On the Frontlines: Stories of Selfless Dedication of 6 Filipino Nurses

On Nurses Week, we want to acknowledge the valiant efforts of Filipino nurses around the world who are battling against the  COVID-19 pandemic in the front lines every day. We can’t imagine how exhausting it is to care for the sick and the suffering and still act as a beacon of hope, despite risking their own safety and the health of their own families. Here are just a few nurses we’ve spoken to whose inspiring stories prove their selfless dedication to their profession.

Kirstine Ty

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Kirstine Ty decided to become a nurse to follow in the footsteps of her cousin. She almost pursued working abroad when getting hired at a local hospital was close to impossible until she was able to get in UP-PGH and realize her dream of serving her fellow Filipinos and, in her own little way, inspire hope in her patients.

“Being in the front lines, you’d also get to experience the struggles of being a COVID-19 patient—to be sick and lonely (because they are not allowed to have watchers with them). So during the early days of COVID last year, I initiated ‘Love Notes for the Patients’, which aimed to cheer them up. I was overwhelmed with the letters from strangers, and mostly kids, that came in. I realized, everybody wants to help in their own ways,” she shared with us.

“Patients may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel,” she added. “To my fellow nurses, always keep your heads above water! Have faith that better days are coming. Thank you for being you, and for all that you do!”

Ross Gavin Sayson

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It had always been a dream for Ross Sayson to become a nurse ever since she was a little girl. It was a combination of this and her growing passion to help care for those in need that she decided to pursue a profession as a nurse. Now, she works in the surgical department in one of the hospitals in New Jersey, US, where she received the Nurse of the Year Award for 2021.

“Being a nurse isn’t easy. You face a lot of challenges and trials. Working full time on a long-hour shift and caring for my family was very challenging,” Ross shared with When In Manila. “Working in the hospital, we saw first hand the challenges and impact the pandemic had in the lives of many. Being in a state with one of the highest COVID positive cases was very challenging in our day-to-day lives. Seeing patients fighting for their lives with no family on their side was awful.”

Despite this, she never forgets the reason why she became a nurse.

“This pandemic is surreal and overwhelming and scary. The uncertainty leaves us on the edge. But no matter what the whole world is going through, we still come to work with gratitude, dedication, and a big smile on our faces. And at the end of the day… it couldn’t be more rewarding to know that we played a big role impacting the lives of our patients and their families.”

Gerrou D. Gasendo

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Gerrou D. Gasendo is a 28-year-old nurse hailing from Bago City, Negros Occidental. Nursing was the passion he chose to pursue because of his desire for a career that is both challenging and impactful—one that allows him to make a difference in people’s lives every day and in ways that he can.

“Nursing is one of my top of the mind priorities because it deals with all aspects of caring. It deals with patients, families, and communities, and helping them through [their ailments] is what extremely satisfies me,” Gerrou shared with When In Manila. “Throughout nursing school, my interest in the nursing profession and my commitment to nursing excellence became even stronger as I saw myself to be a nurse with caring hands and helping heart. … It takes courage, competence, commitment, dedication, and perseverance in order to be in my position at present.”

His hard work and commitment to his profession over the years led him to become a Clinical Nurse Educator at one of the top hospitals in Metro Manila. He also became a DAISY Award honoree for the DAISY Foundation which recognizes extraordinary nurses around the world.

“‘[Ger] provided exceptional patient care and was able to handle emergencies with tact and professionalism. What would doctors do without nurses? That’s how important they are to us as patients,’” Gerrou quoted from the testimonial of a stem-cell transplant patient he was assigned to aid one day. “Indeed, this phrase coming from my patient made me realize that being a nurse is not just about having our duty every day but [also] empowering and supporting our patients and families to know that they are able to get through with all the management and treatment options.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic really affects all of us. … No words can ever express how much we are grateful for [the] commitment [of all] amazing nurses to our patients. You are all the unsung and inspirational heroes of the modern world,” he said. “As I quote my Chief Nursing Officer, ‘If you Love Nursing, you will do all to elevate the standards of nursing excellence.’ I would like to enjoin everyone, all nurses around the world to always do good in everything that you do, always make a difference in the lives of your patients and leave a legacy in the nursing profession.”

Kevin Deduque

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Kevin Floyd Deduque has been working as an intensive care unit nurse for more than five years now with a commitment to helping uplift the lives of patients in their most vulnerable moments.

