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yPDS + DermSurg Mission: Sun, Sand, Sea and Service
By Dr. Stephanie Katalbas
In the warm afternoon of September 10, a Monday, a team of fourteen dermatologists jetted off to Boracay Island. Rather than for rest and relaxation, this one was a trip in the name of service with a capital ’S.’ The Boracay Foundation, Inc. had organized a medical mission, spearheaded by Dr. Maria Cristina Teotico, to address the dermatological needs of the island’s local population. Under the leadership of PDS President Dr. Ma. Angela Lavadia and yPDS chair Dr. Irene Gaile Robredo-Vitas, volunteers from the Philippine Dermatological Society answered the call to serve. Arriving five months into the island’s closure to tourism, we didn’t know what to expect. What we witnessed was a work in progress: rough roads, ongoing infrastructure improvements, excavations, power outages and only a handful of open establishments. But through it all, the hope and optimism was palpable.
Bright and early in the morning of September 11, the two teams of dermatologists headed for elementary schools in Brgy. Yapak and Brgy. Manoc-manoc. We offered free consultations and medications, as well as minor cutaneous surgical procedures. By the end of the day, we were able to serve around 400 patients. We encountered cases that ran the gamut from infections (many were fungal in nature) to skin tumors. Everyone on the team left feeling immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve our fellow Filipinos. Getting to experience Boracay while it recovered from its afflictions was a once-in-a-lifetime bonus. Recalling the memories and camaraderie shared among old and new friends, we eagerly look forward to the next one. Go yPDS!
We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the PDS leadership, represented by Drs. Lavadia and Robredo-Vitas, and our DermSurg mentors, Drs. Stephen Lacson and Julieta Arambulo, who selflessly committed their time and efforts in leading this mission. The team was comprised of Drs. Emmerson Vista, Homer Cudel, Ivan Singzon, Enrizza Pua-Factor, Michael Cruz, Katrina Nisce-Anisco, Emy Onishi, Anna Patricia Belen, Mary Ann Rueda, and Stephanie Katalbas. Our thanks also extend to the generous sponsors, who took care of every need, as soon as we set foot on the island: Metropolitan Doctors Medical Clinic, Henann Group of Companies, Southwest Travel & Tours, Nigi Nigi Noo Noos, Paradise Garden, Andok’s Chicken, Rafa’s Kitchen Boracay, Hap Chan Boracay, and Lemon Cafe.