More Subanons receive medical care

Shortly after its successful four-day medical and dental mission in remote indigenous communities of Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte, TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD) conducted another mission, this time to more isolated portions of this municipality.

Subanon indigenous peoples (IPs) of the Gulangan-Baluboan area – accessible only by foot through steep and jagged mountain ridges, across several rivers, and over tall cogon grasses – warmly welcomed members of the medical team when they arrived with medical supplies and equipment after a 7-km journey from TVIRD’s Canatuan Project site.

One of the several rivers that the TVIRD medical team crossed to reach the Gulangan-Baloboan area, which is accessible only by foot.

Thank you very much for coming, even though you suffered and endured so much difficulties along the way, just so that the much needed medical services would reach our place. Ever since, nothing of the sort ever reached us," said Council of Elder member Fernandez Anda. Timuay (tribal chief) Elino Tii was also on hand to welcome the medical team, led by Companynurse Lois Ladera-Esnane and Community Relations and Development Office’s (CReDO) Communications Specialist Noelle Nazareno.

This steep riverbank did not deter members of the TVIRD team from pursuing their medical mission to far-flung cultural communities. An exciting adventure that makes for a fulfilling job.

A total of 40 Subanons availed themselves of the free medical services; some came for consultation, young boys for circumcision, while others received medicines, vitamins and food supplements. Remarkably, the Gulangan and Baluboan residents were found to be in relatively good health; there was only an isolated case of a young girl afflicted with skin disease, and she was immediately given proper medical treatment. Common complaints were backaches and body pains, most likely due to manual work.

And since there is no clinic or hospital near the twin villages, the TVIRD team provided the residents with a cellular phone unit, which will serve as the residents’ direct link to the Company clinic in case of medical emergencies.

TVIRD nurse Lois Esnane checks an elderly Subana as CREDO’s Noelle Nazareno looks on. "We care so much about the health of our partners in development."

Relief is in sight for this young Subanon, who goes for a final scratch before being treated for skin disease.

"We care so much about the health and general welfare of the IPs in and around Canatuan, who are our partners in development," Nazareno remarked. "Regardless of the difficulties we encountered along the way, we believe everybody needs access to basic medical services. It was an exciting adventure, one that makes my job truly fulfilling."

The TVIRD group was billeted at Anda’s humble abode for the two-day medical mission.

TVIRD has been operating a gold and silver mine at Siocon’s Sitio Canatuan in Barangay Tabayo since mid-2004. The company’s copper and zinc production project is expected to become operational in early 2008.

Last May, some 400 IPs from Sitio Paduan, Sitio Solonsangan, Tanuman Village and Skyline New Village – communities near Canatuan – received medical and dental care from a mission lead by TVIRD. (Rene Patangan)