Feb 08 2018

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UPMASA Medical Mission: 22 years of continuous service. The story….


by Roberto U Velasco, MD, 70 (Fellow: American Acad Ortho Surgeons & Phil Orthopedic Assoc.)



1992-93: initiated by UPMASA New Jersey-New York-Connecticut chapter. Among the prominent advocates and supporters: Dr. Paulino Cruz and Dr. Miriam Cosca-Cruz, Dr. Emmanuel Lat and Dr. Zenda Garcia-Lat, Dr. Bienvenido Jongco and Dr. Anita Ortega-Jongco, Dr. Geraldine Gomez-Pinder, Dr. Lulu Ramirez-Plurad and Dr. Arthur V. Plurad, Dr. Marilyn Aldeguer-Resurreccion and others.

1994: Dr. Miriam Cosca-Cruz: volunteered to be the FIRST chairperson of the NY-NJ-CT Medical Mission (later became: UPMASA Medical Mission)

1995: Under the leadership of Dr. Emmanuel Lat UPMASA president elect and Dr. Al Manahan UPMASA National president, the UPMASA Medical mission committee was formed (nucleus = NJ-NY-CT medical mission) and was led by Dr. Miriam Cosca-Cruz


Exponential Growth and Expansion (1995-2001)

1995 –Dr. Miriam Cosca-Cruz (chair, 1995-2001): Established Guidelines, procedures, protocols

1995 -Partnership and collaboration with the Ugnayan Ng Pahinungod-Manila.

Single Target Mission Action areas: 1995, 1997.

Double (back to back) Target Mission Action Areas: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001.


Continued Steady Growth and Expansion (2002-2005)

Dr. Lulu V. Ramirez-Plurad (chair, 2001- 2003) and Dr. Marilyn S. Aldeguer Resurreccion (chair, 2004- 2005).

2002: Start of UPMASA funding support. Increasing number of volunteers and increasing number of patients treated in target areas. Partnership established with Catholic Medical Missions Board.

Pototan, Iloilo (2005) ? the only exception target Area ? Solo UPMASA only; no volunteers from Ugnayan Ng Pahinungod.


Growth with Special Collaborations (2006 to present)

Dr Frances Tolete-Velcek (chair 2006-2009), was assisted by energetic movers.   Dr Emmanuel Lat and Dr. Zenda Lat, coordinated the following target areas: 2006 (Gingoog), 2008 (Baroy), and 2009 (Hilongos).   2007 (Tuguegarao) was actively coordinated by DrElsie Antonio.


Dr. Valentin N. Dolorico (chair, 2009 -2017): Increasing Medical, Nursing, Dental Volunteers and Non-Medical Volunteers.

2013: Calapan Medical Action, Partnership with Oriental Mindoro Association of California (OMASC)

2014: Dipolog Medical Action- Partnership with Univ of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical School Alumni.

2016: Maasin Leyte, Partnership with Diocese and local Health Government


2017: Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Provincial Governor and Auxiliary, coordinated by Dr Frances Tolete-Velcek and ran under Acting Chair Dr Glen Batiller and who was subsequently named new CHAIR of Medical Mission 2017 onwards


Medical Mission Funding

1995-2001: NY-NJ-CT chapter funding support + individual fundraising.

2002-Present: UPMASA funding support for medication, supplies, some equipment, and Pahinungod expenses.

90% of expenses covered by individual and chapter fundraising (exceptional fundraiser: Dr. & Mrs. Valentin D. Dolorico 2010 ? 2017).

Note: UPMASA volunteers pay their own way to and from the mission target area and their own lodging (plus Pahinungod travel and lodging) expenses


Medical Mission Partners:

  1. Ugnayan Ng Pahinungod/Oblation Corps: started in 1994 by UP President Emil Javier to Institutionalize the spirit of social commitment and service that has marked U.P. since

It was founded in 1908.

Pahinungod: Cebuano term closest to Oblation = offering or sacrifice. Volunteers are known as Pahinungods.

University-wide program with Pahinungods in Social Service, Education (Gurong Pahinungod), Agriculture, Health Care, Urban Area, and other programs

Currently most active: Pahinungod Manila (for Health care, Street Kids, and 8 other active programs) and Pahinungod Los Banos (for Agriculture).


Pahinungod Manila annually does 15 ? 40 medical missions within the Philippines. UPMASA coordinates/joins one medical mission with them. Provides surgical volunteers and liaison to dental and SUKOB (eye) volunteers. Do some on site pre Mission patient screening and some Post mission surgical follow up. Very active participation in surgical procedures during UPMASA medical missions. Assists in Philippine licensure fulfillment (temporary or permanent) for USA UPMASA volunteers.

