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December 29, 2009

Doctor To The Barrios Forever

The end of 2009 also marks the end of my tour of duty as a Doctor to the Barrios. The 2 years have passed. I still could remember how I started as a DTTB, how I went to Manila all by myself for the first time, heading for DOH to take the exams and the interview for DTTB. I still could recall how I made new friends and met my batchmates during our predeployment seminar, how they chose me to be their batch president and how we learned our first dance steps which catapulted us to being the Dancing Doctors to the Barrios. Since then it has been one long roller-coaster ride. There have been so many ups as well as downs and while along the way there were feelings of regret and frustrations, victory and success as well. Sometimes one could no longer distinguish one emotion from the other. There are times when they come in successions I could hardly cope up and adjust. But even as I end my being a Doctor to the Barrios, I still believe that I shall always remain as a DTTB by heart. For once you become a DTTB, there is really no going back.

There are many DTTB's who took up residency after their tour of duty and quite a few of them returned to government service either as a LGU-hired MHO's or CHO's or re-entered DTTB. There are some DTTB's who remained in government and served either as rural health physicians or became health managers working for DOH or for other international agencies. Some went to further studies and took up Masters in Public Health or Public Administration or International Public Health. Whatever road they took after DTTB life, it can be said that these DTTB's remained as DTTB's in spirit and in practice.

I am humbled and honored to belong to an elite circle of doctors, to a family of "heroes", a brotherhood whose bonds remain eternal. Thanks to modern-day technology, there are now means which these DTTB's can still link up with each other and update each other of the latest happenings in their lives.

It is a tough life being a DTTB and while there is ample financial compensation, one will come to realize that at the end of the day, there are things which a DTTB does which are not in a sense appropriately compensated. But money has never been the motivation of a DTTB, at least for a genuine DTTB. While it is a necessity, it is not really the motivation. For if it were, then many would have quit right at the start.

If only many "mainstream" doctors listen to the multitude of stories of these DTTBs. If only they know about some DTTB's who have to cross high seas and travel for 12 hours just to reach a remote island and stay there for the next 6 months at least. If only they know about some DTTB's who have to evade the crossfire between military offensive and insurgent rebels and later on get kidnapped to treat the wounded members of the rebels. If only they know about some DTTB's who have to fight to the teeth for the rights of their RHU staff and go against politicians who intimidate and literally threaten these DTTB's. There are many stories and each DTTB is a unique story on its own.

I am blessed to have been given this opportunity to make my own story as a DTTB, through the work that I have done in Candoni. The last 2 years have been exciting, emotionally and physically draining at times, thrilling, but really memorable and unforgettable in more ways than one.

At hindsight there are many things I wish I would have done in a different way and I guess looking back is always looking with a 20/20 vision. I guess that is what we call the learning process. I have learned so much about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses, my potentials, my areas for growth, my capabilities and my inadequacies. I have learned so much about being a doctor and how to deal with so many varying personalities, from the "big wigs" to the "little people".

In 2010, I step into a new world which is not really far from the "old world". Perhaps what made it "new" is the new perspective that I bring into it. I might not have saved the world like what I may have originally intended. Maybe I did make a difference although I am not sure about the impact it can bring. Maybe we are not really the heroes that we thought we were. However, I believe that what we have become because of this experience will always remain in our hearts.

I am thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to serve even if the service I have rendered might not have been enough. At least I can say that I have given it a shot. To my fellow Doctors to the Barrios, both past, present and even the future, I salute you.

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