December 11, 2004

Tres Marias

Boil, boil and cauldron bubble...Posted by Hello

I met up with three of my old batchmates at Friday's one weekend afternoon. The sky was overcast and yet perhaps the heat of the the trapped Manila air was able to penetrate their skulls, hence, their spinster-like attitude. All of them are physicians in the own right for one is into pre-res in Pediatrics and another has just started her internship at JP, and the other is taking pre-res in an unrecalled health facility.

We were planning actually to eat at Cabalen so we could avail of their P75 merienda eat-all-you-can buffet (more like "carbo-all-you-want") but of course, they are ladies whose innate navigational compasses seem to be located at their lips and not in their eyes making them unable to find the restaurant. So they made me to settle for Friday's which I had to accept.

The prices in this themed restaurant was astronomical. I felt they converted dollars into pesos which is why per dish seems to cost about $6-8. I said to them to ditch this place, but of course, etiquette dictates that when presented a menu, the diner has sealed his or her fate in ordering a dish or two in that house. This is probably why some up-market restos (think Greenbelt) have their menus displayed near the door so the diner can peruse and cringe at the figures before making a huge embarrassment inside. But of course, the kitchen sink can always use another hand or two.

We ordered a big plate of Chicken carbonara and Cesar salad so the four of us could enjoy the afternoon. The talk revolved around work and the prospects of leaving this horrid country behind. I just realized that many of my original batchmates who passed the medical boards are taking KAPLAN and are persuing a career abroad. But fortunately, many too, are taking their residencies here in Manila which means there will be an ample supply of doctors in the near future. I hope this is true. It seems everyone who is taking a health-allied course, be it a doctor, nurse, med-tech, or pt, is planning to use his career as a one-way ticket out of the country. For me, seeing doctors opting to go nursing is an act of desperation especially for a race proud of their educational status. And most are reluctantly swallowing their pride just so they can attain a salary commensurate to their level.

I have junior anesthesiologist friend who is studying nursing and he says that many of his colleagues who had jumped ship have somewhat achieved their dreams of having big houses, cars and easier workloads. I can't help but empathize because if one works here for 29 hours per duty and only take about $40, you'll feel envious knowing your friends are working as nurse anesthetists there for just 8 hours while earning $80 an hour sans overtime. I can't blame him for taking the easier road. It's only in Catholic children's books and Filipino soap operas where everyone is a martyr of a lost cause. And in reality, being a martyr won't bring more people to your funeral nor bring more food to the table.

As we finished our luncheon and paid our separate bills, it dawned on me that if I was earning like $80 an hour abroad, paying food at Friday's won't be such a terrible experience. It won't make a big dent on one's wallet either. And with it, I have made my decision.

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