Saturday, March 09, 2013

[Vital Signs Column] Dissecting Cynthia Villar's "Room Nurse" Issue (Villar Vs Filipino Nurses Part 2)

Cynthia Villar meets the nurses
Vital Signs Column
By: Alvin Cloyd Dakis, RN
March 15-30, 2013 Issue

Before anything else, I would like to ask all my readers to have an open mind on this issue. I raised several points in our short meeting and was cordial in our conversation. 

Prior to our meeting yesterday, March 8th, I was already talking to Senator Pia Cayetano's Chief of Staff who relayed that Senator Pia would like to ask me if I would be open for a dialogue with Mrs. Villar. She knew that I would keep an open mind about the issue and hear Mrs. Villar objectively. I told Senator Pia that I am open for a dialogue from their camp (Senator Pia and I have been together during the RH Bill's campaign and the issue of nurse exploitation). Noting my previous article I said that I knew the pressure on being in national TV, having a very limited time in responding and other factors that might have affected Mrs. Villar's careless response. 

Two days after I received a phone call from the Office of Senator Manny Villar asking for a scheduled meeting with the senator and his wife. I was invited in my personal capacity but I requested if I can bring along some nurse bloggers who can also write about the meeting. The meeting was set on March 7 but since my flight from Cebu was moved to 9:00 PM, I have to reschedule to March 8 at dinner time after the NCR Public Consultation on the RH Law's IRR.

I selected some of the members of the Philippine Health Bloggers Society to join me in the meeting. All is set.

Meeting the Villars
It would be my first time to meet the Villar couple and quite unexpectedly in an issue that would make us both awkward. We arrived minutes before her. 

Before we met, I am thinking of different scenarios that might transpire in our meeting. But I would like to be decent and professional, so I told myself to keep an open mind and listen to her intently, suspend my judgment and from there, speak.

The Room Nurse
We didn't waste time in discussing the issue at hand and the minute she arrived and after our cordial acquaintances we sat next to each other and she started to explain the issue.

To her, it was a statement out of context; to me, it was just plain ignorance of the profession and the wrong usage of the word. 

She starts to explain that during the time she was the Chairperson of the House Committee on Higher & Technical Education in 2005 that CHED and the Technical Committee on Nursing Education (TCNE) aim to close nursing schools which have failed to affiliate with a tertiary hospital. Villar pointed out that CHED should have not let these schools be operational in the first place and told that students coming from those schools who will be closed down might have hard time transferring or if not finding jobs should they stop schooling.


What she had in mind was having a ladderized program for nurses. According to her, what she really intended to say is that should a nursing student fails to finish his/her BSN degree he/she can still be either a certified caregiver or a midwife whichever the degree accommodates. For her "hindi naman kailangan ang nurse ay matapos ng BSN" would refer to her recommendation to CHED for a ladderized program for nurses.

"Room nurse" according to her would mean a nursing student who has not finished his/her nursing course and may opt to become a certified caregiver instead (in reference to "parang mag-aalaga").

"Hindi naman sila kailangan ganoon kagaling" would again refer to what she had in mind: a nursing student who has not finished his/her nursing degree in comparison to a BSN degree holder and eventually a professional registered nurse. 

Pure Ignorance
As we intently listen to her speak, my impression was that she is entirely ignorant of the nursing degree and the process of how one becomes a registered nurse. 

I made mention that prior to the current BSN curriculum, the profession had General Nursing or G.N. which is a degree lower than that of the 4-year Bachelor's of Science in Nursing. She also does not know how one can be a certified caregiver in the country.

Aside from the fact that she is totally ignorant of the profession, she have this manner of saying things that would be interpreted differently by others especially those who do not know her personally. Perhaps what made that statement in bad taste was her way of constructing her sentence and the delivery of her response. She does not know how to call those students who have not finished the degree for which I briefly replied "call them BSN undergraduates".

Meeting with nurses
Over dinner I asked Mrs. Villar if she has met with other nursing groups about the issue. She honestly responded that she already did and is scheduling to meet with other groups in the next days. Prior to our meeting she met with Ang Nars Partylist but she forgot to mention the name of those she met from the group.

With Senator Manny Villar
Ang Nars Partylist had a dialogue with her even before we met. I asked her what transpired during the dialogue and she said that the partylist group discussed their platform of governance including the establishment of Ang Nars Clinics which got her interest. According to her, she would want to look into the details of the Ang Nars Clinics.

