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Who is Ambo? - Husband, Dad, Servant Leader … you decide ...

Born 5th of 7 children on January 6, 1957 in Santiago Isabela from a wonderful housemaker and hardworking farmer. Ray was told that he was a special boy from a young age, surviving his mom’s pregnancy after a series of miscarriages. He was supposed to be named Gaspar from one of the three wise men to commemorate his birth date, however, his dad was against it and named him Renato instead.

During his childhood, Ray was called “Ambo” for the longest time. He was a sickly young fellow growing up. Changing names multiple times is a superstition that Filipinos practice if a child has recurring illnesses. Filipinos believe that a wrong name for a child can cause illnesses or failure to thrive. Changing Ray’s name to “Ambo”, somehow took care of his childhood sickness, and his family, especially his dad used this name for as long as he lived.

From Ray’s account, his childhood was ordinary. No fancy toys, he remembers building his own toys from wood or tin cans. He and his friends played by climbing trees. He remembers that his family owned a bike when he was in 6th grade for everybody to share. He grew up with farm animals such as geese, swans, goats, pigs, and chicken which provided for the Peregrino family’s livelihood.

Both of his parents did not receive a formal education. However, they emphasized the importance of education to their family. They constantly reminded their children that good education is the only thing that they can pass-on to them. His parents touted him as being a hard worker and more so, the “brains in the family”. Although he recalls that early on, he did not start as a boy who would love to go to school. He even confessed to us that there are days that after his dad dropped him off at school, he would turn around and head to home. His mom would later discover him playing in their backyard, and not in school. At that age, playing in his backyard superseded school. However, with his mom’s guidance, he learned that school was more important than playing and it shaped him to be more focus in his schoolwork. He played catcher in baseball while in high school. This is the reason which he attributed for his love for the ASTROS. However, as far as sports is concerned, he will tell you that he would rather read a book than play sports. Sure enough, with his hard work and focused character, he graduated as the class Valedictorian and received a scholarship for college.

Going to college was a different ball game for him. He remembered experiencing a culture shock from attending one of Manila’s biggest campuses. He quickly learned to grow up and work hard to maintain his scholarship. He initially dreamt of being a Medical Doctor, however due to budgetary constraint, he did not pursue it. With the suggestion of his sister, he started with his nursing degree. He shared with us that nursing was not really a profession that he wanted to pursue, however, at that time, he did not have a choice. After a year in nursing, his dad requested him to go back to Isabela due to financial reasons. He re-focused and planned to shift his major to biology to be able to teach college Biology. His mind was still focused on his initial dream, thus the Biology major. Luck and blessings were on his side because “The Medical City opened its extern program and he was admitted to the pioneer class of 1978. This was possible through the generosity of his Auntie Dely (Dr. Adelina Alegado Valencia) who offered him a place to stay during those years. Ray thanks his aunt who he views as one of the strongest person he knows. She became his mentor and role model for hard-work, ethics and life in general. Ray’s sister, Letty, was working in Manila then and helped him makes ends meet. Among his siblings, Letty became his shock absorber during his lowest moments.

He recalls that Nursing School was hard work and he felt that he never got enough sleep. He recalls that he did not have time to socialize and catch up with his friends. He learned to re-focus his thoughts and energy in finding resources for books and school requirements for the upcoming semester. He did not have time to worry about social life nor finding or building a special relationship. Soon, graduation came, with his hard work, he graduated with honors and was awarded with a Bronze medal in academic excellence. He received his accomplishment and recognition with his parents in attendance. Now, Ray is ready to conquer the world, and ready to stop relying on others for financial help, and eager to support himself.

Reality sets in and he found out that practicing as a floor nurse in the hospital was not enough to sustain his personal needs. He switched jobs and became an occupational health nurse at National Media Production Center (NMPC-GTV-4), a government media television. This position offered him an experience that opened doors for his colorful nursing career. He was provided opportunity to travel with the Ministry of Information crew including the Minister of Information. He has fond memories of travelling with the President of the Republic of the Philippines around the country and around the world. He was glad that he finally had the opportunity to give back to his family. He was able send his two younger brothers to school because of that opportunity.

A new opportunity happened in his life when he was recruited to migrate to the United States of America, in Beaumont, Texas. Although it was difficult to leave his government nursing position, he believed that moving to America is another opportunity he wants to try.

He started his work in Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas in 1982 as a Medical Surgical nurse. He worked on the night shift. This schedule did not fit him. He remembered wanting to go back home to Philippines after a month of working. With patience and employer support, he was transferred to evening shift, which was a little more tolerable for him. After about 4 years, he transferred to ER (1986) and eventually became the Charge Nurse then a Flight Nurse for Baptist Hospital’s Air Rescue, a dream job. He learned that Emergency Nursing was his home. Through the years, he gets to experience working in different departments such as Medical-Surgical, ICU, PCU, PACU, Cardiac Rehab and Education. He worked and taught classes in several area hospitals. His diligence and hard work at Baptist Hospital were not unnoticed. He became an employee of the quarter once and have been nominated several times for employee of the year.

