On 06 August 2019, the Department of Health (DOH) declared a national dengue epidemic in view of the 98% increase in number from last year’s reported cases. In response to the nationwide alert issued by the DOH, the UP Diliman Reserve Officers Training Corps (UP ROTC), represented by the UP Corps of Sponsors (CoS), the UP Corps of Cadets (CoC), and Cadet Alumni from the 1302nd QC 4th Ready Reserve Battalion, in conjunction with the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) Medical Special Support Squadron, Philippine Coast Guard Civil Relations Service, and Undying Wishes of Pinoys Inc. took the initiative to respond to the call of service by conducting a Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) last 11 August 2019 in selected Aeta communities in Sapangbato, Porac, Pampanga, near the foot of Mt. Pinatubo.
The MEDCAP consisted of a medical mission, community diagnostic survey, dengue awareness lecture, and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) practical exercise. Aside from medicines, slippers and mosquito nets were also donated.
The medical mission was spearheaded by the doctors and volunteers from PCGA. They provided free medical consultation and gave out basic medicines.
A community diagnostic survey was conducted to find out key problems the Aeta community faced regarding the dengue disease. While conducting the survey, the volunteers had a chance to interact with the community members. Simultaneously, a dengue awareness lecture took place. The materials of the lecture were taken from the DOH’s “Deng-get out” project which implements the “4S” strategy which includes the following: Search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, Secure self- protection, Seek early consultation, and Say no to indiscriminate fogging.
Cadet Officers and Sponsors taught Aetas how to apply CPR to prepare them for emergencies and to give them the fundamental ability to save lives given the difficulty of accessibility of their area to medical personnel.
Members of the delegation engaged in conversation and activities with the members of the Aeta community. The children were particularly happy to interact with the people that visited them, inviting them to games and offering to braid their hair. Volunteer and reservist Paolo La’O said, “The children were so lively and energetic! The amount of joy in the room was quite unexpected.”
The delegation left the community items (slippers and mosquito nets) that they will find useful in their day to day activities. The Aetas showed their gratitude by giving the delegation portions of their harvested fruits and root crops.
Recalling the MEDCAP, both the Corps Sponsor and Corps Commander expressed their opinions regarding volunteerism. The Corps Sponsor Camille Ugarte said, “With the DOH’s declaration of an epidemic, this was an opportunity to serve that we could not miss. Honor and excellence is meaningless without service to the country.” The Corps Commander Joseph Guiao said, “Conducting activities like this reaffirms our mandate as an ROTC unit and as scholars of the country to give back to the people and to better other lives without asking for anything in return.”
Around 140 residents benefited from the medical check-ups, medicines, and donations. To end the MEDCAP, Roman King, the chief of Sapang Bato, gave his remarks. He explained how physical appearances should not be a hindrance in any interaction. He felt glad at how the volunteers interacted with the community and he hopes that the efforts would continue in their area and in other places as well