Monday, April 28, 2008

Walang Ganyan Sa Australia

I used to blog about the negative side of the Philippines, yes, I am guilty of putting a bit of shame to our country but I only do it sarcastically to prove a point. I created that blog when I was still in the Philippines, not to put our country down or make worse its reputation, it was actually meant to be a wake up call, to somehow "shake" a sleepy nation to face reality and change for the better.

Fact is, I love the Philippines very much that I take honor and pride being a Filipino. I left the Philippines for personal reasons but it doesn't mean that I do not love our country anymore. I hope our kababayans in the Philippines will understand people like me who chose to leave the Philippines for various reasons. Whenever the likes of Efren "Bata" Reyes or Django Bustamante or Manny Pacquiao triumph in the sporting scene, I am one of the many Pinoy bloggers blogging about them telling everybody in cyberspace how truly "world-class" Filipinos are. Some of my posts are archived and I reckon I wrote about them and other "world-class Pinoys" a number of times.

But what is it in the Philippines that makes us love it with all our hearts? I can name more than a hundred and one reasons and I am sure all you Pinoys out there can think thousands and thousands more.

I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES simply because it is my one and only TRUE HOME. I was born and raised there and that fact will remain forever even if I'll change citizenship in the years to come. Australia will only be my second home.

I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES because Filipinos are generally good people. Hardworking, God-fearing, responsible, polite, family oriented, loyal. These attributes are inherent to Pinoys no matter where we are. When you ask Australians to describe a Filipino, they will definitely say good adjectives in defining us.

I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES because of the good food. Sinigang na baboy, Kare-kare, Nilagang baka, Inihaw na bangus, Bagoong at Itlog na maalat. These are but some of the mouth-watering delicacies our country has to offer. Not to mention the world renowned Balut, which can only be found in the Philippines.

I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES because of its scenic and majestic places. The Banaue Rice Terraces, Mt. Apo in Davao, Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, Vigan to name a few.

I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES because world class people, doctors, inventors, athletes and artists come from this part of the earth.

And most of all I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES because there is no place in the world like it.

God bless the Philippines! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Pitiful Story Of A Filipina

I found this video clip from YouTube about a Filipina entertainer who left the Philippines in search for a better life. She auditioned for Britain's Got Talent in order for her to gain more popularity hence more job and more earnings to support her two children whom she left in the Philippines.

Madonna Decena blew the judges and audience away on Britains Got Talent 2008 with a breathtaking performance of this famous Whitney Houston song I Will Always Love You. This 33 year-old from the Philippines lived up to her billing, as she wowed the judges and audience with her powerful performance and heart-felt story.

In tears and a little unsure of herself, Madonna walked onto the stage and told everyone her reason for being there.

Six months ago she flew out to Britain in the hope of creating a better life for herself and two young daughters. Agonisingly she had to leave her precious children behind with their grandparents in the Philippines, until she had raised enough money to send for them.

This audition was a dream come true for Madonna, it was potentially life-changing, and when the panel told her she had made it to the next round... it was as if all her dreams had been answered. Life's really hard in the Philippines and it is becoming harder and harder each day... God bless the Philippines!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Is There Really A System?

I was again invited to participate in the blog rounds. This is actually the 6th edition and my fourth time to contribute. The topic chosen by the host, Merrycherry is very interesting indeed for it concerns the Philippine healthcare system which we doctors are a part of.

When I received her invitation to participate, I sarcastically commented on her blog post that the Philippines has no "system" of healthcare at all. That was purely sarcasm... yes our "poor" (pun intentional) country has a healthcare system but sad to say it sucks!

First and foremost, like what has been lamented by each and every Health Secretaries, past and present, health was, is, and will never be one of the Philippine government's top priorities (not in Arroyo's time anyway). I don't reckon they care about the nation's health at all. The total appropriations for the Department of Health for 2007, according to the Department of Budget and Management is Php 11,562,704,000.00. At first glance... WOW that's a lot of moolah but in reality that's only a booger comparing to more than 1 TRILLION peso annual budget. Well, in case you do not know, Mrs. Arroyo... health is wealth. So the next time you check-in at St. Lukes' suite room for a check-up, think about the millions of your kababayans in dire need of being healthly as well. I cannot compare the Philippine Healthcare system with Australia's Medicare. There is no point of comparing... ang layo talaga at ang laki ng kaibahan! All I know is that Australia's health is being take cared of very meticulously by the Federal Government and the State Government as well.

