Serving your fellowman

“THE best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” said Mahatma Gandhi, the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. “The successful man doesn’t use others, other people use the successful man, for above all the success is of service,” noted American writer Mark Caine.

In 1908, Eugene V. Debs delivered one of the most eloquent speeches. “Now my friends,” he said, “I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life.

“We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man.

“Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.”

But Dr. Hilario Lapeña and his wife, Elsa, came back to the town where he grew up and served those who are underprivileged and needy. Being medical doctors who are now based in Toronto, Ontario in Canada, the two headed the medical mission that was conducted recently at the health center of Poblacion Dos in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

More than 200 people from the town trooped to the health center. Since Dr. Lapeña is a surgeon, he operated some of those that need mini-operation. As for others that could not be operated, he gave some referrals. His wife, Elsa, supported him by doing check-ups and gave prescriptions.

The other medical doctors who assisted the couple were Dr. Glinard Quezada, the chief of hospitals; Dr. Elpedio Monarca, and Dr. Romeo Gamalong.

Three dentists also extended help. They were: Dr. Cherivic Pangantijon, Dr. Jerry Okyo, and Dr. Doris Evelyn Megriño.

Under the office of the Governor Claude P. Bautista, a medical mission team was also sent to do the nitty-gritty tasks. Among those who were there: Maria Pamela G. Hernandez, Ana Marie A. Noel, Indira Gan, Justynne Kay Tee, Jennalyn Cabardo, Ruth G. Gako, Jepoy Cabardo and Edsheen Bajenting.

Two social workers also helped the medical mission team: Osang De Guzman and Sheryl White. Not to be outdone were the two primary care benefits team: Jade Dugayo and Jeffrey Cubero.

Four members of the Association of Bansalenos Worldwide (ABW) -- of which Dr. Lapena is also a member -- came to assist and help. First to arrive was yours truly, then followed by Leila Rispens-Noel (who once lived in the Netherlands), the president of the organization. The Acaba sisters -- Zenita and Ida, both from Australia -- came later.

The ABW was one of the partners of the medical mission. Other partners were: Brother’s Brother Foundation International (USA), Child United, The Presbyterian Church (Canada), the Filipino Canadian Medical Association, WIMLER Foundation Philippines, and the Davao del Sur provincial government.

“At the close of life,” Nathan C. Scheaffer once pointed out, “the question will be not how much have you got but how much have you given? Not how much have you won but how much have you done? Not how much have you saved but how much have you sacrificed? It will be how much have you loved and served, not how much were you honored?”


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