Monday, Apr 19

Renewing Hope for Normal Eyesight and a Better Life

July 22, 2011 | Lineth Brondial

The two Tzu Chi International Medical Association eye doctors who performed the surgery for Marilyn Tabon's squint eyes showed eagerness to alleviate the suffering of the patient.【Photo by Lineth Brondial】


At her age, 51-year-old Marilyn Tabon neither has children nor a family to call her own. She is a spinster seeing the world two-fold due to her squint (strabismus). She says it was partly due to her eye condition that prevented her to become emotionally attached to anyone. Nonetheless, she is grateful that even with her deficiency, she can still see the world around her, although in a not-so-normal perspective.

Coming from Muntinlupa City, it was nearly noontime when Tabon arrived at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila. Excited as she was for the big change that will occur in her life, she went straight ahead at the Tzu Chi Eye Clinic. It was July 22 that day, her scheduled operation for her squinty eyes.

“I have been praying now and again for luck to turn on my side. Gladly, God listened and as I always was, here I am ready to be operated on at last,” Tabon joyfully said. Her happiness was very noticeable due to her smile.

It was in her early childhood at 12 years old when she noticed that her eyes were starting to misalign. Intermittent as it was before, she took little notice of her condition for she mused it was nothing significant. More to that, she can’t afford to get sick or whatsoever for her parents earned just enough for their meals.

She is the youngest among three siblings. Her parents are both farmers and were only tilting the soil of someone else’s land in Masbate province in Bicol. Theirs is a thrift life but her parents strived to send them to school. She aspired to become a teacher but was not able to graduate because her parents died before her last year in college.

She and her siblings went on their separate ways then. Tabon worked for herself and was employed by her relative as a laundress in Muntinlupa City. In due time, her eye condition worsened and became even more apparent. Had it not been for her squinty eyes, she says she could have found a better job.

It was in 2004 that she began finding a cure for her condition. She went to different hospitals and asked help from too many politicians but failed to meet the fees that her operation would cost.

But in one of her fateful encounters, she met one patient, who is also getting help from different institutions, and introduced her to Tzu Chi Foundation.

During her operation on July 22, Tabon could not hide her joy as she looks forward to facing her new life.

“I am so happy and very thankful for Tzu Chi Foundation. I could not find the words to give back to their kindness. The doctors were very warm, she even sang while performing the procedure,” shared Tabon referring to the volunteer doctor who operated her eyes.

On the other hand, although really wanting to get her eyes fixed, Tabon requested if she can have only one of her eyes to be operated on because she worried that there is no one to care for her needs.

The doctors said Tabon will be scheduled for another operation, this time for her right eye.

On the other hand, 16-year-old Jessica Tarroquin was also operated on during that day. She underwent a lens exchange operation for her highly myopic right eye.

Tarroquin’s father has received services from the foundation’s free cataract surgery. Her aunt, who has also been a patient of the Tzu Chi Foundation, was the one who sent her to Tzu Chi eye clinic knowing that her case can be treated by the eye specialists of the organization.

“Like everyone else who has been given this gift, I am really very grateful that the Tzu Chi Foundation always opens its arms to embrace us. I know for sure that it is very rare nowadays to find an organization who will give good services with no pay of any kind,” she favorably said in Filipino.

Tzu Chi International Medical Association member Dr. Catherine Macaraig, one of the volunteer eye specialists of Tzu Chi Philippines, was the one who performed the procedures on both cases along with one other volunteer doctor and attending nurse.

  • Guided by an attending nurse, Marilyn Tabon of Muntinlupa City heads to the operating room anticipating a big change that will take place in her life soon after her operation provided for free by Tzu Chi Foundation. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • After the successful operation on her left eye, one Tzu Chi volunteer and an eye doctor give Marilyn Tabon a few reminders to ensure her speedy recovery while she waits for another surgery involving her other eye at the Tzu Chi Eye Clinic. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Tzu Chi International Medical Association eye specialist Dr. Catherine Macaraig performs intraocular lens exchange procedure on Jessica Tarroquin who, at 16 years old, has a highly myopic right eye. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • After undergoing surgical procedure to replace the intraocular lens on her right eye, Jessica Tarroquin of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan can now see her surroundings much clearly. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Fifty-one-year-old Marilyn Tabon, who developed squint eyes when she was 12 years old, reads her personal records short-sightedly before her actual surgery on July 22. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】