CONSIDER THE LILIES A Samareños Testament on the Life of Dr. Jose R. Lugay(1) by Leon O. Ty,(2) Staff Member, Philippine Free Press, Manila, December 8, 1951 This is the story of a little man with a big heart. He is only an obscure country doctor but to the grateful people whom he has served for almost half a century, his name symbolizes life, hope, a freedom from physical pain. Unfortunately, there are not many people, big or little, with big hearts in our country these days and it is what makes this story worth telling. A couple of years ago, I thought of writing an article about this man. But for one reason or another, I didn’t write it. But now, the story must be said, because he is getting old and I’d like him to read it before he passes [away].(3) I don’t know of course, how much longer this man will live. One thing, however, is certain: he is advanced in years. And incessant work has enfeebled him. Recently, one of his sons told me: “My father is now too weak to work, but he still goes about his medical practice. I have asked him a lot of times to stop working and retire. His answer is always the same: ‘My work is not yet done.’ But mind you, he has been practicing medicine since 1900.” The subject of this story resides in Guiuan, Samar.(4) Guiuan, incidentally, was once a boom town because of the large surplus depots which the Americans left behind after the liberation.(5) To surplus dealers in Manila, Cebu, and other places, Guiuan was once a veritable Eldorado. It was a very interesting spot indeed a few years ago. Even now, it is a place of interest since it has been converted into a refugee camp(6) for displaced persons (DP’s) who fled from China after that country was taken over by the Reds. But to me, Guiuan is interesting chiefly because of Jose Lugay, doctor of medicine.(7) He is a kind-looking, polite-spoken, skinny, little man, hardly five feet tall. The years have left their marks on him: stooped shoulders, wobbly steps, and a quavering voice. Even as a lad in my teens, I used to see him, medical kit in hand, quietly trudging the rugged and lonely roads of our town on the way to the sequestered homes of his patients. Sometimes he would be on horseback, for there were no cars then – 30 years or so ago. It was certainly no fun to bike from Guiuan to my town, Salcedo, a distance of 17 kilometers of carabao trail, in order to minister to a man dying of tuberculosis or a woman delivering a baby. Nor was there much joy in riding an open sailboat to seacoast villages and barrios – where some of his patients lived – on a windy day. Dr. Lugay would walk for miles on a dark stormy night to answer a call from some farmhouse in the hinterlands. That has been the life of Dr. Jose Lugay for nearly half a century. He has battled against all sorts of discouraging handicaps, especially deep-rooted superstition among the inhabitants. For even today, many people of that town still believe in asuangs (witches), incantations, and weird creatures like sigbins (supposedly a black dog whose bite is fatal, owned by asuangs) and vampires. Why did Dr. Lugay choose Guiuan, of all places, for his field of medical practice? A natïve of San Roque, Cavite, and married to a Manilena, what made him pick this remote town in which to raise a family? He could have opened a clinic in the city – since there were not so many physicians then – or established a hospital, made a name for himself to the local medical world, and earned a lot of money like many of his contemporaries. What is there in the life of this obscure, unassuming country doctor that has inspired us to write this story? Before answering these questions, let us turn back the clock 45 years. Then, Jose Lugay was a young energetic physician and only 32 years old. Several years before that time, he had served ably as physician in the revolution against Spain, and later, in the “Philippine War of Independence” against America.(8) Early in 1906, he was a government doctor in Nueva Vizcaya, but he fell ill of typhoid fever. So he returned in haste to Manila. Later, on the advice of his office chief, the late Dr. Cabarruz, he went to Guiuan for a vacation in order to recuperate. The place had been suggested to him as the most ideal spot for typhoid convalescents. So to Guiuan, Dr. Lugay proceeded. “I soon discovered, after my arrival in Guiuan, that there was a vacancy there for a government doctor,” he told this writer during the interview. “There was no physician in the town, not even a trained midwife. It did not take me long to realize that the place was sorely in need of a doctor; so were the neighboring localities within a radius of 100 kilometers.” [“One day the Director of Health called me. He informed me that the Governor of Samar came and asked for either a Spanish or Filipino doctor. He offered P 250.00 monthly with the option for private practice, plus if he accepts, he would concurrently occupy the position Medico Municipal. I told the Director that I was going to consult my wife and if she approved (esta conforme), I would accept the offer. The Director wanted my answer soonest because the Governor was waiting. When I got home I told my wife about the offer of the Governor. My mother-in-law, hearing the conversation, advised me to accept the offer. At least, this would give me a few months rest to recover from my illness. She said that Samar was a nice place, as she had