Rounding the bend at Baguio General Hos pital and Medical Center (BGHMC) Rotunda early 4: O’clock morning Saturday last week for a usual jogging, Daily laborer paused, took a breather by sitting on the cemented side of the sidewalk where public utility jeeps regularly wait for passengers bound for the city.
Wiping with the sleeve of his sweatshirt sweat that coursed down his face and stung his eyes, Daily Laborer scattered his gaze at BGHMC Compound where, for many years, it was his familiar stomping ground.
Whoever that smart aleck who coined the words, “familiarity breeds contempt,” may have something at the back of his mind when he/she cropped those words, but to Daily laborer, looking at BGHMC Compound where he was familiar with for more than 20 years was like looking back at something particularly fascinating – like a piece of art, painting or a photograph.
For he was the first-ever Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Department of health – Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR), the DOH-CAR edifice having been built on the left side of the BGHMC Compound, when facing BGHMC hospital from the rotunda.
It was at BGHMC Compound where for many years, friendship was cultivated, friendship was lost and sometimes, friendship got drunk one too many and Daily Laborer simply forgot to go home while the cows already went home to roost – to the consternation of the Missus.
Until the day Daily Laborer retired from government service and the National Government, happy to see him off, happily coed: “Ba bye you, old, dang, cranky fool! See you down the road someday!” The day of his retirement was the last day of him ever stomping on BGHMC grounds.
Aye, sitting there, Daily Laborer thought about déjà vu, an uncanny sensation one experiences even when you know you never did.
On the other hand, he thought he was feeling “Jamais vu,” the experience of being unfamiliar in a situation that is actually very familiar. Like he was a stranger in a familiar ground. Nothing is ever familiar.
Sitting there, Daily laborer remembered of that time the DOH-CAR edifice was being constructed, during the tenure of then director Dr. Jovencio F. Ordona. One day while he, Ordona and DOH engineers were observing the construction, Daily Laborer said to Ordona, his immediate boss,” Sir, why don’t we also build a hospital for incurables?”
Which sent Dr. Ordona to fits of laughing? Orodona can take a joke and dish out one, too. He looked at Daily laborer quizzically, winked at the DOH engineers and made a roundabout sign with his point finger to his head, indicating Daily laborer had gone bonkers.
“Awanen nadadael ti utak daytoy PIO tayo,” Dr. Ordona said in jest. But turning seriously, Dr. Ordona said to Daily Laborer, “However, let me hear you present your case for hospital for incurables, eh?”
As he sat there at BGHMC Rotunda sidewalk, he tried to recall how he presented his curious oral case for a hospital of incurables to Ordona way back in 1992, two years after the killer earthquake of 1990 struck Baguio City. The following are the best he could remember about what he said to director Ordona:
There is a not anything which contributes more to the reputation of government or honor of Cordillera, in general, than constructing edifices for those reception of who labor under different kinds of distress.
Those hapless and sick are thereby delivered from misery of wanting help and others delivered from the misery of beholding them.
It is certain and to a noble degree, we see hospitals sprung in areas in Cordillera, supported by the liberality of our government and our leaders. But I find, upon queer inspection, that there is one kind of charity, almost totally disregarded, which, nevertheless, to me of so excellent a nature, as to be at present more wanted and better calculated for the relief, serenity and bliss of Cordillerans. I mean a construction for hospital of incurables.
As he explained his thoughts, Dr. Ordona looked Daily Laborer, pinched himself to prove that Daily laborer was indeed and should be a candidate for the mental institution. Yet, Dr. Ordona, said, “Continue. . .”
Daily Laborer continued, saying, “While I do confess that an endowment of this nature would prove difficult to see passage by members of the Philippine Congress, however, I have not the least diffidence that we shall be able to convince Congress that a scheme for such hospital is very practicable and must be very desirable for everyone who has the interest of his country or his fellow kabayans, at heart.”
Ordona again said, “Continue…” So Daily Laborer did, saying, “it is observable that although bodies of human creatures be afflicted with infinite variety of disorders which elude the powers of medicine and are often found to be incurable, yet our minds are also overtaken with an equal variety which no expertise, no competency , no medicine can modify.”
Dr. Ordona was sure their DOH-CAR PIO was pulling his leg, yet he smiled and said,”Continue. . .” So, Daily Laborer did, saying, “I think, that out of regard to the public peace and emolument, as well as repose of many dedicated and valuable Cordillerans and lowlanders, this latter species of incurables ought principally to engage our beneficence and attention.”
At this point, Dr. Ordona wondered whether he should be in the inside of his office signing papers instead of talking uselessly to his DOH-CAR PIO, but still allowed the brain-addled Daily Laborer to speak on, saying, “ Continue. . .”
So Daily Laborer did, explaining,” I believe, a hospital for incurables will universally be allowed in Cordillera – even in nearby Region 1 – if we only consider the total of absolute incurables every profession, rank and degree produce, which at present we have no effectual means to purge.”
Here at this point, Dr. Ordona swiveled a sidelong glance at Daily Laborer, thinking to himself, “This is getting to be mighty interesting.” So he ordered Daily Laborer to “continue. . .”
So Daily Laborer did, expounding,” For instance, let any Cordilleran, lowlander or anyone from the different regions in the Philippines seriously examine the numbers of incurable fools, incurable scoundrels like me, incurable scribblers (besides myself), incurable naggers, incurable tsis-mis, incurable –”This where Dr. Ordona interrupted Daily Laborer, saying, “Oops, ag-anges ka pay met a, asantu ituloy mo. Ni daytoy ti danum. Uminom ka pay biit.”
Daily Laborer took a sip of water and continued, saying, “Where was I, awhile back? Aaah! I was on the topic of incurables like, incurable conceit, and incurable infidels, those incurably vain, incurably arrogant, incurably lazy, incurably inconsiderate, incurably envious, incurably impertinent, incurably affected. . .”
This time, Daily Laborer paused to gather his wits by swigging a mouthful of water, then continued, saying, “ And there are the incurable jester, the incurable fidget, the incurable eccentric, the incurable braggart, the incurably suspicious, incurably sarcastic, incurably egocentric, incurably braggart, incurably biased. . .” This time daily laborer paused his mouth to rest.
And Dr. Ordona egged him on, saying, “Any more incurables that you know?” This made Daily Laborer to re-commence, by saying, “We have the incurable proud and haughty, incurably manipulative, incurably narrow-minded, incurably narcissistic, incurably selfish, incurable butterflies or crossbenchers” and the many other ten thousand incurables he mentioned but, which Daily Laborer, in doing this writing about such experience with Dr. Ordona, must, over necessity, pass over in silence, lest I should swell over this column edition.
And without doubt, Daily laborer said to Dr. Ordona that without doubt, every unprejudiced person in Cordillera and the lowlands will agree, that out of Christian charity, the public-at-large ought to be eased, as much as possible, of such intolerable variety of incurables.
As finale to his humorous argument, Daily Laborer hinted to Dr.Ordona that should a hospital for incurables ever be approved by the House of Congress and implemented first in Cordillera, there ought to be a certain limited number of admittance; else the hospital will be overwhelmed with incurable patients.
Daily laborer remembered Dr. Ordona got interested about what he said of “incurable butterflies” and asked Daily Laborer, “Who are incurable butterflies”?
He remembered he answered thus: “I wish our wise politicians, some renowned for butter-flying from one party to another party will take this proposal seriously, which will be of such imminent service to multitudes of Filipinos, and may in time be of use to themselves – and their posterity.”