Country First, Self Later

Doctor of the Masses

Doctor of the Filipinos

The hills were overlooking the Sulu Sea and the sun glared directly overhead. The heat was prickling, the knees protesting, the grasses spread disinterestedly. Between copse, coppice and littering trees, a 20 year old young man sat to think.

It is like service is the other pea in the pod of Dr. Galvez Tan. At a very young age, Dok Jimmy, as he’s often called, has been doing outreach work in the poor areas of his community and church work.

That summer of 1968, Jimmy set out on a boat towards Palawan for a two-month medical mission sponsored by PANAMIN. It was his first time away from home, far from the comforts of his bed and far from the daily conveniences that he used to take for granted. From north to south, east to west, Jimmy together with eleven other volunteers spread across the hills and shores and scoured the vicinities of the island municipality.

On that hill, the young Jimmy pondered and asked himself. Why do I have to go abroad when there are so many people who need me here? The sunset that day became witness to Jimmy’s epiphany and shift in life direction. There he decided to walk on the road less travelled. At the end of the day, the Palawan experience became an antecedent of things to come. He concluded,

Emerging out of the Palawan experience I said, I will stay in the Philippines. I will not leave home.