Healing with kindness and positivity

Dr. Enrique Amar Tayag, or Doc Eric, is an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist who has served as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Health for the last 34 years. He was one of the three awardees of the Gawad Career Executive Services in 2017 as Bureau of Local Health Systems Development Director for his exemplary and dedicated service and significant contributions, loyalty, integrity, and overall work ethic.

Known as the DoH’s “Dancing Doctor,” Dr. Tayag’s medical expertise was tested in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic when he spearheaded the government’s vaccine drive to combat the deadly virus.
He believes that the challenges Filipinos face today is how to overcome feelings of uncertainty about the future and how to conquer our fears because we do not know everything about the disease.

“When we blurt out que sera, it is not being cavalier about the disease; it is really about softening the edges of our anxiety and helplessness,” Dr. Tayag said. “I remember that when my brother Manuel died, I felt that I did not do enough to save him and that I failed my beloved mother who is now 89 years old. The challenge was not simply about coping with sadness — it was about facing an uncertain future without him.

Photograph courtesy of fb/TEPHINET
Dr. Enrique Amar Tayag, DoH’s ‘Dancing Doctor.’

“But I am now calmer, thinking of how he now looks over us and guides us to a bright future.”

Dr. Tayag is a dutiful and caring son to his mother Milagros who, in her old age, remains an inspiration as she lives life to the full, attends socials in lovely clothes, and greets everyone with her warm smile. She continues to care for her family and other people and likes to prepare delicious meals.

Dr. Tayag wants to be remembered as someone who strives to make a great difference in the healthcare and wellbeing of Filipinos, no matter what it takes, and with respect for diversity, equity, inclusivity, and honor. “When I am gone,” he mused, “I would like to hear people say, ‘Yes, he was different but he stayed around for us, never leaving us alone until we were well.’ “

Dancing to upbeat music is therapeutic for Dr. Tayag who constantly aspires to communicate joy and happiness by spurring people to follow his lead, creating ripples of laughter among those who dance with sheer abandon.

Dr. Tayag defines being a hero as someone who does even the smallest things that create hope and positivity and help change lives forever. “I go out of my way every day to help others even when unsolicited, and even when what I do is unrecognized,” he says, “because I know deep in my heart that I did good no matter what others say or think.”

Dr. Tayag also believes in persuading people to think of options, not solutions, so that they are able to think hard for themselves. “Each time I can make this happen, I believe I am already a hero.”

As he tirelessly shares his knowledge of healthcare with everyone, Dr. Tayag wants the world to be a better place for as many people as he is able to touch, influence, and reach out to. “Life is beautiful despite the hardships and difficulties one encounters,” he asserted. “I believe that even small things count in a big way when we do things not for anyone’s sake but because it is the right thing to do under certain circumstances.

“Whenever I share knowledge, I serve people with a purpose and trust is gained. Having trust inspires me to serve people even better each time. Books surround me but life’s experiences are my greatest teachers.”

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