Saturday, April 12, 2008

a summer like no other

when the invitation to contribute to the blogger rounds by doc ness with the topic i know what you did last summer came, nothing came into mind. since time immemorial, i never spend my summer with something or somewhere that's really worth writing about. usually, it's spent at home or at work.

after while, i remembered, yes, i had one summer worth sharing because it taught me a lesson that changed the path i was about to take. this experience happened in 2002.

as a backgrounder, my parents barely finished their elementary years because of poverty. theirs were a family of fishermen and farmers. when they decided to get married, their only dream is to let all of their children finish school and so they strived so hard. their hard work paid off when i was in my first year in high school. we had a really good business - selling fresh fish in bulk. we had several fishing boats that brought the money in. because of that, my father dreamed of having a doctor in the family and since i'm the eldest, i was their first project in making their dream come true. after high school, i didn't know what course to take in college (just ike most of us i guess). my father told me to take a course that would prepare me in becoming a doctor. since i had no other plans back then, i took up biology. i finished it ion time and i took up medicine in 1998. i did not encounter problems financially during my first 3 years in med school. however, on my 4th year my parents had a difficulty paying my tuition then since 3 of my siblings were in college at the same time. luckily, my father received his share in sunlife for his plan and that paid my tuition off. i thought that my family was still okay financially then. little did i know they're struggling already back home. my parents would never talk to me about finances since they were afraid that it would affect my studies. since 1998 to 2002, i wasn't home most of the time (my parents were in bantayan while i was in cebu). after graduating in april of 2002, finally i was able to have a 3-week vacation prior to postgraduate internship. that 3 weeks made all the difference. that 3 weeks of summer changed my life.

i was initially matched with Perpetual Succour Hospital and i attended the orientation there. but since i wanted that 3-week vacation i told them i need to go home and promise to come back on may 1 to start my internship. that was really my intention - start on time and finish it as soon as possible to give me enough time to review for the boards.

and so i went home......

when i came home, the usually busy home was quiet that it felt strange. (we had a lot of workers then that made the house and the compound busy with people). i asked my parents why and they told me we're into bankruptcy for almost a year already. i was appalled. what happened to our comfortable and well-off life? all of our fishing boats were sold but the business was not able to recover. it was then that i realized the need for me to do something to help my family. i was showing signs of depression then. my parents worked so hard for that business but it did not last long enough to help us finish our studies. that whole 3 weeks of summer vacation was spent on watching tv from alas singko y medya (now umagang kay ganda) to the world tonight. as i was wallowing there, my parents did not say anything. i was left to tend to my own bleeding emotions. on my second week at home, i have decided that i could not start working on may 1 so i called the hospital and informed them that i could not go there as promised but probably on may 16. when may 16 came, i called them again and i told them i might start on june 1. then came june 1... i called them up again - i'm not coming.

the news reached my classmates. being a student that diligently finish things on or before the set deadline, i was a believer of not flunking any subject and finish medicine on time with flying colors. and so i did. my classmates then wondered why i decided not to pursue my internship. a lot of them called to ask why but i refused to give them an answer at that time. it was so hard to accept to the rest of the world that i need to stop because we can no longer afford it. i have decided to find a job. (at that time, the only one working was my sister who worked as a pharmacist).the only other source of income was the money we get from selling our properties. and so i went back to cebu and started looking for a job. since i was in the middle of not qualified and overqualified, i had a really hard time. but.. finally i was accepted as a medical indexer but i have to go through a process that would take 3 months before i can start working. but it was okay then. at least i found a job. a few days after that, my classmates started calling again. during that time, i was on the road towards acceptance - accepting that we were financially drained. i was able to tell my classmates that it was financial constraints that stopped me from continuing my internship. these classmates were bearers of good news. they introduced me to silliman where the interns were given 1,ooophp as stipend. back then the place was foreign to me and i didn't even know how to go there. but they convinced me to apply. and so i did through mail. i was accepted (thank you dr. Ursos). when i received the acceptance letter around september 2002, i was taken aback. what have i done? committing myself to two institutions - work and internship. i was in pure dilemma. because of that, i decided to go home since i was set to start my job on nov 3. on the last week of october, i didn't know what to do.

