Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The second day from our arrival in Barangay Goin, we felt homesick so we decided to fill our days with activities. The first thing we did was to conduct an ocular survey of the community. It was a very nice community; all of the people are so welcome even if they did not know who we were and what were we doing in their place. We reached as far as the last boundary of the community going north. I said to myself that I am going to enjoy my stay here because I really love nature.

The next day, we met with our barangay officials as part of our courtesy call. The officials were headed by their Barangay chairman named Alberto Callao. They are all very welcoming too and they expressed their readiness to help us in case we need their assistance. The people of barangay goin eventually knew us and knew our intentions which were to improve and develop the community through empowerment.

The week after we arrived in Barangay Goin, we were called by the Municipal Health Officer to come to her office so that we will be able to meet her and her staff in the rural health unit. Again, we had to travel and experience the rocky terrain just to reach the poblacion where the Rural Helath Unit was situated. There we met the Municipal Health Officer together with her staff. We also showed her our calendar of activities. We asked for her comments about our survey tool and she approved it. We were also introduced to the midwife that works for the people of Barangay Goin.

All in all, I felt very lucky to be assigned here in Barangay Goin since all the people here are good and very hospitable. The Barangay officials were very helpful and the MHO and her staff were always ready to help us if we need their assistance including the health indices of the community. I easily became attached to the people of Barangay Goin and because of this I, together with my team, will t=do our best to achieve our goals in improving and developing this community.

"Why am I doing this?" This is the question I continually asked myself when we were passing through the wilderness of the deep and scary forest, when we were climbing steep passageways bordering cliffs, when we were being chased by a carabao, when we were basking under the heat of the sun like being stranded for days on a desert and when we were perspiring like ice cubes on fire. We experienced all of these things and more when we were doing our survey for our community exposure.

But before we entered the "Death March in Bataan" phase of the survey process, we had to first formulate our tool for surveying. The survey tool contains the questions we will be asking the respondents as part of our assessment of the health status of the barangay. The most difficult part of the formulation of the survey tool was the part where we had to translate all the questions in Bisaya. We had to rack our brains to find the translation for most of the terms we used in the survey tool. After that, we had to divide ourselves into smaller groups with 2-3 members per group and start our surveying per household.

During the first few hours of the first day of our survey, we were all fired up to go to each household and interview the people. But as the day progressed and the locations of the houses became more distant from one another, it was like all our energy got sapped out from our bodies. We slept like logs that first night of the survey. We did the survey for 6 days and within those days, we have experienced a multitude of things.

We were like on Amazing Race where we had to pass through road blocks and detours just to get to the next house. But after every road block or detour or challenge that we faced during our survey, we always had a pit stop, where I always get my question “why am I doing this?” answered. It is so that we could interview the people of each household and get to know them better.

Most, if not all, of the people in the barangay live in a small studio type house made of light materials. Some of these houses have seen better days. The floors of some houses are broken and the children living in those houses might fall through the holes and hurt themselves.  A lot of houses looked like they would fall apart when a strong wind blows through it. Even if their houses need urgent repair, they do not have the funds to do so. I remember one mother I interviewed shared to me a story of how they cannot even afford to buy food. She told me that there really would come a time in a year that the whole family would only eat salt and root crops like cassava. This is a common occurrence for most of the residents of the barangay. But even though they are experiencing these struggles in their lives, they can still smile about it and go on with their lives. After hearing the problems the people of Goin are experiencing I suddenly felt ashamed of all the complaining I did. To think that I just experienced one week of walking under the heat of the sun for long hours while the people of Goin have been toiling under the heat of the sun for years and when they go home they still have problems to face like budgeting their money to buy food and despite of all their struggles they still go on with their lives and have not given up.

I realized that even if we get chased by carabaos, even if we had to pass through scary forests, and even if we were being baked under the sun, all these things were worth it because of the people we met and the stories of their lives that humbled us.

I am glad that I faced all of those challenges during our survey week because if I did not pass through that scary forest, I would not have experienced the beauty and freshness of the scenery beyond that scary forest. I would not have been able to reap rice, to ride a carabao and most especially find a home among the people of Goin. The people of Goin are very accommodating and cheerful people. They have accepted us, 8 strangers from Zamboanga, like we were their long lost children or siblings.

So the next time we question ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” just remember this lyrics “Behind every dark cloud there’s a silver lining.” Hence, whatever challenges life throws at us we must move forward and endure these challenges because at the end of every struggle we will be able to meet amazing people and experience God’s gifts to mankind.

Written by: Anna Ricca "Nikki" Barre
Nikki is an anime otaku who loves eating meat, sleeping and lazing around but she is a PROUD ADOPTEE of the people of Goin.

Every dwelling is different in its own way. The wonder of the place fitted together to be just the perfect image is a breath taker. This is how our Creator constructed our Earth, fitted perfectly and unique; just how it should be. As the days passed by, one would ask if what is exceptional with Barangay Goin. Aside from the long journey ahead and the vast land that is filled by coconut and rubber trees, corn and rice plantation, and abundance of mango and banana fruits, there are still a lot of things to be amazed of. Count till five.

