Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Human Care - It is a Filipino Thing Rooted in Faith

ORLAND PARK, IL -- An Orland Park nurse and a Chicago doctor were among seven passengers killed this weekend in the Philippines, when their tour van crashed into a tree while on a medical mission trip to help people in remote areas of the country. Aurora M. Gagni, a nurse from Orland Park, and Nunilo Rubio Sr., an well-known endocrinologist from Chicago, died in the crash, according to local news reports. The 24-year-old driver of the bus reportedly told police that he had fallen asleep at the wheel. The Patch
"Hey, Shit-for-Brains, get that little Filipino nurse for me. The other one hurts me. Got hands like a damn Hun. Hell, she is a Hun!" - the late Oliver Duval -Born: July 14, 1899; Died: June 1, 1990 Herscher, IL

My wife Mary's grandfather and I were pals.  He was one tough old bird, WWI AEF veteran, mean as a bag of snakes Frenchman from Kankakee County.  He was tall,  wiry and witty.  Had Indian cheekbones and delighted in scaring goofs, pests, priests, half-wits and blowhards.  You had to return his barbs to get his respect.  I was the above-mentioned sobriquet.

However, kindness, professionalism and unadulterated sweetness trumped everything with Oliver. When he was finally relegated to a nursing home in 1989, like most of America's elderly, was treated to modest care from every American care-giver but Filipino-Americans and recent immigrants.

Today, I read about the Orland Park couple who died in crash, upon their return home on a  medical mission and recalled all of the nurses, doctors and technicians who treated my dying wife with such tenderness and generous skills.

People from the Philippines seem as fitted to the medical and care professions as Austrians to Alpine Sports.  They are most suited to the vocations that palliate physical pain and salve suffering.  So I looked up a Stanford University study on this topic and found that Filipino cultural values tend to make them extraordinary care-givers. Especially to the elderly.

My mother has spent many months in rehab at age 9. . . I won't go there.  And how she is treated is of paramount concern to her children and grandchildren.

I remark on this because several of her care-givers are from the Philippines. The Stanford study on Filipino elders explains a great deal.

Smooth interpersonal relationships are a major component of the Filipino core value kapwa, defined as “shared identity, interacting on an equal basis with a fellow human being.” It is expressed as sensitivity and regard for others, respect and concern, helping out, understanding and making up for others’ limitations, rapport and acceptance, and comradeship (Agoncillo & Guerrero, 1987; Enriquez, 1994). Traditional psychosocial interactions or pakikipagkapwa occur in the external domain or ibang tao and the internal domain or hindi ibang tao. Levels of relationships in the first domain consist of: civility (pakikitungo), mixing (pakikisalamuha), joining/participating (pakikilahok), and adjusting (pakikisama). The second domain includes: mutual trust/rapport (pakikipagpalagayan ng loob), getting involved (pakikisangkot), and oneness, full trust (pakiisa) (Enriquez, 1994; PePua, 1990). . . . Many contemporary Filipino American families continue to function in a complex process of a natural support system of reciprocity within interdependent/dependent relationships based on extended family membership, group harmony and loyalty, respect for elders and authority, and kinship that goes beyond strong biological connections (McBride & Parreno, 1996; Miranda, McBride, & Anderson, 2000; Superio, 1993; Tompar-Tiu and Sustento-Seneriches, 1995). In a study of filial responsibility, young first and second generation Filipino Americans and older adults strongly agree that children should be taught to care for elders and take care of aging parents (Superio, 1993). . . . 

And most telling is this very 'unscientific' application of care
A consistent theme in health and caregiving studies on Filipino Americans is the importance of prayer, church affiliation, spiritual fellowship, and spiritual counseling. Studies have shown that having the capacity to practice one’s faith can be a measure of wellness (Valencia-Go, 1989). Using prayer and spiritual counseling can be a part of a treatment plan with assistance from a traditional healer or a clergy (Tompar-Tiu & Sustento-Seneriches, 1995). Some elders and their families consider physical or emotional pain as a challenge to one’s spirituality (Grudzen, McBride, & Thom, 2000). These findings are important indicators that a segment of Filipino American elders and their families incorporate and value a spiritual dimension in their daily life.
 No wonder so many natives of the Philippines are caregivers - they have a faith-system as a foundation . . ." first and second generation Filipino Americans and older adults strongly agree that children should be taught to care for elders and take care of aging parents."  How many of us do the same?

Thank God for these wonderful people.

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