My email and open letter to the president of the Philippine Hospital Association (PHA).
May 27, 2009
To the incumbent president of the Philippine Hospital Association (PHA):
I am fascinated by your motto Take That Big Leap to the issue of strengthening the hospitals of the Philippines which I copied from the PHA website and reproduced hereunder :
I come from Bulan, Sorsogon, Region 5 and also would like that our Pawa Hospital not be forever forgotten and left behind but be part of that Big Leap. I am not for strengthening our hospitals of the future but of the hospitals that exist today. Pawa is a member of PHA and has been around for many years already but it hasn’t improved since its establishment but deteriorated. It is very weak and very sick and requires strengthening now!
It is in a very desolate situation in all its aspects:
-the building has never been repaired as it looks dilapidated, dirty façade and moldy walls both outside and inside, dark corridors and broken floors, very poor illumination, dirty toilets and generally very poor sanitary hygiene. Indeed, by modern standard, it is a ruin but still continue to admit patients.
-the medical facilities and instruments are practically missing, even the most basic ones like stethoscopes, blood pressure gadgets are very limited and partly defective, etc.
Yet, the medical personnel of Pawa are willing to work and continue helping their patients. But as we know, the lack of the right instruments and medicines and the very poor facilities limit also the capacities of medical workers no matter how good and willing they are.
Our local government has done something to increase the number of medical doctors in Pawa and help where it can. But technically, Pawa Hospital falls on the provincial responsibility, hence the LGU Bulan does not receive or does not possess the allocated budget for the maintenance of Pawa Hospital.
The photos I posted will speak louder than words. And should you come for a visit to Pawa Hospital you would- as a healthy person- hesitate to get inside in the interest of your health and hygiene. This would be understandable. You in turn would understand then what a sick patient has in mind being delivered in Pawa Hospital for “treatment and recovery”.
I ask you in your capacity as PHA president to do something for Pawa Hospital that would bring Pawa to public consciousness and to governmment authorities directly responsible for this hospital and, last but not least, to any activities that would bring in financial resources for its repair or renovation and for the upgrade of its medical facilities.
I thank you for your attention and for all the efforts you will be undertaking for Pawa Hospital.
At first glance, you might think this is a deserted military camp.
But this is a hospital, the Pawa Hospital in Bulan.
Young and friendly nurses at work. They deserve a cleaner and modern hospital to work to.
Admission room? No computers, not even a type writer.
Oxygen tanks, perhaps empty, beside trash bins and broom.
The very minimal medical materials, lacking medicines.
Yet, a newly born Pawa baby.
Pawa Hospital should be improved and upgraded so that it can serve our people better.
Let’s create a forum to discuss ways how we can help and eventually create an aide scheme.
I have created under Categories on the right the Pawa Hospital Forum for this purpose.
Please help Pawa Hospital.
(View all photos.)
The Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council or MDCC and the Bulan Rescue Team deserve once again the highest respect for their selfless efforts and efficient performance in saving the lives of many Bulaneños and of coordinating the whole disaster management at the height of typhoon Dante last May 1 and 2.
Under the leadership of Vice-mayor Gogola and the young and competent Municipal Administrator Luis De Castro, Jr., the dangerous risks to the lives of our town people had been maintained to the minimum. I’ve observed these men at work in a situation where I know would also have triggered the highest emergency alarm and stress even among most advanced cities in the world. Our men worked with the serenity of spirit, bravery and heroism of a real Bulaneño amidst the chaos in the whole of Bulan and the limited technical resources they have at their disposal. And I approached them and talked with them to know more about the disaster from their own perspective- with Vice-Mayor Gogola as he inspects the evacuees in Bulan South Central School and with Mr. Luis De Castro in the MDCC office which is housed in the old Municipal vicinity as he instructs the men of the rescue Team.
Mr. Luis De Castro has retained this attitude of thankfulness in the midst of a disaster for the very little effort our Canipaan Team has done to the very first wave of evacuees that occupied the Bulan North Central School in the early hours of May2. I sensed also a deep sincerity in him when he told me ” sana walang maging casualty” (we pray that there will be no casualty).
These words had warmed my wet body and wearied soul for actually I came to bury my sister this very day- and not to roam around in the flooded streets of Bulan, an experience I never had for the last decades. Bulaneños still care for Bulaneños is the insight I have learned in my short exchange of words with Mr. Luis De Castro, Jr. I also somehow felt rewarded in return for the indignation and caring that I felt when as a young boy our then mayor Mr. Luis de Castro, Sr. met his tragic end. I think this inter-connectedness-in some-ways- in -a -deeper -level is the essence of being one people.
Our Kudos then to our competent young leaders who can practically manage the town on their own and who are present not only in peaceful and joyful times but in times of great calamities that even reached international news reports. Born good leaders seem to be always at the right place and time and are there when the whole town is in distress and when the padabas need them the most.
I violated my argument that if pictures speak louder than words, then let them be, which means words are unnecessary. My defense is that I cannot photograph my thoughts and feelings so again, I used words to convey them in this short tribute to our leaders.
For now let these following images speak louder than me:
Municipal Adninistrator Luis De Castro, jr. instructing his men.
The silhoutte of Vice -mayor Gogola (middle figure) as he inspects the evacuees in Bulan South Central School.
Some of the rescue men having their briefing.
One of the rubber rescue boats.
Rescue men in action.
Hold on tight, children! The water is wall-high.
A race against time.
Clearing the waters from dangerous objects.
Young boys on the look out, ready to help.
These are some of images of Bulaneños’ fight for survival on that stormy days.
Bulan Observer (photos by jun and mila asuncion)
Tuloy Po or Please Come In is unmistakably Bulaneño hospitality…
Even when Bulan is under water brought about by the devastating typhoon Dante last May 1-2.
But who will come in, what kind of guests when pupils are on vacation and who will dare when it is flooded?
They are the guests- evacuees; children from Managanaga fleeing from high waters that swallowed their bamboo huts,
spending the night of heavy rains awake, fearful and anxious about their situation.
Storm Dante shows no mercy as it pounded Bulan with strong winds and heavy rains overnight.
The classrooms are still closed and so they find their first refuge under the staircase;
children and even a baby are wet, shivering from cold- and hunger.
Young Bulaneños- pretty girls and handsome boys- soaked in water, sleepless and hungry.
We come to their rescue during the first hours in the morning of May 2; nursing and comforting them.
As some fathers are in great stress running and swimming back and forth
to Managanaga to rescue their other children who are left behind.
And this is how it looks by now outside the Bulan North Central School;
more families coming, taking with them their most important belongings as the waters continue to rise.
And an old man escorted by his young ones.
A pig is precious, too.
I am astonished by the gracefulness in their bearing; they retain their dignity and calmness,
as many walk through waters in a meditative posture- which shows that experience
with floods is not extraordinary in the town of Bulan.
A boy joining his family somewhere, behind him the man
in a meditative rhythm opposing the currents.
The day when boats are in the streets of Canipaan…
and a raft made of banana trunks, in place of cars and tricycles.
Meanwhile, these families are now inside a classroom, given towels, hot drinks and biscuits. etc.
Children now dry, visibly feeling better -at least for the time being-,
and mothers continue watching over them.
A shy boy with sadness in his eyes in this dark room
with no electricity and drinking water.
If pictures speak louder than words, then let them be.
Bulan Observer ( photos by jun asuncion)