Teachable Moment: Humility

June 06, 2014
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I can't move on until now. I'm still affected of my experience last Tuesday.

To keep myself updated about Ate Esperanza's condition, I call National Kidney and Transplant Institute on a daily basis. 
I mentioned on my comment on A Mom's Call for Financial Aid to Extend the Life of Her Ailing Daughter that on Wednesday at 8:00 AM, Sir Ethan of NKTI informed me that the patient was still under their care and they were waiting for the doctor's order. He was not aware if Ate Esperanza would be transferred to East Avenue Medical Center or not. The patient would like to refuse their medical assistance. She chose to have her dialysis on Friday and stay at home thereafter.

Yesterday afternoon, I tried calling the Emergency Room twice but nobody was answering my call. I called again at 11:00 PM to check if the patient was still admitted.

I was sick worried about the family. They didn't have money to cover the hospital expenses. 

I waited patiently on the line. I felt relieved when a lady picked up the phone. Here was our conversation.

I: "Hello, good evening po! I am SJ Valdez. I would like to ask if a patient named Ma. Esperanza Galindez is still under your care."

Lady: "Ay, sandali lang po at tatanungin ko."

I heard that she asked her companions.

Lady: "Wala na siya rito, discharged na."

I: "Ah ganun po ba? Would you know, Miss, if she was transferred to another hospital? Did she go home? I'm sorry, Miss, I know that you can't disclose the patient's details or diagnosis on the phone. I would like to know kasi wala po talaga silang pera. I am not a relative of the patient. My mom and I were just there to meet them last Tuesday when she was sent there. Pasensya na po for calling up very late."

Lady: "Hindi ko kasi alam dahil kate-take over ko lang. Basta nakalagay dito sa computer, discharged na siya."

I: "I was able to talk to Sir Ethan, Miss. Naaawa kasi ako sa patient dahil wala talaga silang kapera-pera..."
Before I finished talking, she cut the conversation.

Lady: "Doktor ako, doktor ako, sige..."

Then she hang up. I was shocked. I was so polite to her. Maybe she was pissed off because I didn't call her DOCTOR or DOKTORA. I felt sad and a little disappointed. Would it make her less of a person if she wasn't called by her title? I treated her with respect. She should have told me that she was a doctor when she answered my call so that I could address her according to her preference. How would I know that she was a doctor? I was not there in the first place.

I can't imagine how she treats other people especially if they are indigent or uneducated. I feel sorry for her. Why is it that some people give so much regard on titles? I called her Miss. I talked to her the way I should talk to anyone regardless of age or status in life. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to ask her name.

All the NKTI nurses, social workers, and doctors that I met last Tuesday were all humble, kind, and compassionate. I hope that lady doctor would not destroy the good reputation of the institution. 

When Ross woke up this morning, I thought of sharing my experience to him. I invited him to sit down and listen to my story. He said that he was also shocked and disappointed. 

I: "Anak, hindi ba, Papa and I told you that you should talk to other people with respect regardless of who they are? Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, young or old alike, you should not be arrogant. Prophet Muhammad said, 'The best of people is the one who humbles himself; the more his rank increases.' Calling a janitor 'Sir' or a waitress, 'Ma'am' is the proper way to address the person. Will it make you less of a person if you do that?"

Ross: "No, Mama. I hear you and Papa call the taxi drivers and janitors 'Sir'.

I: "There's nothing wrong if you call a doctor or even the president of the Philippines 'Sir' or 'Ma'am' because still it's a form of courtesy. Don't be like the doctor that I spoke with last night, huh? If you become rich or famous someday, be humble. Live the same lifestyle that you used to. Don't be concerned with titles. All of us are equal in God's eyes despite the fact that the society or other people sometimes consider that titles and achievements measure the value of a person. It's improper. Let's face it, Anak. This is reality. But don't be like them. You have to know how to mingle with people from all walks of life. Don't belittle other people. It's not acceptable!"

Ross: "Yes, Mama. I'll remember that."

I believe that someday, my son will remember all the things that I say.


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  1. Yung mga ganyang eksena nakakasama talaga ng loob lalo na alam mo na walang kang ginagawang masama at nakikipag-usap ka ng maayos. I remember a lady harshly told me: HINDI TAYO MAGKAPATID! WAG MO AKONG TAWAGING ATE!

    Walang nagawa ang kamalditahan ko sa sobrang gulat ko. Ate/Kuya kasi ako madalas tumawag sa mga hindi ko kakilala. Minsan miss, mam or sir. Siguro the lady wanted to be called as MADAM kaya nagalit sa akin. Hehehe!

    1. I learned my lesson and had some realizations, Krisna. Dapat pala maging sensitive din ako sa feelings ng ibang tao. I have to find ways on how to know the person's profession because there are people na big deal sa kanila ang titles. I have to respect that fact. Sabi nga ng mga nakatatanda, hindi natin makikita ang ugali natin sa ibang tao. There are trivial things that we just have to let go. Like what I always say to my eldest, to avoid chaos we have to avoid conflict. It's so sad that some people prioritize being called by their titles. They don't see the respect that others give them kasi hindi lang sila natawag sa titles nila. :(


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