As the emotionless character, Mersault, in Albert Camus' The Stranger was describing the unrelenting heat in Algiers, I couldn't help but find similarities in the current climate situation in Manila:
"The sky was already a blaze of light, and the air stoking up rapidly. I felt the first waves of heat lapping my back, and my dark suit made things worse."
"Now in the full glare of the morning sun, with everything shimmering in the heat haze, there was something inhuman, discouraging, about this landscape."
"A shimmer of heat played over it, and one's feet squelched at each step, leaving bright black gashes."
"Perez seemed very far away now, almost hidden by the heat haze; then, abruptly, he disappeared altogether."
"But the heat had meanwhile much increased, and by some miracle fans had been procured for everyone: the jury, my lawyer, the Prosecutor, and some of the journalists, too . . . I wiped the sweat from my face, but I was barely conscious of where or who I was until I heard the warden of the Home called to the witness box."
It is hot—unrelentingly so. I hardly go outdoors. I feel like taking a shower every other hour. The fans are at full blast.
The prospect of finally escaping this April heat excites me every time I think about it. I'm going to Bukidnon this weekend. With my classmate, Abby Ortal, I'll be working in a local hospital for about a month there.
Our curriculum allows us to the take an off-campus elective in whichever hospital of our choosing. Some classmates have gone to Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, or UCLA. Others have picked out Singapore or Canada or some place abroad. I wish I could, too, but we don't have the money to go to such places.
Anyway the experience is meant to give us, medical students, an alternative experience of being in other hospitals; not every health care facility, after all, is like PGH. I wasn't surprised, though, that many classmates still picked out PGH—I suspect that was out of deep love for our local institution, or out of convenience (accomplishing the paper work in UP Manila can get quite tedious and time-consuming).
So why did I pick out Bukidnon, of all places?
It's closer to home; it's in the same island. My family can visit me without paying a lot for airfare. My father, for instance, has volunteered to help me settle there. I'm excited to meet him this Saturday.
It's cold. Isn't that reason enough? Malaybalay is found at a higher altitude, which explains the cooler climate. In fact, our local preceptor there has specifically instructed us to bring jackets.
It's close to Cagayan de Oro, where the grand rapids are. Bukidnon has a zipline, which I plan to try, as well.
Finally, it will give me a chance to work at a local, provincial hospital. The institution is called Bethel Baptist Hospital. Friends have highly recommended it. It's a place, I was told, where one can actively share the gospel to patients and minister to both their body and souls. I feel that I need this break before clerkship begins. I'm thankful that the College has accepted my request to train in Bethel even if I wrote, "To participate in hospital-based Christian ministries so I could better integrate spirituality in my medical practice," as one of my objectives.
I'm glad to share this experience with the studious Abby (only that I wish there were more of us who are going), but spending time with her there brings me so much pressure. I'm almost sure that by this time, she has finished devouring the entire 19th Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, while I haven't even started on anything yet. We were advised to read up on thyroid problems and, best of all, schistosomiasis, which is endemic in the area.
If you've been to Bukidnon, can you recommend restaurants or places to visit?
For now, though, I just want this heat to be over. My roommates, who are both at home for the break, will probably punish me for the dramatic spike in our electric bill.