(One of those guys I met in one of my mission trips for charity)
My son Magdiwang came to my clinic with a young woman. I was surprised to see him bringing a young woman in my clinic about four (4) years older than him. I thought he came to introduce me a girl friend who could be his ate or older sister at his young age of 16.
But the young woman allayed my fear when she introduced herself as my son’s teacher. She said she was intrigued on what my son had written in his essay “The Meaning of Public Service.” She wanted to see what my son said about the “extra-ordinary things” I do as a doctor. So I said ” okay, just take your seat and observe.”
And here is the excerpt of his essay:
“Public service it is one of those things that your parents do to serve the people. My mother is a nurse and she spends more time in the hospital than at home. At time she comes home tired, feeling weak, coughing, having a fever and head ache. She consults my dad who is a doctor who diagnosed her by reading her pulse and passing through his hands on the head and face of my mom to determine if she has fever. Then my dad boils ginger and herbal tea for my mom to drink. Miraculously my mom is ready again to go back to the hospital to serve the following day.”
“But my dad is a little bit weired, he put up a clinic at the heart of a community of squatters. There he does not only function as a physician but serve the people around doing extra-ordinary things no doctor at his sane mind would do. Because of this people look at him as a healer, a social worker, an indigenous community leader, a do it yourself person (mechanic, carpenter, mason, electrician, painter, plumber) fixing houses and vehicles. He has two public toilets constructed near his clinic. Not for his patients use but for the entire community. He provides free water and the people clean it everyday. My dad has a small rest area made of palm and bamboo. He calls it convertible because it becomes and instant tourism post when visitors come to the place. He has a map of the area and a population table. He is more consulted about the place than the public officials.”
“Occasionally people come to see my dad not to consult him for their illnesses but to ask for a pair of old slippers, old shoes, working clothes, old utensils, and anything they need but they could not afford to buy. My dad usually have stock of those stuff in his store room adjacent to his clinic courtesy of our neighbor who usually dump their used things in our gate. Sad to say this is a source of their misunderstanding with mom. Why, do you want people to dump garbage in your gate? For dad, yes. He picks them up and cleans those items that are still useful and bring them to his clinic to be given to people in need.”
“But if you think this is all my dad is doing, brace yourself for more. People come to borrow tools from him to fix their houses, appliances, vehicles, and furniture. And my dad has every kind of tool they need, well maintained, oiled and sharp. They do not only borrow tools they even consult my dad how to do the repair, and dad usually ended up personally going to their homes with his rusty bicycle being tailed by barking dogs on the way.”
As what she came for Magdiwang’s teacher started to observe. She had a camera and a little notebook where she could write her observation. I was wondering what would she do with all the information she got out of observing me. AT three PM she was already uneasy, not one of the so called “extra-ordinary things I do” happened. All she observed from me were the ordinary things a doctor is doing in his clinic. After the last patient, I went to my rest area to have my snacks of tea and pandesal with margarine. I asked them to join me. She looked at my son when I offered her hot-pandesal. She ate and had a sip of green tea.
After a while a man with a daughter pushing cart to collect garbage stopped when he saw me in my nipa hut. “Doc, do you have a pair of old slippers? My daughter has nothing to wear.” I look at her daughter and she was walking at the road barefooted. I went to my storeroom and got a pair if old but still useful slippers. I also gave her a pair of old shoes our neighbor’s maid left at the gate of our house. The girl was so happy of her “new foot wares.” I also gave her father an old pair of Adidas shoes a balikbayan friend left for my charity work. Magdiwang teacher just look at me, as if she could not believe what she had just seen.
Later a couple came to consult me about some in-laws problems. The couple came to a point when they were yelling at each other because of unresolved family problems. I calmed them both and they apologized. After some 15 minutes of talking with them both couple left making an instant decision for both of them to settle problems in a peaceful manner with their in-laws (the man and woman’s parents). “I don’t know you are also a marriage counselor doc.,” the teacher said. A couple of teenagers dropped by to borrow a badminton set. I gave them both instead a badminton set, an old one my father in-law actually asked from the church with a condition they should lend it also to others. Just before the teacher could say something, a laundry woman came to pick up an old plastic container I promised her. “This is not only a clinic, this is also a social welfare agency,” the teacher said laughing.
Convinced that my son was not exaggerating and that everything he wrote in his essay was true, she begged to go. But before she could leave a woman came running asking for my help. Her gas stove was leaking with gas. I immediately I got a pliers and screw driver from my tool box, I mounted my rusty bicycle and headed to her home. The teacher just shook her head, “that’s public service.”
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:2).