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A motherís prayer

By: Julia Carreon-Lagoc

Julia Carreon-Lagoc

            Fresh from her doctorate degree at the West Visayas State University, my daughter Randy Raissa was accepted for postgraduate internship at the New York Hospital Medical Center at Queens, an affiliate of Cornell University. That was in 1993 when, besting graduates from other countries, she was named Best Intern, finally becoming the Chief Medical Resident. Around that time and in time for Mother’s Day, I contributed this article to Philippine News, a newspaper of wide circulation in America. A blow to the sitcom Desperate Housewives that denigrated Filipino physicians, she was named 2007 Physician of the Year by the Hilton Head Regional Medical Center in South Carolina, where she presently sits in the hospital’s Board of Directors. Happily married, Randy Raissa Lagoc-Dingus is herself now a mother brnging up lovable Danika in the same values she grew up with. A medical mission in the homeland is one of her plans.

            The incident narrated below speaks of the dire health condition in our country — something all of us have to be concerned about. Read on:
            She said the hospital was pitch dark with the power suddenly cut off. Everything seemed to be at a standstill. It was very quiet. The electric fans stopped blowing. The hurry-scurry of footsteps was heard no more. The smell of antiseptics came up more defined in the brownout.

            This girl intern was operating the “ambu bag.” That’s how she called the ambulatory air bag, an emergency aid to breathing. She had it hooked on to a man suffering from PTB – pulmonary tuberculosis, she explained.  Her left hand was holding firmly the wrist to feel that the pulse of life hadn’t left the patient; the right hand kept on pumping.

            The minutes passed – ten, fifteen, twenty – still the lights hadn’t returned. The generator of the hospital was never known to be reliable; it had always taken long to start.  Her hand was getting numbed pumping for what seemed to be eternal time suspended in darkness. She couldn’t let go, she said, because the “ambu bag” was the patient’s thin lifeline which, heaven forbid, could snap. And the pulse beats – these were getting fainter, slower…

            She was getting exhausted, and there was no one to relieve her. Helpless, she felt a tear drop on her arm. And then the tears just rolled down in abandon.

            Tears? What was it to her? What had the life of this man got to do with her? Because in this PTB case, she felt the impact of Third World deprivations? In this hospital, in Iloilo province, Philippines. The patient died, and death could have been prevented, she said, if the man had not been so poor.

            Tears? Yes, for all the pains in the world. In the first place, she lamented, it didn’t make sense to be sick of PTB, a disease easily cured by proper nutrition and medication. Didn’t man’s super intelligence and his billions land him on the moon? This young mind was questioning mankind’s priorities.

            The light came back after a full half hour. A senior physician passed by and seeing her cry, remarked, trying to be understanding: “You’ll get calloused soon enough.”

            What does a mother say to a daughter going through this kind of emotional experience? Pray. Pray for strength. And a mother’s own silent prayer :

            Dear God, please don’t let this girl get calloused. Don’t snuff out the idealism. Don’t let her forget that in the halls of academe, she denounced the shame of poverty and showed how this is brought about by institutionalized exploitation. Let her realize that a significant part of life is to serve the people as that placard held tightly during her undergrad days had proclaimed.

            Spare her from being lost in the jungle of the yuppies, those young urban professionals – upwardly mobile, sharply competitive, unmindful of homespun values in the rush to “have it made.”

            The intern is a full-fledged  doctor now. The rite of passage decrees that she seeks the meaning of her own life. As she continues to chart her own course, so does a mother with her prayer:
            Let her not forget that the call of service is back in the homeland. Foreign shores are only for getting expertise. Let her keep faith in the noblest and greatest of her race. Let the song live on in her heart --

            “Mabuhay my country, my lovely people!”  (

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