Bohol’s Choice Cuts
By Loy M. Palapos
September 4, 2011
A Florence Nightingale Reaches Out
Nursing is one of the noblest of professions, most particularly among countries prioritizing health care. In the 50s it used to be perceived as elitish, for there were only a few schools offering the RN (Registered Nurse) curriculum, and there was even none in Bohol. In those days, those who wanted to take up Nursing had no choice but to go to Metro Manila, Cebu, or Dumaguete. This alone rendered the course not affordable to many Boholanos.
When the Bohol Provincial Hospital School of Nursing (BPHSN) opened, the selection process was stiff, because of the very limited number admitted to the class, with only “the best” making it. Those were the days when being a full-fledged Nurse had a semblance of a status symbol.
In the late 80s nursing schools sprouted like mushrooms after a thunderstorm, with Nursing graduates finding lucrative employment in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Europe, the Arab States…and many other countries, but not in the Philippines. There was an exodus of Doctors of Medicine taking up Nursing so they can fulfill their American dream. In the early 90s, the law of supply-and-demand started to take its toll.
In the third millennium, the balloon started to burst. Now, USA (which is the number one market for Filipino Nurses) has “frozen” its door to Nurses and, although other countries are still open, the dilemma of foreign employment is on the rise.
This is a case of the Darwinian theory on “Survival of the fittest,” and the Nursing Schools are affected extensively. There is only one way to go: upgrade and survive. The screening process is paved with superlative demands, and the best always wins.
Thus, is the plight of Nursing Institutions in the Philippines. They need to produce the best graduates, who won’t just pass the National Licensure Exams, but also the tests and requirements in foreign countries they plan to practice their profession in. In the Philippines alone, 17,000 Nurses pass the semestral board, totalling 34,000 ready for deployment every year. Health care in our country is still in its infant stage; thus, finding a hospital to work in is a rarity. Plus, the undeniable fact that Nursing is one of the most expensive courses, thereby necessitating foreign employment as the surest means to recover the expenses. “Quo vadis, Filipino Nurses?” seems to be the question to raise these days.
At the University of Bohol, the first university of the province, this responsibility is on the shoulders of the Dean of the College of Nursing and her Faculty and Staff. And if recent examination results are a gauge, they are doing well. Casilda Castillo-Lapez stares at this responsibility with piercing eyes of wisdom. She is a Clinical Instructor determined to help her students survive, not only in the local competition, but abroad.
Casilda was born in Pantudlan, Cabilao, Loon, Bohol on April 9, 1953 to a laborer-father employed at DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) and a plain housewife, who needed to stretch to the limits a meager income to nurture 3 brothers and 2 sisters. Macario Castillo finished only the first year of the secondary curriculum, but he was a hard-working man, who instilled in his children’s minds the value of hard work. Segunda Peñaranda-Castillo inculcated in her 5 children the significance of patience and perseverance to achieve their goals in life. Imbued with this wealth of virtues, the siblings worked hard to attain their respective goals in life.
Unfortunately tragedy struck; her father died when she was only in the fourth grade. It was a staggering blow to a fledgling family. But this big set-back to the family did not hinder the children from pursuing their dreams. They doubled their efforts, knowing fully well that their future would be bleak if they did not try harder.
Condrada finished BS in Elementary Education; but instead of a teaching career, she worked as Clerk III at the Multiple Sala of the Regional Trial Court in Tagbilaran City. Jaime graduated with a BS degree in Commerce, and was employed at STANFILCO, Basa, Davao City. Herculano also finished BS in Commerce and worked in Manila. Martin is her only living brother, a retired Clerk IV of Branch IV, Regional Trial Court.
Casilda, having imbibed the virtues of hard work and perseverance, graduated Valedictorian at Cabilao Elementary School. It was a very positive outcome of her efforts to be the best in everything she does. She proceeded to the Sacred Heart Academy and finished her secondary studies also as Valedictorian of the graduating class. She was accepted at the Bohol Provincial Hospital School of Nursing and, after four rigorous years of mental calisthenics and physical discipline, she became a GN (Graduate Nurse) in 1996. She enrolled at the Cebu Doctor’s College and finished BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)- Supplemental in 1977. This self-motivation to exert her best in anything she is involved in has been evident in her classroom performance all throughout her studies. This same dedication towards her work has made her an exemplary follower and leader.
That same year she was employed at the Cebu Doctors Hospital as a Staff Nurse. From 1978 to 1985, she worked in the same Hospital as a Clinical Instructor. Simultaneously, and aware of professional development, she enrolled for her Master of Arts in Nursing, and graduated in 1985. She came back to Bohol and worked as Clinical Instructor and (RLE Coordinator) at the University of Bohol College of Nursing. She still found time for further studies, and had already completed all the Academic Requirements for a Ph.D. in Education. She comprehends that in the competitive world she is in, she needs to equip herself through educational advancement.
Mrs. Casilda C. Lapez is married to Valeriano Ruiz Lapez, a Marine Engineer from the PMI (Philippine Maritime Institution) – Bohol. He is a Chief Engineer and has worked in international ships.
Being married to a Seaman is, in itself, a gargantuan challenge. With her husband oftentimes away, she had her hands full with the demands of the family and her job. For this, others on the same predicament may have complained, but not her. The lessons she learned from her parents have long been deeply registered in her heart. They have 4 children. Joseph Valerie is a Registered Nurse, who finished BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) at the University of Bohol. Theresil Marie is a Criminologist, also from UB. Joseph Niño is in Bataan, a fourth year student at the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific. The youngest, Lourdes Marie, is a Sophomore at the UB College of Nursing.
Mrs. Lapez views education as the all-important means for progress and development. For her, life is always a quest for knowledge to have a broader perspective of the real world. This had been inculcated in her mind by her parents even in youth. To date, she has realized that educating herself is not a walk in the park. The trials and hardships she went through to attain her profession, and the concomitant efforts to be at par with excellence, is not just anything to joke about.
When her father passed away when she was only 10 years old, the entire family experienced the gravest setback in their lives. Yet, God has His strange ways of showing His magnificence. Her uncle Natalio Castillo, the former Congressman of the First District of Bohol, took the bigger share of the responsibility to send her and her siblings to college, for which she is forever grateful.
Thus, she has learned not to be mediocre in every opportunity accorded to her by God, for this is tantamount to doing it for God’s glory. So far, her dedication to health care has earned the appreciation of those who value it as a personal commitment for the good of all.
She has been an active member and officer of the PNA (Philippine Nurses Association) – Bohol Chapter. When there came a time for a change of leadership, and she was pinpointed by her colleagues to hold the cudgels of leadership, she accepted the challenge without second thoughts, aware that this is an opportunity for another sphere to serve. So far, as PNA President, she has received three Plaques of Recognition from the Provincial Government of Bohol, and the Philippine Gift of Life Foundation for the Association’s humanitarian activities and hands-on participation during a series of medical-dental-surgical missions in Bohol.
The future is not that bleak anymore, compared to her struggling years. As a professional mandated by all Nurses working in the Province of Bohol, she understands her responsibilities and duties and she has not cowered from her obligations. She cannot betray the trust given to her by her fellow-Nurses. For her, this is another form of service a Florence Nightingale cannot negate.