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I was the first Lady Doctor

We are not rich, neither are we poor.

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday, poetry
September 27, 2022

Minsan lamang ako daraan
Sa daigdig na ito . . .

My roots are in a small 4th class town of Maragondon, Cavite.

We are not rich, neither are we poor.

My clothes are fair enoughthough bought by kilo from the retazos
and sewn by my mothera very industrious and hardworking woman.

My father was a Justice of the Peace.He was made to retire with the change of govt.
to Commonwealth.

My aunt was set to make me a Doctor.She sent me to U.P. High.
We ride a carretela back and forth,Felix Huertas, Sta. Cruz—Isaac Peral, Manila.
My aunt waits for me at the Ladies Room (2nd floor of the school).

Before class hoursI can see my classmates
around the “Magnolia cart” eating ice cream, pinipig crunchfive centavos, ten
I cannot join them“no baon.”

Rellenong Bangus, Pochero, Guinataan, etc.:My mother accepted cooking food for our neighbors,also sold fruits; Father bought chickens
sold them at a good price.

War broke out Dec. 8, 1941.I was in my 4th year.
We sheltered ourselves from the air bomb raids a few nightsin the U.P. buildings.
Laterevacuated to Maragondon.

The Americans in Corregidor shelled the town.
Walking by footwe stayed in a small nipa hut 
in Bailen,surrounded by banana plantsand kamoteng kahoy.
I and my brother Jorgewalk 2-3 km to the market 
for our weekly needs.
Reduced our meals to twice a day.

A night party (ball) was held in Naicfor the victory of the Americans.
Here I met two gentlemen who later courted me.

After the fall of CorregidorAfter the fall of Bataan 
Malaria was rampant in Maragondon because of soldiers who returned

I took the Med. Board ExamMay 1944.I placed 25th.

was a country doctor for 3 years

With P100 monthly pay 
I started as a Junior Med. Officerof the Nat. Psychopathic Hospital
Oct. 25, 1947.

I had the opportunity to visit many places.
Climbed more than 150 steps to see “Callao Cave,”
took a bath with our clothes on,
stayed until 6 P.M. to see thousands of batsfly from one hill to another.

After marriage I give P30 monthly to my parents.
They plant vegetables in our yardpatola, string beans, patani
grow abaca fibers and sellDugtong ng Abaca.

“Tingnan mo itong maliit na batang ito na taga Kaingin, ngayon
ay Chief of Hospital.”

I was the first Lady Doctor of Maragondon.

I am known as Doctor Nene.

Found poem from the autobiographical notes of my lola, 
Dra. L. D. Mariano (August 8, 1922–March 11, 2020).


Dra. L. D. Mariano was my lola (maternal grandmother). I have kept this true to the way she wrote her autobiographical notes, including inconsistent verb tenses.

Minsan lamang ako daraan / Sa daigdig na ito . . . : “I will pass through this world but once,” the opening lines of a Tagalog hymn known as “Pag-aalay ng Puso” that’s based on the words of Quaker missionary Stephen Grellet. My lola reproduced these lyrics on the first page of the notebook that contained these notes. 

4th-class town: The Philippine government classifies municipalities from first to fourth class based on the size of their economy.

Maragondon, Cavite: a relatively remote town off the coast of Manila Bay, cut off from its surroundings by mountains and a river. About 40 miles south of Manila.

retazos: fabric scraps

the change of govt. to Commonwealth: In 1935 the Philippines transitioned from a US territory to a US commonwealth, meant to be the final stage of US colonialism before independence.

U.P. High: University of the Philippines High School

carretela: horse-drawn carriage

pinipig crunch: an ice cream bar coated in rice puffs

“no baon”: no lunch money

rellenong bangus: stuffed, fried milkfish

pochero: tomato-based stew

guinataan: any savory dish or dessert with a coconut milk base

nipa hut: traditional Filipino house made of thatched palm on stilts

kamoteng kahoy: cassava

patola: a type of gourd

patani: lima bean

dugtong ng abaca: braids of Manila hemp from the banana plant

“Tingnan mo itong maliit na batang ito na taga Kaingin, ngayon
ay Chief of Hospital.”:
“Just look at this child from Kaingin who’s now the Chief of Hospital”: spoken by a family friend.
Kaingin (literally “forest clearing”) is the area of Maragondon where my lola grew up.