Philippines

Victoria Mercado

Where did you serve?
After a 16 hour flight to Manila, Philippines, we took a one hour flight to Antique, on the island of Panay. We then drove about two hours to finally reach the province of Bugasong. The actual medical mission itself took place at the communal basketball court at the town center where most of the stores and the marketplace were located.
 
Were there any moments of culture shock that really stood out?
With most of my relatives living in the Philippines and being able to visit often with my family, I was already aware of the impoverished conditions found in most of the provinces. However, being on a separate island where the dialect was different from what I was used to, I did have trouble communicating with the midwives I was helping. There was a moment during the medical mission when I kept hearing the midwives ask female patients if they had “bana.” Thinking “bana” was some sort of disease, I asked what it meant—turns out “bana” means husband in Bisaya! The midwife kept laughing at me afterwards.
Although the conditions in which I volunteered in varied greatly abroad versus at home, I did notice that in both cases all the patients were extremely grateful for the help.
 
What organization did you serve with? Does it have a UCLA connection?
I served with Pilipinos for Community Health (PCH) at UCLA, which is a community service organization under UCLA’s Community Service Commission.
 
Why did you choose this organization and location?
Since my first year, I have actively volunteered with PCH. I love how this organization not only helps the greater LA area, but also at the international and student level. It is one of the few organizations on campus I know of that provides continuous volunteering opportunities around LA with weekly hypertension screening sites at Carson and Panorama and quarterly health fairs, and internationally by sending medical supplies and volunteers to the Philippines. It also provides members with helpful career services through a mentorship program and quarterly pre-health panels. By targeting underserved areas, PCH is able to help those who need quality health care the most.

 

What lessons have you learned from your volunteer experience?
During the medical mission, I spent a majority of the time helping patients check in and taking their blood pressure. Although I did not actually help diagnose the patients, the genuine gratitude they showed made me truly feel like I could make a difference no matter where in the world I was or how small it was. Nevertheless, observing the various states of illness the patients were in, and the huge amount of them, I know that one medical mission is not enough. In order to truly help the well-being of the underserved worldwide, preventative measures need to be taken as soon as possible.

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The More You Know

Country Served The Philippines
Number of Languages in The Philippines 185
Service Organization Pilipinos for Community Health
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