I went on to say that there was a similar endeavor done by the Department of Labor & Employment before that grants small funds for groups of nurses to establish nursing clinics. I told her that the first clinic under that project was in Mindanao and another one in Cebu. She is interested to look into the developments of these nursing clinics. She said she'll help Ang Nars Clinic proposal.

We were the other group she met. But our group thinks it would be better if we write what transpired in the meeting and to post photos that we indeed had a dialogue with her. She is also scheduled to meet with PNA-America. 

Putting a period to the issue
Before Senator Manny Villar arrived, I asked her candidly of what the Senator told her after the hulabaloo. She was very quick to answer with a smile "sabi niya wag na daw akong magpa-interview..." which gained laughter from the group. She said that she really wanted to be silent after issuing an apology but she wanted to respond because she did not want to be branded as 'stupid'.

She was also regretful in trying to answer a very complicated question with a very limited time. To her, she could have just said that she cannot provide a comprehensive answer to a complicated issue. 

Post-meeting impressions
One of my colleagues who was there immediately said "I tried to be angry with her, but I can't.", another one said "I just feel sorry for her..."

As for me, all I can say is that a person who is a public figure or who aspires to be one should really know what they are saying and know how to say it publicly especially if this is in the media for many people will interpret it wrongly and will take it against you.

Meeting her in person and hearing her directly solidified my earlier assumption that she speaks naturally that way - like an insincere and monotonous person. But in person, one cannot deny that she thinks and means well, but said it wrongly entirely, and that a discerning and rationale person would somehow get what she is trying to convey but just cannot cross the other line properly.

Our meeting was barely two hours and we have to call it a night for they have another event to attend to. Before she left I did not promise anything to her but only this article which I will express my thoughts about the recent meeting for she agreed and asked me to send her a copy so she can read it.

Finally, I will reiterate my stand that I have forgiven her of such imprudent response on national TV, but I won't hold back any nurse who might want to still campaign against her even after I write this article. 

For my fellow nurses, as a compassionate and caring individuals we are, I fervently hope that any one, not just Cynthia Villar for this instance, be forgiven should they ignorantly degrade the profession, but keeping in mind that the perception of the public on the Filipino nurses would also lie on how we want others to perceive us and how we continue to engage the public and key stakeholders to educate our plight. 

This meeting with the Villars made me understand that sometimes even how noble your intentions are, your words, gestures and delivery would change all that; that the public will see a speck of wrongdoing and never forget it despite of any other efforts you have done; and that forgiveness is an act of mercy - given even if the person do not deserve such - but out of that forgiveness comes justice. This justice is the price one has to pay, and in this case, losing thousands of possible votes from the nursing profession is the justice well served for them.


  1. Being a Christian I believe that we should forgive her, but being a Filipino Nurse, who worked hard to obtained the DON position here in New York, I always seek to elevate "Filipino Nurses" to the pedestal of greatness'.

    Ignorance, as you are imploring us to believe, to be the reason, why she stated those words in her interview has no place in the vocabulary of anyone, who is running to be a public servant (Even if we know that most of them who are running for this office, don't really want to serve the people,what they are after is the Power and the Pork Barrel that they will obtain, once they become Senators).

    We want the best people to represent us in Congress. We want God fearing, knowledgeable, and sensitive individuals to write the laws that will help every Filipinos, not only the rich and powerful. We want our senators to understand everything under the sun. For them to evaluate properly, if the law that they are sponsoring will elevate our lives, rather than wringing our neck.

    I forgive her, and wishes her the best. For now, let us take her word for it, when she said that, if she lose this election, she will be studying nursing. Let us see if she walks the talk. Let us see, if this person has a "Word of Honor." Why not give your vote to others, who are more deserving for now? Perhaps, this will lead her to start Nursing School.