“Imagine a world of mechanical ventilators, medication plums, hemodynamic monitors alarming, call bells ringing from everywhere, phone calls from relatives, an agitated relative asking for an update, a patient who is having a hard time breathing, the other is having unstable vital signs, nurses and doctors intubating and reviving a patient, and ongoing dialysis… [these] are typical scenarios in a day for an ICU nurse,” he shared with When In Manila.

“I had this patient who was diagnosed with Cerebral Malaria. The patient was severely ill, nearly comatose [with] severe pneumonia, had different infections like multi-drug resistant organisms, and [was] bleeding internally. Being his nurse from day one, I have witnessed every doctor’s order—treatments, medications, and procedures—just to save his life. His family almost gave up on him but I will never forget that day when my patient woke up. Clinically, I saw the improvement of my patient, from his laboratories and overall picture. I was moved when my patient told me ‘Thank you for not giving up’ prior to his transfer.”

From that moment on, Kevin knew that he was destined to be the nurse he now is.

“This pandemic has thought us many things, to value what is present. Being a nurse, I have witnessed my patients’ greatest triumphs and greatest defeats. Being able to be part of that process and seeing them get well along the way so rewarding,” Kevin added. “To my fellow nurses, this too shall pass, the WORLD NEEDS US. Our ultimate purpose as a NURSE is to give the best care for our patients.”

Regie “Bigs” Legaspi

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Regie “Bigs” Legaspi has been in the nursing profession and in practice for 10 years. Ever since he was a child, he has always seen himself as someone who would take care of other people, and thus followed his calling to be a nurse.

His hard work and dedication eventually led him to be assigned to the Neuroscience unit where he handled brain-related cases and stroke patients, before being promoted to Clinical Unit Based Educator and then to Nurse Unit Manager. Now, he is the Department Manager of four nursing units in one of the top hospitals in Metro Manila doing what he does best: inspiring and involving his nurses in different initiatives, projects, programs, and researches, helping expand their capabilities beyond just taking care of patients.

Along with his hospital responsibilities, Bigs is also undergoing a master’s program in nursing and takes an active part in his hospital’s annual free clinic community outreach program.

Bigs shared with us a moment in his life when he told himself “this is why I do what I do.”

One afternoon in 2015, I was invited to attend a meeting. As I was about to enter the hall, I happened to come across a lady who appeared to be lost. She approached me and started mentioning that she just finished taking brunch at the cafeteria and went to the restroom near the hall after her MRI procedure. On her way out of the restroom, she felt dizzy and got confused. Being a neuro nurse I knew that something was unusual about her at that time. After a quick neurologic assessment, I immediately brought her to the emergency room suspecting that she might be having a stroke. Brain Attack Team was activated and after series of brain scans, it indeed showed that she had an acute stroke. She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and was eventually transferred to the neuroscience unit thereafter.

“I got the opportunity to take care of her and we were able to talk. She was very grateful that day for what happened. She said that she knew that God was with her because He led me to her. With thousands of people in the hospital whom she can possibly meet, a neuro nurse like me was the one she encountered. That day I realized that this is why I do what I do. I was recognized by the DAISY Award foundation as one of their awardees with this life-changing story.

He then said, “We nurses are the symbol of HOPE in this darkest time we are facing today. We have to think of our calling, our vocation, and this noble profession. In these times of uncertainty, we have to be the strength of our patients and fellow healthcare providers by uplifting one another. Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul. We as nurses dispense comfort, compassion, and caring without even a prescription. I know that we sacrifice a lot and put so much effort into the things that we do because that’s how passionate we are.  It is not how much we do – it is how much love we put into the doing. I will be forever proud of this profession, I am a NURSE and we are the selfless HEROES of our generation.”

Luilyn B. Sindac

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Luilyn Sindac initially did not think about pursuing a career in nursing. She had been working as a flight attendant at the age of 21 for an international airline until her husband encouraged her to study again. Now, she is a registered nurse, impacting lives for nine years and counting.

“I started as a staff nurse in Wellness Center in 2012, then I got promoted last 2019 as a Section Manager, and now I am an OIC Department Manager,” she shared with When In Manila. “In the past few years, I earned the commendation for most commended staff—it is an honor and I am very proud to be part of the hospital that I am currently working at, [getting] a chance to help not only patients but coworkers as well [and] loving what you are doing and not seeing it as a duty.”

“As a Nurse, I know that we are all struggling with what is currently happening on our world today but I know that the hardships and sacrifices we have made will pay off, and it will all be worth it,” she continued. “That is why we should continue on being a service to others—compassionate and selfless. We are in this together.”

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