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Opinion

Pass the bucket

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 - The Philippine Star

At the height of the frenzied dousing of buckets or pails of ice in the United States that caught on support here in the Philippines, my 24-year-old son, who is currently on internship in a government-run hospital, posted last Sunday this challenge on his Facebook account. I could not agree more with his suggestion. So I am sharing his post here. 

“Sana may #icebucketchallenge din para mapondohan ang mga public hospitals at mga ‘Doctors to the Barrio’ para magamot ang mga taong walang pera. Hinahamon ko si Henry Sy, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, mga celebrities, mga mayor, mga congressman, mga senador at ang Presidente ng Pilipinas.”

My son knows whereof he speaks. DocGian, as I fondly call him, is currently reviewing for his medical board examinations while taking his internship at the state-run University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH). Prior to this, he took his clerkship at the Ospital ng Maynila where students of the city-run Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) complete their medicine and nursing courses.

Medicine and nursing students like him are exposed to facts of life in the real world where they quietly attend to poor and indigent patients. As a parent, I know how hard it is for my son to see patients who could barely buy medicine. When he comes home after long hours of duty and without sleep, DocGian tells me a lot of sob stories of his encounters with many indigent patients. Not that he is complaining. Obviously, it is his way to unburden himself from their stories of misery.

These medical and nursing students at PLM and UP do not only attend to their treatment but also go out of their way to help indigent patients buy medicine. These students do not come from well-to-do or rich families but still they share whatever extra they have from the allowance given to them by their parents.

They go out on medical missions in far-flung places in need of real doctors and nurses. DocGian and his fellow PLM medicine students paid for their own plane fare that took them to Busuanga, Palawan and rode on bancas to reach tiny islands where people have not seen a doctor in their lifetime.

So now you understand where DocGian is coming from in posting this kind of challenge to our country’s leaders.

The ice bucket challenge turned into some sort of craze after this was started by Washington-based ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Association to raise awareness and funding for research for the cure of this disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It was introduced last year but ironically it only gathered steam this year after well-known celebrities from Hollywood and popular American personalities started accepting and taking part in the ice bucket challenge.

Individuals who take up the challenge will have to comply within 24 hours or forfeit by giving minimum of $100 as financial donation, or do both. Then, they will name or nominate other people to do the same challenge. According to its website, the ALS Association already collected $70.2 million in donations as of August 24.

Forbes’ billionaires from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg were among the latest to take up the ice bucket challenge and contributed unspecified amounts of donations to the ALS.

Our own billionaire here, industrialist Andrew Tan became the first Filipino tycoon to take the challenge. Last Monday at his house in Quezon City, Tan let someone pour a pail of mixed ice cubes and cold water over his head and promised to donate unspecified amount to the cause.

The Megaworld chairman, in a video posted on YouTube a few hours later, also dared three other businessmen to take the challenge: McDonald’s Philippines — Golden Arches Development Corp. president Kenneth Yang, Asian Institute of Management president Steven DeKrey and Accenture Philippines country head Manolito Tayag. As of press time yesterday, Yang and Dekrey said they were game.

After doing the ice bucket challenge with his wife and children last August 21, Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg nominated our own world-boxing champion, Sarangani Rep.Manny Pacquiao and five other celebrities. Wahlberg is a big fan and a close friend of Pacquiao. We have not heard how Pacquiao has responded to the challenge.

As of this writing, no one has yet nominated President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III. Not even his youngest sister, TV/movie star Kris Aquino dared her “Kuya Noy” to do it even after she did her own ice bucket challenge in her “The Buzz” celebrity show last Sunday with son Bimby pouring one of the ice-cold pails over her head.  

But one of President Aquino’s official family in the Cabinet, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima boldly took the ice bucket challenge. Although she braved the ice cubes and cold water poured over her gold-colored hair, De Lima did not nominate P-Noy.

Sitting on plastic chair set up below the flagpole of DOJ office in Padre Faura, De Lima got her own douse of cold water and ice from two of her security aides. After changing her shoes into slippers, the Justice Secretary gamely went through the ice bucket challenge, with ever-present scarf around her neck, in full media coverage.

De Lima was nominated to the ice bucket challenge by radio/TV anchor Anthony Taberna whom Kris Aquino earlier included among her nominees. Perhaps, out of spite, De Lima challenged in turn former Senator Panfilo Lacson, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to do the same. The three gentlemen had history of run-ins with the DOJ Secretary. Will they pass the buck?

Taberna also nominated Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Henares. Although she readily accepted the dare, Henares did her own ice bucket challenge without any media coverage like De Lima.

STAR columnist and comedian/actor Joey de Leon posted on Twitter this message on the ongoing craze to be part of the ice bucket challenge among local celebrities here: “Don’t nominate if you don’t donate.” Better yet, pass the bucket to our more needy Filipinos here who deserve attention and care from their own countrymen.

ACCENTURE PHILIPPINES

AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS

ANDREW TAN

ANTHONY TABERNA

ASIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT

BUCKET

CHALLENGE

DE LIMA

ICE

KRIS AQUINO

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