The Barangay Captain, The District Hospital, and Zooming Through The Night

Okay, the Barangay Captain doesn’t actually have anything to do with our story, although we did see him while we were in the Barangay Hall. I just think it helped make for a good title.

Sometime last week we were in SM City shopping, and noticed a banner advertising a summer sports program for kids in Iloilo City. Inday wants to sign Edrian up for this, and one of the requirements is a Barangay Clearance to prove residence.

For my Western friends, a barangay is the smallest political division in the Philippines. A city or town is made up of multiple barangays. Iloilo City, for instance, has 180 barangays. You can think of it as a neighborhood. Each barangay has an elected captain and elected council members.

So, on Tuesday morning Inday and I walked over to the Barangay Hall for the barangay that includes our condo, in order to ask for a Clearance for Edrian. Since we never registered with the barangay when we moved here, we had to do that first. The clerk came out and sat down with us to interview us, and fill out our information in a surprisingly large, multi-page booklet. He recorded information about each of us including name, birth date, religion, educational attainment, where we lived prior to moving to Barangay San Rafael, and our reason for moving here. For the household, he asked what our source for drinking water is, what fuel we primarily use to cook, and how we dispose of our kitchen waste. And at the end of all this, they printed up Edrian’s Barangay Clearance, stating his full name, that he is a resident of Barangay San Rafael, he is of good character, and the barangay officials know of no complaints or actions against him.

Meanwhile, back on Monday morning Edrian had woken up and the little guy’s face was all swollen in an obvious allergic reaction to something, although he wasn’t complaining about anything. Inday had been planning to bring him to Barotac Viejo to stay with his grandmother, and she decided to carry on with that plan, but with the addition that when they got to Barotac Viejo she first took Edrian to the babaylan, and then to the doctor. The doctor ordered some tests, and prescribed medication. Inday spent the day there with her family, and in the evening Edrian was feeling good and wanted to stay with Grandma, so Inday came home alone.

Fast forward to Tuesday night, and about 8:30 or so Inday got a call from her mom telling us that Edrian had been complaining it was hard to breathe so they were taking him to the hospital. The fastest way for us to get up there is by car, so I booked a Grab Car and off we went. We got to the hospital a few minutes after 10:00, and Inday’s mom and two of her sisters were there with Edrian. He was doing okay, sitting on the bed with one of his titas (aunts). The doctor wanted a chest x-ray and some blood tests, so we paid for those, and were told we would have to wait 3 to 4 hours for the results. Fortunately it only took a couple of hours, so a bit after midnight they told us all the tests were negative, and they did one last check of his vitals before telling us he could leave about 12:30.

So now we’re sitting outside the hospital in the middle of the night with a 5-year-old, and we need to find a way back to Iloilo City. The obvious choice is to book another Grab Car, but after multiple attempts we always got the “No Drivers Available” response. The buses don’t run overnight, and the first bus in the morning is at 4:00AM. Fortunately, Inday is a resourceful woman. She had the phone number for a Grab driver who had told her previously that he was available as a hired driver for day trips and such, so she called him and he agreed to drive up to Barotac Viejo and pick us up. It’s a bit over an hour drive, so we settled down to wait and he showed up about a quarter to two. Finally, we were on our way, and after a stop at Inday’s parents’ place to pick up Edrian’s medications from the day before, we were off and got home a couple of minutes after 3:00AM.

This morning Edrian was still very itchy, still had hives all over his body, and was complaining that his tummy hurt, so Inday called his pediatrician. She doesn’t have office hours here today, but told us to bring him to the ER at the hospital down the street, where her office is. We did that; they checked him over, reviewed all the tests that had been done up in the province, called his pediatrician and filled her in, and she said he should be fine, we just need to allow time for his medications to work, and made an appointment to see him on Monday. The ER didn’t even charge us for the visit. Can you imagine that happening in the States? I can’t.

I’ve been thinking about buying a car so we can easily take trips around Panay, but have been put off by the cost of parking here at the condo. A parking spot in the garage costs about 5500 – 6000 pesos per month. In a typical month we don’t spend anywhere near that amount for transportation. A Grab ride across town is a couple hundred pesos. But last night’s experience is, in my mind, a pretty strong argument for having our own car. So now we’re re-evaluating.

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