The moment you arrive the place, a warm welcome and a big smile from the people will greet you. Strangers as we are, it is a wonder why these people would accept us with open arms. They welcome us in their homes and even offered us their food. Their heart is so big for us, whom they didn’t know very well. Their diligence is also an admiration. Those extensive walks just to reach the spring wells and fetch pails of water and wash their clothes, to go in their farms to plant or harvest their crops, to collect sap from rubber trees, and climb tall coconut trees to get coconut fruits are the things they do every day to survive and be able to smile again. Their hardship is a great deal compared to the hardship of the person who has been provided with everything but still complains of anything. To be with them, you will learn to appreciate of what you have and learn to strive hard of what you don’t have.

Another is their eagerness to be successful in life. I met a family there and got a chance to talk to them. They cannot afford to light their house or even buy a second hand appliances or even a pair of used shoes yet they work hard just to send their three children in college. For the couple, it is an achievement to witness their children standing on the stage and receiving their diplomas. Their pride is shown through the tears they shed while they talk about it. It only proves that money is not totally a hindrance to be successful. It is how you work for it and give your best shot to reach to the top and remain rooted on the ground. 

And their being humble is a plus point, which is one of the many things the people tend to forget to carry with their success. Being humble is, looking back on where they started empty –handed yet they didn’t forget to help other people who are also in need. They give what they can give. They share what little they have and still they are fulfilled. This is one of the many things that ought to teach us a lesson; to always stay humble.

Lastly, but not the least, is the beautiful sunrise every morning. It always astonished me how God created the sunrise to remind us to hope every day and cling to the promises He has for us. The abundance and blessings is sustained as the sun rises to provide us the heat and the light we need to live. This is what Barangay Goin exceptional. This is what Barangay Goin amazing because our Divine Creator is at work in this place. The churches build here signify how the people wanting to be with our God. And this is incredibly going exceptional.

 Written by: Mic Elizarde

A hello kitty addict, sweet and shy girl who desires to cook for her family and friends


Monday, May 19, 2014

Medical school in Ateneo de Zamboanga University - School of Medicine is different. You are not expected to stay in school and study the human body and it's systems. The medical school, from its creation, has made a special kind of laboratory for its students where they can practice the skills they have learned in the school. This laboratory is the community.

For years, the AdZU - SOM, has successfully created avenues for health in different municipalities in the provinces of Western Mindanao, Philippines. The programs have significantly changed the lives and health of the people thus, creating healthier communities and healthier people. Multiple local, national, and international acclaims have been received by these noble actions, and the school continues to gain support to this  day.

In my last remaining days as a freshman of this respectable institute, I have perhaps gained a number of testimonies as a disciple of the medical school's mission. Being a new member of the profession has tested me hardly as to my commitment in providing health to the people. But my testimony in this first post, is not about surviving the immersion, it's about the creation of new doctors for a chosen community.

It was the last few days of March, this year, when the whole class of Medicus Enim Dei 2017 was oriented to the Master in Public Health program within the Doctor of Medicine degree. It was exciting, true. A 1-month getaway, I thought, it will be like a vacation.

All the guidelines, policies, protocols, and what-not were already explained to us. In the 3-day orientation, we have been tortured by the mere idea of who we were grouped up with. I guess it was the excitement of being with people we would call "family" for the rest of our medical school days. The torture has dragged on, and perhaps has numbed me a little bit. Few times I thought that I no longer cared who my groupmates would be, so long as they finish the whole orientation and I can finally leave for my break.
One day, during our orientation, we all received letters from the dean with the same message. What struck me the most was the Chinese quote that he included in the end of his letter.

For a while there, I felt ashamed. I had thought that this would all be a vacation and a rebellious escape from my hometown for 20 years. I had not given a single thought of what I was being sent to do for the people. Becoming a doctor was never a selfish profession, it was, and still is a selfless and compassionate vocation where we become responsible for the lives of others.

I am not being sent by the school to a summer break. I am being sent as a doctor and as a disciple of God. I am already outside my childhood and should think and act years ahead of my age. My mission is centered on the people and above them, God.

Eventually, we were grouped, finally. The excitement has burned down to relief. I was not close with these people in my class, but to this day, I still feel secure that I am with them.  I did not worry about our ups and downs, our strengths and weaknesses. Because we all held the same letter, the same mission from the dean. And with one goal, we knew deep inside, where we were to go, and how far we can reach.

There are many lessons in this medical school that are outside the concept of health and disease. Being excited for the getaway is always forgivable for first-timers and is impossible to remove. The AdZU - SOM has taught me the growth of spirituality and humanity, a privilege I feel that I can learn in no other medical school.

As I start in a new direction that is my sophomore years in this institute, I worry not of the obstacles I face, for I know that I will never be alone in dealing with them. I am reminded always of that Chinese proverb and the people I am to work with. I look forward to the knowledge and wisdom of Medicine that I will use alongside my comrades to become stewards of God's creation.

This is the start of a number of many more stories of our journey in medical school and how we embark in the advocacy of health among people in rural areas. There are no stops. The mission goes the distance.

Written by Marie Louise B. Viray, R.N. (AdZU-SOM M.E.D. 2017)
Louise is 20 years old and have always wanted to become a physician since the age of 4. She enjoys the everyday wintermelon tea, the solace of her own library, the mysteries of the world, and of course, pizza. To this day she still hopes to become a novelist and perhaps balance all these while also becoming a supermom to 5 kids.


A disease free community with a healthy environment.


Our mission is to generate empowered residents of the community with access to inter-sectoral institutions, capable of rendering effective decisions.

Contact us


Email *

Message *