CALAMBA CITY — People who already know what they want to be early in life are not that common. One of those people is the late Dr. Roderick S. Mujer, 44, who was shot on Valentine’s Day as he was leaving the newly opened Global Care Medical Center of Bay where he served as vice president.
Conversations with close relatives, who requested anonymity for this story, paint a picture of a man so dedicated to his medical calling that he did everything he could to make it happen. And they remain in awe of him for not forgetting what mattered: family.
Ever since he was a child, Mujer, who was the only boy and the third among four siblings, already wanted to be a doctor. Whenever he played with his sisters, he would always take on the role of doctor. He would also ask his parents to buy him toy stethoscopes and other toy medical devices.
But Mujer’s father wanted him to become an engineer, as the family had a coco lumber business. At first, Mujer seemed to relent to his father’s wishes, telling his father that he would go into engineering but couldn’t promise to finish it. In the end, he chose to follow his heart. He took up Biology as a pre-medical course at Far Eastern University (FEU) in Manila.
Struggles in the early years
Around 1997 or 1998, Mujer secretly took the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT). When the results were released, a cousin of Mujer’s saw his name on the list of passers and the news reached the family in no time. Mujer’s father was disappointed but he did everything to get his son through medical school.
Mujer took up medicine at FEU-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation in Quezon City in the late ‘90s. As the family business wasn’t enough to cover all the expenses, Mujer often subsisted on cheap canned corned beef and salted egg. He couldn’t afford to buy medical books, so he just borrowed and photocopied them. His oldest sister, who was already working that time, would chip in, and he also received support, financial and in kind, from a few relatives.
One day, Mujer learned that an old photocopy machine near the university was up for sale, as its owner was leaving. With the help of his older sister, he was able to purchase the machine and continued operating it. Mujer used the income to augment his 700-peso weekly allowance.
Helping other people came naturally to Mujer. Even before he started medical school, when he got accepted into the medical program, he and his family organized a free circumcision service in their home as a form of thanksgiving. After finishing his medical degree in 2002, he often participated in medical missions initiated by his fraternity brothers and continued doing it years after, together with colleagues from hospitals he’s been connected with.
Mujer was very approachable. Neighbors who couldn’t afford to go to a doctor would go to him, and some would pay him in kind or were given huge discounts. And sometimes Mujer would check them up for free.
Exemplary family man
Mujer was still in medical school when his father passed away in 1999 and was tasked to take charge of the family from that point on. He was very supportive of his siblings and other relatives, and he was the go-to person whenever they had problems.
At the same time, Mujer was also a disciplinarian. His kids, nephews, and nieces were said to be scared of him as he would scold them when they did something wrong. He would also check on them regularly to make sure that they did well in school.
Mujer often came home late at night because he always did things ahead of time, choosing not to put off what he could immediately do. But despite his busy schedule, he always made time for his family. Every morning, he made sure that he and his family had breakfast together. He would even cancel important meetings so he could attend his kids’ activities in school.
One of his nephews recalls how caring and supportive Mujer was. “He never failed to have time with us kahit na sobrang busy sya running Global hospital. Pag kausap ko siya, hindi ko nakikita na kaharap ko doctor. Parang kaharap ko tunay na tatay ko,” he told Laguna Now. (Laguna Now)