A "Roots and Wings" inspired story
by Agnes Santos
Have you ever started a project so small that eventually have evolved into something immense, positive, helpful, and has huge impact? The Bankers Institute of the Philippines (BAIPHIL) Annual Medical Dental & Surgical Mission (Mission), BAIPHIL’s Corporate Social Responsibility action is one such success story.
A small group of Bayambangueños, most of whom have already left their hometown to spread their wings to distant places, conjured up a noble way to give back to their roots, through a Medical Mission. Working through their individual spheres of influence, that is, the new roots they have grown in their respective work environment - work, organizations, relationships, connections, etc., founded BAIPHIL and the SM Foundation, Inc. (SMFI) as the complementary Champions for their vision.
BAIPHIL through its Special Projects Committee (SPC) spearheaded its Mission in Bayambang, Pangasinan in 2008, in a makeshift Clinic under the robust mango trees at a farm in Barangay Asin, offering free medical consultations, X-ray, tooth extraction, circumcision, medicines and vitamins to patients from depressed areas. Despite a meager budget, augmented SMFI’s free medicines, the maiden Mission was an instant success.
As the Mission services expanded, BAIPHIL stepped up to hold fund raising activities like: Movie Premier, Chorale Competition, Street Dance Contest, Silent Auction of artworks, and sale of member donated pre-loved items. Sponsorships and sale of the BAIPHIL Coffee Table Book contributed to support the Mission and other outreach activities.
Over the years, the Mission attracted new donors and volunteers including returnees to their roots wantingto serve and support outreach projects to improve the lives of the underprivileged and marginalized. Donations from individual and corporate BAIPHIL members, friends, relatives, and a foundation poured in.
Last June 3, 2023, BAIPHIL SPC held its 13th annual Mission, providing medical services: medical consultation, dental services, circumcision, optical, X-Ray, laboratory tests and ECG. Snack food and hygiene products distributed. Participants were BAIPHIL contingent including two Balikbayan doctors from Australia, RHU, LGU Bayambang, Kasama Kita Sa Barangay Foundation, and Niña Cares. Total medical services reached over 1,500 rendered to around 900 patients. The event was indeed very successful.
Looking through the eyes of the two balikbayan physicians who came to revisit their roots and share their God- given talents to serve low- income communities, they have these to say:
“The availability of screening blood work was useful, as was the onsite X-ray facility. The Mission formulary was both extensive and generous, for both adult and pediatric patients and patients were supplied with 1-month prescribed medication.” -Dr. Ruby Brillante, Pulmonologist
“The local community showed a lot of heart and despite the challenges of logistics and economic strife, many volunteers gave their time and skills, making the Mission possible. I saw the heart of Bayambang in the organizers, the medical and non-medical volunteers, ancillary staff, and most of all, in the patients who were prepared to travel to have their medical treatment optimized, and symptoms treated.”
“Seeing so many people working with and for one another, relying on the generosity of a few benefactors, made me realize how much is taken for granted in Australia. The heart shown during the Mission breathed a new life into the way I practice medicine, and I know I will be looking back to it, as a trigger for renewed passion at work.”
Dr. Grace Brillante, Cardiologist
In reference to a cancer patient, “The pragmatic approach by the people of Bayambang in the face of morbidity and mortality gave me equipoise. As I reflected on their limited options, I cannot help but admire how they have accepted their fate and moved on with life. I admire their faith that the Lord has a plan and whatever the outcome, it will be okay.”
“Debilitating diabetes and its complications resulting from the excesses of life (e.g., too much food, alcohol, smoking) was difficult. Most are at the junction of their health when, if they adopt lifestyle modifications, they may yet be able to avoid the trajectory towards certain premature morbidity and mortality which is the path they are walking into if they do not change. Sadly, for most of these people, change is just too hard as life itself already poses so much difficulty and their excesses provide the escapism and comfort they seek.”
“I was given a glimpse of the lives of the marginalized and underprivileged and the hope and determination they have in rising up, step by step, hand in hand, together, towards a better future. Thank you for letting me serve you. It has been a privilege and honour.”
We, in BAIPHIL, look forward to more volunteers, donors and sponsors joining the annual Mission, to sustain quality health services and find ways to address more serious health issues. We enjoin everyone to flex their wings, look back, and give back to their roots.