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Caloocan medical mission part of ‘one mission per city’ goal

September 09, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

In batches, patients undergo a blood pressure check before seeing a doctor in the General Medicine section. Over a thousand patients took advantage of the free service by Tzu Chi’s first medical mission in Caloocan City on September 9. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi’s Mission of Medicine continues its expansion as it holds its first medical mission in Caloocan City on September 9. Providing free medical care to 1,322 patients, the mission introduces Tzu Chi in detail to the people of Caloocan and let them know that an organization like this exists to help.


Continuing its lifelong mission of reaching out to people in need, Tzu Chi on September 9 held a medical mission in Caloocan City.

Caloocan High School in the southern half of the city was chosen as the venue for the 234th Medical Mission. With the help of the local government in spreading the word, the mission drew 1,322 patients. Services offered include pediatrics, general medicine, minor surgery, dentistry, ophthalmology, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and massage therapy.

The event was held at the request of Tzu Chi volunteers of the Manila West section, which has jurisdiction over seven cities in Metro Manila including Caloocan. Section leader Richard Tan plans to hold a medical mission in each of these cities in the future.

“Through this kind of medical mission, we can spread our love to so many communities in this particular city. And they will know that they can avail of our services later on such as charity, education, and others,” said Tan.

Visiting during the event, Caloocan City mayor Oscar “Oca” Malapitan lauded the mission as being complete in services as if a hospital. He believes that a mission of this scale was made possible by volunteers who went out of their way on a Sunday to serve his constituents.

“[Volunteerism] is a wonderful thing. No matter how beautiful your project is, without [volunteers] it won’t be as successful. So I want to thank all our volunteer workers, especially from this foundation,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Tzu Chi makes its presence known in the city. In April, it distributed 20 kilos of rice from Taiwan to over 300 indigent families. Nevertheless, the volunteers educated the waiting patients on the Buddhist organization and its advocacies. They hope that the people of Caloocan will be familiarized with the Tzu Chi name as much as in other areas.



At the invitation of a friend from high school, volunteer dentist Joan Riza Del Castillo brought her two daughters to the medical mission. She convinced her daughters to pursue dentistry to serve people in need.

“Actually, [my daughters] didn’t want to be dentists. But they changed their minds once they began working in dental missions and saw the plight of their patients, especially the children. They’ve been serving in missions and have seen the needs of the people,” said Joan.

The older sister, Janine Anne, has no regrets following in her mother’s footsteps. A procedure as simple as pulling out a bad tooth, she explains, can be a big thing for the patients, as they can’t afford it. And she’s dedicating her Sunday out of gratitude.

“It won’t hurt you to spend a day to give back. I mean, back in college, a lot of people were helping us. And we’ve done treatments for free as early as college. So it’s like a ‘thank you’ to those people,” said Janine.

Also spending their Sunday together are TIMA ophthalmologists Ivan Tecson and Patricia Lee. Their preferred way of nurturing their romance involves bringing relief to indigents side by side. They show as much love to their patients as they do to each other.

“[Patricia and I] share the same personality and pursue the same goal. So when we do this kind of work, we’re both happy. After this, we reflect and talk about it. We enjoy doing this kind of work, especially together,” said Tecson.

“We work at the same office, so we check patients together. But even on weekends, instead of going out together we decided to give back in service. Eye diseases are preventable. No one has to go blind,” Lee adds.

  • As they wait for the gates to open, patients lend an ear to a Tzu Chi volunteer introducing the foundation and its advocacies. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Patients learn how to say “thank you” the Tzu Chi way. One thumb speaks “thank you,” while two thumbs speak “thank you very much.” 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • TIMA ophthalmologist Ivan Tecson spends his Sunday offering his expertise to people who cannot afford a doctor. He fancies helping others, especially together with fellow TIMA ophthalmologist Patricia Lee (background). 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • An eye patient tries out his new reading glasses. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • For the mission, this classroom houses a makeshift dental clinic that offers tooth extractions. Dental services are among the most sought services over the duration of the event. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi Youth members help in their own way as assistants in the pharmacy, reading prescriptions and preparing the requested meds. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Caloocan City mayor Oscar “Oca” Malapitan (left) bears witness to Tzu Chi’s Mission of Medicine inside the massage room. The local government helped in spreading the word about the medical mission to its constituents. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Origin Point volunteers are hard at work massaging patients. For most of Tzu Chi’s medical missions, the group has provided the bulk of massage therapy services. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Volunteer dentist Janine Anne Del Castillo (left) holds a lamp for a colleague of hers to look into a patient’s mouth. Once showing disinterest in being a dentist like her mother, she has come to love the career after seeing so many people in need of adequate dental care. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】


  • 20180922 Dental and Surgery Patients During Medical Mission in Caloocan

  • LAST UPDATED: September 27, 2018 17:09 PM