Today is Sunday, July 22, 2018

GMA Cares

by: J. Mar Del Castillo

No, I am not referring to the President's program for the poor, nor is this an electoral advertisement in her party's favor.

And yes, I am a GMA appointee to the Court of Appeals in 2001. But I wrote this only to share an apolitical account of my virtual dealing with the President.

I underwent a quintuple coronary bypass a few months ago, but after the check-ups, it appeared that four out of the five vein grafts on my heart are fully occluded. Hoping to give a good fight to remain alive, I checked in at the hospital last April 11 for my angiogram and angioplasty. The angiogram finally confirmed my greatest fear: my then operation turned out to be unsuccessful. Only the mammary vein works – it PARTIALLY works. Tough luck.

My doctors decided against proceeding with the angioplasty. My cardiologist suggested that we take advantage of the presence in the country of Dr. Alex Yap, the cardiovascular surgeon who was flown in from San Francisco to attend to the First Gentleman's open heart surgery, by consulting him. And, since my own cardiovascular surgeon is a close friend and kababata of Dr. Yap, my cardiologist was optimistic that Dr. Yap will agree to meet with us. Maybe.

By Friday morning, April 13, my cardiologist informed us of the good news that Dr. Yap was willing to confer with us and that I should just in the meantime wait in the hospital for further developments. Towards lunchtime, PJ Ruben T. Reyes paid me a visit and informed me that during his visit to the First Gentleman at St. Luke's hospital the night before, he mentioned to the President of my condition and the precariousness of finding a solution to this health problem. She replied that she will request Dr. Yap to take a look at me. Considering that the First Gentleman was still then in a very critical condition, I have never banked on that 'promise.' I even entertained the thought that it was simply a casual remark.

Halfway through lunch, my cardiovascular surgeon dropped by to inform me that the President got in touch with him and instructed him to pay particular attention to me and to arrange a meeting between me and Dr. Yap. He then advised that I check out of the hospital and that I should be on standby for a possible meeting with Dr. Yap during the coming weekend.

That Sunday afternoon, I got a confirmation call that I will be meeting Dr. Yap at the EDSA Sharing-La by nightfall. Wow.

My wife and I did confer with the renowned doctor. After examining my records, he thoroughly explained my medical case, the possible courses of action I should take, and the do's and don'ts in my lifestyle. My bypass surgery may not be totally successful, but the good news in his assurance that the mammary vein aligned to my heart is working and is just 'sleeping.'

The most interesting part during the meeting though is when Dr. Yap was curious why the President was so concerned with me as to go out of her way and asked him twice to attend to me. He timidly asked, “Kapampangan ba kayo?” I simply said, “No.”

GMA barely knows me. She has not even seen me for sometime except briefly last April 17 when my wife and I thanked her after mass at St. Luke's hospital; and we do not fall under the term 'friends' in the real sense of the word. But her single indiscriminate act of kindness in my momentary blow is something of eternal value, let alone something that highlights how admirable she is. She may be marred by shrill criticisms and accusations because of some unpopular decisions and booboos, but as we all are, she is only human prone to mistakes. On the other hand, because she is human, she showed the true meaning of “compassion to one's neighbor.”

I believe that if the President on her initiative could readily extend help to someone she is not on familiar terms with, then it is just inconceivable that she has forgotten about the affairs of the state or that she is only preoccupied with herself and her family, as some critics are wont to believe. I can bravely say that surely, I am not the only one who had been directly benefited by the personal intervention of the President. I believe each and every one of us must have benefited, and are still benefiting, from the President's governance of the country.

Through this article, I reach out to her to make her know that I am deeply grateful for the help she extended me. And to the readers, never underestimate the power of doing something for somebody for which you do not get paid.

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