April 19, 2012
After a breakfast meeting with San Miguel IT consultants Mark and Aimee at the “Dome” in Shangrila (a sprawling mall in Metro Manila) where I had my first taste of “flat white” (the Australian version of cafe latte), Lucie’s sister Tess drove us to Las Pinas, a baranggay (town) just outside of Manila, home of the famous Bamboo Organ. Through congested traffic that would make LA rush hour a walk in the park, we arrived after two hours at Our Lady of Peace Hospital.
The 10-yr-old charity hospital was founded by general surgeon/St Paul of Chartres nun Sr. Eva Maamo. Often called “Mother Teresa of the Philippines”, the tireless 70-yr-old nun
is a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay humanitarian award (the Asian version of the Nobel Peace prize) for her work among the aboriginal tribes of the Philippines.
Luckily, we caught Sr Eva on a “quiet day”; she was writing at her desk. She welcomed us warmly and with her characteristic big smile. She had just finished a meeting with her staff and elderly Sr Mendoza was picking her up for a lunch break. So, we continued our conversation at a nearby Japanese restaurant.
Sr Eva’s work has flourished through the years. Her initial efforts to provide health care to indigenous tribes in the Mountain Province of northern Luzon have extended to the outer reaches of central Visayas and southern Mindanao , in other words, the entire country.
Back at her office at Out Lady of Peace Hospital, Sr Eva gave us a slide presentation of her countless projects, including the training of 229 “Barefoot Doctors” to reach out to the remotest barrios.
Her work to alleviate the conditions of the poor and uneducated tribes reminded us of St Katherine Drexel’s work a century ago with native American Indians.
Sr Eva has opened various clinics across the country. She has also developed feeding and nutrition centers, employment training areas, cooperative “banks” for micro financing, etc. She proudly showed us a picture of the first tribal girl who graduated as a teacher Standing next to her was a young man, her future husband, the tribes’ pioneering agriculturalist.
Sr Eva’s needs funding for various projects, particularly since government assistance has not been steady. She could use a CT Scan for the hospital and $12,000 (P500k pesos) to build a classroom. She needs 4 classrooms by July to house more students.
It was good to see Sr Eva again and to be inspired by the dedication and humility of such a remarkable surgeon/nun.