been to Catbalogan before and the people there were nice. I immediately went back to the office of the Director and told him I was accepting the offer of the Governor.”](9) [“I took the steamboat “San Nicolas” to Catbalogan. I was met by the Provincial Governor and brought to the house of Dr. Cullen, medico provincial who was married to a Filipina. I stayed in his house for 15 days while waiting for the motor launch of the Constabulary which would take me to Guiuan. When it finally arrived, I left for Guiuan accompanied by the Jefe del la Constabularia. Arriving in Guiuan, I was met by the Municipal officials, among them, Don Teodoro Reyes who was happy and surprised to see me in this far place. At one time, he was a clerk in the Administracion de Hacienda Publica of the Spanish government. His son was my schoolmate in High School who boarded in my father’s house. His son now resides in Spain, married to a Spanish Filipina.”](10) [“After the welcome greetings, we all went to the convent(11) to meet the Cura Parroco (parish priest), Rev. Fr. Donato Guimbaolibot. After the greetings and proper presentation, Fr. Donato brought me to a room and told me that it was going to be my room. I was going to live in the convent! We went down afterwards. I went around to acquaint myself with the town accompanied by the Jefe de Constabulario. The parish priest stayed behind at the convent.”] [“A few days after my arrival, several men were brought and introduced to me. They came from barrio Bagua whose menfolk were known for their bravery. Disputes were settled by them through the bolo or machete. One of them had an extensive wound, (a palm and a half long) at his back which cut through his right lung. The air, as he inhaled, came out from the wound in bubbles of blood. Almost every day, wounded people would be brought to me, mostly from far-flung barrios. The Municipio looked more like a blood hospital.”](12) While convalescing, the youthful physician stayed in the local convent – about the only decent place to live in at that time – with the parish priest, with whom he discussed the plan of establishing a small town hospital. The padre readily agreed, promised financial help. [“It was proposed to find a building for conversion to a semi-hospital, “casa de salud”, like what was done during the revolution. It was to be called, “Hospital de Sangre”. An association of ladies of the Red Cross was tasked to attend to the sick and the wounded.”](13) [“Fr. Donato, the parish priest, commented that the plan to put up a hospital and the Red Cross was good and could be done. However, if I was going to leave in a few months’ time, what would happen to the hospital? He said that if I were to stay for 2 or 3 years, it would be worthwhile to set up the hospital. I promised that I would definitely stay for 2 to 3 years if the Hospital and the Red Cross were set up.”](14) [“The hospital was established in a spacious house situated in the corner of Lunang and San Francisco St. The Red Cross was set up and the officers were not the young ones but the well-known personages of the place: Dona Ysabel Bernardo de Morrero as President, Dona Catalina Bago de Austria as Vice-President, and Dona Estela Odang de Macabasag as Secretary-Treasurer.”](15) Fully restored in health, Dr. Lugay returned to Manila, told his wife [Catalina Constantino] and four children of his plans and took them to Guiuan. We asked him if his wife did not raise any opposition to his moving to Guiuan. “She didn’t, but only after I explained to her that if our mission in life was to serve our fellowmen, Guiuan, and not Manila, was the place for us. So we went to that town sometime in 1906 – to live there till the day we die.” [“I took the boat, M/V Tarlac for Manila and returned to Guiuan with my family. The trip turned out to be very good. This was on August 9, 1906. We went up the Convent to the room that would serve as my temporary residence. We spent some time in the sala in conversation with those who came to welcome and greet us. Hardly had we entered our private room when my wife experienced birth pangs. Soon after we entered our private room, my wife delivered our 6th child, a daughter.”](16) [“After a few days, on August 12, the baby was baptized Maria Rosario Clara, having her godmother (by proxy) Dona Maria Tantoco de Antonio, resident of Manila, represented by Parish Priest, Fr. Donato Guimbaolibot and Dona Catalina Bago de Austria.”](17) [“We moved to the house of Don Carlos Cabanas, a resident of Caridad, Cavite. It was formerly the quarters of the Guardia Civil, located on Concepcion St. fronting the public plaza.”](18) With the assistance of the priest, Dr. Lugay succeeded in putting up a small hospital. But this was later demolished by a typhoon. During the early years of his practice, patients would bring with them eggs, fish, chickens, suckling pigs and vegetables as soon as they were on their feet. “I don’t want you to misunderstand me,” he added, “I did not always render medical service gratis. I charged patients who, I knew could afford to pay. And I knew the people in town who weren’t too poor to reward me for my services.” Being the only physician in that part of the province in those days, Dr. Lugay could have easily enriched himself. That is, if money had been the chief reason that induced him to move his family to Guiuan and spend his life among the people there. He