Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Church Role in Empowering Communities

Faith-based organizations (FBOs) can help empower the community to actively participate in improving the health condition of the society. The Comprehensive Rural Health project in Jamkhed, India is an example of how FBOs and churches can influence the health of a community (Chand & Patterson, 2007). Educating the people and influencing their behavior to choose what is healthy and beneficial to the community are strong contributions of churches and FBOs. One such field in public health is the increasing cases of maternal death around the world where the church can positively contribute to its reduction. This has been the contribution of the FBOs in India where the communities where empowered to choose facility-based deliveries with skilled birth attendants to reduce maternal death (Chand & Patterson, 2007).

It is important to measure the contribution of FBOs and any other agencies in empowering the community. Community empowerment can be measured using the five domains of empowerment including confident, inclusive, organized, cooperative, and influential (Community Development Exchange, 2008). We measure empowerment because it is important to assess if there is real community empowerment that happens in the community after health promotion programs. Real community empowerment needs a shift of power to the people where they are the ones who are able to identify the problem, sort through it, and find solutions to the problem (Lord & Hutchinson, 1993). An example of a strong involvement of the people is the community-based participatory research. This type of involvement allows learning, research finding and dissemination of results through the help of all actors in the community (Thompson, Viswanath, Molina, Warnecke, & Prelip, 2016). We see such kind of participatory research in Gbanko. In this area, community participation in health has dramatically reduced their maternal mortality rate (Gala, Umar, & Dandeebo, 2015).  FBOs are also catalyst of real community empowerment which is important in sustaining the change that takes place in the community. Evidences have shown us that deep community involvement is crucial as it provides the necessary resources to keep the program sustainable over time (Nation Online, 2013).


Community Development Exchange. (2008, April). What is Community Empowerment? (CDX, Ed.) Retrieved Octobe 18, 2018, from
Lord, J., & Hutchinson, P. (1993, Spring). The Process of Empowerment: Implications for Theory and Practice. (C. J. Health, Ed.) Retrieved October 18, 2018, from Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health:
Mbuagbaw, L., & Shurik, E. (2011, October 26). Community Particiaption in HIV and AIDS Program. (D. E. Barros, Ed.) Retrieved October 18, 2018, from
Thompson, B., Viswanath, K., Molina, Y., Warnecke, R., & Prelip, M. (2016, August 1). Strategies to Empower Communities to Reduce Health Disparities. doi:

Friday, October 5, 2018

Universal Health Care

This month is crucial in a paradigm shift on the health care system of the Philippines. We dream to have healthy communities free from preventable diseases. We dream of having an accessible and affordable health care readily available for ALL. We dream of a Universal Health Care anchored on a strong Primary Health Care.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Health Board

I traveled in the morning. I traveled at night. But the whole day was a fruitful day.

The Davao Episcopal Area was able to organize the Health Board that will over see the direction and implementation of the Health Ministry of the Church. Last September, the board elected its set of officers. We were also able to set the direction of the ministry with the identification of the priority health concerns in the area.

Freedom was remembered on the day of the declaration of the Martial Law. The DEA Health Board gave me an insight on the boundaries of freedom that we exercise. Freedom does not allow us to do what we do but rather guides us on the good that we need to do that others may benefit from.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Kadayawan sa Laity Congress

I traveled to Davao to attend the National Laity Congress. We were going to introduce to the national leaders of the different laity organizations the health ministry of the United Methodist Church - the Hulapalooza.

It was also Kadayawan Festival in Davao and so it adds up to the celebration in the area. I miss traveling to places but what I miss the most is the excitement that the destination will be a fun place for fellowship and not just any "work. " Our Christian journey in life should always like that. We must always look forward to the joy we will all have when we reach our destination. We must not only look at the destination as a place where we must arrive but a venue for celebration. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Abundant Health. Abundant Life

Abundant Health Forum in Manila

A reflection shared during the 1st Pan-Asia Methodist Abundant Health Forum held in Manila. 

John 10:10 … “ I came that you may  have life and have it abundantly.”

I am happy to share the good news because often, I bring bad news to the patient.

I always say that, because that is true. The hospital is the darkest and the loneliest place on earth. It is a place where you can see sorrow, anxiety, distress and hopelessness. People are sick and in pain while suffering from cancer, malnourished children dying of preventable death like dehydration or dengue fever. You have stroke patients or heart attack patients in the ICU. You have surgical patient with neoplastic masses if not vehicular accidents. These are just patients, these does not include the family members who are equally worried and hopeless with the condition of their patients.

