Written by Femina Laya Canua, Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines
After a nine-hour travel from Manila, Operation Blessing (OB) was welcomed by the fresh air and the natural beauty of a small town in Casiguran, Aurora province. The team made a courtesy call to the Barangay Captain (Village Chief) of Calabgan, where the locals showed hospitality by serving fresh coconut juice.
Upon resting, the team met Menard Tudoc, an eleven-year-old boy who loves playing outside their house. Menard’s family lives in a humble house just few steps away from the barangay hall. His father is an on-call laborer in Nueva Ecija, while her mother takes care of them in the house.
Menard is one of the children who enlisted himself for the free circumcision and medical mission for the next morning. When asked why he enlisted himself, Menard only said that these opportunities should not be wasted. And without any reasons given, Menard continued playing with his friends.
The other day, while the team is preparing for the mission at the barangay hall, people already began to queue under the mounting sun. Menard was also there with his younger brother. And still with Menard’s word from yesterday, realizations popped out – that behind the refreshing ambience of the province, some of the needs of the people are not met. OB learned that the residents in the lowlands up to the ones living on the mountains do not bother to go to the district hospital, which is not accessible for the residents from this barangay and because they do not also have the means to go there.
What also caught the team’s attention was the teenage boys and young men, aged 15 to 20, who enlisted themselves for the circumcision mission. When asked what took them so long to have the surgery done, they were just intentionally waiting for free medical missions to come to their place, all because of financial hardships.
This maybe the reason behind Menard’s words. No more explanations. For the locals, medical missions are worth the wait. For OB, to be part of bringing hope to the children’s future is something to be grateful for.
After the surgery, Menard get off the health center with a grin in his face – his parents were also very happy knowing that Menard’s circumcision is one less thing to worry about.