did earn some money during his almost half a century of medical practice but only enough to send his children (he had 14 but only five are living today) to college. The coconut lands that he acquired in Guiuan and the next town do not amount to much. [Except] for the short periods [when] he was actually attending congressional sessions, the little country doctor continued with his medical work, especially among the poor. [During his stay in Guiuan, he was “elected to the Second Philippine Assembly as Representative of the 3rd District of Samar in 1916 for a period of 3 years and was reelected in 1919 for another 3 years.”](19) In 1931, despair enveloped the diminutive physician. His wife, whom he loved so much, died in Manila. After a family confab, it was agreed by him and his children that Mrs. Lugay(20) would be buried in Manila, the city of her birth. But before any preparations could be made for the interment, the downcast little doctor received a rush telegram from the municipal council of Guiuan. Among other things, the message stated, that the people of that town wanted Mrs. Lugay’s remains buried in the local graveyard, where she really belonged. In addition, the telegram said that the Guiuan folk had raised enough money to pay for a month’s embalming of the body, first class steamship ticket to Guiuan, a large funeral and the cost of the tomb. The telegram moved the bereaved man. He could not do otherwise than heed the request of the people he and his wife had learned to love more than their own relatives. In 1941, the University of Santo Tomas – Dr. Lugay’s Alma Mater – bestowed on him a singular honor, by awarding him a gold medal for being one of the institution’s most distinguished alumni.” Dr. Lugay confessed that he had absolutely no idea who told the authorities of Santo Tomas about him and his unpublicized work in Guiuan. And he never expected to receive so rare a distinction “considering the fact that there are hundreds of highly successful medical practitioners throughout the country who finished medicine in Santo Tomas” he said. [In the 1951 Commencement Exercises held at the U.S.T. Gymnasium, Dr. Lugay received the Pro-Ecclesia Pontifica Award from the Papal Nuncio. During this commencement exercises, two of his grandchildren also graduated and received their degrees: Jose Basa Lugay, B.S. Chemistry, Josefina Castro Lugay, B.S. Pharmacy.] (21) Today, the bright-eyed, sprightly and energetic young man who went to Guiuan 45 years ago, looks older than his 77 years. He has paid for his nights without sleep, for his delayed meals, for his numberless trips of mercy to different towns, barrios and villages, for the thousand and one things he did for the people he loved with all his heart with all his soul, and with all his strength. He has difficulty in walking now without holding on to someone, because he sustained a leg injury some time ago when he fell into a ditch while rushing to a dying patient at three o’clock in the morning. But despite his injured leg, Dr. Lugay does not fail to attend to his daily tasks. In his modest but tidy clinic, there is no glittering display of chromium or enamel; no wheeled stretchers; no snappy nurses to help him to his gloves, cap and robe. His attendants are a couple of girls whom he has trained to do minor medical chores. He pays them at the end of each working day – without fail. I asked Dr. Lugay why he paid them every day, instead of on the fifteenth and thirtieth of the month, as is the usual practice in most offices. “They can’t wait that long; they need the money every day.” “But do you always earn enough to pay them and still have some left for yourself?” “I always have enough for their wages at the close of the day,” he replied. “That is something I do not worry about any more. When no patients come in the morning, somehow I know there will always be some in the afternoon. And it has never failed these many years.” I remarked that he seemed to have much faith in some unseen power. “Yes, I live on faith,” he said. “I have never worried, about money, food, or anything I need in order to live. Even as a young man, I always kept alive my faith in God. I read my Bible. Why should we really worry about things we need?” He then knitted his graying eyebrows then quoted a Biblical passage: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment? Behold, the birds of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, and gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not; neither do they spin: And yet, I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these?” Last April, the little country doctor came to Manila to visit his son, a professor in a local university [Probably, Dr. Jose C. Lugay, Jr. PhD., Professor, College of Pharmacy, U.S.T.](22). Seeing how old and weak his father was, the young Lugay said, “Papa, it’s time you closed your clinic in Guiuan. You should retire; you have already done enough for the people there.” “There’s still so much to do,” came the old man’s quavering voice. “My work there is not yet done. I’m going back soon.” ------------ (1)I found this article at the end of the autobiography of Dr. Jose R. Lugay which I got courtesy of Cookie Lugay Parusa Al Khatib (who calls me “Tito” perhaps for the fact that both her parents are my former students), great-granddaughter of Dr. Lugay, some years back. When I informed her of my intent of