The Surgeon's Logbook

surgery + medicine + photography + food + travel



The New Secretary of Health

Dr. Enrique "Ike" Ona

A new Secretary of Health has been recently appointed by P-NOY, Dr. Enrique “Ike” T. Ona, former director of the renovated and refurbished National Kidney & Transplant Institute in Quezon City, a tertiary specialty PUBLIC hospital known as one of the leading kidney transplant centers in Asia.

Dr. Ona is quite unknown for the common people which probably explains the raising of eye brows of some when he was appointed by the adminsitration. Unlike the popular choice Dr. Jimmy Galvez-Tan (my own favorite, I really gladly thought it was him that P-NOY will choose), who’s really known for his uncanny ability to lead people (doctors, health care workers, and government officials) through his NGO and WHO work; connect with the masses through his various media appearances; and of course his previous achievements as past secretary of health, Dr. Ona’s own achievements have been unknown to most people.

Unfortunately, including me. I didn’t even know that he was one of the choices for the position until the news broke out this afternoon that he was already appointed. Dr. Ike is my brod in the Phi Kappa Mu, and I’ve met him only about twice during my undergrad years, so I didn’t get the chance to really get to know him. I only knew him as the topnotch Transplant Surgeon brod who headed the NKTI and brought it up from the ashes (literally and figuratively!).

That’s all about him that I knew until I saw this write-up from the graduation souvernir programme of UPCM Class 2008. He was their graduation speaker.

I’d like to share this with you so you could also get a glimpse of who Dr. Ike is. Remember that this was NOT written by me (but by Dr. Chay Sanchez of UPCM 2008). Also, it is not my intention to justify his being chosen through this write-up.

The post of the DOH secretary plays a vital role in the transformation that P-Noy wants to happen (or that all Filipinos want to feel, for that matter). The Secretary should be able to lead and implement projects, programs and laws concerning health which, for the past administrations, has not been given much emphasis or support. Who wants to run a country with an unhealthy population? I guess no one. We’re taught in the UPCM that health is a basic human right, not a commodity that only those who can afford avail. The DOH secretary should, at least, be able to uphold this assertion, as we say it in the hospital, WITHOUT FAIL!

I know Dr. Ike did an awesome job at NKTI, transforming it into the best transplant hub in the Philippines and in SEA, but no one can really tell if he can do an equally awesome job in transforming the DOH or the Philippine health care delivery system, or health education, or the national health insurance program.

But here are some points that, in my opinion, can justify why he can do great things in DOH:

  1. Leadership skills-wise, he’s been part of the government system as Director of NKTI for many years, and NKTI is under the system of DOH. He knows the ins and outs of government service. He even transformed the way NKTI procures/manages their funds such that it now becomes a self-sustaining government hospital (wonders when can PGH do this also…)
  2. He graduated from UPCM. ‘Nuff said. Takot na lang niya sa mga alumni kung may gawin siyang kalokohan.
  3. He’s Phi, and definitely a man of integrity, honor and justice.

So with that I offer my unwavering support for the NEW Secretary of Health, Dr. Enrique T. Ona, Φ ’57, UPCM ’62! Please steer the health care system of the Philippines to greater heights!

Dr. Enrique T. Ona
by Dr. Chay Sanchez, UPCM Class 2008

It has been a tradition to ask one accomplished personality in the field of medicine to inspire each year’s graduates as they start their journey. This year, the UP College of Medicine Class 2008 chose Dr. Enrique Ona, undoubtedly one of the Philippines’ best in the field of vascular and organ transplantation surgery, to share his experiences and thoughts about learning, living and loving the life of a physician.

A native of Sagay City, Negros Occidental, Dr. Ona graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1962. After passing the licensure exam for physicians, he decided not to join the clamor for the very limited residency slots in the Department of Surgery of Philippine General hospital, which were then seemingly reserved only for the top graduates and the “anak ng Diyos.”

Instead, he took his residency training in surgery at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, earning himself the position of chief resident and later obtaining fellowship degrees in surgery and experimental surgery in Boston and New York.

Training with other doctors from prestigious medical schools such as harvard, Dr. Ona realized that he was actually at par with them. “Kaya ko rin pala ang mga ginagawa nila,” he humbly thought to himself. It was then that he decided to train further as a Colombo Scholar in Organ transplantation at Cambridge University in England.

