The Grey Chronicles

2013.May.14

A Letter to Nancy Binay from Patrick Moral, M.D.

Dearest Senator Binay,

By the time this letter is done, you would have probably become elected Senator of my beloved country. I will not say that you were elected because the majority of our electorate are illiterates who cast their ballots simply on name recognition. I will assume the best in that they see in you, someone who can do her best in the legislative body of our land.

I would like to review with you though what you said was your greatest qualification to hold public office: that you had 20 years on-the-job training with your parents. I will not question how important this may have been, but I question whether it is truly enough.

As a physician born into a family of physicians, I too had over 20 years on-the-job training before I entered medical school. I requested for a medical toy set early in my years to learn to examine inanimate objects in the house masquerading as human replicas. In my elementary years, I would sit in my mother’s clinic, writing prescriptions for her many patients. In my high school years, my grandmother became frail, requiring my parents to provide more medical care to which I was witness to. By the time I applied for medical school, I had probably seen more patients than some fourth year medical students in their lifetime.

I always had a question whether I should pursue my dream in a school where my parents were better known as it was a double-edged sword. If you did well, they would say your parents and your name helped you out. If you did poorly, they would ask how it was possible that you could be so stupid when you had brilliant parents. So believe me when I say, I can understand your predicament.

Our pathways diverge however, as I had to apply for my position. You might say that being elected is also a form of application but I had to defend myself. My interviewer for my application asked me this question, which still rings in my ears today, even after twenty-two years: “Do you think that you deserve to be admitted to this medical school just because of your family name?” I could have taken offense but I understood where this was coming from. There were numerous applicants for such limited slots, some probably definitely more deserving but my name was calling out to feel more deserved. If you removed your surname, would you still feel you have enough qualifications for the office you applied for? I rattled off my achievements, never once quoting my association with my surname. I felt I deserved it. What we truly feel however, will be left to us and our conscience.

I was accepted into medical school and I went through classroom activities, where I was held responsible by my professors. I went through clerkship and internship where I was held responsible by my residents and mentors. I went though residency where I was held responsible by my attendings and my hospital. Someone held me to my actions at every point in my desire to be a doctor. I know you have held a position as a personal assistant to your parents. Unfortunately, I do not know how much our parents will hold us responsible for our actions. To my mother, I was the most intelligent and handsome son anyone could have. My superiors and mentors made me realize that I was not. I am sure that to your parents, you are the most able and beautiful daughter anyone could have. That is how parents should treat us, but that is not the way a boss or superior would.

I have been a physician now for nineteen years. I am always held responsible by my patients. I have been held responsible, by someone else aside from my family for over twenty-two years. I have been responsible for the lives of a few thousands of our countrymen. Your OJT is actually Opening Just Today. You will be held responsible for the lives of almost a hundred million Filipinos. They will not be as kind as your parents, as I am sure you have had a taste of. You have said that this was a calling. I hope you have prepared well for it as I certainly prepared for mine.

You might say that your voice in the Senate is only one of twenty-four. If that voice remains silent in crucial moments, it may spell the difference for our country. If that voice cannot defend the legislation it aims to pass, you might as well leave the lawmaking to someone else. If that voice will only serve as the speaker from which emanates the voice of another, then the voice at the microphone should have been the one to get the electorate’s votes.

I did not vote for you as I believed and I believe you do not deserve my vote. But the beauty of democracy is that I should learn to abide by the voice of the majority, no matter how uninformed I feel it may be. My choices have not always won elections. If they do, I pray that their path follows the way my conscience and my mind convinced me to vote for them. When people like you win, I only have one prayer: to be proven wrong.

Mine is a voice that you may never hear but I have never stifled it with the fear of creating waves in the calm waters. The ripples I make will hopefully make you gather your oars and work your way back to shore. You are not perfect and neither am I. I sincerely hope though that you work towards it and I will happily see how much more imperfect I am.

A citizen of the republic.

Patrick Moral, MD

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