Medical-Dental Mission with the Dumagats in San Ysiro, Antipolo, Rizal

On March 10 and 11, 2018, the Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA) co-organized a medical-dental mission for the indigenous peoples and other residents of Barangay Libis, San Ysiro, Antipolo, Rizal.  

For two days ISA worked together with the Advance the Rights of Indigenous People for Self-Empowerment (ARISE), Protect Sierra Madre (PSP), Rotary Club of Kamuning (Dentists), Pirkko & Troytours, Inc., Dr. Reggie Ramos (Medical Doctor), Sr. Flora Llanes, Dumagat Chieftain Ernesto Doroteo and the Redemptorists, who run a mission there.

The medical-dental mission started with the blessing of the Fr. Pete Robb Mission Center named in honor of Fr. Pete Robb, CSsR, a Redemptorist priest who spent many years as a missionary with the Dumagats. Fr. Alex Bercasio, CSsR officiated the blessing assisted by Chieftain Doroteo and Sr. Flora Llanes.

Chieftain Doroteo gave a welcome message while Sr. Llanes gave a short introduction on the medical-dental mission.

Following Dumagat tradition, Chieftain Doroteo initiated the offering of a bonfire to symbolize unity and Wilma Quierez, a Dumagat from Sierra Madre, Quezon, offered the nganga (betel nut) as a symbol of the importance of the event. The Dumagats then shared it with the staff of ISA and other guests, who in turn thanked them for this friendly gesture.  

At 10 o'clock.  ISA staff and other volunteers prepared the medical-dental materials needed for the mission, and attended to the registration and distribution of name tags. They officially started the activity at 11:45 a.m.

Many people lined up and waited patiently for their turn with the medical doctor and dentists inside the Health Center Due to the large number of people who came, the volunteers as well as the patients themselves had a working lunch of sandwiches and packed food sponsored by Pirkko & Troytours, Inc.

While the medical-dental staff was at work, other volunteers spoke with and listened to the stories of the people and played with the children. Still other volunteers distributed toys for the children as well as clothes for the adults.

 At 5 p.m. Day 1 of the medical-dental mission ended. Volunteers then helped prepare a dinner of vegetables freshly picked by the residents of Barangay Libis. To secure the safety of the volunteers, barangay officials guarded the mission center overnight.

On Day 2 (March 11, 2018), wake-up time was 6 a.m. Some volunteers took their morning or walk while enjoying the mesmerizing view and the fresh and cold air. They were touched by the bread and coffee shared by the residents as other volunteers prepared a hot breakfast. 

The Eucharistic celebration started at 8:30 in the morning with Fr. Alex Bercasio, CSs.R  as main presider. Co-celebrant and homilist was Fr. Rico Palaca Ponce, O. Carm., the executive director of ISA, who motored from Manila early morning.

After the mass, Sr. Marissa Macabinguel, Carm.O.L. distributed rosaries to the children of the community.  At around 9:30 am, the medical-dental mission resumed for the villagers who could not come on the first day.

At 11:30 a.m. the volunteers shared a boodle-fight lunch with Dumagats. Everyone enjoyed the food cooked by the hosts. After lunch, the volunteers joined guides to the deep and cold waters of San Ysiro Falls for two hours of swimming before bidding the people of Libis good-bye.

All in all, the mission served a total of 153 patients for medical cases and 45 patients for dental cases services. It proved to be a meaningful and beautiful experience shared by the Dumagats and the ISA staff and volunteers alike, and to exemplify genuine solidarity and love in action.

By: ISA staff