Realizing his social responsibility as a UP graduate, Dr. Ona came back to the Philippines to pioneer in what was then lacking in the country – organ transplantation.

Thus began his enviable record as a leader in his profession. He organized medical congresses and symposia, became an active member of international medical organizations and even had time for research. In 1979, he was recognized as the Outstanding Filipino Physician for Medicine.

One of the highlights of his career was his revolutionary work as the executive Director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. Believing that quality training, service and research are all possible if done systematically and with passion, Dr. Ona transformed the NKTI from being a fire-ravaged hospital into a modern, state-of-art health institution in just nine months. He established the most modern hemodialysis center in Southeast Asia and a word-class laboratory for hematology and oncology. Under Dr. Ona’s leadership, NKTI developed strategic planning processes for procuring funds to be used in the institution’s advancement. Indeed, much of what the NKTI is at present can be credited to his genius.

Despite his hectic schedule, Dr. Ona has not forgotten his alma mater. He is president of UPCM Class 1962, who have recently donated to the college a Students Lounge, where students may conduct meetings and practices, or simply, study. He is also a member of the Most Venerable Fraternity of the UP College of Medicine, the Phi Kappa Mu.

Dr. Enrique Ona is the husband of associate professor and hematologist Dr. Norma Ona. They have four children.

*taken from the Souvenir Programme of the 99th Commencement Exercises of the UP College of Medicine, May 18, 2008.

Saw this article from Yahoo news. It has snippets of PNoy justifying his choices for his cabinet members. Here’s what he said about Dr. Ona:

Health: Director of NKTI, Enrique T. Ona.

“In our interview we saw in him the potential to become a complete alter-ego, especially given the fact that health agenda is No. 3 on our platform. And he has been given instructions specifically with regard to expediting universal coverage of PhilHealth, one of our campaign promises,” said Aquino.

No. 3 pala ha. Tignan natin. 🙂

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Isang Pitik

In this blog, I used to have a list of all the things I had to do or go to. That was my way of keeping me on-track, and so that people would know what I’ve been up-to lately, well…even for me.

Sa sobrang daming mga bagay na nangyari at napuntahan sa mga nakaraang panahon, halos wala na akong matandaan.

Kung hindi ko nakita na naisulat ko pala dito *turo sa baba* na pupunta ako sa Dagupan two weeks ako, at pupunta kaming Bolinao last weekend at marami pala akong mga kailangang gawin, hindi ko maalala na nagpunta pala akong Dagupan two weeks ago, nagpunta pala akong Bolinao last weekend at na marami pala akong nagawa na.

Sobra na ba? Ulyanin na ata ako.

Sana’y hindi ito senyales ng katandaan. Bata pa naman ako. Kahit na med student, pitong taon naman ang med school ko. 😉 Siguro’y dahil masyado lang akong okupado sa mga ginagawa ko sa kasalukuyan, na kahit ang mga sandaling sana’y madali sanang tandaan ay nakakalimutan.

Gaya na lang kahapon. Nagkita kami ng kaklase ko sa isang padevelopan ng mga litrato na itatago na lang natin sa pangalang Photoline. Hehe. Nagkamustahan kami ng mga lakad sa summer. Kababalik lang daw niya kasi mula sa isang family-trip abroad, hindi siya updated sa mga lakad ng mga tao. At nung oras ko nang mag-share ng mga naging lakad ko, nahirapan ako. Parang hindi ko masabi sa isang pitik ang lahat ng mga nagawa ko. Kahit na alam kong marami akong tuli missions na pinuntahan, mga planning seminars kung saan-saan, mga beach, mga party at kung anu-ano pang lakad, hindi ko ito nasabi sa kanya.

Kaklase: You? How was your summer?

Rald: Ah, masaya naman. Daming mga lakad, hindi ko na nga matandaan e…

Kaklase: I see, i see…

Rald: (biglang may naalala) Ah, nanggaling nga pala akong Dagupan at
Bolinao two weeks ago!

Kaklase: Ok. Good..What about tomorrow?

Rald: Tomorrow? (isip kaagad ng mangyayari kinabukasan…may meeting ba
ako? may malaking lakad ba ako? kung meron man, nakalimutan ko na nga

Kaklase: Frisbee, Ateneo. You’re coming right?

