No. of :

No. of Shares:

Currently viewed by: Marcus Rosit

Fil-Am doctors hold surgical mission in Eastern Samar

Becoming a doctor demands a great deal of patience and tenacity, on top of the intense schooling, continuous training, and hectic schedule that are the bare minimum requirements of this noble profession. 

That is why, for the compassionate men and women who dedicate themselves to finding cures, restoring health, and saving lives, becoming a doctor is not just practicing a profession but a calling.

Dr. Rolando Mendiola’s calling extends beyond the hospital, his clinic, and even the classroom, as he and his team of surgeons reached out to underprivileged patients back in their home country through surgical missions.

Dr. Rolando Mendiola checked a patient after an operation procedure. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Marcelino Libanan's Facebook page)

The Society of the Philippine Surgeons in America (SPSA), chairperson on surgical missions and expert in laparoscopic surgery, shared that his first surgery in his hometown, Catbalogan, Samar, in January 2006 left a lasting impact on his calling as a physician. 

After the surgery was done, we usually make rounds the next day before our next cases are done, and I went to see that patient who had thyroid surgery. I was walking towards her, and she was trying to get out of her bed, and when I came to the bedside, she knelt in front of me and kissed my hands,” the doctor recalled.

I will never forget that. To me, that is everything, so I told my wife that from now on, I'll be coming to the mission no matter what. No matter how busy I am, I will go back to the Philippines to do the mission,” he added. 

Mendiola works in a 250-bed hospital, operating on an average of 500 surgeries a year, making him a sought-after surgeon in Milwaukee. 

Money is not the only thing in life. The appreciation of the patients is more than enough,” Mendiola said. 

Medical missionaries

In the 1950s, the United States was greatly depleted of physician manpower. Thus, the US Exchange Visitors’ Program was introduced to fill the gap. The program offered various tempting incentives, such as training in US hospitals and university medical centers, including the fly-now-pay-later plan. 

With this, hundreds of Medicine graduates from the Philippines responded to the open gate of opportunity, and from then on, most hospitals in the US have Filipino interns, residents, and nurses on their staff.

The team of surgeons of the Society of the Philippines Surgeons in America (SPSA) with Marian June Libanan-Ganzon, 4Ps Party-list Political Affairs Officer. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Marcelino Libanan’s Facebook page)

In 1972, these physicians formed the Society of the Philippines Surgeons in America (SPSA) with the initial goal of establishing an annual continuing  medical education seminar for practicing Philippine-American surgeons in the United States, which then evolved to include postgraduate scholarship in the US for graduating surgical residents in the Philippines and, of course, humanitarian services to the underserved communities back in their home country, the Philippines. 

Mendiola further shared that the mission has been going on since the mid-1980s, serving thousands of Filipinos annually, except during the COVID-19 pandemic years. 

Mission accomplished

Made possible by 4Ps Partylist Representative and House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan and the provincial government of Eastern Samar, the team operated over 560 patients in Eastern Samar from January 22 to 25, 2024.

Among the surgical operations are hernia removal, large lymphoma removal, cholecystectomy, epidermal cyst removal, cleft lip operation, dental operations, and more. 

Before the mission, an initial screening in the 23 municipalities of Eastern Samar onNovember 20-30, 2023, and a surgical screening on December 6-15, 2023, were conducted, with an initial target of only a hundred patients. 

However, due to the province's high medical and surgical needs, the target was already met on the first day, and walk-in patients were catered to. 

Libanan expressed his gratitude to the SPSA surgeons, the provincial government of Eastern Samar through Gov. Ben Evardone, the medical workers in Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital, and the volunteers who made the mission possible.

“Sana ang ating mga SPSA surgeons ay hindi magsawa sa pagtulong sa ating bayan, at ako po ay muling umiimbita sa inyo, na pagkatapos po nito, kung may oras pa kayo, ay bumalik po kayo sa Eastern Samar para mas marami pang pasyente ang ating matulungan (I’m hoping that our surgeons will never get tired of helping our country, and I am also inviting them, that hopefully after this, if you still have a time, please come back to Eastern Samar so that more patients will get the help that they needed),” Libanan said. 

“Ang bawat operasyon ay nagdala ng pag-asa at pagbabago sa buhay ng mga pasyente, at ito'y naging inspirasyon para sa ating patuloy na paglilingkod (Each operation brought hope and change to the lives of the patients, serving as inspiration for our ongoing commitment to service),” Libanan added, highlighting that the bayanihan spirit and compassion paved the way to the success of the mission.

Meanwhile, Maria Elena Andaliza, 35 years old, has been enduring an enlarged lymphoma on her legs for 25 years already. 

“Siguro kun diri dara hin nga surgical mission, diri ko in magpapatanggal ngada it akon ka lagas, maupay nala kay kinadi in nga surgical mission, damo nga salamat kan Cong. Libanan ngan mga doctors (If not for this surgical mission, I think until I grow old, I will not be able to have this removed. Thank you to Cong. Libanan and the doctors),” Nanay Elena said. 

Dr. Rolando Mediola (5th from right) and ESPH Chief Dr. Jessica Sabalberino with SPSA surgeons and ESPH doctors, nurses, and staff. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Marcelino Libanan FB Page)

About the Author

Samuel Candido


Region 8

Feedback / Comment

Get in touch