Filipinos are very warm and caring people. Part of our culture is the practice of “bayanihan”. Bayanihan is a tagalog word that signifies the joint effort of a community to help a fellow man in need. Back in the days, when a family had to relocate their home, neighbors would literally help carry the house to a new location by lifting it with bamboo poles. Through the years, this practice has evolved into various ways of helping others.

I am one of many Filipino ICU nurses working in Laredo, Texas USA. Every day, we are exposed to critically-ill patients. We feel the pain that they and their families go through. We try our best to be there for them. It is an amazing feeling when we are able to help a patient recover from a life threatening disease. And it is heartbreaking when despite our best efforts, a patient dies. Unfortunately, this happens often in our line of work.

A few months ago we were moved when one of our fellow Filipino ICU nurses was diagnosed with cancer. What happened to her opened our eyes that it can happen to any of us at any given time. All of a sudden her life changed. From being a nurse, she became a patient. From being the caregiver, she became the one in need of caring.

She had to undergo surgery and now she is having her chemotherapy. Since she could no longer work, the expenses piled up.

To help her, we had a Filipino plate sale a couple of months ago. We cooked adobo, pancit and lumpia. This was a big hit in the hospital. Even our Hispanic co-workers bought and enjoyed the food.

The money we were able to raise was used to buy electronic gadgets for a raffle that would generate a bigger sum. The grand price was a 40 inches plasma TV. Other prizes included digital cameras, blu-ray players,  gps and mp3 players. We were surprised with the turn out. So many people from work helped to sell tickets. All in all we were able to raise $9500.

It felt good to know that bayanihan is still very much alive today. Not just in the Philippines, but in the hearts of Filipinos, wherever in the world they may be.

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