Ray believes in education. He always preaches to his students to grab all chances to learn because it increases their caliber as healthcare professionals. He believes in accomplishing beyond what is required and always pushes for his students to get certification. As such, he practices what he preaches. He is the very first Med-Surgical Certified Nurse in the hospital, he obtained a certification in Emergency Nursing and as Paramedic. He believes that his nursing career blossomed because of what he put into it. His love for Nursing is one that has developed through the years. He stated in his own words that “nursing is a rollercoaster of highs and lows; the highs provided enough fuel to get me through my lows.” He loves what he does and wishes to continue doing this for a while.

Ray is also a believer of supporting professional organizations and other civic organizations: Some of the organizations that he is affiliated are as follows”

- Inducted to Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society in 1989

- Secretary and then president of Association of perioperative Nursing

- President of Philippine Nurses Association – Texas Golden Triangle

-Secretary and President of Emergency Nurses Association multiple times

- Texas Delegate to ENA National assembly since 2014.

-Previous board member of Philippine Association of Beaumont, Texas

As busy as it seems, Ray still find life outside the hospital and his nursing career. He is a member of St. Jude Catholic Church; you can listen to him too on other some Sundays when he performs his duties as a lector and commentator. He shared to us that Church was part of the Peregrino family when he was growing up. Ray recalls his fondest memory when his mom gathers all of them to teach church hymns. They were not raised as Catholic, but the Catholic School of La Salette in Ramon, Isabela influenced him in his journey to Catholicism. The whole Peregrino family, especially his dad, believes in going to church together as a family. He remembered that he was already in Beaumont, Texas when he wrote his dad a letter asking for his blessing to be confirmed as a Catholic. He became emotional to relate to us that his dad told him that he does not need approval from him because his dad trusts him that he knows the right thing for himself and his family.

Ray appears to be a very family man. With his narrative, he will always go back to his experience growing up, the difficulties, the hardship and how it shaped him. We asked him about his family. He stated that the best thing outside the hospital is his family. This is what he told us about his family, it will not do justice for us to paraphrase it; from his own words:

“I am married to the most beautiful and amazing woman. She is my present and my future. My family is everything I have. More valuable than any riches of the world. The most memorable times in my life is because of my family. My family is always there in the highest point of my rollercoaster. No words can describe it. Emotions ran high when I married the love of my life Faye. She duplicated it with birth of my Son Josh and again with my daughter Megan. I am a proud father of my kids. I love watching their relationship grow better every day. My daughter always adored her brother and I know they will take care of each other. My wife is an ICU nurse at Baptist Hospital. Being the life of our home, there’s never a dull moment when she is around. Those who know her can attest to that. She is my biggest fan and supporter. I don’t know what I did to deserve her. Such a blessing she is. My son Josh is a perennial student. He gained a degree in Biomedical Science and is now in last semester of his Doctorate Degree in Pharmacy. He completed his MBA as well while in Pharmacy School. My Daughter Megan recently graduated from UT Austin with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering. I will find myself as an accomplished man if I can see to my children how I value the importance of balancing wholesome family life, good work ethics, professional responsibility and church community. “

“My dad is my hero. He did not have much but he tried his best to provide for all of us. And on the other hand, He still manage to help other people. As a government clerk, People comes to our house seeking help. Our house was open before dawn till dark. My father never asked for monetary returns but people brought gifts instead for their appreciation. Because of his helpful nature, he was asked to run for office several times. He taught me his outstanding work ethics at an early age. He taught me that if I wanted something, I have to work hard for it. I tried to raise my kids like how my Dad raised me. My mother on the other hand also deserves recognition on her job well done in raising us.”

“The lowest of my rollercoaster is when my dad whom I adore so much passed away. I couldn’t go to pay my last respect because I was just diagnosed with brain aneurysm. I was scared beyond my wits. It was so difficult to inform my kids about my condition. I almost broke down when my son asked, “Can you die from it”? He was in 5th grade. I don’t know what I said but I know God gave me the words to explain. I held my emotions under control but I was always worried how it affected them. I prayed a lot. I cried in the confines of my office more than I wanted to. Two years later, the lesion was deemed stable. My most regret was being away when my parents needed me the most. I was their nurse but not near to care for them.”

With this brief interview with Ray, he is clearly an epitome of a servant leader. He lived up to his parent’s expectation and his family’s expectations. He is a loving husband to Faye, and a good father to Joshua and Megan.

From his humble beginnings as “Ambo” of Santiago, Isabela to “Renato Peregrino RN, BSN, CEN” of Beaumont, Texas.

On behalf of the Filipino community and PABT, we would like to congratulate you and express our gratitude for being a leader and good role model to our Filipino community and youth. Mabuhay!

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