“Mahal ko na ang sarili ko”
How to quit smoking: Self-determination and love for oneself
”Binalik ko yung love ko sa sarili ko. At kung love ko yung sarili ko, love ko rin yung surroundings ko.”
For the 53-year-old Emily Bulacan, who has been smoking for 26 years, it only took self-determination and love for herself to stop the habit. Emily started smoking heavily at age 27, and although she does not consider herself as a chain smoker, she still consumed 15 cigarette sticks a day.
She is an aerobics instructor and a resident of Brgy. 662, the adopted community of Manila Doctors Hospital (MDH) where the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) heads the Hospital’s community health program FORGE (Fostering Oneness Responsibility Growth and Empowerment). She is also active in the community and serves as one of the barangay health workers.
Emily admits that she received constant encouragement from Brgy. Captain Teresita Sikat and DFCM doctors to stop smoking, to which she always replied with “Hayaann’yo, titigil din ako. Dadating tayo diyan, pero hindi pa ngayon.”
What changed her mind was the realization that she was not practicing what she was teaching. “Smoker ka tapos barangay health worker ka, nagtuturo ka pa ng aerobics. Na-realize ko talaga na nakakahiya.”
She was also encouraged by the seminars that the DFCM regularly conducts in the community about health and diseases and the group they formed in the community against smoking called “Sagip Baga”.
“Everytime na may seminar kami lalo na tungkol sa smoking, na-realize ko bakit kailangan kong sirain yung sarili ko diba? Nakalimutan ko for how many years ang sarili ko, so time na para mahalin ko ang sarili ko,” she said.
During a home visit interview in 2013, Emily remembered being asked when she will stop smoking, and she replied with “Sa December 2014.” And since then, in every seminar that she was attending, and when being asked if she has already stopped smoking, she always replied with “Hindi pa.” That answer has been changed in the last seminar when she replied with “Oo, mag-stop na ako.”
And true to her word, she quit smoking on December 28, 2014.
“Sabi nga nila na napakalakas daw ng determinasyon ko, kung ano yung sinabi ko na date, yun daw yun,” Emily narrated. “Bukod sa nahihiya ako sa mga tinuturuan ako, binalik ko yung love ko sa sarili ko. At kung love ko yung sarili ko, love ko rin yung surroundings ko. At nakatipid pa ako.”
What’s remarkable was that she has not experienced any withdrawal symptoms that people who have tried to stop smoking claimed. She even said that she has no longer have cravings to smoke a stick even if people around her smokes.
“Kasi siguro ang determinasyon kong i-i-stop, ini-stop ko na. Kasi sa isang tao, pag ginusto mo, gusto mo. Pag ayaw mo, ayaw mo. So noong nag-stop ako, gusto ko,” shared Emily.
DFCM Chair Dr. Elmer Angus said that Emily’s active lifestyle and being engaged in aerobics helped her in diverting her attention from her old habit. Others had a hard time quitting because they lack diversion. He recommends having a very active healthy lifestyle and strong determination to those who want to quit smoking.
After four months of quitting, Emily noticed that she now cough less and her breathing becomes easier. Since then she has been eating healthy foods and believes that exercise has helped her a lot.
With a success story about herself, Emily is already encouraging two fellow barangay residents to stop smoking.
She only has one thing to say to those who wish to quit smoking. “[Sabihin lang nila sa] sarili nila na kaya nila. Kung kaya ko, kaya nila. At kapag kinaya mo, alam mo na mahal mo ang sarili mo at mahal mo ang paligid mo.”
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The Sagip Baga campaign is only one of the activities that DFCM conducts in Brgy. 662 as part of the health program that offers holistic preventive and curative health interventions. The program is also preparing the adopted community to have independent and sustainable health projects.