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Headlines

City of children

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

Read Part 1 here

(Conclusion)

MANILA, Philippines -  Philippine Children’s Medical Center has been serving 40,000 to 50,000 children patients yearly. Yet the land on which it stands has drawn the interest of business groups, putting the institution’s future in uncertainty

The 3.7-hectare area where the hospital stands is part of the Quezon City Central Business District (CBD), which the local government said is envisioned to have more than 250 hectares of mixed-use development.

The lot, at the corner of Agham Road and Quezon Avenue, is owned by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

The NHA, according to Quezon City’s blueprint for the CBD, has a joint venture with Ayala Land Inc. to develop the 29.1-hectare North Triangle property.

Last Sept. 4, Health Secretary Enrique Ona told a hearing at the House of Representatives that the hospital is staying put and that there is no more intention to transfer it.

Instead, the hospital would be rehabilitated and modernized. However, he could not categorically say whether or not the plan has been shelved for good.

In the meantime, the children and their parents are keeping their fingers crossed that PCMC will stay where it is.

Johnell is getting better but he wears a mask so his health does not deteriorate, Miriam says.

In one corner of the cancer center, by the window, nine-year-old Shyli sits patiently, waiting for her turn with another doctor. She just had a chemotherapy session but it isn’t over. Another doctor will check her. She asks her mother to massage her arm. It is hurting, she says.

In the waiting room, there are children everywhere. Some are sleeping, some are playing, some are lying about; some are in wheelchairs, injected with dextrose while some are covered with masks or pink headwear. Some are writing and drawing shapes or hugging brown teddy bears given by strangers earlier this morning, while waiting for their turn in the pastel-colored doctors’ rooms.

The fetid smell of various drugs wafts in the air. It is intoxicating to most visitors but the children and their parents are used to the dizzying stench.

The mothers and fathers know each other, not by their names but the same stories they share. By now, they see each other every week, every two weeks or every month, depending on the platelet count of their sons and daughters, depending on the color of their faces, the hemoglobin level or their body temperature.

Sometimes, the day arrives when somebody stops coming. The child does not make it and there is an empty seat in the waiting room.

But everyday, another child, a new patient shows up. Here in the waiting room, the one with the pastel green door and walls with hot air balloons.

(This story, originally published in the authors’ collaborative website www.roadtopuka.com, hopes to shed light on PCMC’s campaign to be able to permanently retain its present site.)

AGHAM ROAD AND QUEZON AVENUE

AYALA LAND INC

HEALTH SECRETARY ENRIQUE ONA

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

LAST SEPT

MEDICAL CENTER

NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY

NORTH TRIANGLE

PHILIPPINE CHILDREN

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