Secondly, corruption will always be a stigma to the Philippines. Hell, it runs through the veins of many public and private officials already. What more can we do about it? (unless we execute them all ;) ). The lagayans, SOP's, padulas, 10%'s... these will NEVER stop. I am not saying all officials are like that but almost all are! What will you do to a very small budget and part of that budget goes to the pocket of hungry corrupt crocodiles and personnel. Whew, I can't imagine the headache, Secretary Duque is having everyday. I pity the good man.

Thirdly, my personal opinion is that doctors are not taken cared of in our country. I can only shake my head in disgust! Why do you think doctors leave the country and work as nurses, pathology collectors, AIN's? Just answer that question yourselves. Which reminds me of my salary when I was a Paediatric resident in 1998, its a meager Php 2,500 per month. Doctors are being damn abused and used! And what is the lame excuse of these so called training hospitals and university hospitals? Oh, its because you are still under training...that's bull$h!t isn't it? Interns, resident doctors and fellows man your hospitals while your arses are snoring at home, don't you think it is unfair? I say, doctors in training should be given what they truly deserve. Good living quarters, free decent food, free uniforms, good salaries and most of all put an end to the bull$h!t thing of making them work on a 24 hour shifts, hell that is a no, no! Here in Australia, doctors in training work 10 or 12 hours,max, per day and they surely earn heaps

Another thing is that the dispensing of medicines and drugs is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very lax in the Philippines. Medicines are being sold to the public even without prescriptions. Mercury Drug is the only winner with regards to this problem. People no longer go to doctors, all they need to do is go to the nearest Mercury drug outlet and ask the saleslady or salesman there what is the medicine for this and that. I experienced it myself. I still can recall how I scolded a woman and a Mercury Drug saleslady. I was buying my anti-hypertensive maintenance drugs when a woman besides me started asking the saleslady for a cough medicine for a child, as if she was consulting a doctor. This good for nothing idiot saleslady asked, "how old?" and the woman replied 2 years old. She said "ahh, Dimetapp po" I couldn't helped it so I butted in. I introduced myself as a doctor, not that I want her child to be my patient, I told her not to consult a saleslady who obviously has no idea what she is talking about and instead bring her child to a doctor.

Another problem related to the drug dispensing thing is that our Barangay health centres are not manned by doctors. Instead they are mostly manned by "know-it-all" midwives who almost always prescribe and give "Cephalexin" left and right. Good if they know the correct dosage and duration of treatment but most if not all the time they do not. For me that is a major reason for drug resistance! Again it boils down to lack of doctors... secondary to lack of funding, secondary to poor government prioritisation, etc, etc.

Lastly we Filipinos do not value our own health. Many are guilty of that and that is a fact. We do not eat right, we do not exercise regularly, we do vices. These are small things that should be first in our priorities as individuals. For we cannot do anything anymore if we are already 6 feet under the ground.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pinoy Finalist In So You Think You Can Dance Australia

Demi Sorono, a Filipino- Aussie is one of the top 4 contestants in Australia's favorite dance show, So You Think You Can Dance. She will be dancing with Australia's 3 best dancers. Demi hails from Melbourne but she and her family came from the Philippines. Two other top 20 finalists were from the Philippines or have Filipino blood, they are JD Carteret and Rhiannon Villareal.

All the best to you Demi, you make all Filipinos proud. Mabuhay ka!

Monday, April 14, 2008

IELTS, A Money Making Scam?

I cannot comprehend why the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) has a validity period even if you have passed it already. All I reckon is that it is just a money making scheme which preys on poor migrants like us. I took the IELTS December 2005 and got a very decent result. I used it for my visa application and used it for my assessment for the Australian Medical Council MCQ examination.

Last week, I applied for a "part time" Paediatric Registrar position. The Department's head notified me that my IELTS is not acceptable anymore because it is three months over the validity period and I cannot be given a temporary registration by the New South Wales Medical Board. I understand the reason why they need people like us to present a proof of english proficiency because english is not our first language, but what I am saying is that the IELTS should not have a validity period. It doesn't mean that after two years, when the IELTS' validity lapses, you do not know how to speak and understand the language anymore. That's silly isn't it? What proof do they still need, I am working for two months now and naturally speaking english in communicating with patients and co-workers as well. Its very frustrating!

