Being assigned in Barangay Marababon was highly unexpected. Before leaving the city, our group was oriented that we were to be assigned in Barangay Boniao. So like a traveller in the age of the internet, we intended to cushion the blow by trying to know everything that we could infer from satellite views and search results on Google. We prepared ourselves for what we saw on Google Maps, how the houses were few and far in between and we wondered where the supposed X population were hiding – maybe it was not an updated version of Google Maps.
On the last minute, literally while we were on the van supposedly to be dropped off at Barangay Boniao, our preceptor Doc Cocoy Ramos chased us with his car and told us that we had to hold off being deployed because they wanted to arrange better living arrangements for us. The next day we got reassigned to Balanan and all our expectations went out the door.
On the way to Marababon, our group was raucous and joking about how much better it could be. We got a glimpse of Barangay Boniao for comparison and we thought, this municipality seems much better off than we expected – there was mobile reception and it was right beside the highway meaning its social services and utilities like water and electricity would be readily available. Furthermore, Doc Cocoy told us Marababon was the highest point in Mahayag so we thought that meant being near a cellsite (strong signal and reception!) and readily available water source because Tuburan was nearby and it was a place of springs. If Marababon was on a higher area that meant the water from Tuburan must come from Marababon. How we wished it was that simple but maybe it was also the reason we became doctors and not geologists.
As we were slowly ascending the mountainside of Marababon, we reached a rough road and our mobile phone reception was gradually fading. Our jokes died out on us and our noise simmered down as it was becoming apparent to us that the theme of our trip seems to be “Marababon: Confounding Expectations.”
Confound expectations it did. I realized that the first thing I got wrong on the first few days was that I viewed the place in comparison to the city. I kept thinking how we had to carry water every morning, how I got the colds because of lighting wood for cooking.. I forgot to appreciate that we had a refrigerator and prepaid cable TV and I forgot that I was there to be a doctor not just a traveller. Once I realized this, I thought I was not here for myself – we, as a group, had to be there for the community. Then nakonsensya ako, because I suddenly saw how on the first few weeks, the community actually took care of us. Our neighbor, Auntie Lebi, regularly came to our house to check up on us. Some people came to our house to give us food like boiled cassava, papaya, and sandiya (watermelon). They even formed stairs on the slope to the tabay, a few days after one of our groupmates slid.
On our last few days, Doc Cocoy met with our group and he asked us about our situation. Compared to our first few days when we were adjusting and we thought we would take the first chance at getting transferred, this time the majority of us felt positive about our situation at Marababon. Not only because we felt loved and cared for by the community but also because we realized that if we desired to bring about change, then we could be most effective (God-willing) at Marababon. The problems that we had during the first few weeks had achievable solutions and we would like to stay and see how we can be of help to Balanan. At the end of the meeting: Doc Cocoy asked us if we wanted to be transferred. Our answer: No.