A Country’s Legacy: The Relationship between Germany and the Philippines

Jey Mart A. Cuyag is a third year college student taking up Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He is from Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines and is currently enrolled at University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (Cagayan de Oro Campus). A naturally curious person, he is in constant pursuit of detailing human interactions and how he can gain significant insights from them. He firmly believes that international relationships are important not only for globalization but also in achieving humanity’s real purpose: camaraderie and unity.

Philippines | June 27, 2020 | Student Essay

A country’s legacy is not defined by how history tells it, rather it is written by how the citizens of such country empowered and touched the lives of other people from all around the globe.

“Mama, wala man toy kwarta atong silingan nga si Mang Julio nga grabi og sakit. Pero naulian lagi siya? Naa diay libre nga magpadoktor karon Ma?” (Mom, I had heard that our neighbour who is gravely sick and unfortunately not so well-off got cured already. How did Mang Julio managed it? Is there a free hospital nearby?). I could vividly recall my innocent and ignorant query to my “mama” when I found out that our old neighbour, Mang Julio, got a successful operation of his “diabetic foot” complication. Even as a child, I know that health is wealth. And in our third world country, it is an understatement to call the hospitalization fee’s expensive; in reality, they can cost up to a year’s worth of salary. Knowing that Mang Julio is only living with his elderly wife and a single construction worker son, there are no more reasons I can fathom of but to believe that even amidst these trying times, there are healthcare institutions willing to help people for free and just purely out of pure moral intentions.

Eventually, I grew up and was able to explore the places in our humble city. Strolling around after my classes ended, I caught a glimpse of the German Doctor’s Hospital, located near the city proper’s vicinity. I was dumbfounded and puzzled since I know how advanced German technology is when it comes to medicine, but the design of the hospital I saw was simple and inviting, making a vibe of a hospital for the masses. Bringing my thoughts home, I asked my “mama” if she had any knowledge about the German Doctor’s Hospital in the city. Her answer opened up nostalgic feelings, for she mentioned that such hospital was the institution that offered Mang Julio’s sickness before a free healthcare service. I was still in a state of disbelief, not because I doubted my brother, but due to me personal reason that I cannot believe how kind Germany is; how far they are willing to extend help and spread kindness without any return to a third world country and even to a developing city.

Beginning at 1985, the German Doctors, an organization in Germany, launched a campaign in the Philippines (especially in Mindanao, which my city belonged to) to conduct voluntary healthcare missions to offer free medical treatments for the poorest of the poor1. Aside from the volunteer help these German doctors provided to the country, they also contributed to building the scientific research database to further enhance the health system of the country2. Decades passed by, the same objective lives: Germany helping the Philippines achieve healthcare without expecting for returns.

Germany, as a government, may or may not have a hand to the efforts done by the German Doctors. However, it is an undisputed fact that its people, the Germans, are keen to help others, especially those in the marginal sectors of humanity. Other countries had helped our country, following the notion that globalization does not only mean political and economic congruence. But it is only Germany that sustainably and continuously helped far flung and marginalized areas, even without the recognition from any limelight for how many decades. The rich and influential people in our country might not acknowledge the help Germany and its people had contributed to the country. Yet the soul of the Filipino people, which can be best heard from the cries of the poor and the weary, shall forever be grateful to the help of the Alemans (which most of our Filipino citizens call them).

Aside from healthcare Germany had wholeheartedly given to the Philippines, the Germans extensively helped to safeguard life by ensuring disaster risk reduction and peacekeeping. It might be also an irony, but the foreign Germans are also helping to build and stabilize the already fading cultures in the country3.

It is just disheartening that the recognition more than well-deserved by Germany and its people are being shadowed by its tumultuous pasts. History might paint Germany and its people a colour of disdain. But fear not our beloved and kind Germany. The people you had helped will forever create a resounding voice of gratitude. People like Mang Julio will always carry the benevolence and extreme efforts Germans had gifted to us. After all, a country’s legacy is not defined by how history tells it, rather it is written by how the citizens of such country empowered and touched the lives of other people from all around the globe.

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