Where did you serve?
Our first medical mission took place in Bugasong, Antique, Philippines. The Municipality of Bugasong is located in the central part of Antique and has twenty seven districts- sixteen are situated in the lowland areas, eight are upland areas, and seven are located at the coastal areas. Fishing is the primary source of income of the majority of households in the coastal areas, while poultry and livestock-raising are considered an integral part of the agricultural economy of the town.
Were there any moments of culture shock that really stood out?
It was a bit of a surprise for me when I saw for myself that there is no such thing as health insurance in all rural areas like Bugasong, Antique. Here in the US, when people cannot afford health insurance, we can offer them other alternatives. We can refer them to health clinics that provide free or low-cost services in their community. In poor rural communities such as Bugasong, there is only one rural clinic for all 33,560 members of the town. Even when their clinic can provide medical services free of charge, the town’s access to basic health care is often severely limited by the inadequate supply as well as financial barriers. Often times, when the locals seek medications for their illness, the clinic, due to its meager resources, cannot provide the proper medicine that their patients need. If their conditions are critical, most are forced to travel to far away cities to receive treatment and have to struggle to find means to pay for it. This is why all of the people I’ve spoken with only go to the local rural doctor for help when they are severely ill.
What organization did you serve with? Does it have a UCLA connection?
Pilipinos for Community Health (PCH), a UCLA CSC service project, partnered up with the Municipality of Bugasong. Bugasong does not have any association with UCLA.
Why did you choose this organization and location?
PCH chose to work with the Municipality of Bugasong because there is no organization that knows the needs of the population as well as the rules and restriction better than its own local government. Since I had some contacts in Bugasong and seeing that the town is an underserved community with critical needs, we decided to have our first medical mission in this location.
What lessons have you learned from your volunteer experience?
An important thing I’ve learned on this medical mission was how the local town physicians and midwives care for patients with incredibly limited resources. Medicine in a third world country can be a bit of a shock. It shows you how wasteful we can be here in the US. In Bugasong, the people make do with what they have. They are not picky or demanding, and they don’t complain when problems arise. They simply find a solution. It’s great to see how knowledgeable they were at diagnosing – without the extra tests and other technology that we use at home. I hope to take their attitude and resourcefulness with me during my education and beyond.
The More You Know
|Country Served||The Philippines|
|Ratio of Doctors to Patients||1 to 800|
|Service Organization||Pilipinos for Community Health|