They Built Me An Armamentarium Of Hope

I grew up in one of the densely populated areas of Cebu, a place called Barrio Luz. My eyes were opened to an environment where, to put it plainly, crime and immorality were quite prevalent, and definitely it was not an ideal place for any growing child. Poverty, naturally, was part of the problem, if not its main reason. My parents, however, made it a point to inculcate in us children the value of education because for them it was the only treasure they could leave us. Thus, we grew up determined to have it, create the opportunity for it as much as we could.

          I was one of the privileged individuals who gained admission to the Sisters of Mary School. In a few words, I availed myself of a high standard of education at literally no cost to the family. On top of that, like the numerous others in my batch, my character was molded into that of a God-fearing human being as the ultimate outcome of my education and training. In my roughly four years’ stay the Sisters have built for me surpass future challenges outside the walls of the campus.

          December 1995 marked the beginning of the real battle ahead as my classmates and I trooped out of the Minglanilla Complex. Driven by ambition despite our common limitations in finances, most of us pursued our childhood ambitions, mustering resources from anywhere we could. Some applied for scholarships, others put their shoulder to the grindstone to support themselves. I was among the latter. I will not bore the readers with the million odd jobs I took, and some good-paying ones, to put me through college and ultimately to learn the art and science of medicine. Suffice it to say that the Sisters have prepared me enough to withstand distractions. 

          In short, I attained my medical degree through thick and thin and right now I am in the process of completing my residency training in general surgery. From there I am looking forward to a career in thoravascular surgery or endoscopic and hepatobiliary surgery, if God wills it. It may not be as economically rewarding as it may seem but these specializations will give me plenty of opportunity to show God’s goodness, and that is by His making me an instrument for the care of the sick. Looking back and with the highest level of evidence (as they say in medicine to establish the basis for medical treatment), entering the Sisters of Mary School was the most pivotal moment in my life.

          Whenever I go on a medical mission to the south of Cebu, I never fail to point out to my companions, as we pass by, the remarkably maintained school complex where I graduated not so long ago. Then I will start seeing flickers of surprise in the eyes of my fellow physicians. Eventually, the conversation comes around to my recounting of my experiences while I was in that institution, along with my barely concealed emotions. Truly I am a proud son of the Sisters of Mary and Fr. Al.  

Erwyn C. Novilla, R.M.T., M.D.
Batch 1996, Minglanilla, Cebu
3rd Placer, 2006 Medical Board Exam
Resident, Velez Hospital, Cebu City