Rald: Ah..yeah! Hehe, I totally forgot. (nanaman?)

Nakalimutan kong magfi-frisbee nga pala kami mamaya. Buti at napaalala niya.

Wala rin naman ako sigurong pagkukulang. Halos lahat naman ng mga miting at appointments ko ay nakasulat naman sa PDA. Mayroon din akong notebook na maliit kung saan nakalagay ang mga gagawin ko sa araw na iyon.

Marahil ang kulang sa akin ay, gaya ng sabi ni Maan ay ang foresight (at hindsight na rin siguro). Madalas kong nalilimutan na may gagawin pala ako, may kailangang tapusin, at may meeting pala ako sa araw na iyon. Minsan, kung ‘di maiibsan, huli na ang lahat. Pero mas madalas, nagagawan naman ng paraan.

Marahil dala na rin ng katamaran, at ng chronic procastination. Marahil dala na rin ng kapaguran at masyadong katoxican. Marahil dala na rin ng pagkadala sa mga bagay na aking mga ginagawa.

Nagpakatoxic ka kasi rald…ang bata mo pa. Tsk tsk tsk…

Pero ganun na nga siguro. Kailangan ko pang pagbutihan ang aking future-telling abilities. Kailangang paghandaan ang lahat ng bagay, maging isang buwan pa man yun mula ngayon, o kahit isang taon. Will power lang naman yan e. Ayon nga sa aking isang kaklase: cramming is sooooo last year.

At siguro, kung hindi na ako gaano nag-aabala sa kung anong mangyayari sa akin sa kasalukuyan, baka unti-unti ko na ring matutunang alalahanin ang mga kapapangyari lang. Sana nga ganun na lang kadali yun. Parang isang pitik.


Mamayang hapon, magfifrisbee kami sa Bellarmine Field sa Ateneo. Kasama ko ang Disc Doctors, hehe. (ang unofficial ultimate team ng Class 2010). Hehehe. 😀 Sana isang masaya at umaatikabong disc-ing na naman ito! Yeah! Sa mga gustong sumama at matuto, punta lang kayo! 3PM, sa Bellarmine Field. Text nyo na lang ako kung hindi niyo alam kung saan ito.


Mamayang gabi naman, pupunta akong Paoay, Ilocos Norte. May Planning Conference kasi doon ang APMC-SN (Association of Philippine Medical Colleges – Student Network) at ako ang representative ng UP Med. Kamusta naman ito? Kakatext lang sa akin two days ago. OO. TWO DAYS AGO, para sa isang conference sa ILOCOS. Huwaw. But a vice chair’s gotta do what a vice chair’s gotta do. Hehe.

Babalik naman ako ng Sunday e, kasi 1) susunduin ko si Maan sa airport, from Korea! 2) marami pang kailangang tapusin sa preparations sa Freshman Assistance Program ng MSC. Ganito siguro ang mangyayari, aalis kami papunta dun ng 8PM mamaya. 10 hours na trip. Darating kami mga 6AM ng Saturday dun. Tapos, kailangan ko na ring umalis ng 12MN dun, para by Sunday, nandito na uli ako. Kung may jet-setter, ano ang tawag sa isang batikang land-traveller? Bus-setter? Car-setter? Hehe.



Brods and Sisses in Dagupan (Sierra Monte Resort)

Sunset in Bolinao

Being A Minor Surgeon 🙂

Sorry I wasn’t able to finish resizing all the pics, kaya di ko pa nauupload sa multiply. Hehehe. Hintay na lang uli! 😀

Worth the Wait

It was midnight.

After dropping Maan off at her dorm across Taft, I was walking back to Rob when I passed by the PGH-OPD (Out Patient Department) gate in Faura. I chanced upon an elderly couple, both around the age of 65 maybe, asking something to the guard on duty:

“Boss, saan yung pila ng oh-pee-deh?” the man asked.

“Dito ho ba yung pila ng oh-peh-deh?” his wife assumed.

It was quarter past twelve, midnight.

And they were the only ones there.

I kept on walking, and never followed what had transpired from their inquiry to the guard. I know for a fact that the line for the OPD starts there, right where they were. But it was midnight; they weren’t supposed to be there until 5am, when the line usually starts. The OPD opens not until 8am.

