Early Monday morning, July 9, when everyone else was supposed to be sound asleep in their bed, people from inside and on the outskirts of Puerto Princesa, Palawan lined up at the city coliseum of Puerto Princesa for the opening of the biggest medical mission in the province. The initiative dubbed “AWR Mega Medical Clinic” ran from July 9-11.
The three-day medical mission, a joint effort of Adventist World Radio (AWR) and LifeSource International Medical Clinics, a humanitarian service associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, aims to give a wide range of free medical services to the Palawan people. Services such as dental care, medical consultation, minor surgeries, optical services, laboratory work ups, pharmacy and counseling are all available to the patients. This clinic is a preliminary event leading towards the “Palawan for Christ” evangelistic meetings which will take place in the City Coliseum from July 13-29. “Palawan for Christ” is part of the greater “Philippines for Christ” movement which will host evangelistic campaigns throughout the country this year.
The evening prior to opening day, those who lived several kilometers away from the provincial capital started traveling towards the City Coliseum in hopes of being first in line to enjoy the privileges of the free medical mission. As soon as the doors opened at 8 a.m., an initial count of 400 patients stepped in to undergo preliminary vital-sign checks.
News about the mega medical clinic spread like wild fire by word of mouth and reached far flung areas. Local media from television, radio and newspapers outlets also extended their assistance in spreading the word to Puerto Princesans.
“We see the enormity of this work, and we know the challenges that are ahead of us,” said Danilo Malabad, president of the Adventist Church in Palawan. “When we realize that we are called to do the impossible work unfolding before us, we can’t help but be more excited to see how everything will work according to His leading,” Malabad added.
Help from Local Media Outlets
Local media outlets from Palawan showed their all-out support in disseminating the information throughout the province. Aside from airing news and announcements regarding the event, local TV, radio stations and newspaper also sent reporters to the press conference to publicize the medical mission. Present during the press conference were reporters from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), DZIP Radyo Palawenyo, DZRH-Palawan, Palawan News, RMN-Palawan, and Repetek, a local newspaper in the province.
“Our media outlets have done an absolutely amazing job in putting this information out the quickest way possible,” said Dr. Lela Lewis, president of LifeSource International Medical Clinics. “This would not have been possible if everyone have not been working all together.”
Lay organizations began promoting the medical mission weeks earlier.
Local Government Unit’s support
The local government unit, led by Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, paid the mega clinic a visit and commended this initiative for its great success and for its gesture of compassion towards the city. Other public servants who graced the medical clinic were city councilors Jimmy Carbonell and Henry Gadiano, who expressed their gratitude to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as well.
During the city hall’s flag ceremony early Monday morning, Bayron said that it is a privilege for Puerto Princesa to be chosen as venue of this initiative.
“We are thankful to the Seventh-day Adventist Church for conducting humanitarian efforts in our city by providing free medical assistance—especially to Puerto Princesans who have health struggles,” Bayron said. “We are thankful that you have chosen our city as a beneficiary of your ongoing commitment to share God’s blessings to the world.”
Dealing with Patients
Pediatrician volunteer, Dr. Terrell French, who is part of the medical team from the US, tells her experience as she dealt with the language barrier.
“It was truly challenging, but when a 12-year-old Filipino girl approached me and said she would help me to communicate with my patients, I knew that moment, she was heaven sent.”
French added that right after the girl extended help, they were able to treat 12 patients in a short time.
Elisa Roda, a US-based nurse who joined the medical mission for the first time, saw how much medical assistance is needed in this part of the world:
“As a youth, given the chance to live with all the comfort you have back home and see how people need such compassion and help in this place, this is really life changing,” Roda said. “This is truly a remarkable experience, knowing that God used you as a channel of healing to others.”
Also present for the medical mission were other Adventist organizations who extended their help in terms of coordination, medical assistance and facilities. Personnel from the North Philippine Union Conference and from Adventist hospitals, and even non-Adventist health care institutions, also lent medical assistance to make this medical mission a success.
Called for Service
“We are a global church, a global church with a global mission. And that is why it has been so special to me,” said Dr. Lela Lewis right after conducting a surgery. “That, to me, says that Jesus gave us a great gospel commission. When we work together, regardless of what part of the world we are coming from, God has great success in store for us,” Lewis added.
After all patients from different wards and departments were tallied, the statistics showed that the Mega Medical Clinic served 8,742 patients in its three days of medical missionary work in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Edward Rodriguez, SSD Communication Department