Manggyan 2005

The PAGTATAP sponsored Medical Mission in Pandan, Antique

April 3-6, 2005

There Is Still Hope
By Mitzi G. Alojipan

I’ve always told curious folks that the Manggagamot Ng Bayan (MANGGYAN) Mission in Pandan, Antique is indescribable. In the four years I’ve been affiliated with MANGGYAN and the three missions I’ve joined as a student volunteer, I’ve learned that each MANGGYAN mission is unique, filled with its own lessons and values to be learned and lived-out constantly throughout life. It is no ordinary mission where things go as planned or scheduled or where there’s this thick existence of hierarchy between doctors, dentists, nurses and student volunteers. It is not like a walk in the park–where charity work meets or doubles as a vacation–no. Most of the time it’s a “war-zone” experience – as my father would often describe it. The MANGGYAN Mission is a survival-test for each volunteer where one is immersed in a life of less luxury, simple joys and fun, equality, and hours of hard work in challenging and not-so-convenient conditions, places and situations. Volunteers learn improvisation, creativity and resourcefulness due to the lack of standard equipment and facilities that most of us are used to [avail of and/or work with]. The most common example I would give here is that of the dental team’s, as this is where I’ve volunteered most of my time in all three missions: We had to substitute Monobloc^(TM) chairs for dental chairs [since there was none] in order to accommodate the multitude of patients lining up under the hot sun. Our spit-bowls were merely pails or garbage cans which had to be emptied-out at the end of the day. Our light source was the sun, and we had to deal with working in such close proximity to each other, that oftentimes dental volunteers were unintentionally spat on by nerve-blocked patients whenever they’d gargle. We had to be creative and resourceful in making things work with the limited means that we had. This is just a bare description of one team in the mission. I know and have heard of more moving stories from the doctors in surgery, ophtha, OB-gyne, pedia, pulmo, cardio, neuro etc. Surgeons operate the whole day; from morning until late afternoon, oftentimes missing meals and rest periods. Consultants have to wait inside a tent under the sun to accommodate patients who’ve waken up extra early, and walked miles and miles just to get medical attention.

When I was asked by Dra. Chari del Rosario to write a narrative of the most meaningful incident that happened to me at the MANGGYAN mission, I knew that I couldn’t single out any. Each day and each experience is, after all, rich with great memories and substance. But, if there’s anything I treasure and have really learned from each mission experience especially that of this 2005 MANGGYAN Mission, it would be the silent yet dynamic message of Hope among the Filipino People.

Hope is actually everywhere. However, given the views of the pessimistic media, chaos-filled government, and other consumer-based matters we are too distracted to find hope, and much more do something to propagate it. I saw Hope in one of its finest shining glories at the MANGGYAN Medical Mission. Hope was present in the people who wanted to be cured. These people who did everything in their own strength to be healed, and become better and stronger individuals physically: bracing the tedious journey to the dilapidated hospital by foot, or the long waiting hours under the shameless sun sometimes without eating, all because of a hope to be healed from their disease and alleviated from their pain. Hope was present with the doctors, dentists, and nurses who gave up a few working days where they could have earned more but chose to be of service to others, free of charge. Hope was seen in the countless hours that volunteers dedicated to healing and accommodating each patient, regardless of environmental conditions or personal inconveniences. Hope was seen in the townspeople, who provide the MANGGYAN team with food and lodging during each mission. Hope is with the friends who donated medicines, toothpastes, toothbrushes and other needs from their own pockets. Hope surrounds us, hidden in the good souls who are part of making positive things, no matter how small, happen.

I’ve always believed that people make a nation work. And I saw the nation, in a small-case scenario, through the MANGGYAN team work with their whole hearts and souls because of a worthy cause. We may have economic instability, governmental chaos and other personal depressions but there is always something to be thankful for. With that said, I am thankful that there are still people out there who become the light to others in the dark by sharing their blessings and by inspiring everyone to believe in a better tomorrow. In a country that is plagued with negativity, I’ve learned that hope lies in each of our hearts with our desire to help and make things better for ourselves and the rest of our fellowmen. There is still Hope, and we are called to share the Hope.