Mommy Paz: Modern-Day Florence Nightingale Dies

By Fr Brian Gore

Fr Brian Gore, in Provincial Jail, Bacolod, mid 1980s

This article appeared in the Visayan Daily Star, published in Bacolod City, on Friday 13 August. Mommy Paz Torres was a great friend of the Columbans, especially since the days of the Negros Nine in the mid 1980s.

Last Sunday (8 August), “Mommy Paz Torres,” as she was affectionately known to many, died peacefully here in Bacolod City. She was 90 years old.

She died unrecognized by her city and province, which she served so well as chief nurse of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital for many years right up until her retirement.

She was a modern day Florence Nightingale. Even in retirement she continued to help hundreds of poor patients coming mostly from remote areas of southern Negros.

L to R: Rosita Montañez, Fr Brian Gore, Paz Torres, Nena de Leon

I first met Mommy Paz in January 1970, while I was finishing my language school studies at the Redemptorist Monastery. I used to go with the Apostolic Ladies of the Redemptorist Church to visit the poor patients in the Provincial Hospital to practice my Ilonggo. Mommy Paz was our contact person. We had been friends ever since.

Mommy Paz became our liaison person with the hospital for all the poor patients coming from the south. She was a godsend for us priests who were besieged on a daily basis for help from our poor parishioners in need of medical care. In the 70s and 80s there was very limited medical care in the south for seriously ill patients.

In Provincial Hospital, Bacolod

Those who could not afford to go to Bacolod just went home to die. Mommy Paz saved many hundreds from certain death.

Her loving care for our poor patients certainly took a burden off us priests. Mommy Paz accessed what help there was available from the hospital and what was lacking was provided by a special fund in her care from the priests. Even when she retired she continued to go to the hospital, often daily, to follow up our patients.

Fathers Brian Gore and Niall O'Brien with the 'Tres Marias of Negros 9' - Nena, Rosita and Paz

On a very personal note Mommy Paz used to visit me and my companions (Negros 9) almost on a daily basis at the Provincial Jail during our imprisonment. She would also extend her medical help to any sick inmates in the jail. She never waned in her support for us during those difficult times.

In Provincial Jail, Bacolod

Generations of young nurses passed through her supervision at the Provincial Hospital Dormitory. Around the world today there will be many a tear shed at her passing.

In recent years she suffered the various ailments of old age. She bore these patiently and with great faith. She would often say to me “I am ready to go”. May she now enjoy eternal peace.

“Come, good and faithful servant – I was sick and you cared for me.”(Matthew ch.25)

Taken during the funeral Mass of Mommy Paz

Mommy Paz was buried on Friday, 13 August  at the Bago City Cemetery after Mass at the Airport Subdivision Church in Bacolod City.