LifestyleLearning from Filipino resilience and improvisation

Learning from Filipino resilience and improvisation

-

- JAGUAR F-TYPE -spot_img

A few years back, I had the pleasure of being seated beside Chinese General Hospital’s top surgeon, Dr. Jo Qua, during a vegan lauriat at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, hosted in honor of Stephen Huang, executive director of Global Volunteers Affairs of the Tzu Chi Foundation.

Our short tête-à-tête proved to be a very enlightening discussion when he talked about how the early Philippine medical missions (the first one was conducted in 1995) actually became the learning ground not just for the Taiwanese doctors of Tzu Chi Foundation, but other countries’ medical mission teams, as well.

In the beginning, the doctors in Taiwan doubted the capability of the Philippine medical mission team to pull it off. Admittedly, there weren’t enough facilities and resources available, considering the number of patients they had to treat and perform surgeries on, but this did not discourage Dr. Qua, who was overall in-charge of operations of the medical mission (headed by the late Dr. Leh Siu Guan) and the team of volunteers.

Not only did the volunteers donate their time, effort, and services; they also took care of their own transportation and meals to serve on these missions. “All the money donated to the foundation is not used for transport and hotels. The volunteers pay for everything. This is to show people that if you donate money, it will go directly to the patients and the needy. That’s how dedicated the volunteers are, the doctors and nurses,” Dr. Qua explained.

Dr. Jo Qua carrying a child after surgery; Dextrose IVs hanging on ordinary wires; Doctors and nurses carrying patients after surgery;

Pointing to some old pictures in his mobile phone, Dr. Jo Qua showed Asian Dragon the doctors and nurses who participated in the first and succeeding medical missions of the Tzu Chi Foundation in the Philippines.

He showed us some collapsible beds and makeshift medical facilities, doctors doing everything themselves from beginning to end, work normally done by the nurses and technicians.

“This is how primitive our facilities were. We used simple incandescent lamps inside the makeshift operating room area, where we did cataract and hernia surgeries. We used wires to hang the dextrose IV. Another room served as our recovery room, and patients had to be physically carried by the doctors and nurses to the recovery room, just imagine,” said Dr. Qua.

Eventually, Dr. Qua had carpenters improve on the lighting system during their medical mission in his hometown in Daet, Camarines Norte, and they improvised stretchers using the inexpensive “bonbon,” to which two wooden poles were attached on both sides to make transport of their growing number of patients easier and less back-breaking for doctors and volunteers.

The number of patients treated was impressive. “At first we did only surgery. Later on we covered everything, from medicines to pedia and ophtha. In General Santos, we had a total of 7,000 patients; Iloilo, between 5,000 and 6,000 patients. Pila-pila. We would go on a Wednesday, work up to Saturday, and come back on Sunday.  The most number of cases we did in one day was 44 thyroid and 24 hernia surgeries performed by only around 12 doctors. We started 8 am, and finished at one the next morning,” recalled Dr. Qua.

With this, the Philippine medical team proved the Taiwanese doctors wrong, and word got to Tzu Chi’s Master Cheng Yen about the Philippines’ “can do” attitude and accomplishments, despite the lack of support and resources.  “Master Cheng Yen sent their Taiwan doctors to the Philippines to learn from our experience. It also changed their attitude. A lot of countries that experienced disasters were also sent to the Philippines to learn from us,” said Dr. Qua.

Since then, Master Cheng Yen has had a soft spot for the Philippines. Every year since 1996, after the first mission in 1995, Filipinos were asked to go to Taiwan to celebrate the Moon Festival with her, which has now become an annual activity of Tzu Chi.

Dr. Qua credited his participation in Tzu Chi to his late mother, Dionisia Cuquingco Qua. “That’s my mom. She was one of the first few volunteers when they started in Chinese General Hospital, helping the charity patients,” Dr. Qua said, beaming with pride. His mom passed away in 2008, but he continued to actively do volunteer work with Tzu Chi, which has brought him not just to places around the Philippines, but to other countries like Iran, Sichuan, China after the earthquake, Indonesia, and more.

Dr. Jo Qua with his mother Dionisia Cuquingco-Qua; Worker volunteers improvise to make stretchers out of ‘bonbon’ beds.

Everybody is happy in these medical missions. You see all the faces, the volunteers and the patients, they are all so happy—and that’s the best thing,” said Dr. Qua.

And that, indeed, is one great story we are happy to share.

Should you wish to volunteer with or donate to the Tzu Chi Foundation, please call tel. nos. 8732-0001 to 8732-0005 or visit the Tzu Chi Foundation at 76 Cordillera St., cor. Agno St., Quezon City.

Photographs courtesy of Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines

This article originally appeared on Asian Dragon’s October-November 2018 issue, available for order on Facebook and Lazada, or downloadable from Magzter.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest news

HSMA presents powerhouse speakers and panelists at 2nd Sales & Marketing Summit

Focused on helping tourism and hospitality professionals become better equipped to meet market challenges and build better relationships across...

Something for every Dad

City of Dreams Manila’s delights for Dad City of Dreams Manila is unwrapping exceptional Father’s Day exclusives to celebrate their...

First Atkins expands operations in Cavite Technopark

First Atkins Holdings Corp. (FAHC), the parent company of one of the leading figures in the wholesale and retail...

Boracay’s OG Japanese restaurant turns 17

HAMA, Boracay's top Japanese restaurant, celebrates its 17th birthday, as it continues to proudly offer a unique blend of...
- Advertisement -spot_img

BPI unveils special activities for its 3rd Sustainability Awareness Month in June

The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is gearing up for the third edition of its much-anticipated annual Sustainability...

LG TVs illuminate ‘Spoliarium’ at National Museum of Fine Arts

LG Electronics, a global leader in technology and innovation, proudly announces its partnership with the National Museum of the...

Must read

Color theory

It’s all about hue! Bright colors and monochromatic tones...

Why there’s much to love in the Philippines

A FEW years ago, my family and I took...

Overcoming my cell phone addiction

I must confess: I had become a cell phone...

A rebel to clean up Customs

If former rebel general and subsequent political prisoner Danilo...

Consumed by good food

“My name is always a conversation starter,” says Eric...
- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_imgspot_img