MANILA — The story of the family of Israel Bactol, a Filipino doctor who died of the coronavirus, is retold in an episode of “Maalaala Mo Kaya” this Saturday.
Bactol, who was 34, was an admirable young cardiologist who dedicated his life to providing healthcare in rural communities.
He was portrayed by Arjo Atayde in the episode —the drama anthology’s first new offering in months, after the pandemic halted production.
It began with a poignant shot of him being treated in a hospital bed due to COVID-19, before going through the early chapters of his life, which saw his brother give up his dreams of becoming a pilot, his parents working hard to provide for him, and him handing out free medicine to his patients as he began his career as a doctor —all of which were movingly captured through a cast led by Atayde and Sylvia Sanchez, as Bactol’s mother.
Bactol was loved, not only for his selflessness but also through his humor.
He was as effective in breaking the ice, as he was convincing when he talked about the need to do more when it comes to healthcare for the poor and those in the country’s fringes, and for better salaries for his colleagues in the medical field.
The only time he lost his emotional coolness as a professional was when his mother called, worried that he had already missed two Christmases with his family because of his job.
This was the episode touching on the sacrifices doctors and nurses make, foreshadowed by Bactol telling his mother that they are like soldiers, fighting to save lives.
They will later on be referred to as “frontliners” against COVID-19, a battle that heartbreakingly cost Bactol’s life. This and the other parts of his story will be told in the second part of the episode, set to air next week.
As the episode aired, people shared their thoughts on Twitter, saying that Bactol’s story should serve as reminder that the lives lost to the coronavirus —including those working to combat it— are more than just numbers, but actual people with “families, hopes, and dreams.”
You can check out the highlights of the episode in the 5 videos below: