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Navotas church adds Traditional Chinese Medicine to medical services

May 23, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

After half an hour in acupuncture, Loreto Anico (face down) gets a good massage from a volunteer masseuse. The debut of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish Church's physical therapy clinic on May 23 provided free acupuncture and massage to 116 patients. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi’s 231st Medical Mission in Navotas City marked the operational debut of the physical therapy clinic at the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish Church. Much like the dental clinic, the physical therapy clinic will enable more frequent medical services to the poor of Navotas.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can finally be added to the list of medical services for the impoverished of Navotas City.

Tzu Chi’s 231st Medical Mission on May 23 saw the operational debut of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish Church’s physical therapy room. Formerly the parish’s adoration chapel, the room next to the dental clinic was repurposed to provide acupuncture and massage to the constituents of the church. It was made possible with the help of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), a group of volunteer doctors affiliated with the foundation.

In addition to the 103 patients served at the dental clinic, the mission served 116 patients at the new physical therapy clinic, with 49 availing of acupuncture and 67 trying the massage.

Fr. Larry Singian, O.P., acting as the parish’s liaison for Tzu Chi’s missions, saw the demand for TCM in the locality. Many of the constituents are over 60 years old and suffering from a plethora of health problems. Adding to these problems is Dagat-Dagatan’s humid environment, as being close to the sea intensifies the already-unbearable dry season.

“The poor who are disabled cannot go to clinics. They have to pay for the commute and the clinical service. Also, here in Navotas, we don’t have a physical therapy clinic,” says Singian.

“We give as much help as we can to the poor because they’ve been deprived of these services for so long. Now, they’re very happy,” he adds.

Residents like elderly couple Loreto and Normita Anico would have to wait for a large-scale medical mission, which only occurs once a year, to receive physical therapy care. Otherwise, they have to look for a private clinic where acupuncture doesn’t come cheap.

“These missions are a great blessing. I learned that acupuncture at a private clinic is costly. A friend I knew paid Php5,000 for acupuncture on one of her knees alone,” explains Normita, 62 years old.

Loreto began feeling pain in his right shoulder a few months ago after returning from a trip to Iloilo. A checkup with the doctor revealed that he had broken his shoulder bone. At 69 years old, he’s too old to undergo orthopedic surgery safely. Upon getting word of the new TCM service, the couple wasted no time in exploring it as an alternative solution.

“My shoulder’s fine now. It doesn’t hurt as much. Back then, whenever I lie down, I would feel pain,” says Loreto, rotating his shoulder without complaints.

After acupuncture, the couple decided to undergo massage, as well.

All about water

Ma. Clarita Almadovar, 65 years old, underwent acupuncture but quitted halfway because of the needles . She suffers from neck pain caused by high blood pressure. Rather than risk worsening her anxiety attack, TIMA therapists called off the procedure. Regardless, the needles that have already been inserted prior have done their job.

“I’m okay now. I’m no longer trembling, unlike earlier when I nearly got an anxiety attack,” says Almadovar.

Her attending therapist, TIMA acupuncturist Helen Manahan, pointed to poor lifestyle as the root cause of such conditions. She didn’t need medical instruments other than the needles to know a patient’s maladies. She could tell just by looking.

“Most of the patients here suffer from minor pains, normally caused by lack of sleep, lack of water, and a poor lifestyle. When I see a patient with dry lips, he or she definitely lacks water. He or she’s dehydrated by around 50 percent,” Manahan explains.

Treating five patients at a time, Manahan tells them to drink three liters of water every day. She adds that the human body can survive for three days without food but not as long without water, as it makes up 60 percent of the body on average. Water performs many functions in the human body such as temperature regulation, joint lubrication, and metabolism.

The launch of the physical therapy clinic opens a new door of prospects. People will be more informed about the changes they need in their lifestyle.

  • The church foyer swells with tens of residents of the Dagat-Dagatan area wishing to be rid of their maladies through Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • In conjunction with the physical therapy's debut, Tzu Chi offered dental extraction to 103 patients. The dental clinic is located next to the physical therapy clinic. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • One advantage of the physical therapy clinic is that people won't have to wait for a large-scale medical mission to receive care. Tzu Chi and TIMA volunteers can mobilize at any time of the year when the situation calls for it. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The clinic was set up at the request of Fr. Larry Singian, O.P. (right), who realized that many elderly in the parish were suffering from various maladies. The former adoration chapel was soon repurposed into the physical therapy clinic, complete with beds and private rooms. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers urged the patients to eat a good breakfast before undergoing acupuncture. In his rush to get to the medical mission, this patient only had a piece of bread and coffee this morning. A local volunteer gave him soup to fill his tummy. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • TIMA acupuncturist Helen Manahan (left) realized that most of the patients were dehydrated. She urged them to drink at least three liters of water a day to help with whatever they were feeling. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Halfway into her acupuncture treatment, Ma. Clarita Almadovar called it quits due to sheer anxiety from the needles. TIMA therapists complied and offered her water to calm her nerves. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • During the medical mission, there could be as many as 20 patients inside the clinic at a given time. The team of 12 TIMA and non-TIMA therapists have to treat multiple patients at a time so that more can get treated. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】


  • 20180601 TCM and dental mission Dagat Dagatan Navotas City

  • LAST UPDATED: October 27, 2018 14:10 PM