“Tuob” is the poor man's alternative to unaffordable medical care

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 3, 2020 - 12:00am

Tuob is a cry of the people, denouncing how the rich made medicines too expensive and anti-poor. Out of the 110 million Filipinos, about 65 million can’t afford medical care. They have no PhilHealth coverage, and the Universal Health Care Law is just a dream without a budget. So why should the doctors complain if Governor Gwen recommends tuob?

If you are a poor farmer or a fisherman and you get sick, do you think you have access to the very expensive hospital beds in five-star medical centers in Cebu City? Will you be admitted without any deposit, if you look poor and don’t have a political backer to endorse you or guarantee that you can pay? No way. Hospitals are big businesses, and doctors have paid so much to their medical schools. They need to recover their investments. The public health system in this country is all about money. Of course, we hasten to count as exceptions public hospitals and those run by God-centered missionaries. But the issue there is quality and accessibility.

Tuob is an invention of the poor in order to survive. Just like herbal medicines, the “hampol”, “tautho”, “hilot” or those practiced by herbolarios and native medicine men, even those in Siquijor who border on the spiritual and animistic realms, these are the poor's alternatives to the high cost of medicines in the cities. The poor folks in the hinterlands find “tuob” as an option to having to travel hundreds of kilometers from the mountains just to be rejected in the cities, by elitist medical institutions run by businessmen, whose main motivation is profit. This is not an attack against the medical profession. I know many doctors faithful to the Hippocratic Oath. But the entire system has been held captive by profit. It's all about money now.

If you are a tuba gatherer or a vegetable farmer can you afford to pay for MRI, CT scan, and the outlandish medical concoctions of giant pharma companies? I don't think so. If you’re a fisherman do you have the time and the means to travel by boat and then by land, to bring your sick loved one to the leading medical centers in Cebu City? These hospitals might have been designed exclusively for the rich, famous, well-connected, and powerful. You have no place there. And so, you shouldn’t be blamed if you use tuob. After all, it’s your life. Your governor shouldn’t be insulted if she recommends tuob.

I know whereof I write, I lived in the far-flung mountains straddling between the hills of Argao and the ranges in Ronda and Dumanjug. Whenever I was sick my old folks used tuob to cure me. I have survived seven decades. I’ve always known Tuob and can testify it’s effective. The doctors concoct all sorts of imagined dangers but, as far as I know, no one died using this procedure. The problem with the rich is that they always fear that the poor can invent an alternative to their expensive products and services. If the poor can invent an alternative to gasoline, then the entire oil industry worldwide will collapse. The Middle East will be ruined, and the poor will have their vengeance.

The tuob is the poor man's vengeance against the oppression and exploitation by the rich, a denunciation against the excesses of hospitals and doctors. It’s the peoples' cry of uprising against those who, for centuries, have taken advantage over them. Tuob is the miserable peoples' cry for vengeance and liberation. Governor Gwen is right. We, the poor, should listen to her and not the doctors.

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