Friday, August 31, 2007

Bayaning Doktor

One after another they came, each delivering a brief eulogy for their Doc Louie. It was the final night of the wake for Dr. Glorioso Saturay, held in the covered court of Barangay Pag-asa in Quezon City. The venue was appropriate since Doc Louie had served once as captain of the "barangay" [neighborhood district], one of the many civic engagements he had in his life.

I sat through some of the eulogies, reflecting quietly. All through the week, I had been getting text messages from friends who had known Doc Louie. The texts that came in sometimes described him as “napakabait,” and other times as “napakabuti,” a rare combination. Both words mean “good” but in different senses. “Mabait” means someone who maintains good interpersonal relations and is kind and caring. “Mabuti” on the other hand, and when combined with “doctor,” refers to someone who excels in his or her profession or work. At the same time, it can refer to someone perceived to have a strong ethical sense, a morally upright person.

Most physicians I know do only medicine, shuttling from home to one clinic to another. Doc Louie was different, a man with many lives, and I mean that in the sense of wearing many hats, of moving in different social networks. It was not until his wake that I learned that he had been a barangay captain -- or more specifically, “mabuting alagad ng barangay.”

by Michael L. Tan, Pinoy Kasi column, Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 31, 2007