Why this list? Because medicine is rooted in the humanities. It is never just about the science. These stories are about doctors and/or patients, and how they face disease and death. We don’t read that from Harrison, Nelson, Williams, or Schwartz.
I have restricted this list to Filipino authors because every Filipino reader needs to read more Filipino writers. I’ve provided spoiler-free blurbs limited by Twitter’s character count, but you can skip them and just scroll through the images. After all, great stories do not need an introduction.
Disclaimer: This is far from comprehensive. I don’t claim this to be a “Best of” list neither am I the best person to do this. It’s simply a list of stories I’ve read and enjoyed, and I feel should be read by more Filipino med students and doctors. Please leave a comment for your recommendations!
The Men Who Play GodYes, THE Rotor Syndrome. This is the title story of his collection where we get to read about early years of Philippine General Hospital, and realize how much has changed. Or how little. Would you want to play God today, doctor?
Faith, Love, Time, and Dr. LazaroA rural doctor and his son go on a house call in the middle of the night. Why do we do what we do as doctors? We are taught to heal with science, but where it fails, would faith be enough? This is my go-to story.
Gregorio C. Brillantes
Sandosenang SapatosA girl who loves to draw, her differently abled younger sister, and their shoemaker father’s boundless love. You can search for the text online, but it’s a vastly richer experience reading the story illustrated. Lovely gift, too!
Luis P. Gatmaitan
We Won’t Cry About ThisTwo daughters and their mother face the Big C. A poignant insight into the impact of cancer to patients and their loved ones, beyond what we see in the clinic and the hospital ward.
Socorro A. Villanueva
HeartlandBurned out from the ravages of war and helplessness that comes with it, an army doctor is tasked to keep alive a rebel prisoner. Even when there’s little hope for cure—or perhaps because there isn’t any—we find that healing goes both ways.
Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.
Packing for the MoonA father and his daughter need to pack for a trip to the moon. I read this story twice, unintentionally. The emotion I felt at the end, after the second time, was just as intense as when I first read it. You’ve been warned.
Dean Francis Alfar
TouchA nurse finds herself at her father’s bedside. How do we care for people when they’ve scarred us so deeply?
Lakambini A. Sitoy
A Retrospective on Diseases for SaleHere’s what happened when a company decided to sell diseases, instead of cure.
HungerA teenage girl deals with an unusual illness, increasingly frequent hunger pangs, and her “It’s complicated” relationship status. This is speculative fiction, but the adolescent health issues couldn’t be more real.
The ReprieveNobody is immune to disease. Not even doctors. It is a reality we must all face at some point in our careers, and in this story we witness a surgeon struggle as he tries to get back on his feet, grappling with the possibility of defeat.
Susan S. Lara