Wednesday, December 2, 2009


My blog readers know who I am-a 47 year old Filipino physician who, after studying, training and running a successful medical practice for almost twenty years in the U.S. has now returned to his country. I am, and proud to be, a Balikbayan.

Friends have asked: Why?

"You have a wonderful life in America," they say. "You were featured on US national television as an outstanding Asian. You're at the top of your profession. Why become a Dr. Balikbayan?"

In my mind I have asked myself the same question. The answer is difficult to explain, and for some, more difficult to understand.

No Filipino in or out of the country is unaware of the stark reality that confronts all of us. At this time the Philippines has a higher poverty level than most countries on earth. Our government is considered to be more corrupt than even the most chaotic African nations.

But as a physician what pains me most deeply is the terrible fact that more and more Filipinos are dying for no other reason than that they lack medical care. By the thousands, mothers die at childbirth. Children die of curable infectious diseases. People are ill and they have no one to turn to.

I cannot accept this. I must do something. I owe it to myself, to my vocation as physician, and to my fellow Filipinos. This is why I left America and am now Dr. Balikbayan.

Recently I joined the brave and honorable cause of Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas whose aim is not only to reform but to transform the Philippines. To this I have committed myself.

I am not a politician nor do I intend ever to be one. I am an experienced physician trained to help and save lives. But rather than treat individual patients by the handful, I believe I can be more useful, do more good by extending medical care to millions of Filipinos who have neither the knowledge nor the means to fight disease and prolong life.

I realize I cannot do this alone. Neither can Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas. All our leaders from Lapulapu with his band of Cebuano warriors to Cory Aquino with her heroes at Edsa needed the full hearted, unsparing involvement of men and women willing to seek, struggle, and if necessary, sacrifice to attain the fulfillment of a common aspiration.

I shall do my part, play a role, perhaps a small one, in the sweeping movement that calls all Filipinos at home and abroad together, growing in strength and number, gaining momentum to turn itself into the transformative power that will change our country and generations of our countrymen.

So I move on, move forward, move toward a horizon bright with the promise of the good years to come for all Filipinos across space and time.

Dr. Balikbayan is home.