How many of you remember your first overseas sojourn outside the Philippines?
I am sure you were very excited with a mixture of apprehension of not knowing what to expect from the airport of origin to the airport of destination.
I finished a course in college where we are destined to be working overseas. In fact, my friends already had contracts signed for the US before they even graduate. They cannot stop talking where they will go, but not me. I didn’t find traveling appealing let alone working overseas until I experienced it myself.
A little backstory
I content myself working in a tertiary hospital 10 minutes walk from my house. The hospital was behind the zoo and next to the Manila Bay. The lion was my alarm clock, but I don’t need to rush to go to work. I eat proper breakfast, and I always get to attend the morning mass before I head to my department to prepare.
I was seeing an average of 40 patients every day and supervised at least 6 students. I was not obliged to attend any meetings, so all the time spent in the hospital was mostly patient care and supervision-training of future therapists.
And then I got bored. Actually, I got disillusioned with my chosen profession because being in a tertiary hospital you don’t get much excitement regarding the type of cases to treat. Well, we had the usual cases of strokes, then there would be the occasional fracture, cerebral palsy and plenty of arthritis.
Don’t get me wrong though. Despite the department being the hub for cases that take forever to heal, the people I met and gave treatment to are the best of people you will encounter in your life. I was well fed with local delicacies because one of my oldest patients owns the biggest stall in the Paco Market selling all local kakanin (delicacies). We met special people to, and they get attached to their therapist that sometimes it becomes a competition – a healthy one!
Then I changed work.
For a year I became a secretary of one medical association. I can’t say it enriched my life except being organized, because I discovered how awful some doctors are in real life at the same time I made friends for life.
I decided to quit for my sanity and took the boat to go to the south of the Philippines and discover General Santos and Davao. It was a good break, and it also broke my bank that pushed me to accept the job being offered by one of the good doctors I met the year before.
I became a research assistant and bypassed the recruitment process until I can’t anymore. That stint enriched my life – it opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of research and ethics. And of course office politics.
A blessing in disguise
I can’t seem to get my laboratory in order. I braved the needle pricks to have blood drawn and all other specimens but I always get false negative results to be cleared and begin the recruitment process.
Until my brother called and asked me to talk to one friend he met working in Cambodia. They were looking for someone willing to work short-term training local therapists.
With no options to get regular and with good experience in clinical supervision, I applied and immediately got hired.
The organization processed my paper immediately once I had all my documents in order and two months after my birthday celebration in the year 2000, I flew out of the Philippines landing in Cambodia to start a new adventure and I never looked back.