about me, i am a dentist, i am a mission dentist, in my opinion, my country: the philippines, my travels

Politicians and the Campaign Season

I went on a brief vacation to Mindanao last month, and I was lucky enough to be asked to tag along on three missions while I was there. My team has taken a brief hiatus, and I have been missing the field. So imagine my delight when I was asked to serve…

The thing about being “invited to missions” is that you sort of become a part of the purpose they wish to serve–whatever it is. But it’s okay, I always tell myself that I’m there for the people–not for the organizers.

The team was large in the 1st site. It was organized by a Philippine Dental Association Chapter, and the dentist heading the team was very accommodating. She was kind and I could see her working passionately from one patient, to the other. When the mayor of the place arrived, she introduced herself as a doctor, and despite being a politician, I felt her sincerity. Not that I think politicians are insincere, but you know what I mean. Anyway, the mayor didn’t really campaign for herself. None of the usual “serbisyog totoo” come on. But she shared a cute anecdote about how she came into office. As a doctor, she’s been organizing medical missions for years and one day she wasn’t given permission to hold one in her own town because the current mayor thought she was campaigning against him. She realized that she had to be a mayor to be able to serve in the place, so she ran for office. She won. And now she can hold as many medical missions as she wants to.

Anyway, it was much different in the second site. When I got there the dentists weren’t there and yet call time was 8am. About 9am, the army of politicians arrived (a vice mayor and the kagawads), and they called me to sit with them so we could be introduced to the people. The moment I sat, the vice mayor said to me, “Dumaan lang ako pero sorry Doc, aalis din ako kasi may isa pa akong pupuntahan. Nautusan lang ako ni Gov na dumaan dito.” (I just passed by, I’m sorry I’ll have to leave right away because I have another thing to go to. I was just asked by the Governor to pass by here). And then I was introduced to some kagawad who only wanted to take selfies with me. One also said, “Pinadaan kami ni Gov. Wala naman kaming maggawa”. (We were sent here by the Governor, we had not choice). So much for sincerity, huh? I don’t know why they think they could be honest with me. Maybe they thought I was there cus I had no choice too. While sitting beside them was NOT MY CHOICE at all, I wanted to be there to serve. They really shouldn’t be too honest to strangers who can blog about what they had just said.

Finally their purpose became clearer when they started to talk about how this is, “Serbisyong Totoo” and if the people wanted all of this to continue, then they should not forget to vote the Governor’s father who is running in her place because she’s already graduating this year. About 5 of them spoke, I think. I can’t remember because I eventually escaped the scene and decided to hide in the my area in the Dental Section. But while I was still there, their script was pretty much identical. Vote for Governor.

At around 10am, the dentists arrived in a bus. It’s funny because the announcer kept on urging the people to register because “Hanggang 11am lang po tyo tatanggap ng magpaparehistro”. (We’re going to close registration at 11am). Anyway, I’ve been waiting for the DENTAL TEAM to arrive because I couldn’t start working. I had a surgery set ready, but I didn’t have the medicines. I was waiting for them because I needed anesthesia and needles and when they arrived in their fancy bus, they didn’t even want to share. Oh wow. Anyway, they finally did. And they worked inside their air conditioned bus, while I worked outside.

My joke was this, “Sila nasa bus, ako nasa la-bus”. But it was okay really. I was being assisted by some army men and we had lots of fun working. My direct assist was even fascinated when right at the end I encountered a very tough case and I had to bring out my mallet and chisel.

Serbisyong Totoo

Serbisyong Totoo ended at around 12nn. There were three dentists inside the air conditioned bus and we could definitely take more between four of us, but the show was over. The politicians had left, too, so it was time to pack up. Oh what an awful way to serve. Sometimes you wonder why we keep on electing the same good for nothing public servants that have no compassion for true service in the first place.

They parade all their good deeds during campaign season, and annoyingly, it isn’t even campaign season yet and they’re already trying to brainwash the people with their fake concern for the poor’s welfare.

Anyway, the only heartwarming person in there was the nurse whose “health center” I had turned into my “dental clinic”. She was running around making sure everyone had what they needed and she had this very pleasant way about her that was definitely endearing. The Kapitana was also very nice–and of course, my Army companions are the best. They brought a team of 3 trained personnel and were able to circumcise about 30 boys–and they prepared “lugaw” for everyone to enjoy. I got to taste the lugaw and it was good. I’m sure everyone enjoyed it.

The truth is that I don’t hate politicians; but campaign season almost always bring out the worst in the lot of them. They have a goal and so they become ruthless in an attempt to get what they want. This has been how it was for so long now, and I’m sure it’s going to continue like this, for awhile. Will it get better? I don’t really know. But the people know that too, and so they just accept whatever form of generosity is being offered.

Oh well, we can only hope for the best…

True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share.

Suze Orman

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