About a week ago, I was invited by the Philippine Medical Association in Oklahoma to become their guest speaker on the occasion of their 26th anniversary. I obliged them with the following message that I wrote while I was on a flight back home that they graciously printed in their souvenir program:
“I am on my way home again as I write this message to you, my fellow Filipino physicians in Oklahoma. We are all on a homebound journey and I will always be grateful for the 11 years that I have spent in Oklahoma because it enabled me and my wife to return with our children to our beloved Philippines.
We are all witnesses to the beautiful way of life that Oklahoma provides. There is security and prosperity. This is a wonderful place to raise children. Unfortunately, the absolute majority of our countrymen left behind can not even dream of the opportunities we enjoy here and which we sometimes take for granted. Those left behind are also so far behind.
We need to get together and try our best to help rescue our country. We are fortunate recipients of much learning and skills that did not come to us without much sacrifice. We all worked hard to get to where we all find ourselves today. However the cycle of what we call brain gain consisting of learning and earning will only be completed with the firm commitment of returning.
Returning does not have to mean the physical act of going back to the Philippines. Even better than going back is giving back which may be accomplished in so many ways.
If we apply our abundant talents and share our many blessings, we can permanently change our country. We all left the Philippines out of necessity. Now that we are stronger and better prepared, it becomes necessary for us to take our country back. Just because we needed to change our visas and citizenship so that we could stay and work in this remarkable land, the Philippines never ceased to become our country. We have only learned to love her more.
Congratulations to the officers and members of the Philippine Medical Association of Oklahoma. Let us stay united as we pursue our common goals of service and compassion to all.”
Now I am writing this post while yet on another flight home again. There were about 100 physicians in that gala and there were no exceptions, everyone was prosperous and successful . Quite a few were retired or semi-retired and many continued to give back to their country of birth through free clinics, donations of money and medications and hospital supplies that they would carefully collect in whatever hospitals they worked. I was very happy to note that we all felt that material success was not sufficient.
This is probably why I am eager to rejoin the fray. I know that there are many of us who are no longer willing to stand idly by while our country is battered by rapacious politicians who have totally lost their purpose to serve. This loss is not a conscious process. It is simply the result of lingering too long.