Skip to main content

The Parables of Juan Flavier

I remember my grade 4 Language professor fondly, because of many things. Firstly, because his first name—Henry—was such an oddity for a ten-year old Pinoy who mostly read American books but was surrounded with names like Jose Luis, Robertino, and other such remnants of our Spanish forefathers. Secondly because he was such a strict man who liked reading a lot.

In hindsight, perhaps he wasn’t really as strict as I made him out to be. I was, quite possibly, just a child who had too much respect for authority back then, and would quail from the sight of a teacher who raised his voice even by just a bit.

But the most memorable thing about Mr. Avecilla (that was his last name) was that one of his weekly projects for the class was the collection of Senator Juan Flavier’s—then DOH secretary— weekly parables. I forget which paper it was his stories appeared in, but Mr. Avecilla’s demands had us children scrambling for clippings of Senator Flavier’s stories around every Friday, I think it was.

juan flavier

I don’t ever recall enjoying those days, because it meant poring through a newspaper—something I disliked back then—but the benefit of age gives me the chance to review those days from a different perspective, and perhaps more than just a little bit of fondness.

One of the most interesting realizations I made recently when thinking back to the days of fourth grade Language class was that the fact that Senator Flavier had the time to write a parable week after week for a newspaper was nothing short of amazing. As the DOH secretary, he was subject to the whims of Fidel Ramos, his president at the time, and one of the more controversial presidents since the 1984 Constitution was made. Life wasn’t very easy for Ramos and his cohorts, especially during the latter part of his presidency.

And on the more localized battlefield of public health, Senator Flavier didn’t have it any easier. He was instituting changes that the powerful force of the Catholic church disagreed with greatly. The good senator had to deal with the repeated criticisms of both lay and clergy officials, and I can just imagine how vexing it must have been to have to rebut each and every one of these without losing his cool.

And yet, he did. Perhaps his weekly ritual of writing had something to do with how he handled the stress from his day job. But it still doesn’t make it any less than amazing.

I write this because of the recent news of Senator Flavier’s passing. At 79, he was at a ripe old age, and he had achieved much in his life, having been one of the most successful heads of the Department of Health. And while his years as a senator were a bit less lustrous than his career as a member of Ramos’ cabinet, he was instrumental in passing some of the most time-enduring laws we have today.

But more importantly—at least for me—he was a man who had, without knowing it, a hand during my formative years.

Thanks, Mr. Avecilla, for making us read all of those stories back in Grade 4. And thank you, Dr. Flavier, for showing us how to DOH it. No matter how much that slogan made you sound like Homer Simpson. Requesciat in pace, sir.


Popular posts from this blog

Maynilad Water Chronicles: The Clusterf$%#, Part 2

This is the third post in our Maynilad Water chronicles. This time, we will talk about just how inept their record keeping skills are in the face of a massive overhaul in a given area. This involves a technique used by Meralco in high-risk areas called clustering, and is efficient – if utilized correctly. Needless to say, Maynilad has yet to be able to do this.

The Furious Muse in the Room Upstairs (part 3)

This is a story in progress. I will post it in chunks, for the next few weeks, as I complete it. A warning: this tale is definitely not for children, so parental advisory is advised. Or don’t let your kids read this. At all. Story begins after the jump.

Today's Philippines... the worst. Everybody's suddenly an expert in politics, and suddenly the lines just have  to be drawn. You're either a Dutertard, or you're not. If you're pro-Duterte, you're a horrible person who doesn't care one bit about human rights. If you're anti, you're an unpatriotic yellowtard. How the flying fuck did we come to this? Just how divided, how deeply wounded are we as a country, that we can't be civilized in the way we approach the criticism of the other side? And why can there be no middle ground? I understand just how bad the government's recent actions are - and it isn't even past Digong's first 100 days yet! There's absolutely no excuse for how he's behaving - katokayo Martin, if you're reading this, take note - and seriously, there's only so much spin you can put on a story until it comes back full circle. Get somebody up there to slap your boss before he says something stupid again, he's making the godda…