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The 17th Derm-Surg Mission through the Eyes of a “Virgin Banaue Missioner”

Skin Health

By: Khriz Anne G. Angbengco, MD – 3rd Year Resident, Makati Medical Center

It was my first time to attend the Dermatological Surgical Mission in Banaue; a “Virgin Missioner”, as Dr. Ida Tiongco would call us first-timers. When it was announced that I am one of the two residents that would be joining, I was ecstatic and nervous at the same time. Ecstatic, since I have never been to Banaue, and at the same time, nervous, as this is my first time to be included in a mission this big. It was held last January 4-7, 2018 – a 4-day Dermatological Surgical Mission in cooperation with Good News Clinic and Hospital, Philippine Dermatological Society, and American Academy of Dermatology. Now on its 17th year, it was started by Drs. Antonio Ligot and Dr. Tiongco in 2000.

My journey started when I rode the first van going to Banaue. I was with Dr. Ma. Angela M. Lavadia, her husband, Dr. Bill Lavadia, Dr. Jasmin Jamora, and 3 other senior residents from East Avenue Medical Center. It was an almost 11-hour drive. I basically slept through the trip up until the scary, last 2 hours when our expert driver, Kuya Long-long, had to us through foggy roads.

We were welcomed by the lovely couple, Dr. Antonio Ligot and Mrs. Sylvia Ligot. They served us a sumptuous dinner of crunchy fried catfish and steaming chicken tinola – lovingly prepared by Mrs. Ligot herself. After some short introductions and history-rich stories, we were sent off to our hotel to rest for the next day’s mission. The group stayed at Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel, which has accommodating staff and rooms overlooking the mountains.

The other missioners arrived early morning of the following day. Dr. Ida Tiongco with her 2 residents from USA, and PDS consultants Drs. Arcee Grey, Katrina Reyes, Elle Asuncion, Johannes Dayrit and 2 RITM residents; as well as the Northern Luzon group Drs. Olla Bascos, Remy Manuel, Ken Pipo, Liza Paz-Tan, Bernadette Villaflor, Jerome Acosta, Marion Odette Alonzo, Ofelia Luis and 2 Hungarian dermatologists.

Before we started, Dr. Ida Tiongco oriented the group with our tasks to make sure everything will go as smooth as possible. The group was divided into consultation and surgical procedure teams. Consults were done at the hospital’s chapel while all procedures were done at the 4-bed Delivery room-converted Procedure room. I was assigned to do procedures in the morning. By 9 am, consultation started and by 9:30 am, the Surgical group started doing procedures, patient after patient. At 1 pm, I already finished 2 shave excisions with biopsy of compound melanocytic nevi and several intralesional steroid injections of keloids, electrodessication of verruca vulgaris on hands and feet, and excision biopsy of a keloid from a previously excised nevus with remnants on the right abdomen. I’m very thankful to Drs. Tiongco, Grey, Dayrit and Paz-Tan for guiding me and patiently teaching me all throughout the procedures. Indeed, surgery cannot be learned overnight and confidence is really a must!

After my surgical post, I was then assigned at the consultation area. Day 1 was a success with over 200 patients seen. We ended the day with a dinner feast prepared by Mrs. Ligot. Completing the missioners, the group of Drs. Peachy Paz-Lao, Tess Gabriel, Mar Cruz, Roy Vincoy, Joyce Dancel, Berna Caluya, Jasmin Yazon, and residents from Makati Medical Center and OMMC have arrived early morning of January 5.

During the second day, I was only able to see patients during the morning as I need to go back to Manila. But before heading home, the whole group went to View Point to have our picture taken with the Rice Terraces. The other dermatologists, who were left, continued consultations and procedures until the 7th of January. The Mission served a total of 489 patients.

This experience is by far the most exhilarating and unforgettable. I did not only gain new friends and meet other colleagues, but it also helped me learn more about myself, my capabilities, and my future as a dermatologist. I couldn’t think of better ways to start my 2018! I will definitely come back even if I have to endure the long, nauseating zigzag and foggy roads to and from Banaue, knowing that I will come home with a full heart, mind and stomach.