READING BEFORE THEY GO

October 19, 2007

 

It was such a delight when a group of graduating nursing students led by Kate Amaranto invited me for a chat about the writing life. It turned out that it was for their Philippine Literature class at Naga College Foundation where their teacher, Mr. Joward Diocos required them to interview Bikol writers. Now this is something great because I refuse to believe that getting into the so-called Nursing Syndrome necessitates a cessation of cerebral synaptic sparks for anything artistic or regionalist. After-all, one can still be a nurse and still have interest in the literary arts, making sure to visit bookstores, museums and libraries after taking hold of that much-coveted UK or US Visa. And should I say that it is cool that NCF is really into the literary and dramatic arts, even caring to have their future nurses interview Bikol-based writers before they jet set to unknown lands and subject their cultural identity to various contortions and hybridities.

As they say, from womb to tomb—there is the nurse. That is why I emphasized to them the need to immerse into literature and know the core of the human soul. The written word leaves an architectural imprint to history and human existence as it struggles to co-write the universe, approximating the interplay between matter and spirit. Reading a poem for instance, is like breathing the air right from the nostrils of generations after generations of humanity—past to future. As poetry is simply recycled breathing space.

Literature as they say will make you more human as hospitals would tend to dehumanize. And considering that it is almost the gateway to and from life, this speaks of humanity’s need for rational detachment when witnessing such a personal and emotional experience like death. But then literature will make life and the tragedy of it (like the recent Glorietta bombing) bearable. Great fiction for instance, is not meant to obscure reason and scientific thinking but augment it. Getting into the bottom of a narrative will not make a nurse panic at the sight of a bleeding body but will make him or her play the part of the healthcare front liner in some grand plot that is life.

We conducted the interview at Beanbag and for my part, I shared how it is to be a young writer (who used to be a pre-med geek) in this part of the planet. As requested, I gave them copies of my works, all the while considering their background. So apart from letting them have my podcasts via USB, I showed them some of my clinical stuffs, sort of convincing them that it could be done. Yes, nurses can write too and create their niche.

So I heard their report was well-appreciated, exempting them from the final exams. Now they can focus more on their hospital rounds. Keeping my fingers crossed that they really will read literature when they are free (and no fundamentalist would see it wise to blow up another mall and fill the ER), for the meantime, I will enjoy the Parker pen that they gave me. Another one for my collection.