A Discussion About the Tausug Mindset
“Tell me about yourself.” Our professor asked us before beginning our case discussions. My group mates started by telling their names and then their future careers (future Neurologist, Surgeon, Medical Oncologist, etc.) until it reached my turn. I was still unsure what “specialty” I will go into, so I just answered the question with what I can think of best:
“I am Ahmad from Sulu. I love to travel and do photography. My dream one day is to publish my novels.”
“Oh, I have been to Sulu a lot of times,” said our professor who is a practicing surgical oncologist in PGH, “my last trip there though was in 1996.”
“Ma sha Allah, really sir? That’s nice sir! What did you do there, sir?”
“We stayed and volunteered in IPHO-Sulu. Did a lot of charity services doing surgeries for free.” H mentioned names of some Tausug surgeons back then, some I knew by name some I don’t. I was somehow elated to find out that another great physician have visited my dear homeland before.
“It was a nice place. Until all those horrible things happened. There was this doctor who had his son kidnapped? What’s his name?”
Yeah, the kidnappings. Indeed a horrible thing perpetrated by horrible people lurking in the dark side of my dearest homeland. I was not disheartened by this remark. I was in fact unaffected at all. It was as if I was already expecting to hear it. As if it was something normal to hear when referring to Sulu. (Now I realize how horrible that was: being unaffected about it.)
I didn’t know the name of the doctor who had his son kidnapped, perhaps I was still too young back then.
“It was too bad since then, we were never able to go back” he remarked
And I shared his feelings of disappointment. Frustration. Despondency.
“Another thing that I noticed when we were there… Say some patient came in due to a vehicular accident, they would just patch him up, clean his wounds, suture them, then leave him be.”
“Huh? But why sir?” his students, including me, asked in unified shock hearing this horrible situation.
“I don’t know. There was this notion that if you actually did something—say a definitive management of operating on a patient—and things went bad, say the patient died, all the blame will be pointed to you, the doctor. Especially if you came from the localities as well, it’s easier to blame you. No, we were not among those they applied that ‘belief’ as we were ‘visitors’, ‘foreigners’ they claimed.
I am sorry to say this, Ahmad, but it really happened. There is just a lot of things needed to be done in your place.”
I intently agreed with him.
“I know sir,” I told him, “There is just too much mess right now. Too much that maybe the only solution is to do an ‘overhaul of the whole Tausug mind-set, of the way how we think’ about things like this.” And I ended this statement with a big sigh.
“Ahmad for Governor of Sulu!” A group mate jokingly remarked.
“I hate politics, dude!” I said
“For revolution!” Another said
“I don’t like revolts as well.” I laughingly remarked “And I know I won’t be able to do it, to change Sulu? That’s too ambitious. Perhaps someone out there can. And I will just support them.”
“Will you go back to Sulu, Ahmad?” our professor asked.
“Definitely sir. In sha Allah (God willing). I cannot see myself in the future somewhere else than Sulu.”
“Very good. I am happy to hear that.
And I am looking forward to reading your novels.”
“Ahaha but I haven’t finished them yet sir. I can give you a copy once I am done with one.”
“Yes, please, even the draft, give me a copy. I really want to read them.”
I thanked him. I was both humbled and embarrassed for in reality, I haven’t really done much with those ‘novels’ I am blabbering about. In due time perhaps. In due time, in sha Allah. And after one last member to be introduced, we were back to our case discussions.
[I recorded this conversation because it brought in some thoughts about the Tausug situation and mind-set. That what needs to be done in Sulu is far more than just socio-economic nor politico-militaristic approach. It’s an OVERHAUL! Redirecting our mind-sets, of how we think! But how in the world are we going to do that? Education? Maybe. I don’t know as of now. Perhaps someday I will find out. Or someone will enlighten me how. *Sigh*]
Written December 4, 2015 9:50AM