Philippines: MMM came, saw, and delivered!
Our six-member U.S. team of Michael Smith, Chris Stokesbary, Shea Stokesbary all CPOs[Certified Prosthetist Orthotist], Vince Medina, Pedhortist, Shane Roddy, IT specialist, and myself was lavishly hosted in Palo, Leyte by Flo Villania, MMM International Advisor from Virginia Beach. Her tremendous contacts with Mrs. Imelda Diamante and the humanitarian service organization called Eagles Club led by Ian ‘Borgy’ Diamante were instrumental in the outright support of Palo’s matriarch mayor, the Honorable Remedios ‘Matin’ Petilla whose son, the Honorable Governor Jericho Petilla is the current governor of Leyte province. Her hosting the entire foreign and domestic medical mission teams at the Mayor’s mansion with a sumptuous dinner plus her dancing with many of us was quite a Memorable Magic Moment to savor. Our U.S. team was augmented by the MMM Eyesight 20/20 in-country project chairman, Dr. Chris Buniel, OD who together with his four local optometrist colleagues and his assistants examined and delivered free eyeglasses to 300 patients in 1 1/2 days of clinical work. Our CPOs made 18 castings for the amputees. Over 100 were screened for diabetes. Much to our pleasant surprise, many more patients were helped thru the presence of the military Armed Forces Health Care Team flown in from their station in Cebu City. They did Dental Care[extractions], circumcision, and Medical Consultations on the spot at the sprawling Public Hall with dividers for some sort of privacy.
After a day’s travel by air and land to reach Bayabas, Surigao del Sur in Mindanao for another mission the following day and a half, our Prosthetic team did casting for 15 amputees and Dr. Buniel and his three assistants helped 297 patients see much better. These over 800 patients we have helped within 3 days total clinical work in two far-flung regions of the country with their healthcare needs, may not make a dent to change the needy world, but definitely, it makes a world of change for that every patient.
As customary in our mission trips, a fun R&R happens. Bayabas Vice Mayor ‘Babie’ Garcia-Limbaro and her husband, Jude, treated us to their newly built mini Solomon resort by the town’s outskirts where we participated in the rural pig roasting, beach volleyball, and the carabao[water buffalo] rides by Chris, Shea, and Shane.
On the last evening, May 28th, of our 12-day PH trip, our MMM team together with our in-country partner, Physicians for Peace Philippines Board members were treated to a VIP reception during the 75th Anniversary Charity Gala Fundraiser by the American Association of the Philippines where Doc Montero happened to be one of the five prominent honoree recipients. Best of all, our new U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. MaryKay Carlson together with AAP President, Rick Sobrevinas handed the beautiful plaques. It was an MMM Memorable Magical Moment when she broke the ice on the dance floor, leading everyone to join the fun musical evening. She is truly an asset to Uncle Sam, and am very proud of her personality-badly needed in this troubled world nowadays.
It was exhilarating news to learn of Dr. Ted Herbosa’s appointment by President Marcos, Jr. as our new Health Secretary. Universal Health Care, Philippine style will soon be on the move. Let’s all make it happen!