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November 11, 2011

Doctor To The (Big) City

Exactly 4 years after I went to Manila to attend the predeployment for doctors to the barrios (Nov. 5, 2007), last Nov. 5, I officially "moved" back to Manila to work this time for Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) as one of their project associates. The job was offered a year ago when I was invited to be, for the first time, one of their resource speakers for their Health Leaders and Managers for the Poor (HLMP) Training. I was honored to have been offered the job by the foundation's president himself. It was almost serendipitous that it came at the moment when I resigned from the municipality of Candoni (Negros Occidental) due to personal reasons. Those reasons for resigning were not kept from the public though and friends and co-workers knew why I resigned. Even the Department of Health, or at least those associated with the DTTB program, knew about the circumstances that led to my leaving the community. ZFF knew about it through the case study that I was offered to write about and through the speaking engagements that I was invited to. It was one of the lowest moments of my professional career. It was also an opportunity that led to many doors.

One door was opened by ZFF and since the first time they offered the job, the door had been kept ajar until last June of this year, a day after I arrived from Venice, I had another meeting with the ZFF President and one of its directors. Even before I came back from the Philippines for a 6-months "tour of the world" (thanks to Steiner and Voyager of the Seas), I already received the invite of working for them as one of their associates. What wasn't clear to me then was the nature of the job.

The first time it was offered to me I was quite hesitant to receive it. The job entails that I must relocate myself to Manila and leave my family for at least a year or two. Like what I promised to myself about not ever working abroad, I also promised myself before that I should not also work in Manila. For one thing, it is a big city and I feel that I am more of a country mouse than a city mouse. Then the floods and peace and security are also not a good selling image for the city. I promised myself that if I should work, it must be in the provinces (like Bacolod City) or maybe even Cebu or Iloilo but not Manila. Manila would just be a place for seminars and conferences and maybe a little R&R but not for work.

But just like the promise not to work abroad, I eventually broke my promise not to work in Manila. It was, if I could remember, in the middle of July or early days of August that I decided to take a chance and accept the job offer from ZFF but I had to delay my coming into the organization for two reasons: I still had to found a condo or apartment in Metro Manila and I was still teaching at the USLS College of Arts and Sciences. Teaching, I finally discovered, has become one of my passions as well.

Fortunately, the ZFF accepted my proposal to start after the first semester of the school year. Last Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, I officially started my first day at ZFF.

Thus, from the muddy valley of Negros Occidental, I now find myself in a different kind of "jungle" where the skyscrapers replaced the tall Narras and coconut trees and the skyways have replaced the narrow dirt roads traversed by habal-habal. Like the first time I worked as a DTTB, I started my work as a PA with trepidation but with faith. Like the first time I worked at the RHU of Candoni, I have experienced a warm welcome from my fellow PA's and bosses. Like the first time I sat behind my desk as MHO of Candoni, I looked towards the future with hopeful anticipation that despite my limitations I can be the best in what I will be doing.

So I am no longer a DTTB. I am now a DTTBC.

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