i am a christian, i am a dentist, i am a mission dentist, this is life

But Who Will Hug Them?

“Hugs can do great amounts of good – especially for children.”

Princess Diana

A week ago my team served the teenagers in Manila Youth Rehabilitation Center (MYRC). Mostly boys, we served almost 200 youth between the ages of 15-17, and for the first time in my life I was called “mie” (mommy). When I asked why they call everyone mommy and daddy, they said “Nasanay na po.” They’ve gotten used to it because they are asked to call elders and staff, mommy and daddy. Some of the teens have to reside in the center for years… and during that time MYRC is their home. And the “labels” create some semblance of a family, I suppose (that many of them no longer have).

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about me, i am a christian, i am a dentist, i am a mission dentist

Touching People’s Lives

I’ve always wanted to be a dentist. My uncle was a dentist and I said, “I want to do that”, and when I finally became one I realized that it wasn’t so special. Haha. Actually, when younger individuals tell me they want to be a dentist, I’d always discourage them and say, “Oh do not make the mistake I made!”

Of course the main advantage you enjoy when you’re in private practice is that you have so much freedom, being your own boss and all. But that’s not much, really. It’s mostly hardwork and with very little gain. Things change, however, when you revert your focus.

I am a Mission Dentist

When I became a dentist for the Lord, I realized that there’s so much to gain from my profession and my skill. So much more than financial gain, which never is enough, I realized I found my purpose.

A few weeks ago, as I was packing up to leave the mission field in Mindanao, one of the younger volunteers asked one of the dentists, “Ilan nabunutan mo? (How many people did you get to work on?) And she laughed, “Di ko na alam” (Oh I dunno anymore). She looked at me and we both chuckled. I said, “Nung mas mabata pa ako mayabang pa ako… nagbibilang pa ako. Di na ngayon.” (When I was a younger dentist, I was so cocky… I would count. But not anymore). Clearly that is not the gain you receive. You do not go to the field to feel good about yourself; because that’s false humility.

The more places I visit, and the more people I serve in the mission field, I realize that the work I do is not really about pulling teeth for free (because other people do that, too) it’s so much more. As a mission dentist I am supposed to be a channel of God’s love; so that those who feel discouraged may find hope.

Touching People’s Lives

I understand that the road less travelled is less travelled for a reason. I remember being told once, “Sama mo naman ako minsan” (Take me with you one time). And as I began to talk to this person about what to expect–I felt him regretting what he had said. “Ang tagal masyado. Wala bang one day lang?” (That’s too long. Don’t you have one day missions?) I told him we travel far so we make the most of the trip by serving more than one site. And then came another complaint. “Ang layo naman. Sabihan mo ako kapag dito lang sa Manila”. (Oh it’s too far. Let me know when you have missions in Manila). And finally, when I told him that we aren’t paid–and that we pay for our own, I knew I wouldn’t hear from him anymore. “Ah kanya-kanya kanyang transpo?” (Oh you pay for your own transpo?) One time I was trying to recruit an MD for the field and he made it clear that he was too busy for it. The road less travelled… indeed.

You want to know something? I found myself on this road without realizing how I got here. It’s hard to explain–but simply put, it was not my choice. One day, I was called.

In the past, when younger individuals tell me they want to be a dentist, I discourage them and tell them to look another way. A month ago, I served in Rizal along with some youth volunteers. I was the only dentist, and three teenagers decided to help in Dental. I’ve worked with many youth volunteers in the field. They are pleasant individuals. Sometimes they’re very eager to help and sometimes they’re easily distracted. But that’s fine. I used to volunteer as a poll watcher for the elections and I think I was mostly there for the “fun of it”. I was too young to grasp the value of my presence there.

Anyway in Rizal, I worked with three teenagers. At the end of the day, I thanked them and I met the mother of one of the girls who said, “Doc yung anak ko gusto na daw nya maging dentista tulad mo.” (Doc my daughter now wants to be a dentist, just like you). I smiled and I saw the girl smile excitedly behind her mom. Then I realized that more than touching the lives of patients, God has put me here so that people may realize their purpose too. Just like the doctor who brought me to the field, one day I will help someone to realize their life’s passion.

I wanted to be a dentist, at a very young age. But back then I wanted it because I wanted to be my own boss. One day, that girl will make a decision to pursue Dentistry and when she gets her license, she will make a decision to answer God’s call. Bless her. Bless her and her young servant heart.

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about me, in my opinion, my travels

The Death Curve

I was on a leisurely motorcycle ride around Negros Occidental when I saw this along the stretch of sugar cane plantations. I saw it from a far, laughed at it, and decided I needed to go back around so I could take a photo of it.

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about me, i am a christian

Another Year… and So I’m 37

I love the sunsets. Apart from it being a beautiful sight to witness… I like what it symbolizes. HOPE. It gives a bittersweet representation of life. When the sun sets, it closes the day to mark its end, but it also leaves with the promise to come back tomorrow. Bitter. Sweet.

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about me, in my opinion, love and relationships, my travels, this is life

Looking for Love

New York is a lovely place. I love how busy it is–the city that never sleeps. We arrived in NYC at 10 o’clock at night. But with the interminable queuing at the immigration, we didn’t get on the train until 12 midnight. When we finally emerged from the subway and were hauling our luggage along Manhattan, we were desperate for a restful sleep. Much of our days and nights in New York were like that–walking, train rides, and foot cramping. We had a packed itinerary… so we were working on a schedule.

On the first day we were supposed to encounter Time Square before “Book of Mormon”, but we got heavily delayed at the Rockefeller Center, and only had time for dinner. This meant that we had to miss out on seeing the the LOVE-HOPE sculpture. It wasn’t that special. It may be overrated… but I guess the small time romantic in me wanted to believe in a chance at Love and Hope. Luckily that same night, we randomly passed by “HOPE” and I thought… maybe, just maybe, I’d get to find love here in New York, too.

And I did…

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about me, in my opinion, my travels, this is my family

Miss Saigon: From West End to Broadway

In 1997, my Papa took my sister and I to our very first West End Musical and it was Miss Saigon. I grew up singing the songs and I have the entire soundtrack memorized, so it was the first (and only) musical on my list. I remember coming into the theater and being ushered onto the box seats. It was my first West End musical and I was watching it from exclusive box seats — what a treat!

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