I remember waking up with my parents gone.
I’ve been in Baguio City for four years and I guess I’m already used to the idea of their absence.
But I guess it’s typical for any medical student or any student for that matter to be away from their parents.
However, this is not a medical school rant.
This time, it’s about my two heroes.
My father graduated Dentistry from Manila. He practically raised himself from nothing into one of the most compassionate dentists I know.
Like most people with compassion, he became a public servant way back when I still do not have any idea how to tie my shoes. He first came in to the political scene early 90’s starting from a barangay chairman, then the director of the local electric cooperative, until he grew prominent enough to run for the local town council. I never immediately understood what his position entailed, but I guess it’s about making life better for other people.
Being a municipal councilor is a tough job. I guess when you’re a true public servant, you have to sacrifice your time with your family to be able to see eye-to-eye with your constituents. But he was never away from us. Sometimes even though he had a town council session at 9 in the morning but he was still able to drive me in our white Volkswagen Beetle at five in the morning to the nearest Ateneo school an hour-and-a-half away and still come back on time.
No he doesn’t break speed limits, but I remember him overtaking ten-wheeler trucks and not break any sweat.
I remember the second campaign season wherein we practically vandalized that same Beetle with tarps and stabilized home-built speakers on top of the car’s curved roof. You are able to see the smile in people’s faces whenever we pass by. I have no idea whether it was due to the histrionic Beetle, or the catchy old school campaign jingle, or it’s because the public know who this small town politician is.
I guess it’s one of the perks of being a public servant, to be popular wherever you go. But I guess it took me another three years and into his third term to fully grasp what his political career is all about.
My councilor father always had the will to serve people in any way he can. Nine years into the local political scene and I saw his anger at unvaccinated dogs being allowed to roam the streets, his anger at people not availing the community hospital facilities, and his anger at townsfolk letting their kids die due to disease. My father has always been a caring man, and I guess nine years is too short to transform a small town deeply rooted in traditional politics.
Then my mom took her turn.
My mom has always been quiet, can be stingy sometimes, but nonetheless, she always welcomes the idea of fun. She graduated Dentistry in Manila as well. She built her dental practice in the nearby city and I guess she has made some pretty decent livelihood from there.
It was her first campaign and the political environment, in my opinion, was becoming strange. I guess we had to adapt to the new trend. We no longer had the Beetle but we rented out a jeepney to be able to install more tarps, give away flyers, to reach more people. My mom was never sickly but this is the first time I saw her exhausted. But however tiring it was, she continued on with the campaign, and who better to support my mother but my experienced father himself?
In her second term, there were new players in my sleepy hometown and it took more effort than usual. I remember sleeping with my parents not yet around because they’re still campaigning in some far-flung mountainous barangay. I remember waking up the next day and they already left to ride a boat to reach a barangay on the other side of a lake. Her career was filled with more activities, from blood donation drives to fitness programs to organizing the local women’s council, my mother and father were more involved than ever. It was a real run and the support of the townspeople were very palpable.
I was delighted, but, being the doctor I was, I felt fear for my parent’s health at the same time.
However, fast forward to 2016, local election returns showed my parents’ career as public servants coming to an end due to unfavorable outcomes.
But times change, and with it comes the way people achieve victory.
Politics can be everything. It is something happening every years and with it comes all the funny things, the dirty things, the controversial things, and most of the time, the bloodiest of things.
With the end of the recent elections, change has been clamored from every corner of this country.
And with this wave of change, maybe focusing on our family’s privacy won’t be half bad. I guess it’s time for my mum to enjoy her Sunday morning fitness routines as a participant rather than the head. I guess it’s time for my father to eat the food during the blood donation drives rather than preparing the food himself.
For my heroes, maybe it’s time for them to reap the benefits of their twenty years in public service.
I’m still in Baguio City finishing my last month of medical internship, typing this in our clerk quarters at 3 in the morning while I still have 4 due clinical histories by 6 a.m.
And in this cold room, I momentarily close my eyes and I remember bidding my parents good night while I’m still playing the piano in our obscure little dental clinic.
I remember waking up seeing my mum brush the dog’s fur and my pa buying the freshest pan de sal this small town ever saw.