Dr. Raquel Fortun is one of only two forensic pathologists left in the Philippines, and she is set to retire soon. That's why she couldn't help but wonder: "What happens after I go?"
In an episode of "The Howie Severino Podcast," Fortun, 59, expressed concern over the future of her profession as not many see it as a career. Thankfully, there's still Dr. Cecilia Lim.
However, Fortun said it is important to have a training program that will encourage and hone students to become forensic pathologists, who are needed in the country.
"We still don't offer forensic pathology fellowships for pathologists, for instance," she said. "We have an elective course which, apparently, is very popular among our medical students but that's about it."
Teaching at the University of the Philippines for years, Fortun said she has witnessed aspiring forensic pathologists come and go.
"Students would profess fascination for forensic pathology, so much that they say they would pursue it but not too many actually did," she said. "One actually left, trained abroad and that's it."
"Typical track is that she found a job somewhere else because there's really no job in the Philippines for a forensic pathologist. Some have pursued other things," she added.
She also finds it puzzling that there seems to be no jobs available in the country when there are a lot of bodies that need autopsies and examinations after death.
"Why the resistance to forensic pathology when the need is really there?" she said. "In other countries, they actually openly recruit forensic pathologists. I actually worked abroad for some time."
"Ang problema sa Pilipinas, hindi yata na-appreciate. Suwerte n'yo nga may dalawa na trained na umuwi. 'Yon ang problema. Ang daming nag-fo-forensic pathology na Pilipino, wala sila sa Pilipinas," she added.
In a previous interview, Fortun and Lim already urged for change in the Philippines' processes.
"You should have a death investigation system where the forensic pathologists actually would fit in. We don't have that system," she said. "Walang mandatory forensic autopsy. It's not defined."
"In many ways, wala pang batas na automatic dapat sa scene palang, maayos na 'yung examination ng katawan, 'yung ebidensya around. How was the body found? Where? Anong suot? All those things."
Having been in the business for years, Fortun also took the time to look back on what makes her do it. Aside from having her aunt as inspiration, she said it's also because of her inquisitive nature.
"If something goes wrong, I wanted to find out why," she said. "Something malfunctions, I take it apart and it's just like an autopsy. You take apart the body and try to find out what went wrong."
"There is excitement that you find answers. I find that gratifying," she added. "Call it weird but maybe my personality is suitable for this kind of work."
The job may be unusual, but Fortun said she does not find it weird and actually enjoy every bit.
"I'm not turned off by the sights and the smell. This is really gross stuff but I know what I'm doing and I trained. Give me a dead body and I would know how to proceed with it," she said.
"I may not have the right answers all the time but at least I know what to do," she added.
—Franchesca Viernes/MGP, GMA News