Monday, January 30, 2006

Am I Crazy?

Everyday, I follow events that occur in the Philippines mainly through the online editions of various newspapers as well as a few favorite blogs.

Everyday, from my perch in the Oklahoma panhandle, I get the sense that I am about to descend into an environment that is humid and hot and dusty and unsafe. Why then should I bring my four young daughters into this maelstrom?

Because the Philippines is my true home. It is where my parents live and it is where my brothers and sister still reside. I strongly desire for my children to develop a close relationship with their kin before it becomes too late and they become permanently deprived of an opportunity that I feel made me become what I am.

I leave my Oklahoma exile at the peak of my medical practice. While most of my fellow Filipinos who remain in the Philippines would likely exchange places with me, my wife and I have made a decision to return to our Philippines on our own terms.

We cannot default on our responsibility to contribute to the country that nurtured us. We feel that we cannot leave our country at the mercy of all these traditional politicians. How can we complain if we don't enter the arena? What example would we be setting if we simply chose to selfishly continue our sheltered and prosperous lives?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

My Politics

Politics is business and politicians are products. I like to think that my 17 years here in the US and my depending on nobody for financial support will make me a credible candidate. In a developing country like the Philippines, the longer you stay in the arena, the dirtier you become and the more compromised you become. I hope to offer a new and clean alternative that will not be beholden to special interests and not be answerable to any partisan group. I will go home with a clear understanding of what happened in the past and a clear realization of why the Philippines is in such a deep mess.

I have been preparing for this return my entire life. I long ago realized the unique advantage of living in the Oklahoma panhandle: the solitude that it affords the exile's mind. Most of my free time has been spent thinking about what needs to be done. The internet, CSPAN as well as the easy availability of books here in the US truly make it difficult to get bored. Information and opinion are everywhere.

This will be a 21st Century campaign. I hope to attract stakeholders to my cause and I will only have one single assurance to all these people: that I will remain idealistic and at the same time grounded to the interests of the majority of the common people who live in abject poverty. I plan to owe nobody and work for everybody's common good

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

First Comment

I was thrilled to see a comment posted on my nascent blog. I was starting to think that I was the only one reading my thoughts which would have been alright because I felt that the main purpose of this blog was to help record my thoughts and efforts for future reference. The fact that I may be able to interact in a marketplace of ideas is most welcome as it will allow me to engage with other people and determine if I am making any sense at all.

My wife and I are expecting the first of two physicians to come down here as early as next week. He will be joined by another doctor who is four months shy of finishing a residency in family practice. As soon as these two docs are smoothly integrated into our practice (expected date is mid-June 2006), we will take off for the Philippines.

We cannot simply abandon this clinic because we have put in too much time and hard work and tears into this enterprise. We have 14 employees and they have all been very loyal and dedicated.

Just found out this morning that elections will proceed as planned in the summer of 2007. This will give me more than enough time to prepare. I am planning to walk through the entire length of the Philippines, a country of 87 million people in an area the size of Arizona. This will be my way of introducing myself and telling my countrymen what plans I have for the future.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Shutting Down

Moving from one place to another is much like leaving your home for an extended vacation. Making sure all the lights are turned off and the heating is lowered to the barest, least expensive minimum to prevent the pipes from bursting, and disposing of all the garbage and moving the dishes and the silverware from the dishwasher into the cupboard....I have started letting my subscriptions to various periodicals lapse, I have only paid up to six months of insurance coverage for my home and car as well as my medical malpractice, I have quietly begun consolidating my liquid assets, I have stopped purchasing equipment and appliances....

I realize that this process of shutting down gives a sense of imperturbability. I am increasingly becoming less interested in the local affairs and instead I am starting to look farther out.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Strange that after you commit to a life-changing detour, signs seem to appear from everywhere. In our ten years of private practice, we have lost many patients and just like Buck from the Call of the Wild, each patient lost represents another untethered bond. Last night, my 89 year old neighbor, friend and patient for the last ten years that I have been here died in the nursing home. I had spent a lot of time with this old man who had lost his wife eight years earlier and I had always promised him that I would never leave him. My four daughters would regularly visit him and raid his cookie jar. This morning, when my 5 year old was informed about his death, she said that he was now in heaven and I took this as a sure sign that I was finally free to go home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My First Blog Post

This is the maiden post about a journey that begins today. I am on my way home to the Philippines for good, after being away for 17 years. I hope to rediscover my country and participate in its democratic processes. I am fully aware that this is a long shot but I will give it my best effort. Being away has allowed me to remain uncompromised. My only agenda is to contribute to the nation's development.

I am a physician who graduated from the UP College of Medicine in 1989. I completed my internship, residency training in internal medicine, fellowship training in general internal medicine and gastroenterology in Brooklyn, NY. For the last 10 years, my wife and I have practiced in rural Oklahoma.

Call this my exile but I have been preparing for my return ever since I left the Philippines. I am very much aware of what is going on in my country but I realize that the only real way to effectively contribute is to be there.

Now that I have the means to provide for my four daughters I am ready to return home.