Out of curiosity, just to see if they did fall in line (or start the line for that matter), I looked back at them…and I saw two people, seated in front of the gate.

They fell in line.


We will not be starting at the OPD until our 3rd year. It is at this year that we’ll be given partial responsibility (at least 1/5 of the praise/blame) to our patients. Patients who have too mild a-case to be admitted in the PGH wards. Patients who have traveled from every part of the country just to be serviced by the nation’s top doctors for free. Patients who have waited in line just to be included in the doctor’s patient list. Patients who sleep on the side walk of Faura, just to be the first in line. Patients whom we, as third year medical students, will practice history taking, physical examination, and diagnosing upon.

Will we be worth it? Will we be worth their time?

Medical Toxicity

Grabe, antagal ko na ring hindi nakakapagsulat dito. Malapit nang mag-isang buwan. Toxic talaga…hindi ko sukat akalaing ganito pala talaga sa med proper. Ubos na ang oras para sa mga maliliit na bagay tulad ng pagboblog…

Sa totoo lang, tatlo na lang ang oras namin, PRE-EXAM, EXAM-DAY at POST-EXAM. Ang PRE-EXAM ay yung mga araw bago ang exam kung saan gabi-gabi kang nagbabasa ng libro, transcriptions at powerpoint presentations. Ito yung oras mo ng pagrereview, mga araw kung saan “TOXIC” kang talaga. At siyempre dadating ang EXAM DAY kung saan mararamdaman mo ang halu-halong emosyon: kaba – dahil eto na talaga yung exam; kasiyahan – dahil matatapos na rin ang exam; lungkot – dahil wala kang nasagot at alam mong babagsak ka; galak – dahil sa wakas makakapag detox ka na rin. At diyan papasok ang POST-EXAM, kung saan maari ka nang matulog nang mahimbing dahil wala kang susunod na exam sa linggo.


Dahil mahaba ang coverage ng susunod mong exam, madalas ay mapaghahalo na ang POST at PRE EXAM periods. Sasabayan mo ng tulog sa klase (detox) at paunti-unting gimik ang mga gabing nagsisimula ka na muling mag-aral para sa susunod mong exam. Benign (hindi toxic) ka na dapat, pero kailangan mo na ring mag-aral para sa susunod na exam…bali-wala na rin ang POST EXAM period mo…

Grabe. Paulit-ulit na lang na ganyan. Kung susuwertehin, kada-dalawang linggo umuulit ang siklo. Pero ngayong Setyembre, tig-iisang linggo na lang dahil bawat linggo may exam kami. Nakakapagod.

Hindi ko rin lubos akalaing magiging ganito ako ka-toxic. Yung nagbabasa talaga ng libro para sa exam, yung tunay talagang nag-aadvance reading, yung inaalala kung kailan may exam, kung ano ang dapat basahin…hindi naman ako ganito dati. Noon, dalawang araw lang bago ang exam ako nag-rereview at nag-aaral, at sa notes lang talaga. Bihira ako noon mag-aral sa libro. Pero ngayon, kulang pa ang isang linggo ng pag-aaral para sa isang exam. Kakaiba kasi talaga yung mga pagsusulit…matatanga ka talaga ‘pag hindi ka nakapag-aral. Sabi nga ng isa kong kaklase…iba talaga ang med school sa college…”NEXT LEVEL NA ITO!”

Pero kahit papaano, natutunan ko na ring i-enjoy ang ganitong buhay. Hindi din naman ako nalulungkot. Napapagod lang talaga ako.

Hindi naman madami ang ginagawa ko. Hmm…well, sabagay, madami na rin kung ikukumpara sa normal na med student. Sumali kasi ako sa Medchoir, e dalawang beses sa isang linggo ang practice doon. Kasama din ako sa isang banda, yung Soul Butterfly nga, at sa katotohanan, may “gig” kami sa Martes. Bukod pa doon, Sports Committee co-head pa ako sa Medicine Student Council, na may meeting every week, at player din ng volleyball ng class kaya halos may game din kami everyweek para sa sportsfest ng med.

