The last days of June are packed with family occasions, but normally, these occasions, as most others, are quietly and separately celebrated. But this time, my first granddaughter has given us a reason special and grand enough for making whoopee.
Rory graduates magna cum laude (BS Psychology) at the University of the Philippines, and is accepted to its medical school. That definitely adds a huge, if one-time, dimension to her brother’s birthday, his 23rd, and her parents’, my daughter and son-in-law’s wedding anniversary, although being their 25th, landmark enough for a little flaunting. A family dinner in a favorite restaurant, with a bottle of champagne, suits our idea of grand.
A doctor in the family is a source of not only great pride but also great comfort, a lifetime guarantee of intimate medical care free of charge. Doctors as a rule don’t charge other doctors as well as their immediate families and even their help. It’s some kind of ethical or cultural tradition rarely observed in other professions.
My own paternal grandfather, who had nine sons, had hoped for at least a priest, a lawyer and a doctor. He only got his lawyer, my dad. The clan got their doctor when I married one, lost him when we parted, but the benefits extended to me by his colleagues continued— that’s how strong the tradition is.
Special free care
I, myself, continue to enjoy the special free care to this day from younger doctors, courtesy of Vergel’s daughter, a pediatrician, who takes care of my youngest granddaughter and us directly, where suitable, and indirectly through referrals. Now comes Rory to guarantee the same care through my 90s.
Rory has truly been an amazing granddaughter ever since, and not only because she is smart, disciplined and gorgeous, but also because she is well rounded and well grounded. She has spent a lot of time in outreach programs since high school. Her senior class at Assumption had an alternative ball, not the usually grand dance with gowns and escorts: They spent their time, effort and resources making poor children happy by partying with them instead.
She was taekwondo team captain at Assumption and is into boxing, for exercise. When she showed some interest in piano, in her early teens, Vergel and I were thrilled to be supportive. We watched every recital, amazed at exceptional skills attested to by teachers, particularly the highly respected Ms Erlinda Fule of the University of Santo Tomas, who would go out of her way to tell us, at every chance.
We took her along to concerts, and bought her books on the lives of famous composers. However, when Ms Fule suddenly passed away, Rory was heartbroken and took it as a sign of a beckoning new path, medicine. Of course we are delighted, too, even as our hearts broke a little, recalling the delicacy of her sonatas.
She is moving out of the family home into an apartment she will share with two classmates to be nearer the school of medicine and the hospital, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
It’s a new beginning for our Rory and other young people like her, who are going into humanitarian careers to save, improve and protect lives.
Surely they should themselves be guaranteed a future in a healthy democracy where human rights and human lives are going to be respected and protected under the law.
As it happens, the new administration seems to be sending the wrong signals—“Kill, kill, kill!” from the mouth of the incoming national police chief. What scary beginning as we close June and enter the regime of Rodrigo Duterte! He and his team seem bent on changing as fast as they can the world we have known—changing it into something drastically different but not necessarily better.
They’re throwing promises left and right, promising to put an end to drugs and crime, peace with all the former enemies of the state, solving the traffic problem, all in record time. But they want emergency powers. Now, that smacks of martial law, or whatever name you call the sort of license that, once secured, could, in the wrong hands, go on and on, misused.
For now I’m holding Duterte to just one promise—that after he is sworn in he would burst out of his cocoon, shed his old self, and become more presidential; a butterfly, as it were. I did in fact notice some restraint in the beginning of his long speech when he spoke to the business community in Davao. But he lapsed into normal cuss words toward the end.
He may be working on it, and I’m ready to give him a chance. Perhaps he shouldn’t speak too long, for it’s toward the end, after about two hours of monologue, that whatever antidote there is for his condition seems to wear off, like the sun coming up on a vampire.
Also on June 30, Noynoy leaves behind a nation grateful for a job well done, without tampering with the democracy his mom had restored for us, after the Marcoses thought they had killed it for good—their own.
On that same day in a separate venue, the Godsent Leni Robredo took her oath as vice-president. She is, indeed, the sobering light, the beacon of hope, at the end of a dark tunnel filled with schemes of ambitious men in desperate hurry.
Indeed, if we have any reason to celebrate, we have much more to pray for.