US-based Pinoy doctors bring back bayanihan spirit in N. Vizcaya
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Around 200 volunteers from the United States, most of them Filipino doctors, have come back to the country to render free medical services and bring back the spirit of “bayanihan” (teamwork) to their provincemates here.
The doctors, members of the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California (PMSNC) on Jan. 19 kicked off the five-day medical mission “Gawad Lunas 2009”, aiming to provide free medical services to around 10,000 residents of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Ifugao, and southern Isabela.
“Our group was convinced that it’s about time the health mission comes to Nueva Vizcaya because there is really a great need of free medical services, especially from our poor people,” said Dr. Marlene Mendoza-Cordero, PSMNC program director.
The PSMNC is an organization of Filipino doctors that has been providing yearly charitable health services to various provinces in the Philippines and in northern California since 1995, Cordero said.
Activities like the medical missions to the Philippines have allowed members to enhance camaraderie among its members, who are not only US-based Filipino doctors but also American medical practitioners, she added.
But the mission in Nueva Vizcaya would not have been possible had it not been the strong spirit of volunteerism and partnership among various sectors in the province, Cordero said, who have taken on the responsibility of hosting what organizers described as the biggest medical mission in the province’s history.
This year’s PSMNC event here brings together the voluntary efforts of local governments, private companies, non-government and civic-oriented organizations in the province, who contributed their personnel, facilities, resources for the medical mission.
“Tulong-tulong talaga, bayanihan. Hindi mangyayari ito kung hindi nagtulungan ang lahat (It’s very much like the bayanihan spirit. This would not happen if it were not for the help of various sectors,” said Jonel Mendoza, president of Batch 80 alumni association of Saint Mary’s College High School, which spearheaded groundwork for the activity.
“Bayanihan” is a Filipino term used to refer to a common tradition in towns where community members volunteer to help a family move to a new place. The word has since evolved to mean a united effort by members of a community to resolve their common problems.
From Jan. 19 to 23, “Gawad Lunas 2009” will offer free consultation, surgery, medicines and health counseling to residents from the four provinces, mainly those coming from the upland communities belonging to various tribal groups.
The group aims to attend to 2,000 residents daily for the next five days, and conduct surgical operations on 500 patients, Mendoza said.
As early as 7 a.m. Monday, patients from as far as upland Santa Fe town trooped to the Saint Mary’s University’s gymnasium here for free consultation and screening services.
“Ginundawayak ti immay ta libre kano ngarud, ta sikami nga marigrigat ket awan met kuartami nga pagpaagas isu nga mangnamnamakami lattan iti kakastoy nga medical mission (I took the opportunity to come over because poor people like me do not have money for our health needs; we just rely on medical missions like this one,” said Teresa Mangaccat, 63.
Others have enlisted themselves for surgeries at the government-owned Veterans’ Regional Hospital here, the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Hospital in Bambang town and the PLT College Inc- Luis A. Tiam Medical Center (LATMC) in Solano, also free for the patients.
“It is quite heartwarming because even (LATMC) is allowing us to use two of its operating rooms for this mission free of charge, the only privately-owned hospital to have done so,” Mendoza said.