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August 9, 2009

The Little Joys Of A Rural Physician

What makes life of a rural physician worth living? The list can be short but then again, all those in the list can be quite fulfilling. As I begin the countdown to my final days as a doctor to the barrio in Candoni, Negros Occidental, allow me to make a reflection on the things that have made my work as a rural health physician fulfilling, if not happy. The distance alone, far from the comforts of life, has made my first nights in my area almost depressive. But the thought of a new day at work, loaded with new set of opportunities and glistening with potentials, makes me wake up early in the morning to prepare for work.

Life in the barrio is simple but it is never dull. Simple does not mean boring and the barrio is as exciting as a big town. Sure, there are no bright lights and malls and loud sounds (except from the distant videoke bar, the very single one, blaring with old time hits sang out of tune by avid videoke fans). But the stories of the people in the barrio are as interesting as those living in the big cities.

For my part, my sources of joys are simple and are almost found from unexpected places. It is nice to be loved by the community although at the back of my mind I was quite cynical at first. They "love" and "adore" me because they have a personal motive of their own. That was what I thought. While this can be true a some cases, in most cases they just plain love you and are grateful for the work you have done.

Many of these people have not seen a doctor in quite a long while and to be seen by one is enough consolation for them. For them, a doctor is a hero, a trusted community leader. It was exactly the same feeling when I arrived or even before I arrived in my area. I came there with a Messianic attitude. I have a mission to fulfill and that was to make a difference in the lives of these people. Later on, I would realize that should there be any difference-making to be done, it must start from them, the very same people in need of a difference in their lives. It is a joy therefore to see the community stand up on their feet, to see them steering their own destiny, becoming the heroes they are searching for.

Anyway, should the time come for me to leave and start a new chapter in my own life, I shall always cherish the little joys wrapped in simplicity I have taken from my experiences as a DTTB.

I shall not forget the salo-salo or meals I would share with the staff and the stories shared over meal time. I shall not forget the encounters with the patients, and especially the light moments talking with them. Life can be simple at the barrio but they are never too simple to be disregarded.

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