May 27, 2017 02:59 AM PST
SINCE 2007

Villar’s comments anger FilAm nurses


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For weeks now, social media has been buzzing over recent statements made by Philippine senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar, which Filipino nurses found condescending or even downright demeaning.

Villar, a former three-time congresswoman from the lone district of Las Pinas City, said the controversial comments during a one-on-one interview with Winnie Monsod  which aired over GMA's "Pagsubok ng mga Kandidato (Sizing Up the Candidates).

"Actually hindi naman kailangan ng nurse ay matapos ng BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Kasi itong ating mga nurses, gusto lang nilang maging room nurse, sa America or other countries, parang mag-aalaga. Hindi naman sila kailangan maging ganoon kagaling," said Villar in response to a question by Monsod about the congresswoman's alleged intervention in favor of nursing school owners that resulted in the non-closure of substandard nursing schools in 2005.

Villar has been lambasted in the comment threads on various posts on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Nurse Edel Pimentel of Potomac Valley Wellness and Rehabilitation Center posted on Facebook: "It's sad that this misinformed politician is belittling the accomplishments and hard work of the outstanding nurses all over the world."


In the Metro DC area, Filipino nurses are keeping their heads up high despite Villar's insensitive remarks.

Nurse Jeanette Calahong Abella said, "Rather than being furious of Cynthia Villar's insensible and mindless comments about the Filipino nurses, I am more embarrassed and ashamed of her ignorance. I am sure that her words will ricochet back at her and destroy her."

Maricris Mayor, a critical nurse at Howard County hospital agrees, "For me, we Filipino nurses are highly educated professionals.  We should not just give in to her narrow mindedness or to her ignorant opinion. We are better than this."

Abella, a neonatal nurse at MedStar Health said, "Contrary to what she said, nurses should be smart, competent and proficient and that means that we should have a good foundation. A good foundation comes from our training in school, good accredited schools."

"We, Filipino nurses are known and recognized for being compassionate and very skillful. As a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse, I constantly study and train. I teach parents' families and coworkers all the time, Abella stressed. "So I totally decry and underrate what Cynthia Villars claimed that nurses should not be that good. People with that kind of mentality and disposition are not meant to be leaders."

Liza Bennet of Washington Adventist Hospital defended the caregivers saying, "Being a room nurse is not something that other people need to look down on. Before they can apply to be caregiver, they also need to pass a nursing board exam. If you passed the nursing board, then you deserved to be one.

Jessica Cassidy of Virginia minced no words as she questioned both the wisdom and propriety of Villar's remarks.

"Does she know that Filipino nurses are hard workers and Filipinos in general, too?," Cassidy said. "I am not a nurse by profession but I work in a nursing home and see many people who are simply incomparable when it comes to patient care. Shame on her," she said.

In response to the criticisms, Villar recently apologized to the Philippine Nurses Association for the remarks that earned the ire of nurses everywhere.

"I truly am sorry for having offended the feelings of your members. It was never my intention to belittle anyone, least of all, the valiant members of the nursing profession," she wrote.

However, some members of the nursing profession are not buying her apologies.

"It doesn't seem real, parang namumulitika lang," Delaware-based Lito Caguliran said.

Abella, on the other hand, said she's heard about Villar's apology but has not had time to see and read it.

"It's just right and proper for her to apologize. She owes us that but I would still not vote for her, knowing her mentality," Abella said.

Abella then offered an unsolicited advice for the billionaire politician. "Maybe she should do something, something that would make nursing and nursing schools better--not trash it like [she did].”

Villar explained that the "lack of time and the complexity of the issue" prevented her from giving a "clear and concise" answer.

"What I was trying to say during that media forum was that nursing students affected by a CHED closure order several years ago deserved concrete and better career and academic options other than just an abrupt closure of the institutions that they were currently enrolled in," she said.

She also appealed to Filipino nurses and nursing students not to judge her based on a comment made under extreme time pressure.

"Mahirap po talagang pagkasyahin sa loob ng isang minuto at kalahati ang lahat ng gusto kong sabihin tungkol sa mga naging problema ng mga mag-aaral ng nursing noon at hanggang ngayon. Napakalaki ng aking paghanga sa mga nurses, saan man sila naglilingkod kaya't nalulungkot ako dahil nagkulang ang aking pagpapaliwanag. (It's really difficult to explain in one and a half minutes what I wanted to say regarding the problems of nursing students. I have the highest regard for nurses wherever they are, and I am sorry I fell short in my explanation)," Villar said.

Villar was part of a legislative oversight committee that asked CHED not to close the nursing schools because of lack of tertiary hospitals where the nurses could train.