- August 01, 2021 12:58
By Ma. Emilia Nicole Bertulfo and Maria Leonora Roja
Envisioned in 2014, the Filipino-Kiwi Hero awards aim to highlight and inspire continuous excellence among migrant communities in their respective fields who have flourished and thrived in their new environments.
The Filipino community is by beyond leaps and bounds the quintessential definition of rendering genuine service with love, dedication, and compassion. Conquering and adapting into a foreign land may spark cultural alienation and homesickness but the presence of Kiwi-Filipinos, colloquially called ‘Kiwipinos’ plays a pivotal role season after season, year after year in their second home.
Raising the banner of pride and badge of honor to the Filipino community is Arby Manalansan, a BS Nursing alumnus batch 1994 of the green and gold community. His work ethics and undoubted excellence stood among the tallest after being hailed as the 2021 Filipino-Kiwi Hero Outstanding Healthcare Professional during this year of an unprecedented global pandemic.
As the former President of the Filipino Nurses Association of New Zealand and currently the youngest Chief Executive Officer of MA Healthcare Group Limited with four facilities in the country, he owes this triumph and success to his family as his primary source of inspiration. More so, he extends and shares this victory to every individual whom he meets and crosses paths with in his everyday journey of life.
“I think I am more inspired by the people around me.. I always share with other people and that's how it should be – you'll be happy for the success of others at ikaw din dapat i-share mo yung blessing tsaka yung success mo kasi nagiging mas maganda yung biyahe ng bahay kung meron kang (you should share this success to others because it makes the journey more beautiful if you have the) mission in life which is to help other people,” he explained.
Embodying the true marks of a full-blooded Tamaraw
Far Eastern University (FEU) is known to be the home and heart of the brave Tamaraws and Manalansan is a clear representation of the University’s resiliency mantra.
With FEU core values intact in his mind and heart, Manalansan nurtured an inner sense of being a fighter and advocate for his fellow nursing students. This admirable strength of character and profound moral courage was fostered at such a young age during his college years. He carried this embedded fortitude with all his might despite life’s biggest hurdles and tribulations in his career path.
Reminiscing Manalansan’s struggles back to 2007 when he first landed a job in New Zealand in the colorectal surgeon ward, he recollects horrifying memories of bullying and remembers his poor self-esteem in a sea of crème de la crème healthcare professionals with an added factor of living and surviving on his own in an estranged, foreign country.
“Narealize ko na nagpapasalamat nga ako sa mga taong, people who don’t believe in me, kasi kung hindi dahil sakanila, siguro I won't be where I am now, Kasi sila yung reason kung bakit talagang nagpursigi ako and I have to make sure that I have to prove to them that I am better than what they think. (I realized that I need to thank even the people who didn’t believe in me because if it weren’t for them, maybe I won’t be where I am now. They are the reason why I persevered because I have to make sure that I have to prove to them that I am better than what they think),” he voiced out.
Trailblazing clinically equipped nurses with a heart
With his steadfast fuel of determination and drive to ensure competency and proficiency in the nursing field, part of the plans he envisions and dreams as his legacy is to buy a school where he can teach and develop adept and abled nurses, and to build a bureau agency for placement which would deploy nurses and caregivers for the day to aid hospitals and promote healthcare assistance.
“I want to leave a legacy na ako yung Filipino na nag-develop ng good nurses kasi yung success ko naman ay success ng lahat… Ang importante they will thank me kasi alam nila na I've done a favor to them. (I want to leave a legacy that I am the Filipino who developed good nurses because my success is the success of others as well…The most important thing is they will thank me because they know that I’ve done a favor to them),” Manalansan shared.
Striving for nursing excellence
In line with this, Manalansan shared his sentiments about the worsening situation of Filipino nurses in which they continue to struggle for the long-delayed salary increase here in the Philippines. The outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) broadened everybody’s perspective about the vital role of nurses in our society, but they are still eminently underpaid. Although he recognizes the hardships of Filipino healthcare workers, he emphasized that pay rise cannot be given easily due to the economic condition and political climate of the country, and additional factors like efficiency and competency in the workplace.
“Importante kasi pag nakikipaglaban kayo, you also have the right tools. Mahirap kasi sa mga kababayan natin, we’re looking at salary without checking on ourselves, without basically checking how competent we are (It is important that when you fight [for your rights], you also have the right tools. What’s difficult with our countrymen, we're looking at salary without checking on ourselves, without basically checking how competent we are,” he stressed.
Indeed, Manalansan values knowledge and is passionate to hone proficient nurses that are ready to face any adversities because professional war is evident in this field; you need to excel to be able to be recognized especially for those who wish to work overseas.
The commitment, aptitude, and determination of Manalansan brought him to the journey he is taking now, and the title he currently holds serves as a reminder that we are capable of breaking the ceiling in the healthcare industry overseas. After all of his accomplishments, the significant part of his prospering career is his eagerness to share his years of expertise with others. Despite every challenge he endured, his dedication to nursing prevails, and he will keep on believing that it would resonate to all the current nursing students and medical front liners, most importantly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
To be a beacon of hope amid the pandemic is a huge responsibility that was given to him both for the Kiwi-Filipino community and the citizens in his home country; but with his love for his chosen vocation, he deserves to be perceived as an inspiration to many aspiring health-allied workers. The present health crisis gives the spotlight to our unsung heroes like Manalansan who are prepared to go the extra mile to help people from different walks of life. Vigorous service and unparalleled excellence is the legacy he wishes to leave as a respected healthcare provider.
“Being a nurse is such an amazing career. And it's rewarding kasi alam mong instrumento ka ng Diyos to help other people… Yung pandemic na 'to, it gives us an opportunity to analyze or look inside your heart. In reality, nursing is gonna get worse, nursing is going to be in demand. You have to be more compassionate than anyone else (Being a nurse is such an amazing career. And it's rewarding because you know you are God's instrument to help other people… This pandemic gives us an opportunity to analyze or look inside your heart. In reality, nursing is gonna get worse, nursing is going to be in demand. You have to be more compassionate than anyone else),” Manalansan ended.
(Photo Courtesy of Arby Manalansan)