my father came to my rescue. he asked me what my priority was. i told him i need to find a job to help them and my siblings (there are 8 of us). he told me that what i was about to do was only a temporary kind of help. he made me realize that i would help them more if i become a doctor and practice as one even if it's the long road towards helping them. but i was adamant and i told them i can't wait for another year to be able to help them financially. i would not want to rob my siblings of the opportunity to finish school. but stubborn as i was, my father is a lot more stubborn ( i got it from him according to my mom). he told me and talked me through it. it was okay for me to pursue internship but my problem was the money i would need for the trip to dumaguete. my father solved that by texting his siblings. help came. having been used to living independently and not asking help from relatives, the help they extended brought tears to my eyes. i cried because i never thought that God's love can make miracles. i cried because just like everyone else i was grateful for those who helped. i had no choice then but to go to dumaguete and start my internship in silliman. bringing with me the hopes of my parents, i bravely went to dumaguete alone. a friend of mine came to welcome me from the port of dumaguete on oct 30, 2002. i was ushered into a dorm where i would live for free and i was told that the interns have free meals for the entire 365 days of our internship. wow. i was more than joyful. my problems were all answered by the mighty Lord and left me nothing to worry about.

and so i started as an intern on nov 1, 2002. from then on i lived with my 1,000php stipend - spending it only on necessary expenses like my laundry and toiletries.

i didn't know the blessings did not end there. it's true - when it rains, it pours. i came to gain new friends, confidence in treating and healing patients, came to know a lot of nice people and most especially, i came to love the place - both the hospital and the whole negros oriental. i fell in love with the place and the people such that i vowed to come back and train in silliman. i finished my internship on oct 31, 2003 and took the board exams on february 2004 and passed.

i fulfilled my promise and came back. since march 2004 up to the present, i'm still here. i'm on my last year in family medicine residency training program and i have decided that i'm going to practice here.

happy ending, right? that summer made all the difference. if i wasn't home then i would not know silliman and the joys of working with the people whom i fell in love with. maybe, this is His plan for me. this could be His master plan all along that i was just too blind to figure it out myself. i'm glad things happened that way. with that, i found my way to where i feel that i truly belong.


Ness said...

thank you, Mona, for sharing this beautiful story with us. it's been quite a journey, hasn't it? and as they say, the best is yet to come.

do check out the website of doc remo, the father of TBR. he has some special instructions about writing an introductory post too as well as putting the TBR logos on your weblog.

copy paste this on your browser:

keep em comin'

bricalz said...

Just when I convince myself, I have you figured out doc....

It's touching to see a story like yours, and I grew up here and I always knew that I'd live here most of my life, so it's nice to see Dumaguete coming from another one's eyes.

You saw it then as refuge, now it's nice we both have it to call home.


MerryCherry, MD said...

Wow, that was a story.I am so amazed as to how you had the courage to right something as personal as that. Great story. As they say, all is well that ends well.

Btw, please join the TBR 6th ed: Philippine Healthcare System. Details here.

Oh, before you do, please follow Doc Ness' instructions. Hehe ;) Will link you up. ;)

GONG said...

GOSH! breathtaking story Doctor Mona. I liked it a lot. I could almost cry.

did you know of the SUMC joke of pedicab drivers in dgte? ALL drivers new that SUMC exists, ryt? however, for some drivers, SUMC means, Silliman University 'Maguete City. hehehe

ANyway, thanks For adding me to your links.
Lemme link yours too.

Dr. Emer said...

Thanks for sharing your memorabl;e summer experience with us, Dra. Mona. God has a way of testing us as He prepares us for the real battles ahead. Great post!