Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Last Song Syndrome 14: Solitude Standing (Suzanne Vega), My Best Friend, My Worst Friend

"I turn to the crowd as they're watching
They're sitting all together in the dark in the warm

I wanted to be in there among them

I see how their eyes are gathered into one."

- Suzanne Vega, "Solitude Standing"

Solitude is probably my best friend. She is always by my side during the darkest moments of my life. No one, save for a very very few people, can beat her to her consistency.

Sometimes, Solitude comes to visit me when I am happy. In this case, I welcome her wholeheartedly, for she allows me to ponder on the profundity of my joy. Most of the time, I do not regret that I have allowed her to accompany me in my moments of happiness.

There are times, however, when I do not want to see her. It is not all the time that I want to be alone. I have been called a loner so many times, but even so, I would love the company of someone with whom I can share even just a singular thought, a common interest, a unified conviction, or a shared passion.

I fear the moment when no one is available when I need to talk. I dread the times when no one recognizes my need to express the contents of my heart (I am not one to coerce people to listen to me). And certainly, I fear the moment when no one is around when I need to communicate because everyone has begun to think that I am strong and can handle things like the way I have been known to be.

(Times change. People do not change much, but reactions do.)

In this case, I come face to face, as always, with Solitude, my best friend, who can easily turn into my worst friend, too.

I think, she has come to see me and stay with me for a few days. Solitude, at present, has assumed the role of being my worst friend. (I hope she leaves me soon. She is definitely not very welcome in my life right now....)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is It All Worth It? (Random Ponderings On The Morong 43 Issue)

(This post should have adopted the more apt subtitle "Not Only Is It Frustrating, Being A Doctor Is Also Hazardous To Health", but damn it, it is too long.)

More than a week ago, I was preparing to leave my clinic when I decided to linger for a moment. I picked up the newspaper (I usually read the news online) and leafed through it until I saw the news about the 43 health workers abducted by the military in Morong, Rizal last February 6. (Read about it here, here, and here.)

I felt a pinch in my heart as I impulsively looked around. In my mind was the thought, I am here, perhaps a struggling specialist trying to create a niche in the medical world, and yet sitting comfortably in a well-equipped air-conditioned clinic, while 43 of my colleagues and fellow health professionals were being harassed by the military on accusations of being "communist rebels in training".

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

At this point in my career, I should be over and done with this self-persecutory thought. It is a choice I have made years ago: a healer, regardless of time, location, social status, regardless of the disposition and affiliation of his patients, remains a healer. I can say that I have seen and served a wide spectrum of patient groups - from the very rich to the very poor - and not all doctors have had this privilege. In the end, I have made a choice to be in a specialty that I love very much.

However, regardless of choice - whether to be a specialist in the city, or a doctor in the countryside, here in the Philippines - I am quite certain: one way or another, this thought has crossed the minds of every person who chose to take up healing as a profession.

Is it all worth it?

Cases of healers being persecuted are not new occurrences. It should be remembered that Jesus Christ, the great healer himself, was persecuted and put to death by crucifixion. Healers did not really have it all too easy, whether they be based in the city or in the countryside.

However, the countryside doctors definitely had it worse.

In the Philippines, probably one of the most well-known cases of doctors as victims of killings and other human rights violations during the Marcos regime is that of Dr. Bobby De La Paz, a doctor serving the people in far-flung Samar who was gunned down in his own clinic by unidentified assailants. (Click here for archives regarding Dr. De La Paz's murder.)

[I will not even want to cite specific cases of doctors in the provinces who being harassed by armed men from both ends of the political spectrum. But true, it is happening, even at this day and age.]

I am aware of the hazards that medical practitioners in the countryside face, for I was once "out there", too. To be a practitioner in a city like Manila is hard in itself, and yet to be in impoverished areas is an altogether different matter. Being a doctor in the countryside is never just about doing medical missions and giving medications for free. It is, more than anything else, about people empowerment through knowledge of body functions, disease conditions, and ways by which they could help themselves.

The profession of healing in itself entails much time, thought, patience, and sacrifice. To be a community doctor requires even more. For this reason, I have enormous respect for the community doctor and all the members of the allied health professional who have chosen to serve the countryside.

Unfortunately, not even the doctor or anyone from the health field is spared from the crutches of political power struggle and breaches of human rights.

(Photos from my personal files. First photo, a nurse friend discussing the physiology of breathing to the Mangyans. Second photo, immunization in Montalban, Rizal.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

A (Somewhat) Unusual Valentine's Day

Far from the throngs of people trooping to the malls, amusement parks, moviehouses, and swanky restaurants, I found myself here, leaving a bouquet of white flowers, lighting candles, sending my thoughts and prayers to someone in another dimension ...

... and here, dining on a plateful of lechon, taking photographs of the native delicacy, with the intention of sending my thoughts and sharing my part-existentialist part-surreal experiences with someone halfway around the world.

It was a well-spent day.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Also, it is the start of the new year in the Chinese calendar ... make way for the tiger :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Early Summer

This year's summer of my life has arrived too soon.
(It felt so great to wake up to a beautiful Monday morning,)

Perhaps, to make up for the summer that I had traumatically lost last year.

I see more and more sunbeams. And mangoes. And chocolate. And the beach. And when I close my eyes I can feel the sea breeze. And the water on my skin. How cool it is to start anew.

I seek not to replace anything. Everything has been all good, and I am much thankful. It has been a beautiful life.

I am now ready to embrace change, like a trusting child.

Time to write a new and beautiful chapter.

(Merci beaucoup. You know who you are. 8 Feb 2010)

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Will Talk About The Translator, Once Again

Friend or foe?

Forgive me for the recurring theme. It had never crossed my mind that one day, I will be this concerned with translators.

It is probably a blessing in disguise. All these brushes with the great translator lately have made me value communication even more. These recent experiences made me re-evaluate how communication has caused a great impact on my life, and realize the many times I sucked with it.

As far as I know, there is only a translator for words. Is there any translator for actions available? A translator of unspoken ideas? Because, if there is one, I would be the first to fall in line.

I would like to understand more. Me gustaría entender más.

Nais kong maintindihan ang lahat ng ito.

Je tiens à comprendre plus. Tres tres beaucoup.

Right now, I just need to laugh, so I am posting a video from Monty Python. Seriously funny.

I do not intend to offend any race here. I just want to make fun of how people succumb to communication breakdowns.