LOS ANGELES – This year, the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Alumni Association in America (UERM –MAAA) and UERM Medical Alumni Association in Southern California (UERM – MAASC) sponsored and organized the annual medical mission and relief operations on Feb 5- 15, 2014, intended to help the victims of typhoon Yolanda and indigent children and their families in the Philippines.
The group started its humanitarian mission at Municipality of Kananga, Province of Leyte, and then proceeded to Lucena, and Coron, Palawan. They provided medical care to more than 2500 patients and distributed relief goods to 1,765 families, and conducted a gift-giving and feeding program for 100 indigent children in La Union on Feb. 5-6.
The mission is now becoming an annual project to the Philippines and focuses on serving the indigent children and families from underserved and neglected communities, including victims of disasters and calamities. Spearheading the success of the 2014 humanitarian mission are Dr. Edgar Bañez, Overall Team Coordinator and Past President of UERM MAASC; Dr. Neda Ballon-Reyes, UERM MAAA National President; Dr. Tarcisio Diaz, President of UERM MAASC; Art Banez, Local Mission Team Coordinator; and Pedro Ramirez, Team Coordinator for Relief Operation and Director for MHAP Center at St. Vincent Medical Center.
Dr. Bañez describes the missionary work in Kananga, Leyte on February 7-9 as “a very ambitious and grueling schedule. We had problems but we were able to overcome and we survived. Adults and pediatric patients were seen separately and pharmacy was set up to augment the patient’s prescribed medicines. Depression, insomnia and nightmares blamed on typhoon Yolanda were some of the complaints along with uncontrolled HTN with a systolic Blood Pressure of more than 200 mm HG. URI’s, dermatitis and musculoskeletal complaints were also common and we heard a lot of stories of devastation and death. We hope we had provided a glimmer of hope to everyone we saw. We ran short of medicines but we were able to get some from local Pharmacy in Ormoc City which is thirty minutes away. We got lucky; we had enough medicines until the last patient was seen. On the third day of mission to Kananga, a relief distribution was conducted providing school bags, mats, towels, plates, bowls, glasses including spoons and forks to 1000 families. We had an early lunch and there was no rest, the group proceeds to Tacloban to catch the 4:30 pm flight back to Manila. From the NAIA domestic terminal in Manila, we were picked up by the bus sent by Bishop Emilio Marquez of the Archdiocese of Lucena and we arrived at Bahay Pare in Lucena, Quezon before midnight.”
On Feb. 10-11, the mission team attended to more than 1,000 patients consisting of mostly adults at Bahay Pare. As a result of spearheaded actions by Bishop Marquez and his staff, were able to perform major and minor surgeries. The Bishop also hosted the group sumptuous meals and lodging accommodations for two days. On Feb. 12, the group proceeded to Coron, Palawan where approximately 850 patients were attended to. At least 765 families living in Barangay Cabugao, Lilian and Banuang Daan received relief goods. The Tagbanuas (natives) in Coron also received school bags, sleeping mats, towels, pales and grocery items. “We made them smile, we hoped it made a difference. And the 2014 Medical/Surgical Mission was officially over. We thank our Lord for giving us the opportunity to serve, make the lives of others a little better, and make a little difference in this world one family, one barangay at a time,” Dr. Bañez added.
The local partners, Kananga Municipal Mayor Elmer Codillo, Bishop Marquez, and Coron Municipal Vice Mayor Jim Pe, on behalf of their constituents were so thankful and grateful to this timely mission that benefits thousands of underserved individuals, including the recent victims of Typhoon Yolanda. The local officials and the bishop provided their full assistance and support to the mission team most especially their safety and security. Also, special acknowledge to Ms. Katheryne Paguio who sponsored the team gift giving and feeding program for indigent children of Sococ Elementary School in La Union.