AS a private hospital turned down 2010 Nobel laureate Richard Heck for unpaid bills, which led to Heck’s severe physical deterioration and death, the country’s electoral institutions were preparing for the May 2016 circus. It was the season of the year not much else mattered. A Nobel prize winner died under the most tragic of circumstance? Who he ?
No one, except for an on-the-mark Manila Times editorial, had the time and the effort to raise this pained and harrowing question. Why did this country lose its soul? Only a soulless country can host a hospital that will turn down a human being for unpaid bills and let him die on the streets. Had it not been for the fact that a Noble winner married to a Filipina, and who devoted a lifetime doing scientific researches to improve human lives was the victim of the money-hungry callousness, that death would have been regarded as “one of those things” and Heck’s death would have been relegated to a cold, meaningless statistic.
No one bothered to ask the question “What has happened to this money-chasing, money-grubbing country?” Not one lost a good night’s sleep over Heck’s death. Nothing was heard and nothing was asked, not a pipsqueak was raised by the holy men, the Cardinal and the Executive Minister/Pastor included. Is not “the sanctity of human lives” their favorite meme? Man, Mr. Heck had a chance to prolong his life before he was refused admission for proper medical / hospital care for unpaid bills.
Where were the “Team Buhay” bishops who rail at politicians who do not respect the “sanctity of human lives?”
Where were the supposedly “religious” and “friendly” and “warm” people ” when the life of the Nobel winner was at stake? Here, I know the answer. If money were not an issue, they can be “friendly” and “warm” and “religious.”
Our joke of a country surely earned its karma (the rage of the world over our callousness) on the Heck case.
Ok, what is the practice in “materialistic” countries of the world?
A few years back, I was in Southern California and met up with friends who were visiting a next of kin at the medical center of the University of Southern California. The relative of my friends, a Pinay tourist, was run over while crossing a street near USC. Strangers rushed her to the hospital after the driver of the reckless vehicle sped away. She was attended to, a process that involved complicated life-saving surgery.
The successful surgery was performed with no questions asked. Are you a citizen or a tourist? Do you have money for the hospitalization? Did you make a deposit? Do you have money for the PF (professional fees for the doctors )? They just did their job and the hospital – after verifying she was a victim of a hit-and-run affair – released her after a month without paying a cent.
It is standard practice –attend to those in need of medical care because saving lives should trump all other considerations. It is the Hippocratic Oath, which is supposed to guide the conduct of doctors and hospitals across the globe.
Contrast that with Heck’s death on the unbelievable reason of “unpaid bills.”
Many times, we have to wonder on whether or not the Filipino DNA is just hardwired to money-chasing and money-worship and not much else. Though this is far-fetched, as no money-grubbing bent is in the DNA, the question keeps popping up. Why? Chasing money and profit trumps every other concern, especially the concerns that have something to do with basic work for humanity. How else can we explain neglecting the likes of Heck, who, was practically a native and should be declared a “national treasure.”
The “national treasure” tag was fitting because we have not produced a Noble winner since the declaration of the Republic and we surely can’t produce one in another 100 years. But then again, that was not possible with our mind-set. Not with our hopeless hoop dreams and ALDUB fixation. Not with a society that is marching to full Kardashian-hood.
What empirical lab work and research would unravel the Filipino DNA. We will not venture into that. The DOST, fearing the results perhaps, would not even fund such important research work.
Our money-grubbing mind-set, here is a plausible explanation, is probably tied to that the newly-minted economics Nobel laureate Angus Deaton has warned against – the concentration of wealth and power to a very few at the very top. This skews everything, including the values of a society.
The owner of vast corporate interests, the very wealthy in our country, set the agenda along with their political allies.
The national agenda becomes an obsession with growth rates, credit upgrades, improved revenue collections and all things related to growth and money.
With this come the glorification of wealth and the deification of the rich.
With this comes the neglect of those who suffer and those who are vulnerable.
The soul is lost and society becomes callous to the core especially toward the vulnerable.