Wednesday, Mar 03

Doctor returns to hometown to serve

November 30, 2017 | Lineth Brondial

Doctor Mary Jane Uy advises one of the patients about the right dosage of medicines for her child. Uy and her family are residents in Tacloban City who have transferred to Cavite after suffering from the brunt of typhoon Yolanda. The medical mission, she says, has given her the chance to be back to her hometown to serve her fellow typhoon victims. 【 Photo by Lineth Brondial】

Story Highlights

  • A resident of Tacloban, Dr. Mary Jane Uy is given the opportunity to help the people in her city through Tzu Chi's medical mission held at San Jose Parish on November 30. Dr. Uy's house and clinic have been severely damaged by typhoon Yolanda.

  • Lilibeth Quintana has delivered her child at the height of typhoon Yolanda. She says that the birth of her little angel is one of the good things that at least happened on that day. Quintana has come to Tzu Chi's medical mission for a free consultation.

  • A total of 980 patients have been given free medical services by around 30 volunteer doctors at Tzu Chi's medical mission held at San Jose Parish on November 30.


Typhoon Yolanda has spared no one, rich or poor, when it landed six times in the Philippines on November 8. It has ravaged a huge portion of Eastern Visayas, particularly Tacloban City—the hometown of Dr. Mary Grace Uy. Her house, a clinic, and her beloved city bore great damage.

Wanting to secure the safety of her five children, she and her husband have decided to leave the city with little cash on hand. They have waited for hours for rescue teams to arrive at the airport and moved to Cavite province to stay with her sibling for the meantime.

Leaving her city in ruins, Doctor Uy and her husband vowed to come back and find ways to serve her fellow typhoon victims. This opportunity came when she learned about the medical mission that Tzu Chi Foundation will be holding in Tacloban City. She was among the nearly 30 volunteer doctors who have provided free medical services to 980 patients on November 30.

“My husband and I have been talking about coming back here and serve. We need to help. We were trying to look for ways where we can help and this medical mission has been a great opportunity for us so we really grabbed it,” she says.

When she arrived at the airport of Tacloban, Doctor Uy was overwhelmed by a feeling of grief. For the second time, she saw destruction in the face and along with it, the widespread suffering of the people and the city as a whole.

“I can’t help but cry seeing how poor the people are, how devastated the place is, and how everyone is suffering. It really melted my heart,” she shares. Her husband, a businessman, came with her and has joined other team of Tzu Chi volunteers in the cash-for-work program.

Uy mentions the city is actually improved than the time they evacuated, thanks to the combined efforts of the government, private groups, and concerned individuals.

She adds that sharing her professional services in the free clinic is one thing that she is truly happy about. She thanks the Tzu Chi Foundation for paving an avenue for her to do something for others. “I really thank God that we have been invited to be part of the mission. This has been a great help to eastern Visayas, the whole region, and even to myself,” says Uy, a paediatrician.

Free clinic as a blessing

When Lilibeth Quintana has given birth to her sixth child, she barely had any idea about the rolling disaster outside. It was an early morning of November 8: winds blew hard, windows broke, rooms turned roofless, and they were transferred from one room to another.

“I wasn’t worried at first but at 6am, we were already seeing flying iron sheets. It was until the next morning when I saw how Tacloban is badly damaged,” she shares. Quintana named her baby Angel Rose. “We will remember about this disaster when she celebrates her birthday each time,” she adds, saying the little angel is one of the good things that at least happened on that day.

Quintana has brought her daughter to the medical mission to avail of free consultation. It is only the second time that she has seen a doctor since the typhoon.

“She had high fever days ago but I was not able to consult a doctor. I am very thankful that she has been given the treatment she needs,” the 37-year-old mother says. They are one of the first patients to arrive early in the mission.

Quintana also shares it is really a blessing that the Tzu Chi doctors and volunteers have reached out to their place since a lot of them badly need health services. Same is expressed by Belinda Carnecer, who has availed of acupuncture for free.

Carnecer has been suffering from severe back pain for almost 14 years. She tried ignoring it and also tried taking medicines to relieve the pain but to no avail. She was told about acupuncture but has no money to pay for it.

“I have difficulty pulling myself up from bed each time because of the pain. After undergoing acupuncture, I am feeling better,” she says. “Your help is very important because our situation is really difficult that’s why we are very thankful to your foundation,” she tearfully adds.

Doctor Sen Wu, an expert in Chinese medicine, says he is happy to see the patients feeling satisfied with the treatment. Wu has prepared 8,000 needles, determined to treat as much patients as possible. A minimum of two or three needles are needed for each patient depending on their illnesses. Acupuncture, he adds, can cure 200 kinds of diseases, except those that need surgery.

“It feels really good when you are able to liberate patients from their illnesses. It is the same with the mission of Master Cheng Yen: to alleviate people from their suffering, to bring them relief,” he says.

Catholic priest Hector Villamil lauds the dedication of the volunteers and thanks them for their act of generosity. Aside from the fact that all medical facilities have been destroyed, doctors have also been affected thus the shortage in manpower to care for the tens of thousands of victims.

“Medical missions are very much welcomed and we are really grateful that by coming here, you also brought medicines for the people,” he says.

The medical mission of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is held in San Jose Parish Church. Father Villamil says that the unity between the two religions highlights the power of Great Love.

“You are here to show compassion and that’s basically what God is all about. God is love and whoever abides in love, abides in God,” he concludes.

  • Lilibeth Quintana, 37, brings her daughter, Angel Rose, in the free clinic held by Tzu Chi Foundation in their barangay. Quintana gave birth to her sixth child during the height of the typhoon. 【 Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • A volunteer doctor checks on the condition of Angel Rose, a baby born at the height of typhoon Yolanda. The three-week-old baby had a high fever a few days ago and hasn’t been brought to a clinic since. 【 Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Doctor Sen Wu treats a patient through acupuncture, a form of a Chinese medicine where needles are penetrated on certain points on the body to revitalize the person’s ‘chi’ or energy. 【 Photo by Lineth Brondial】

  • Belinda Carnecer, 59, is being diagnosed by volunteer doctor, Sen Wu, an expert on Chinese medicine. Carnecer has been suffering from extreme back pain for almost 14 years. She has long wanted to try acupuncture but says she has no money to pay for the procedure. 【 Photo by Lineth Brondial】