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
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
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
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.