Hehe, habang nagtitipa ako naisip kong andami ko nga palang ginagawa…

Nakakapagod din kung minsan…madalas akong late na talaga natutulog, at tulog din madalas sa klase, hindi nakikinig sa lectures at umaasa sa transcriptions. Pero ayus lang. Hindi ako nagrereklamo. Masaya ako ngayon, at least nagagawa ko yung mga bagay na gusto kong magawa. May outlet ako sa mga talento at hilig ko. At least hindi puro aral lang ang inaatupag. At buti na lang, sa awa ng Diyos, isa pa lang ang exam na naibabagsak ko. :p

Grabe, kakaiba nga talaga ang buhay med…

TOXIC nga talaga kung toxic. Pero masaya. 😀


Iba pang mga bagay:

  • Kauuwi ko lang mula sa isang kasal sa Fernwood Gardens. Kumanta kasi kami ng Medchoir sa kasal ng isang doktor sa PGH. Hehehe. Masaya siya dahil unang kanta ko ito bilang trainee at kahit hindi ko pa gaanong alam yung ibang mga kanta, game pa rin! Bwehehe. Pagalingan na lang sa lip-synching. Hahahaha!
  • OK pa kasi libre yung dinner namin. Kahit hindi kami doon pinakain sa reception, binigyan naman kami ng money for dinner at kumain kami sa a Venetto. Yehey. Sarap ng pagkaing libre. 🙂
  • Exam na naman namin sa Thursday…OS 205 na, THORAX (Lungs, Heart and CVS). Good luck. Mas madali daw ito kaysa sa naunang exams namin. Sana nga. :]
  • Marami akong natutunan sa lectures last week (nung mga times na nakikinig ako…) tulad ng paano makikinig sa lungs at heart gamit ang stethoscope, at kung anu-ano pa. Ang saya kasi may clinicals na ring kasama yung lectures…at sabay ang physio at anatomy kaya naiintindihan mo kung anong function ng bawat parte. MAHAL KO NA ANG OSI. :]
  • Kailan kaya ako makakabili ng PDA…
  • Ano bang ginagawa ng medical transcriptionists? Hehehe, curious lang. 🙂



Akala ko dati pa-epek lang ng mga doktor sa cartoons yang device na yan. May tawag pala sa kanya: head mirror. Ginagamit para malagyan ng ilaw ang bibig sa pamamagitan ng pagrereflect ng ilaw. Sisilip ka sa butas sa gitna at doon mo titignan ang bungaga at lalamunan ng pasyente. Galing no? May gamit pala talaga yung “head gear” ng mga doktor. 😀

Mga Sandaling Ginto

Sa ngayon hindi ko alam ang gagawin ko. 3:30 na ng umaga, kaninang 12:30 kararating ko lang galing sa isang debut. Nagkaroon kasi ng after party sa Figaro, at nakainom ako ng kape…bat ngayon anlakas ng epekto sa akin nito, e sa dati, nung ako’y nag-aaral para sa Physio at Anatomy e walang kaepe-epekto ang caffein sa akin at sa simpleng basahan lang ng isang paragraph sa textbook ay pipikit-pikit na ang mata ko. Hay ewan. Restlessness nga ba ang tawag dito o boredom?

Nung isang araw, natapos na rin ang aming (aking) pag-hihirap para sa isang semestre. Bow. Matapos ang araw-araw na (at gabi-gabing) pagpupuyat, pag-aaral, pagbabasa, pagca-cram, pagsusulat, pagtatype, pagre-research at kung anu-ano pa, ang lahat ng ito tumigil na nung Biyernes. Minsan na akong nag-isip na magshift. Gusto ko munang itigil ang lahat, humingi ng bakasyon, mag-LOA, basta’t maitigil lang ang aking paghihirap noon sa pag-aaral. Minsan na ring dumaplis sa isipan kong magpakamatay…nakakatakot, pero totoo. Pero alam ko namang hindi ko gagawin yun, ang desperado ko naman.