    If in anyway, she will walk the talk, and on the next election, she will be a Registered Nurse, I will indulge her to contact me, and I will be the first one to campaign for her. (ADAI)

  2. Tama ka Gng. Diesta,pawis at tiyaga ang ibinuhos mo para makamit ang pangarap mong propesyon at ang posisyon na kinatatayuan mo ngayon, ganon din ang tiyaga ng mga magulang na katulad ko na nagpaaral. naramdaman din namin ang sakit sa sinabi ni Mrs. Villar,kung kaming mga magulang ay nasaktan, kayo pa kaya, ngayon pa lang hindi pa nailuluklok sa kapangyarihan ay hindi na nya alam ang gagawin para mapaganda at mapabuti pa ang propesyon na ito.minaliit nya talaga ang kakayahan ng karamihan, ang gusto nya hanggang sa caregiver lang at kung ganito ang isusulong niyang batas pagka-senador na sya,paano na ngayon ang pangarap mo o pangarap ng lahat na Filipino Nurses na ang propesyon nyo ay mailagay sa "PEDESTAL OF GREATNESS" sa sarili nating bansa o sa ibayong dagat,,,IGNORANCE,kung ganon ang isip ng magiging mambabatas paano nila mapaganda ang buhay ng lahat na pilipino,,,,Noon pa lang hindi ako sang- ayon sa Pork Barrel Funds ng mga Mambabatas,yan ang sanhi para lalo nagiging negosyo na ang politika sa atin,nagiging kabuhayan na ng lahat, bakit hindi pa ideretso ang pondo ng gobierno sa mga proyekto na kinakailangan ng mga pilipino, bakit idinadaan pa sa mga mambabatas tulad ng pork barrel na yan,sana magsilbing aral ito para sa mga kandidato lalo mga mahahalal sa posisyon upang pagbutihin nila ang maninilbihan sa bayan lalo na para sa sektor ng trabaho upang gumawa sila ng batas na matulungan ang lahat ng nakatapos sa pag aaral para makapagtrabaho sa ating bansa o sa ibayong dagat,nurse man o lahat ng propesyon,Ibigay natin ang suporta sa mga alam natin na may prinsipyo na iaangat ang buhay ng sambayanang pilipino salamat,

  3. It is a very human thing to have good intentions and have those intentions interpreted by others in a different way. So let it be with Cynthia Villar. She never had ill will towards nurses (who would?). Let us forgive, and look past the tiny black dot in a sheet of white.

    1. Roy, as I mentioned above. We should forgive her.I believe that her reality is different from our perception. But, same thing with somebody who had broken the window in your house by hitting a baseball unintentionally. You can easily forgive that person, but he needs to pay for the repair of that window. With this analogy, for us to know how sincere Mrs.Cynthia Villar in her apology, as I suggested let's take her word. She said that, if by chance she loses this election, she will study Nursing. We had erased that black dot, which you mentioned. She can have her clean slate, a new beginning. We can even vote for her as a Senator. But, not this election. Until she paid for that broken glass. Until she proved that she has a word of honor. Until, she showed that she is worthy of our vote. Going up to the stage getting her Nursing Diploma is enough for me. She don't even need to pass the NLE, or become a registered nurse like us. She could just be a room nurse, as she implied, when she said, that other nursing undergraduates would be satisfied to be.I am not cruel. All I wanted is the best for our nursing profession, and for our country. I hope that Cythia Villar will not take this offer personally. I hope that she will use it to elevate her understanding about the Nursing profession.You are bless madame to be where you are now. Not everyone is as bless as you. Enrollment will be coming soon. Ready your transcript and prepare to enter any college of your choice, which offers BSN. I promise that I will be there 4 years from now, in your graduation. I will also unload my ability to be your campaign manager in the next election. Fulfill your promise, and i will fulfill mine. God Bless. (Roland Almonte, maraming salamat sa supporta. Roy C. Devesa, nawa maunawaan mo ang ibigsabihin ng tunay na paghingi ng tawad at tunay na pagpapatawad.)

  4. mga tanga ba kayo? ayaw nyo pang tanggapin ang totoo, yun n nga pawis at tiyaga ang mga ibinuhos bago k makatapos bilang nurse e bakit maraming ibang nurses n pumupunta sa ibang bansa lalo n sa saudi at pumapatol sa mga may asawa para lang magkapera dahil sa liit ng mga kinikita nila doon...

  5. I pity the blogger. We all know where you are coming from... Just because of that DINNER? After all you have posted on your fb accounts? tweeter? ang bilis naman atang mag bago ng isip mo?2 hours palng yun ha! So what did the Villars promised you for your great organization? or should I say, to your own benefits?