posting this, so with excerpts of Dr. Lugay’s autobiography, she did not only give me the green light, but also sent me the pictures which I have decided to post here. The autobiography that I got from Cookie is the English translation done by Dr. Lugay’s grandsons Carlos C. Lugay and Jose B. Lugay of the handwritten original in Spanish which Dr. Lugay had started in 1951 and finished in 1952 when he was already 78 years old. The manuscript of this autobiography has been with Mila Lugay Monasterio, Dr. Lugay’s granddaughter, in her Guiuan, Eastern Samar residence since the time of the old doctor’s death at the age of 88. Only the footnotes to this posted piece are mine. (2)Leon O. Ty (Leon Ogaro Ty), a native of Salcedo, while still a staff writer of the Philippine Free Press, was the commencement speaker during the graduation exercises at the former Southern Samar Agricultural College in 1967, during my first teaching there. I was the Fourth Year High School Graduating Class adviser. (3) The original phrase used was “passes out” which means “collapses” or “faints”. (4)In 1951, when this article was published, there was no Eastern Samar yet. (5)In Guiuan history, this time is referred to as “Tiempo Surplus.” (6)Actually, it was the island of Tubabao, the island nearest Guiuan, that was converted into a refugee camp from 1949 to 1951 for the White Russians who, after the fall of the Romanovs, fled Russia to Shanghai, Harbin, and other cities in China. (7)Dr. Jose R. Lugay was born in San Roque, Cavite, now Cavite City, on October 23, 1874 to Don Claro Lugay and Dona Telesfora Raquelsantos. He married Catalina Constantino of the same place. They had 14 children, six of whom are: Soledad, married to Capt. Antonio Basa; Jose, Jr., married to Concepcion Castro; Rafael, married to Carolina Basa; Luisa, married to Ignacio Monasterio; Luis, married to Maria Yodico, and Claro, married to Transfiguracion Loyola Duran. In his autobiography, Dr. Lugay wrote that the remains of his father and two of Dr. Lugay’s children were transferred from the Paco Cemetery in 1916 to the Del Rosario Chapel. It could be that this Del Rosario Chapel is the Capella Sto. Rosario of the Guiuan Immaculate Conception Church where there is a marble tomb marker with the name Claro Lugay. (8)In 1995, in preparation for the centennial celebration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1998, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports issued a directive to all teachers to search for the local heroes of the Philippine revolution. The senior citizens of Guiuan immediately identified two outstanding heroes, Rev. Fr. Donato Guimbaolibot (later Msgr. Guimbaolibot), the parish priest of Balangiga during the infamous massacre, and Dr. Jose Raquelsantos Lugay, a medical doctor who served under General Antonio Luna’s command during the Philippine-American War of Independence. (9)From Dr. Lugay’s autobiography. (10)Ibid. (11)Ibid. [This must be the present parish house which the Guiuananons now call the combento and not the old one which, in 1904, the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Donato Guimbaolibot who later became a monsignor, had turned into a school, the Escuela de Glorioso Patriarca San Jose, the first school to be established in now Eastern Samar. It was probably in 1906 or 1907, with the assistance of Dr. Jose Lugay y Raquelsantos, the school became affiliated with the countrys oldest university, the University of Santo Tomas. In 1929, during Msgr. Guimbaolibot’s time as director, the school became the Guiuan Academy. From 1931 to 1941, another priest, Federico Morrero, was the academy’s director. In 1941, the academy’s management was turned over to the nuns of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) who changed its name to Assumption Academy, and in 1947 to Assumption College of Samar, Guiuans first ever college.] (12)From Dr. Lugay’s autobiography. (13)Ibid. (14)Ibid. (15)From Dr. Lugay’s autobiography. [Dona Ysabel Bernardo de Morrero, must be the mother of Gerardo Morrero, delegate to the First Constitutional Convention, Dona Catalina Bago de Austria must be the wife of Esteban Austria whose tomb marker is in the Capella Sepulcro of Guiuan’s Immaculate Conception Church. She must also be related to Bernabe Bago, who for a long time was Guiuan’s Chief of Police, and who has a daughter named Catalina (Lina) Bago. Dona Estela Odang de Macabasag must be the mother of Segunda (Gunday) Macabasag Sison, mother of Atty. Cornelio Sison, former mayor of Guiuan. Research on these Red Cross ladies of Guiuan, is needed.] (16) From Dr. Lugay’s autobiography. (17)Ibid. (18)Ibid. (19)From Dr. Lugay’s autobiography. (20)Ibid. [In Guiuan, Mrs. Lugay was respectfully and affectionately addressed as Señora Ninay. I remember my mother calling her that way. One of her granddaughters, the daughter of Luisa Lugay Monasterio (my Biology teacher in Third Year, High School at the Assumption College), is named after her and is likewise nicknamed “Ninay” in her memory. It is said that this granddaughter, Catalina “Ninay” Lugay Monasterio, now Dr. Camenforte of Balangiga, closely resembles her grandmother. And anyone looking at Dr. Ninay’s picture here can say that Señora Ninay must have been, indeed very beautiful.] (21)From Dr. Lugay’s autobiography. (22)Ibid.
Posted on: Tue, 03 Jun 2014 19:20:37 +0000
Recently Viewed Topics