Kakaiba kasi ang semestreng ito, iba sa mga nauna kong napagdaanang semestre. Kung dati’y ang mga trabaho’y nakaconcentrate lang sa huling bahagi ng sem, ‘pag malapit na ang finals week, etong sem na ito, bawat linggo ata finals week. Sabay-sabay ang lahat ng gagawin, lahat ng tests, lahat ng quiz, lahat ng papers. Para kaming mga manggagawa sa isang pagawaan ng schoolwork. Pagkatapos mo sa isang gawain, punta ka naman sa sunod hanggang matapos mo ang lahat ng gagawin mo. Araw-gabi, walang pahinga…

Nagyon. At ngayon lang kami nakaranas ng pahinga. Kung tutuusin, noong pagkatapos pa ng play namin, noong gabi pa ng Tuesday. Doon namin unang natamasa, sa buong semestreng ito, (una nga ba? o dahil sa sobrang tagal na namin nang huli namin naramdaman ang ganito ay akala nami’y unang pagkakataon ito?) ang pakiramdam na walang-iniintindi, walang ipinag-aalala…kalayaan sa paggawa. Ang sarap ng pakiramdam. Sa wakas at masasabi na rin namin, nang walang pakiramdam nang pandaraya at guilt, “Wala akong gagawin bukas! Matutulog na lang ako nang mahimbing ngayong gabi!”

Natulog nga ako nun, masarap dahil aircon. Dati, sa dorm, kapag naka-aircon kami, ayoko…dahil gising ako, dahil nag-aaral ako, dahil hindi ako makapag-aral nang mabuti dahil nginangatog ako, dahil naiinis ako’t hindi ko magawang matulog na lang nang mahimbing dahil may kailangan pa akong tapusing libro o paper. Mahaba at walang putol ang tulog ko. Ang dating araw ko na nagsisimula sa bawat paggising sa akin ni Maan tuwing 6:15 am tuwing siya’y nagmimiscol ay nagsimula ng 10:30. Hindi ko na kinailangang magmadali para maligo at magbihis para lang makarating nang nasa oras para sa aking 7am na klase. Nakangiti ako nang ako’y bumangon noong umagang iyon ng Wednesday dahil alam kong wala akong gagawin sa araw na iyon. Sarap!

Nagpatuloy iyon, ang araw ko na walang ginagawa. Ang bawat araw ko na walang inaatupag kundi ay matulog nang maaga at gumising nang magtatanghali na. Hanggang ngayong gabi…wala akong gagawin bukas, kaya kaya kong mag-blog ngayong madaling umaga at hindi matakot sa ginagawa kong (hindi pag-aaral).

Pero ano? Kung ganito lang din ang mangyayari sa amin sa akin ngayong sembreak, hindi nga kaya ma-bore kami ako? Kung ang dating busy-busyhan na schedule nami’y ngayo’y naging isang tabularasa na lamang, hindi ba nakakatakot iyon? Sanay na kami sa pag-aaral, hahanapin at hahanapin din namin iyon anumang mangyari. Gaya kagabi, mga 10:30 noon at nanonood ako ng TV sa aking kwarto. Bigla ko na lang naisipan na kunin ang bag ko at bigla akong naghanap ng kung anuman. Natauhan din akong bigla at naisip kong ang hinahanap ko pala’y notebook ko sa Physio. Ang lala no?

Withdrawal symptoms kumbaga. Kung alisin mo sa isang tao ang isang bagay na naging parte na ng kanyang buhay, hahanap-hanapin niya ito at maaaring magpakita siya ng mga kakaibang sintomas ukol dito. Gaya namin, kaming mga estudyante ng Intarmed, ang pag-aaral ay nakasanayan na namin…alisin man ito sa amin ngayong break…hahanap-hanapin pa rin namin ito.

Gusto ko lang ipakita ang isang analohiya ng pag-aaral para sa amin (as conjured up by Gideon Lasco and Anthony Dofitas):

Ang pag-aaral para sa Intarmed ay parang isang brief ng isang lalaki. Ito ay kailangan, hindi dapat kaligtaan. Pero kung iyong tanggalin, masarap ang pakiramdam…ngunit hahanap-hanapin din ng may-ari ‘pag natagalan.

Totoo. Tanggap ko na na kailangan naming mag-aral. Kaya ngayon, sa ngayong bored ako at walang magawa, sa mga pagkakataong ito, mga pagkakataong wala akong kailangang intindihin, walang inaabala, ako’y magpapahinga nang buong saya at ligaya. Ang bawat gintong sandali’y aking itatamasa sapagkat ang mga sandaling ito’y madalang naming makuha.

