Monday, July 12, 2004


Ger asked me how Gary and I met...I would not be too contented to say that we met on ...The would be oversimplifying things. So while I am at it (answering the question) I thought I would just journal about it.

And I want to start from the time when I became a widow.
I was in my clerkship then, 7 months preggy with my 2nd son. Several months to go and I would graduate from medicine. I would just have to review for the board (I was so confident I could pass it) then I would start earning!!!!
My uncle, a surgeon and an owner of a small-yet-lucrative clinic in Makati bordeing on Pasay was already waiting for me. He had so much confidence in me because he knew I had a promising career ahead of me. He was quite impatient,actually, calling on me at times during my review to go on duty as examining physician for local employment.
I was thinking, when I was widowed, that I would probably not marry ever again (I did not trust Filipinos anymore. And with my status, having 2 sons would weigh heavily against my being a young doctor.) So I set my mind to just work with my uncle in his clinic, hopefully to help him make it grow.

At first it was not so hard. My children were very little. My mother was taking care of them while I go on duty to earn money. My salary was good enough -- almost like those working as residents in government hospitals. Everything was fine, I could give some to my Nanay for the rent of the apartment in Bulacan, to buy milk for the kids, some clothes for us, and food for the table. The only thing I had to contend with was bouts of depression from the fact that most of my nights were spent alone in that tiny resident's room in the maternity part of the clinic. That was the free lodging offered by my exchange for being on-call for normal deliveries when the resident on duty could not attend to, or when the attending physician was my uncle but he was too lazy to go (he'd appear if there were complications; I would have to inform him right away.)

Things got worse when my first son started schooling. Well, my mother managed to find a Baptist school for toddlers, held in the same apartment they were renting, P100 donation to get into it. Not bad. We only had to buy uniforms and school supplies. Teacher, a Christian, was firm yet gentle -- teacher material indeed.

But when my first son started real school, I suddenly experienced feeling lost for finding additional money. My salary then would just pay for the monthly expenses, nothing major like tuition. AT that time, Nursery tuition fee was P10,000 at a small private school (which I did not like at all -- the proprietress, a nurse, did not even know how to effectively communicate with the parents. Her mother was the teacher and started that business but nowhere to be found.)

I approached my uncle. He wrote on a piece of paper for me to show to the cashier so I can get the money and sign on the voucher. WE had no discussion on the manner of payment (I felt there was a non-verbal agreement that I may not have to pay for it. My services, far beyond what my uncle could ask from other doctors who were non-relative, could actually pay back ten-fold, I realized later, when I was exposed to the whole politics of the medical system.)

No sweat, I thought. Until...

One time when I was assisting my uncle during his clinic hours, my aunt went down from her accounting office and asked me about the voucher that I signed -- how I would pay for it (that time I was already working on the qualty manual of the pre-employment clinic, something nobody ever really started until they thought of sending me to the seminars.) Would I make monthly payments. or would they deduct it from my monthly salary at the other clinic? How many months?

I was waiting for my uncle to quip in, tell her that I need not pay for it. But he kept silent.

So I answered, they could deduct from my monthly salary from the other clinic, and I added, with a note of sarcasm (though I was not sure whether she caught that), that I would pay it in ten months -- enough time so that I can make another UTANG by the next schoolyear.

She then asked if my uncle already knew about that. I said I would talk to him AFTER he was through with his patient. (Imagine her tactlessness -- she could have just called me into her office to talk about it in all privacy!!!!)

So when I got the chance to talk to my uncle, I asked if it was okay to pay in 10 months (inside I was hoping he would confirm that I need not pay for it.Ever since I had been working for him, he actually had the leisure time when he was away on vacation, confident when I was there serving as his eye, and a good enough substitute for NSDs and minor operations, and he had confidence in my clinical judgment.)

But, I was disappointed at his answer: "Kung gusto mo, 12 months pa eh." I reiterated then that I would pay it in 10 months so I can borrow again in time for next schoolyear.

Was he being dense? Or his businessman side surfaced again?

Well, that incident resulted to several things:

1. While I was intent at the start to stick with him in this endeavor no matter what, now my loyalty suddenly became limited to merely being relatives.

2. While at first I thought I could be like the daughter he never had (plus the bonus of being a doctor when no one among his sons save for the youngest had any inclinations to follow his steps; the first two our of three actually had terrible educational backgrounds!), and that he could have played the role of provider for me (like a husband without the intimacy factor), now I was considering finding a partner in life. Being a single parent, working with clean conscience and hard-earned clean money was just too hard for a single mother.

3. I then sought ways to get out of the country (going into residency was not an option anymore -- no real time for such exhausting training, plus getting into a government hospital which paid higher was hard without connections; my relationship with my children would be greatly compromised.) One thing I tried was starting with the process of landing a job as medical practitioner in UK.

4. I realized that my uncle was mainly interested in profit, and I was a cheap resource. I felt used and abused. Working with and under him became a suffocating experience.

There were other things that convinced me that I was wasting my time working my ass off at my uncle's clinic. I could do a lot of things which he could not ask any other to do so (that's another story).

While I then intended to find a second mate, I was not considering a Filipino (I'd rather stay single then!)

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