It’s a regular workday and out of the stream of an ordinary under-the-blue-sky garden chores, some surprising revelations could pop up out of an ordinary conversation. Dried leaves here and there, not necessarily in the bulk of a seasonal fall. Candy wrappers to pick up, plants to trim and calamansi and guava trees to sprinkle with bat’s manure. We were doing those along with one kitchen staff and our maintenance guy, as we lung out our frustration over the current LPG hoarding perhaps in the entire land. Almost every nook in this dreaded city, there’s nowhere to refill the tank and if there is, it’s on a reservation basis like organ transplant. From Wall Street to Taft Avenue, it’s the same familiar disease that’s infecting society – greed. Now, the price of charcoal or uling rocketed to 10 pesos, double its price 1 week ago because households are now using it in lieu of LPG. Another social disease of opportunism. We feel a little nostalgic, the three of us, as we reminisce life in the province where charcoal is almost free and root crops, readily available come famine time. Except for the dearth of money, life in the province is actually less offensive to our moral and emotional sensitivity. The friendliness, the laid back pace, the less adulterated air we can breathe – the calm abiding with Mother Time. If you have been in the jungle of a crowded , polluted megapolis like Manila for long, it is easy to miss those, or even wish retirement is just around the corner. But not yet, because “we who are born in the water,” said theologian Tertullian, still have a lot of swimming to go for some technicolor reasons like reaching our dream, exploring our potential, etc. So the three of us touch the ground, caress some plants, and prune some trees. We have to continue tilling the garden of our dreams in an urban jungle.
But here’s the twist.
Not everything provincial has the touch of innocence. And from charcoal, we move to our experience with hospitals in the province. Lack of money aside, the city provides easy access to good hospitals and services that life in the province doesn’t. I was already old enough as an adolescent to recall that anti-rabies injection in our hometown was not always available that a victim had to be transported via public jeepney or ambulance (depending on its running condition or availability) 45 minutes away to a provincial hospital. By then, we had a provincial hospital and under the Republic Act 8255 of 1997, had evolved into a Regional Hospital. One memory of our kitchen staff I had conversation with, one that must be etched irrevocably (all of us I guess have a repository of unforgettable hospital memories) in her brain was how a janitor became her phlebotomist while she was a patient in this hospital some years back. The night before, she was on NPO and waited till the following day, until 1 PM, for someone to draw some blood. No one came not until she complained all the way to the nurses’ station. While doing the stint, the blood drawer admitted in her face that her main job is janitorial and was only trained and certificated by the hospital for some “minor phlebotomy works”. I was shocked to hear her story, trying to be civilized by not drawing out conclusion on the state of hospitals in the province. But how could a department of health explain such a practice granting this happened? Absolutely, it was a spontaneous confession from her, never tied up whatsoever with any law firm. And for all we know, the poor, they are the least who can afford to complain. Just pure conversation – the 3 of us while tidying up our small yard of responsibility.