    1. Nothing was promised. We met with Mrs. Villar to hear her side of the story - just like the other Nursing organizations that got in touch with her. Is there anything wrong with hearing her side of the story? Is anything in this blog endorsing her? It REPORTS what she said. And relation to this: have you heard ANYTHING from the other Nursing organizations that spoke with her? And if you did, would you insinuate that these organizations were promised and were brought by a MERE meal?

  6. Oh please.... give me a freaking break. She's not new to public speaking. She's been in the office for how many terms again? Will someone refresh my memory? She can't be an idiot as other people call her coz I don't believe that a UP graduate with a Master's Degree in New York will be that kind of a moron, unless she had suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury that caused some permanent brain damage.If forgiveness she wants, she already got that. Want she want is votes, plain and simple. She already had sweet talk her way in, by enticing nursing groups what her money can buy just by expressing her interest in such programs.


    And guess what??? She will win this election, no surprise to that. Kaya walang asenso ang Pilipinas, Goodluck na lang sa lahat ng boboto sa kanya.

    1. Marisol, it's not my programs nor from our group she is intending to support - it's from Ang Nars.

  7. Dear Anonymous,

    Kindly specify which of my previous stand did I flipflop? In what part of this article did I consider Mrs. Villar's statement as correct? What I did is only to understand where she is coming from and what she is really trying to say should she be given ample time to explain herself.

    And for the record, she is interested not in our group but to some others. She never offered anything to me or to us. Please support your claims with proofs.

  8. I can see why other readers can have that sentiments just like Anonymous. Bakit kailangan pa niyang basahin yun pre-printed copy ng blog mo?(I'm not saying you'll change it if she does not approve) Why can't she wait and read it until you post it here like everybody else? But I don't share the same opinion with Anonymous.

    In fairness, at least you had posted Anonymous opinion. Unlike in Mrs.Villar's Tweeter and FB wall that they delete all the Nurses postings that were emotionally charged and words that were hard to swallow.That's why the forgiveness she asked was met with resistance and her sincerity is being questioned. What I don't get is she keep on reaching out to the Nursing groups, Nursing chapters,You the people who had make it in the top of the nursing field. Bakit meron pang tulay?

    1. Marisol, I sent all my published articles to Mrs. Villar. I sent everything after I have published them both in my blog and in my printed columns. She did not have access to my pre-printed articles.

      She kept reaching out through the nursing groups for I think she believes that the nursing groups represent the vast number of nurses (as with every other professional organizations).

    2. I'm cool in regards to whom you sent your printed articles. You're in control of that. I'm just saying that I can see, why other readers might wonder why she get a copy. Things can be left upon the interpretation of the reader. Well, I'm sure you're not foreign to that.

      With regards to Mrs. Villar talking to Nursing groups/organizations, I'll just take the high road, call it as a sign of respect rather than trying to use a "tulay". My initial reaction was, If she was able to spent all this millions to campaign ads and air time, can't she pay for 1 minute TV apology ad to reach out to all nurses? After all, she did the damage in National Television. It's just right to do the clean-up there, rather than in social media page, a letter or a mini meeting with a group of people.

      As I said, that was my initial reaction and now I'm moving on, forgiveness is granted, I'm taking the high road.


    3. Our group is not a "tulay" as you said, we are merely reporting what happened during the meeting. I did not speak for any organization or individual nurse that time but we met her because we wanted to know and hear her side of the story.

      It would also be prudent for her to give a true and sincere public apology that is televised and not an apology through her Facebook page or Twitter account.

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  10. I am from Ang Nars. What is the relevance of your post about Villar to the conversation of our group to hers? Sorry, I don't read your blog. It just happened that somebody is dragging the name of our organization that's why I'm commenting here.If we have talks with her, do you really have to emphasize that point?

    1. I don't see anything wrong anything wrong with the article, I made mention both Ang Nars (which she met earlier) and PNA-America (which Mrs. Villar is going to meet after us).

      Did I demean Ang Nars in anyway? What in my article did I "drag" (which is a bit negative) your organization?

    2. With all due respect, ma'am or sir from Ang Nars, this is a REPORT. She said it, the writer reported it. Mrs. Villar is aware that we shall be writing about the issue, and she said nothing about some topics being off the record.

  11. mabuhay ang mga nurses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!