Somebody must voice out in protest to this stupid idea, to this hidden form of discrimination! I know that we migrants do not have english as our first language, I accept that fact. But I think an IELTS result with a high rating is enough to prove that one can communicate well in english. It doesn't need to have a validity period simply because the person who took and passed it will continue to understand, speak, write and read the english language long after the validity period is over.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Warm There, Chilly Here

I was again invited to join and contribute to the blog rounds. It's actually the 5th blog rounds and my 3rd time to contribute. The topic for this week as chosen by the moderator, Ness is entitled "I know what you did last summer!" I don't know what to share or where to start but here it goes anyway....

April and May are sure warm and dry months in the Philippines, the much awaited summer break for all especially for the kids who are studying. During these times, Pinoys start to flock beaches and resorts or go to Baguio perhaps. Here in Aussieland it is starting to become cold and chilly, people start to wear sweatshirts and hoodies... Summer is over and what can be more lovely than the pleasant autumn weather.

December through February are the warmest months here. We celebrate Christmas here in the scorching heat of summer. Probably one of my most memorable summer was the one when we celebrated Christmas of 2006. The family was complete then, my brother in law who works in the Philippines spent Christmas with us, also, Eric's family was for the first time together here in Sydney during that festive season. That was the first noche buena we had here in Sydney where each and everyone were present. That was a very memorable one. The kids had a great time.

I guess from now on I will not be spending my Aprils and Mays going to the beach or having a swim at resorts or going to Baguio. I will be wearing jackets and scarves going to work. My Christmases will be much different as well, so much for chilly December mornings and Simbang Gabi. I will be spending the rest of my summers greeting everyone a Merry Christmas.

Enjoy your summer there and I will savor my autumn here...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Heidi's On Her Way Home

Today is a very sad day for us, my eldest sister Heidi is going back to the Philippines to be with her husband. Finally, after close to three years of waiting, she decided that its time for her to go back. We will surely miss her company. I wish her well and happiness she surely deserve.

To you Heidi, may you be happy in your decision, which we all reckon is the right thing for you to do. Don't worry, we'll take care of Nanay and Tatay while you are away. I'm sure you'll be alright in the Philippines as well. Don't work too hard.

May GOD be with you.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Doctors Are Human After All

People always expect that doctors practice what we are preaching and therefore it is imperative for us to be healthy all the time. It is a common thinking of many that doctors have no right to be ill, that is why sometimes they forget that doctors are human too. That we are susceptible to all the diseases and maladies like everyone else. That we also inherit defective genes. That we also feel the pain, physical or emotional it may be.

I am no exception to the rule. I became a patient too. I suffered an episode of TIA when I was a second year Pediatric Resident and was confined in the ICU for days. I can't forget being glued to my bed because I was ordered CBR without bathroom privileges. Can you imagine yourself urinating and defecating while lying supine? Hard isn't it? Whew! I went through all of that. Not to mention all the needlesticks from blood exams and IV insertion... Ouch! that hurt. And what about your vital signs being monitored by the hour??? I hope you can imagine how sleepless my nights were during that time. But what is more difficult for us doctors when we become ill is the mental torture we have to endure, because we actually know what is really happening to our system. We know the severity and prognosis of our own sickness. We do not need our "attending physician's" litany of words and false hopes so to speak, for us to know what is really wrong with our body.

Empathy for patients is a very important for us doctors. We should almost always put ourselves in our patients' shoes to be able to understand them more. It will be easier for us to do that if we actually had experienced being one. So the next time we order serial blood tests or nil bathroom privileges, think again and go easy. Patients, like us doctors are human as well.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Yesterday, 1st of April was Migo and Eki's Confirmation at St. Michael's Catholic Church. The Sacrament was given by Father Paul Slyney and Father Michael O'Callahan. A total of close to 50 young boys and girls from the St. Michael Parish received it.

The Sacrament of Confirmation, the least known and appreciated among the Seven Sacraments. It is described as the Sacrament of Spiritual Maturity according to Friar Jack's E-spirations. When a person is Confirmed, the Holy Spirit is being given to the individual to make them "Soldiers of Christ."

After the mass, the whole family (except for nanay who was left home) had dinner at the Baulkham Palace in Stockland Mall, Baulkham Hills.