Community Services & MEDICAL MISSIONS

Serving the Poor (501c3 U.S. non-profit)

71 Miantonomi Ave., Middletown, RI 02842 U.S.A.
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2012 MEDIA

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2012 NEWS


Contact Armando ‘Doy’ Heredia, Adviser & Spokesperson
March 2012
  •  +1-401-848-0622  •

US-Based Humanitarian Group Returns
from February 2012 Medical Mission in the Philippines
- provided medical care to Tao’t Bato cave dwellers in Palawan Island

The Rhode Island-based humanitarian group “Lingkod Timog” that translates to “Serving the poor in the Southern Philippines” recently returned from its 8th annual medical mission in the Philippines from February 22 to 29.  The group first provided medical, surgical and dental care to tribal Tagbanua patients in the island of Palawan.  The group then travelled to the remote part of Southern Palawan to care for the cave-dwelling Tao’t Bato.  Rhode Islanders Cecilia and Armando Heredia led the medical mission.

The group president Cecilia Heredia describes the medical mission: “The Tao’t Bato did not want to mix with others so we had two parallel medical services almost one-half kilometer apart – one for the Tao’t Bato and one for other tribal people and lowland Filipinos.  The Tao’t Bato walked down from their caves in family groups, including infant and children and the elderly, some almost through the night, to reach the pickup points and Philippine Marines trucks brought them the rest of the way.  Based on their ailments, they were given medical, surgical or dental care.  Those who agreed to were given haircuts.  All were fed before being trucked back to where they started.”  Cecilia is the music teacher at St Philomena School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and a Companion in Mission of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ).  St Philomena School raises funds through Broadway musicals for the Development Center projects of the Sisters FCJ in Manila.

Executive Director Irene Covarrubias Sabban coordinated the volunteer doctors, dentists and nurses as well as security and support personnel.  The mission team included US and Philippine-based volunteers, local private and public doctors and Philippine military doctors, surgeons and dentists. 

Dr Andrew Wilner of Newport, Rhode Island, the group’s medical director, manned one of three medical lines for the Tao’t Bato, with Dr. Tiago Villanueva Marques, and Philippine Marines Dr. Diamante on the other two.  A five-time volunteer, neurologist, and medical author, he pointed out that “we rode at high speed for almost six hours over unpaved and very rough roads just to get here.  The Tao’t Batos are seldom seen cave dwellers so we had to give them special attention.  I can't wait for the next mission!”

Dr. Tiago Villanueva is a first-time volunteer to the medical mission.  A family physician from Lisbon, Portugal, whose mother is from the Philippines, he found the mission a unique way to rediscover his roots.  Also a medical writer, he will be married this summer and plans to join next year’s mission with his intended, a Canadian-Portuguese doctor. 

US-based volunteers included past Fil-Am Newport Rhode Island Presidents Larry Soriano with his wife Nellie, Tony Cercena, and Tommy Delemos.  Luth Ballon came from Seattle, and Reggie and Brenda Soriano came from Alaska.  All said they intended to join next year’s mission 

Medicine and supplies came from Lingkod Timog funds and private volunteers, such as Dr. Maria Petrillo-Bolanos of Portsmouth who responded to a last-minute list and donated surgical supplies, and Dr. Mylene Santos of Fatima University Medical Center in Metro-Manila who donated surgical drapes and other supplies.  Palawan’s famous restaurateur, Butch Chase, donated food for patients and volunteers.

Lingkod Timog spokesperson Armando Heredia pointed out that this joint Lingkod Timog and the Philippine military medical mission was formed when Lt General Juancho Sabban, the Commander of the Philippines Western Command was studying in Newport’s US Naval War College and the Heredia’s were his local sponsor.  Cecilia Heredia formed the group and Executive Director Irene Covarrubias Sabban coordinates the activities.  All missions involve private and government agencies, military and police, and Christian and tribal health care providers.  The indigenous people, such as the Tagbanuas and Tao’t Bato see not just the US and Manila-based volunteers, but their own community leaders and neighbors helping them.  Lingkod Timog’s previous missions helped the Badjaos in Zamboanga; Basilan and Sulu, the Aetas in Zambales and Lumads in Davao.

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