   2.   Catholic Medical Missions Board – provided medications (2005-2011)

   3.   Bausch and Lomb: lenses

   4.   Mercury Drug & Unilab (Philippines): medication

   5.  Oriental Mindoro Association of California (OMASC) (2013): liaison to local government provided surgical gowns and drapes, food for volunteers, hospital cots for post-op Medical mission patients.

   6.  University of the East Medical Alumni Association (2014) – volunteers, liaison to the provincial hospital

   7.  Divine Mercy Society (Texas) (2017) medications, non-medical activity.


Elements for Success

Memorandum of Agreement between: UPMASA medical Chairperson, UP Chancellor Manila (for Pahinungod Manila) and local government (for local budget for food, local transportation, mission site [operating rooms, clinic areas, restrooms, lodging areas, security]). Consent and participation of local government is imperative. Consent and involvement of local health MDs and officials for patient selection and follow up (only indigent patients to be seen and treated by mission personnel so there is minimal impact on local practitioners?? income). USA presence of a Target Area representative [coordinator] (preferably UPMASA member).

Coordination with Pahinungod Manila for purchase and transport of supplies to target area; and post missions expeditious referral to PGH of complex cases.

UPMASA funding support, robust fund raising and expense control.


Typical Action Schedule:

Day 0: Arrival of US Volunteers in MNL. Transport of Supplies from MNL to target Area.

Day 1: Arrival of US Volunteers + Pahinungod Volunteers in Target Area. Sorting of Supplies, Final Surgical screening. Surgical procedures start in the PM.

Day 2: – 5: Medical, Surgical, Dental Mission

Day 6: Post mission conference (preferable with local medical personnel); Repack/transport of supplies back to MNL. Rest & recreation (near target area) for all volunteers.

Day 7: Return to MNL.


Ongoing Activity:

Many UPMASA and USA volunteers ship supplies and equipment for medical Mission Use: Ship to: Ugnayan Ng Pahinungod, Mezzanine Level, Philippine General Hospital, Taft Ave, Manila.

Donate to Medical Missions: https://archive.upmasanational.org Click on donate, click on medical missions. The UPMASA is a qualified 501 (3)??? organization. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

To Join: contact Medical missions chair: https://archive.upmasanational.org Click on medical missions.


Future Directions:

Explore preventive measures to decrease or eliminate goiter and hernia incidence (most common general surgery cases); and cleft lip/cleft palate (common pediatric plastic cases). Establish relationship with local MDs for continued surgical education and collaboration during mission days; and continued medical education in coordination with UP-PGH. Explore ways to prevent chronic medical conditions. Stronger association with other charitable groups for treatment of complex medical and surgical cases e.g. Handog Ngiti.



Just like now – and more so then – many of our alumni are not aware of [or don’t believe] in the medical missions.


73,123 cases since the Medical Mission’s inception.   5387 surgical cases.   6986 Dental &  60,749 medical consultations. The numbers are staggering.   These patients touched our lives and tagged on our Missioner??s hearts to keep going back.  


Prepared by: Roberto Velasco, MD.  Class 70


Author’s Random thoughts and observations: (from personal participation since 1997)

UPMASA medical missions subscribes to the Ugnayan Ng Pahinungod mission statement: ??To serve the Underserved.??

Local Practitioners resent medical mission activities especially if pay patients are seen by medical missions. UPMASA medical missions take great pains to do preliminary screening so indigent (charity patients) are the major beneficiaries.


The most productive, rewarding and successful missions usually meant several target mission area visits by the coordinator and/or the chair; and the involvement of the mayor, governor and congressman/congresswoman of the target mission area.


Active and current Philippine Medical license required especially of surgical personnel.

My preference is to perform orthopedic procedures with the local orthopedic surgeon (for better pre-OP evaluation and long term Post OP patient care).


Re: Tabulation Data: My sources:
1. In 2005 there was a trifold piece paper (color – light green) incorporating data from the medical missions (1995 – 2005). This was prepared by Dr. Marilyn Aldeguer Resurreccion (then the Med mission chair) for the 2005 AGC. (Just like now – and more so then – many of our alumni are not aware of [or don’t believe] in the medical missions).

2. The July 2010 AGC souvenir program (published by the Northern Calif chapter): has the tabulation data incorporating the above data and tabulation made current up to 2010 (Siaton) with Bani as the proposed 2011 target area.



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