The parents may be stressed out where to get the finances necessary to pay the bills and to buy the medicines. You have relatives and friends who have lost sleep and tired because they volunteered to watch over their patients. You have loved ones who are worried about the job of their patients. Even their own jobs and business that they need to attend to that was disrupted by this illness. You have children who do not know what to do if their parents will be gone. Then you have the health workers in the facility who are so tired of their work. They not only feel tired but feel abused and unappreciated. They feel like they are overworked but underpaid. They have lost hope because they no other recourse and this is the only option left they have. All they can see probably is darkness. Just like the blind man who was standing in front of the temple. But Jesus did something unexpected. On a Sabbath Day, Jesus healed the blind man. But it did not only bring sight to the blind, it also opened the opportunity for the blind man to believe in the Son of Man and become a follower of Jesus. The blind man was offered a new lease of life… not just life but a life of abundance that only comes from Jesus. Wouldn’t that be nice? If all those who are sick, lonely, hopeless, imprisoned, living in the dark will find a life of abundance in Jesus?

I often see families referred to my service for family counseling. How can I help the parents? I see cases where the father and mother are resigned to the fact that their family is a hopeless case. Some  parents have even contemplated to end their lives because their family was going nowhere and they are dragging their kids with them. They have lost all desires to live because all they have encountered are problems, challenges and all the limitations life can throw at them. They have not seen any signs of abundant grace from God. They need a miracle. Are we expecting that the cloud will open in front of them and a bright white light will come down?

The hospital should be a place of hope because hopeless people go to that place. They need hope. Any place of healing and restoration should be a place of hope and life. Jesus is our hope. Jesus can give us life. And Christians should be able to reflect the hope and the life that comes from Christ. When we minister to the sick and the dying are we just able to address their physical ailments without restoring their mental, spiritual health? We provide holistic healing of the mind, body and spirit just like Jesus did. We offer them life, the life Christ offered. For we are instruments of Christ healing. Simple miracles can happen everyday.

I remember when I was a resident physician in Mary Johnston Hospital. Before we bring the patient to the operating room for a surgical procedure. We talk to the family and the patient and explain what will happen. This helps allay their fears and anxiety. We prepare them mentally. Not only that, together with the nurses, we pray with the patient and the family. The prayer calms their soul. They appreciate that a lot. We do that because we recognize that we are mere instruments of God’s healing ministry – the healing of the body, the mind and the soul.

Jesus promised us life and a life in abundance. That life does not only mean adding more years to it, adding more meaning to it or adding more importance to it. That life becomes abundant because Christ offers us hope, peace and joy. In our healing ministries, we open the door that is Christ for people to see the abundant life. As Christians, we are called to bring this good news that is Jesus Christ to every corners of the world. Let us be faithful in our calling, let us bring healing in this broken world. Let us continue to share the life of abundance that we all have found in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Jesus is a community medicine practitioner

If Jesus is alive today, he could have been a health worker. He would be a great community medicine practitioner.

The proceedings in the last Annual Convention of the Philippine Academic Society for Community Medicine, it was very inspiring to see snippets of Jesus and His work in the activities of the doctors and students engaging the people and the community. Different schools and universities showcased their partnership with the community in addressing their health problems towards improving the quality of life of the people. One video presentation showed how the team of doctors and interns transformed one community from a slum area into a vibrant baranggay over the years of its partnership. The work of Christ continues with the work of the community health workers. It is not because some of these institutions are Christian universities, it is simple the nature of their work as community health workers.

Helping the poor and sick, feeding the hungry, freedom for the captive and transformation of the world into a better place. Sound like very Biblical but that is precisely what these health workers are doing. I cannot wait for next years convention as they highlight the different best practices of the different institutions engaged in community work.
PASCOM Panel Discussion during the R.Fernando Memorial Lecture.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

9 Things I Learned Getting to a United Methodist Church in Cebu

Lessons I learned after arriving at the Mactan International Airport at 8:05 AM to attend the Order of Elders and Workers Retreat. Here are the top 10 things I need to remember:

1. There is no breakfast meal in Jollibee. I was hungry but the only Jollibee store at the airport does not offer any breakfast meal. I had to find another store outside.

2. You can take the bus going to Cebu. I wanted to commute with the public transport in Cebu. They have a MyBus right outside the airport. It will bring right at SM City Cebu where jeepneys going all over are available.

3. Be ready with coins. The MyBus uses a tap card but if you do not have one, you need to pay the exact amount to the driver (actually you drop it in the box).

4. There is a Traveller's Lounge in SM. This is very convenient for travelers going through Cebu. One can leave their bags there or take a shower for only P50. I took the opportunity to freshen up before I proceeded to my destination.

5. The Mall opens at 10 AM. I had to wait for the Mall to open before I could get to the available restaurants inside to eat my breakfast. I just ordered some cheeseburgers to go.

6. Take the 12 G or 12 I jeepneys to get to Labangon. There is a terminal infront of the Mall where jeepneys plying different routes are waiting. It leaves on time and does not wait for the jeep to be full.

7. Fare is P9. SM Cebu to A. Lopez is a little far but is just 9 pesos, that is 2 more than the regular fare P7.

8. The jeep route passes through a couple of landmarks in Cebu. We passed through Sto. Nino, Pier Uno, the old downtown Colon and the Vicente Sotto Medical Center.

9. The divine worship starts at 10:30 AM. I arrived at the church at 11:02 AM.