Inside Tala - The Filipino Rambler


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Inside Tala

Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (formerly Tala Leprosarium) was established in 1940 to accommodate people with Hansen's disease. 

I, along with my youth group MUKHA AD, had the opportunity to visit the place last Sunday as part of our community immersion.

The activity started with an orientation regarding Hansen's disease. After which, we divided ourselves into 4 groups for a personal visit on their wards.

I came across a man in his 40s, fingers devoid ( that's one of the defects a Hansenite suffers), and had a chance to have a short talk with him.

He said he had been inside Tala for 14 years already. He hails from Cebu and as much as he wanted to go back there, he said he's not sure if he has still a family to return to.

He was busy cutting the excess thread of a sampaguita lace. I wanted to volunteer to do it myself because I see him having difficulty since his right hand had no more fingers. As soon as he's done, he put the sampaguita lace on the neck of his small Sto. Niño.

' Kung wala ang Diyos, wala din tayo', he said.

I spent some more minutes talking to him. He talked about how he miss Cebu and Bohol. I told him I had the chance to visit those places before and he was delighted to hear that. 

He wasn't looking at me while we talk. Maybe he was shy. Maybe not. Whatever it is, I know he yearns for something like this- To talk and know that someone listens.

I can tell he is a good man. At one point, I saw him help another patient clean his body. He also handed a chair to my friend, without her asking. "Umupo ka diyan", he said.


I encountered several other patients. Had small talks to some of them. 

I was not able to contain my tears when my group sang Yeng Constantino's Ikaw for them. It was hard to see them in that situation. I wish I can be of any help. But I can only utter a prayer that they may find courage in life's everyday's struggles.

True enough, all of us carry a different cross. For them it could be physical. For us, maybe emotional or spiritual.

Life is not a walk in a park. Each day we encounter problems head on. Hence we pray for healing and resolution.

It was a short stay at Tala but it left me bigger realizations. Seeing their 'crosses' gave me the opportunity to be more grateful for everyday's blessings.  I left the area with a happier heart because I know our presence meant a lot to them. 

I long for the day when they become completely healed and to be reunited once again with their family and the community.

We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Let's connect.

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