Sunday, March 1, 2015
IN APRIL 1975, a boy enjoyed his summer vacation shooting a basketball on a dirt court. The ball bounced off the iron rim and landed beyond the court and rolled into a grassy area. The ball stopped among a clump of thick grass. The boy chased the ball and stepped on to something that gave in to his weight. He retrieved the ball and ran back to play basketball under the heat of a noontime sun.
He noticed something warm and slippery on his left foot and saw a lot of blood spurt out from a cut on the inside of his left ankle. He looked at the long trail of blood behind him and limped back home with his basketball under his right arm. He went to the faucet and washed away the blood, thinking the action would improve his condition. He could clearly see that part of his sole, starting from the arch, was sliced clean up to the part below the ankle bone joint.
He began to rattle and called out his grandmother. His grandma saw the 3-and-a-half-inch wound and woke up the boy’s father. The father, seeing that a home remedy is out of the question, decided to carry his son to a family doctor. He carried the boy on both his arms and half-trotted to the clinic some 400 meters away. The good doctor was around and begins to work on the wound. He has no anesthesia but he sewed up three lacerated arteries and the skin to temporarily stop the bleeding.
The boy’s face turned pale through loss of so much blood and was brave enough to see his left foot being sewed up by the doctor. He sounded off a stifled cry each time the needle pierced his flesh and dreaded the next action. Nevertheless, he heard the doctor and his father talking in a better tone and found it reassuring. The boy was transferred to the hospital for re-sewing of the skin but, this time, anesthesia was injected around the wound.
The boy had been on the brink of death due to loss of blood but his courage to face his difficulty allowed him no time to faint while limping home for help. The wound was caused by a large Ovaltine glass jar that broke under the weight of the boy. The jar was covered by thick grass. After that incident, the boy went back months after to retrieve and dispose hidden broken glasses on his playground and anything that might cause harm to anyone, especially his playmates. It has been his advocacy ever since.
That boy was me. I just took an examination for entry into a Catholic-run high school that morning and, after finishing lunch, went to shoot basketball. It was a very traumatic experience for me, especially at the clinic. The legendary doctor was Dr. Poliento B. Dy. He passed away many years ago. He was the last of his kind. He did weekly house calls in our neighborhood and his clinic was located at the corner of MJ Cuenco Avenue and Villagonzalo Street in Cebu City. No doctor in urban centers do house calls nowadays.
Now, back to this “broken glass” advocacy, it is nothing but a personal commitment on my part being the best example of how carelessly-placed, or thrown, broken pieces of glass could cause harm on people, especially carefree children, even to the extent of snuffing away their lives if there is no help on time. It had not been the first time that a broken glass had caused me injury nor was it the last. My eldest child had the same laceration on the left foot caused by glass when he fell on a hole, just meters away where I was wounded, when he was just seven years old.
It pains me to see children suffering from pain, agony, shock and loss of blood because some careless and irresponsible individuals did not think clearly when they start leaving bottles, glass jars and broken glasses out of doors. They even burn this as part of garbage. A lot of people are really stupid when they know that glass, along with empty cans, can never be burned by a small fire. In fact, it makes glass more brittle and much difficult to pick from the flesh because it disintegrates into small bits and flakes.
As much as possible, I pick bottles along mountain trails and hide it where it cannot be exposed as a target for both children and adults exercising their marksmanship prowess. I collect broken glasses on the same trails and bring it down the mountain and dispose it in city garbage bins. I have to be careful when I carry it inside my bag else a misstep would tear up my bag, slice the things inside or it pierces through the bag and cut me up.
During my visit to Osmeña Peak in 2009, I saw a lot of broken bottles that the collecting and carrying of it downhill would be a herculean job that required fifteen people. I simply pound the glasses into powdery bits with stones and drop these into any rock I can find with holes and plug it with stones. There were more bottles and broken glasses thrown in the sinkholes by people who visit there though and, I think, Osmeña Peak should be declared a national park so visits would be regulated and ground maintenance would be imposed.
The most hideous places where a broken glass could effect harm are on the streams. You go barefoot when you swim and your soles becomes soft because of exposure to water. One day in 1995, while going on picnic at the source of Matutinao Creek with my wife and son, a boy stepped on a broken glass. Blood were everywhere and, I believed, an artery was lacerated. It reminded me of my wound years ago. His mother could only apply a herbal remedy with a poultice of chewed horseradish but I forbid it when I decide to involve myself in.
I put pressure above the wound to control the flow of blood then I carried the boy in my arms making sure the wound is above his heart. Then I ran and followed the trail going down the national highway. Those who have visited upstream beyond Kawasan Falls knows the terrain is rocky, difficult and very slippery. I ran on it downhill and where I am most susceptible to an accident myself. A lot of it are above cliffs and sometimes you have to cross the stream over coconut logs that move as you walk above it.
Bathers at the waterfalls stare at the bloodied foot and they begun to think twice about what is in the bottom of the part of their river. Eventually, I reached the road. A bus passes by and I instructed the driver to bring the injured boy and his mother to the nearest hospital which is at Badian. In my own small way, I saved a boy’s life but the problem with broken glasses remain. It was at this instance that the inhabitants and other stakeholders of Matutinao began to clean their beloved river of this hidden menace.
When you see me stopping on a trail, picking up something which sounded like broken glasses, do not be alarmed. I am not acting like a fool but, rather, I am doing a service for the inhabitants, especially the local children. I am making the world safer for them. This is another of my advocacy. There are no corporate sponsors and there are no media hypes. It is just me with a past. I am personally inviting you to do your part. Let us rid this world of broken glasses and educate people how to dispose of this safely.
Document done in LibreOffice 3.4 Writer
First photo courtesy of www.x199103.deviantart.com
Second photo courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk
Third photo courtesy of www.artandcritique.com
Fourth photo courtesy of www.wikihow.com