This evening, we encountered this well-off Emirati transferred ortho-patient who came all the way from Sharjah just to get his braces done to our clinic.
When he entered the room, I greeted him “Assalamalaykum!” and smile like I used to greet other patients.
He responded “Alayku Salam” but followed up with a question “You’re a Filipina aren’t you? Are you a Muslim?” to which I replied “No, Sir. I’m a Christian”.
This patient said “Good. Because if you are a Muslim, I’ll be scared. Who knows, you might be a member of the Abu Sayyaf.” His comment caught me off-guard and suddenly I’m lost for words. (Like seriously, how do you respond to such comment without sounding defensive or offensive? And ain’t Emirati’s Muslim as well?)
Before his treatment starts, the patient started telling us his death defying experience when he visited Philippines years ago for a business trip. He said that he was held-up by a group of Muslim kabayans, took his $20,000 pocket money, his luggage and shot him on the neck. The only thing that was left was his passport. He did not say anything about how he survived but he told us that he had to undergo operation and had 16 stitches on his neck down to his chest. I checked out his neck and the scars were still there. He mentioned to our resident doctor that should he try to visit our country, he should never go to Maharlika Taguig, Manila and Cebu. According to our patient, these places in our country are the most dangerous areas to go to.
After his story-telling comes his treatment and afterwards back to his litany. The patient said he perfectly understands that ours is not a perfect world and among hundreds of people you meet, only 15 percent are good and the rest are Harame or evil. He said that even here in the desert, the same thing applies. He even mentioned that he has met good Pinoys too but he surely won’t go back to the Philippines for another visit.
After the patient left, our resident doctor R exclaimed that he won’t pay Cebu a visit anymore because of what he has heard from our Emirati patient. You see, Dr. R is planning to visit Philippines and is asking us for nice places to go. One colleague of mine suggested Cebu. He previously mentioned that he is afraid to go to our country because of the horrible news he has seen on the net but I told him that some news are just mere exaggeration of the reality. I mean we aren’t living in a perfect world, right? Even countries with high stature have incidence of crimes. I believe I was able to convince him before but after he heard the story from the Emirati patient himself, he had made up his mind that Philippines is a dangerous place to go.
Right after I heard our patient’s story, the thoughts of the innocent Chinese tourist who were killed back in 2010 comes into my mind. I certainly hope that such incidents won’t be happening in the future because if it does, I don’t know how can I face another tourist wannabe like Dr. R, look at him straight in the eye and say that our country’s a beautiful and safe place to visit when the news says otherwise?