Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Very Filipino Christmas Story

Photo by Boyet Ignacio

It is a cooler night than normal in Dagatan, Lipa City.  Bright Christmas lanterns hang on lamp posts that line the narrow streets in this town a few miles south of Manila. Stalls selling rice cakes and ginger tea are open later than usual. 

"What are we to do now!" Jojo screams at the top of his voice as he maneuvers his way out of the clinic's driveway. "There's no way any hospital is going to admit us with no money to show."

"Bring me to Dr. Cabunag!" Mareng shouts back from the passenger seat of her husband's tricycle. She is writhing in pain as her baby tries to wiggle out into the world.

"Are you kidding?" He replies.

"I am not laughing!" She yells, overpowering the rickety noise of the engine. "Step on it!"

After driving a few miles, they arrive at the place. He rings the bell on the gate. 

"Jojo?" The maid of the house turns on the light to see better.

"Is Dr. Cabunag in?" He asks.

"Yes, they are having noche buena," she replies. "What's the matter with you?"

 "Mareng's water bag broke a few minutes ago," he says. "We tried four hospitals already and no one would take us in."

"And you think Dr. Cabunag can help you," she says. "You must be out of your mind."

"Susmaryosep, Joseph Macasaet!" Mareng shouts at her husband as she struggles out of the tricycle.

Jojo runs to her side as she wobbles towards the back of the house. Commotion ensues as the maid summons Dr. Cabunag to the scene.

"Hurry up, spread that mat on the floor," Dr. Cabunag orders the maid. 

"Jojo, lay her down on the mat carefully, then go to the house to boil some water."

On his way to the house, he hears an ear splitting shriek, followed by a neigh. As he turns to look, he sees one of the horses stick his head out of its stall.

Upon returning, he pauses and laughs at the scene in front of him on this fateful Christmas Eve. He realizes that they are at the horse ranch where his wife works. That is when she is not giving birth. 

Dr. Cabunag, the house veterinarian, hands over their first born son still covered with slime and swaddled in white cloth to Mareng.  She lays on the mat over some haystack. The maid, the doctor's wife, and their three sons are on their knees, still in awe at what had happened.


While the story above is a product of my creativity, it is based on stories that I have witnessed and heard of. In a news article on Philstar titled "Hospital Shopping a Dangerous Experience", the author noted that eleven women die each day from pregnancy and birth complications. Most of these deaths are preventable. 

To read more, click link: A Troubling Health Care Issue

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