Passion for Service

As if we hadn’t had enough of the premiere tertiary hospital in the Philippines, kanina, pumunta kaming PGH para sa isang “field trip” (whatta field trip, katapat lang namin yun no!) sa aming HISTORY 5 class, a.k.a. History of Philippine Medicine. Our class, which is compposed of the two Intarmed blocks, was divided into 4 groups. My group was called the special group…why? Kasi kami lang ang tanging group na makakapunta sa Cancer Institute (CI) ng PGH whereas yung iba ay sa OPD (Out Patient Department) lang pupunta since 10 people lang ang kayang i-accomodate sa CI. So there, we went to CI, met our “tour guide” who was actually a nurse there. 🙂 She was making rounds on the different wards in the Institute and made us tag along with her.

Personally, I was really excited in going to CI? Why? Because that is where I’m planning to specialize when graduate from Med School! Yeah! After taking my residency in Pediatrics, I plan to sub-specialize in Oncology and become a Pediatric Oncologist like my mom. A what? Ok, in common terms, a doctor for children with cancer. But why? Because according to my mom, you can count with your fingers and toes the number of Pediatric Oncologists here in the Philippines…and our country is in need of more.

I asked my mom once, isn’t it hard to become a doctor for children with cancer? She blatantly said yes. Imagine not knowing whether your patient, an innocent child, would live or die…all because of the uncertainties of the disease. However, if you do know what would happen, you are then given the burden of having to tell the parents of the child how many days, weeks, or months…they have left to cherish the presence of their child. Its the innocence that hurts…pure innocence already marked with death.

So why am I still considering this specialty as my future career? Aside from what the nurse in the CI told us (that there are only few Pediatric Oncologists in the country; read: less competition, more money! *evil laugh*), I am considering it because of necessity. Not mine, but of the country. I promise, when I DO become a doctor, I’ll work in at least two hospitals: one public and one private. The public hospital would cater to my long-term goal of serving the Filipino people someday (for they had invested so much on me, being a UP child since Kindergarten…); and the private hospital catering to my need for survival. I mean, lets face it…we need money to survive these days.

But being a Pediatric Oncologist does not only include being of service and having more money than the more populated specialties…it also includes having both a strong mind and soul. As you hone your craft while playing dangerously between life and death, being a Pediatric Oncologist requires you to be stable physically, emotionally and spiritually. You cannot be too attached to a patient for if he/she might die, you can just get along with it just fine. But you cannot also be not sympathetic for the child would feel neglected and unimportant. You have to know your limits…and the limits of your soul.

I am not saying that you cannot have the same experience in other fields. Its just that I am more exposed to this specailty because I am the son of my mother. I grew up in her clinic and saw children, as the same age as me, bald and feeble. I grew up being typical to conversations like

“Alam nyo, patay na si ____,” my mom would say while we’re on a trip to somewhere.

“Gaano mo na ba siya katagal pasyente? Ilang taon na?” my dad would reply.

“Mga 3 years ko na rin siyang inalagaan, ‘di nakayanan ng katawan nya e. Sa Sunday ang libing.”

Then suddenly I’d butt in and say, “Punta tayong Jollibee! Gusto ko ng Chickenjoy!” partially apathetic and ignorant of what the adults were talking about.

I grew up in a family where death was part of dinner time conversations.

But of course, though saddest moments are the ones often remembered, happy ones are also shared. My mom has learned to celebrate the ones which survived and not mourn for the ones which hasn’t. Every year, they organize a camp for cancer patients along with the survivors. There they have fun and celebrate life! Maybe its there where my mom gets her dedication and passion for service — the feeling of knowing that there is still hope.

*sigh* I still have a Zoo Lec exam tomorrow and this is what I’m doing…blogging about the future. geez…I haven’t finished studying yet! But I’m so glad that I’ve become vocal about this now…lately kasi I’ve been having qualms of continuing my TOXIC med life…but after this, I’ve still another reason to not stop.

In 5 and a half years, supposedly, I’ll graduate from the UP College of Medicine. Then I’d have to take the boards to become a liscenced physician. 8 years or more…I hope I’ll be a Pedia-Onco by then. Hope is all I have right now…and hope is all I need…with dedication, love, support, passion, money, patience, commitment…blah..blah…blah… 😛

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