Clark to sign a will, drafted a will that would have left money to the attorney, and joked about and cursed their client behind her back when she would not sign a will.
In 2010, Clark’s grand-half-nephew and two grand-half-nieces, Ian Devine, Carla Hall Friedman and Karine McCall, requested the courts to appoint an independent guardian to manage Clark's affairs but such request was turned down.
Investigations on allegations that Clark might have been a victim of elder abuse or fraud was ongoing at the time of her death. But our kababayan Hadassah Peri’s lawyer John Reiner said the gifts to Peri were tokens of Huguette Clark’s appreciation for spending long hours at the hospital as Clark’s private nurse for twenty years. The will of Clark stipulated, " Ms. Peri spent more time with Mrs. Clark over the last two decades than anyone and earned the title of “loyal friend and companion.”
When we hear these amazing stories, let us be reminded how despite news about how some kababayans are charged for abusing or even raping their elderly wards, or how some Pinay housekeepers were turned down because they are Filipinos, there are thousands more Filipinos providing service as professional nurses, or housekeepers, or domestic helpers who are so loved by their employers because their brand of compassionate care we Filipinos give to our family.
These kababayans really treat their patients or wards like their own. I have talked to many of them who say when they take care of their elderly patient, they see in them their lolos or lolas or tatays or nanays whom they miss so much as they live or have died in the Philippines. It was also an act of channeling these love for their family back home to these patients, wards and families who they now regard as their family away from the Motherland.
Let us continue to be proud of these kababayans. In their own humble way, they are reflecting who we are as human beings to the world.
( From My Asian Journal Column)