BATANG MINDANAW: Remembering days, memories, and ‘tabanog’

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 March)—Sama sa tabanog asa ako luparon sa kamatuoran?

One year ago, on March 30, 2022, I was at the ward of a public hospital in my city in the early morning, not as a nurse nor a doctor, but as a patient. I was dressed in a surgical gown while looking keenly at an attending hospital staff member who was telling me that I would be sent into the operating room finally after a week-long fast in preparation for the procedure. After hearing the news, I mentally prepared myself by praying in silence while my mother beside me prayed even more.

Two weeks earlier, on March 15, accompanied by my mother and sister, we went to a doctor for consultation because of the excruciating stomach pain I felt for several days. The ultrasound report that I had gallstones, which was a result of how careless I was in my food intake for the nth time. Thus, I had to undergo cholecystectomy, the surgical removal of the gallbladder. If not removed, other complications might occur.

Terrified. Knowing that I would be subjected to an operation terrified me, more so my family. Not realizing the detrimental effects of the food I ate nor the cost of possibly getting admitted to the hospital led me astray. I felt like, in a way, I was living a life with no directions at all. I was afraid of what would happen next after my surgery. Would I still be able to chase my dreams? Would I still continue my studies? Would I still see a silver lining? Deep breath. I was like a mouse, constantly pursued by cats, and it was insane.

Admission. I was admitted to the hospital for immediate treatment, and while there, I learned about the “Malasakit program,” the swab test, the cholecystectomy, the laboratory tests and injections, witnessed kind hospital workers, and, most importantly, heard resilient stories of people from different walks of life, fellow patients I had been with in the ward. I felt spirited. For two weeks, I was able to see the world through the eyes of other wounded souls—their unfathomable fights and sheer tenacity.

Surgery. On the afternoon of March 30, I was wheeled into the operating room. With the remaining strength I had, much of which had already been consumed by overthinking and what-if scenarios (as human as I am), I continued to pray and braced myself to endure the suffocating atmosphere of the operating room. Fast forward… Success! The operation was successful, thank God.

Recovery. It took time for me to really get fully recovered. I was even in the moment of my life, thinking about whether this life of mine was worth the struggle or not. And it was there that I eventually had the vigor to dwell on the realms of my life. Solitude magnified my mental strength. Night walks led me to serenity. Ice cream painted a smile on my lips—the same smile I would normally express before that stomach pain hit me. Writing gave me a sense of relief at times. I was able to bounce back after a setback, of course, with the help of my loved ones, most especially God. Later, I found myself amazed at how life worked for me and at how much God loved me.

Sama sa tabanog
nga dili mahadlok
sa paglupad sa panganod
luyo sa huros sa hangin,
walay klaro nga direksyon
ug hulga sa ulan.

Ikaw pud unta
dili mahadlok sa pagkab-ot
sa imo pangandoy bisan pa
sa kalisod sa kinabuhi,
lubak-lubak nga dalan
ug dapay sa kamatuoran.

Hinumdumi an tabanog
maglupadlupad uban sa
tabang sa hangin ug tao
nga nagpaluyo niini.

Ug ikaw pud hinumdumi
nga adunay mutabang
sa imo—an Ginoo.
Apan ayaw kahadlok sa
paglupad sama sa tabanog
aron makab-ot an
pangandoy nga kagawasan.

It’s been one year, yet everything remains vivid—my faith became stronger, and as a human being, I became better holistically.

[Jhon Steven C. Espenido, 22, is from Surigao City. He is an AB English Language student at Surigao del Norte State University.]