Monday, April 21, 2008

The "Body Spray" Video Brouhaha and Ghosts of "Desperate Housewives"

After being proud of the Filipino race with the emergence of ZTE scam whistle-blower Jun Lozada and Renaldo Lapus' unforgettable performance in the "American Idol" auditions, here comes another incident to drag down my euphoria.

Lately, a video on YouTube managed to once again destroy my belief that "the Filipino can." Yup, the Filipino really can...make a total fool of himself, that is.

The video I'm referring to is the one about an allegedly gay patient who had a body spray canister taken out of his rectum surgically following a sexual act with his partner. Unfortunately, the whole procedure was done amid cajoling by the team of doctors and nurses who were operating on him. A bevy of cellular phones with camera/video capabilities were also seen in the video taking closeup shots of the operation. The poor patient couldn't do anything about it, considering that he was in an...errrrr...compromising position.

This video soon found its way to YouTube where about two million hits registered in only a few days. But don't bother looking for it now: the person who posted it (said to be one of the interns there) already deleted it.

I simply have to take note of the hospital where this detestable incident occurred: the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City.


The latest development regarding this relates to the public apology offered by the medical staff of the VSMMC to the patient whose rectum became an instant celebity.

Good Lord: a public apology?! Doesn't the poor guy deserve something better than that?

It's a good thing that the Office of the Ombudsman, as well as the Department of Health are stepping in to investigate and provide the necessary sanctions for these erring hospital staff. The VSMMC is a public hospital after all, and we poor taxpayers would like to see our money going to deserving public servants, not beasts like these VSMMC doctors and nurses.

I want to see heads rolling this time.


Somehow, ghosts of the past are coming back to haunt us after this controversy. Remember the big fuss we made over that racial slur on medical schools in a recent episode of Desperate Housewives? (Read my earlier entry regarding this by clicking on this link.)

The producers of the said show must be laughing their heads off by now.

Geez, and we had the gall to demand for a public apology then...


There are dire consequences stemming from this video brouhaha. First is the breach of ethics upon the public screening of this said video. A patient reserves the right to privacy in every surgical operation unless there is consent to have the said procedure documented on video or in pictures. The mere fact that the video was placed in YouTube of all places was already tantamount to robbing the patient of his vital right. To add more insult to injury, the patient was being openly ridiculed by so-called professionals whom he trusted to conduct the operation on him.

I could only imagine the utter shame this patient was feeling during the entire process.

His butt may be healing already, but I doubt it if his dignity is. And dignity isn't something you can buy either in the sari-sari store next door or in the glitziest mall in the city.


Another can of worms opened by this video is the sorry state of public hospitals in the Philippines. The VSMMC isn't the only public hospital with crappy medical staff and horrible facilities. In fact, almost all public hospitals in the Philippines have personnel like these atrocious beings.

Many of these medical personnel apparently have this "rich-man-poor-man" syndrome that they use over their patients who mostly come from the poorer segment of society. Knowing fully well that most of these patients can only afford nothing more than charity, these monsters in white treat them shabbily with little or no regard for their welfare. In their minds, they think: "I'm just in this hellhole for the salary. Why go the extra mile for these smelly rats? Heck, I shouldn't be here in the first place!"

These medical personnel may argue that with the kind of compensation they are receiving in public hospitals, there really isn't much to hope for. However, this doesn't give them a license to be total boors to their indigent patients.

Example: in a maternity ward. One pregnant woman is already in labor and is screaming in pain from the contractions. Apparently bothered by the noise, the nurses shout at her to shut up. "Wala ka namang pambayad ng anaesthesia, kaya magdusa ka diyan (Since you don't have money to pay for anaesthesia, then just bear with the pain)!" says one of them. Another riles her and says, "Sisigaw-sigaw ka diyan, tapos wala pang isang taon, nandito ka na naman (You keep on shouting in pain and yet a year won't even pass and you'll be back here again)!"

Talk about being sterling examples of healthcare.

Probably these people have yet to be acquainted with the term, "public service."


Another point raised here is the issue of gay acceptance in Philippine society. True, the deed of having a six-inch long body spray inserted in one's rectum during a sexual male-to-male act can be considered horrendous and downright kinky. (Honestly, just the thought of having something like that shoved up my own ass must be really, REALLY painful and totally unexciting -- but of course, different strokes for different folks.) However, this should not be a valid reason for the victim/patient to be ridiculed on the operating table, much less, for the entire act to be caught on video.

So he's gay. He's got a body spray canister up his rectum. He's in pain, so I guess he and his partner won't be trying anything like that again -- or at least in the near future. Can't these people be professional about it and just take the darn canister out without turning the entire spectacle into a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus?

Or do these monsters in white think they can make fun of this person simply because he's gay?

Hypothetical question: would these people have been more professional toward the situation if the patient was a female?

The point here is that whether straight or gay, a person still has the right to preserve his/her dignity, whether on the operating table or anywhere else.

One doesn't need to look for that in any medical code of ethics because it is a basic human right -- as basic as free speech.


Last case in point -- the effect of this latest spectacle on medical tourism. Lately, the Philippines has turned into a hub for medical tourism. In fact, note the spas, wellness centers, and the like opening all over the place. Private hospitals are investing in state-of-the-art facilities to accomodate the influx of people -- both local and foreign -- who want to experience the best of what the Philippine medical profession can offer. So much money is being invested so that we can be known as a center of wellness and professionalism in the medical sphere.

And now, this.

If I was a foreigner who stumbled upon the VSMMC video, I'd be shaking my head in disgust.

I am a Filipina, and I'm still shaking my head in disgust.


Sigh, another deduction in points for the Filipino.

By the way, if you want to understand more about this issue, simply click on the link to this news article from Sun.Star Cebu online.

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