by Senior Master Sgt. J.C. Woodring
Pacific Angel Public Affairs
3/8/2013 - DUMAGUETE, Philippines -- U.S.
servicemembers partnered with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to
provide medical care for Filipino survivors of a 6.8 magnitude
earthquake that devastated their town in 2012, as part of a humanitarian
effort currently underway here through March 9.
Operation Pacific Angel-Philippines, a humanitarian medical and civil
engineering mission that kicked off March 4 at five worksites throughout
Negros Oriental Province, included approximately 55 U.S. servicemembers
from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines, members of the AFP
and several local non-governmental organizations.
"We are here to help, and we have all of the patients organized and
coming in very orderly," said Capt. Eddie Donovan, a medical service
corps officer from Osan Air Base, South Korea, who organized patient
flow with Tolentino. "About half of the patients were seen here, and the
others were taken to Dumaguete."
Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines drove approximately 100
patients from a nearby mountain area that was hit hardest by the quake
to the PACANGEL-Philippines medical sites for treatment March 6.
"That's what Pacific Angel is about," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alvin
Alana, Pacific Angel-Philippines mission commander from the Hawaii
National Guard. "Within our resources, we want to care for those who
need our help most. These families have lost a lot, and if we can make
their life a little better, it is the right thing to do."
Since the earthquake hit the province in February 2012, the survivors have been without a medical clinic in their area.
"It is so important for them to be here that they rode in the AFP trucks
for four hours just to make it," said AFP 2nd Lt. Ruth Zandra
Tolentino, a nurse who assisted with patient flow . "They are so
thankful for the medical treatment."
She came to Negros Oriental Province from a neighboring island to participate in the operation.
The added workload didn't seem to faze the team providing the care. Both
of the medical sites provided primary, dental and optometry care, as
well as physical therapy.
"There was always a Filipino doctor working alongside his American
counterpart," said Master Sgt. Kimona Woodward, a medical administrator
from Misawa Air Base, Japan. "It was good to see them team up like
Despite the obvious benefits for the patients who receive free health services, the caregivers benefit from it as well.
"The Filipino dentist deals with these types of cases all of the time,
and he is fast," said Capt. Cherie Gabriel, a dentist from Yokota Air
Base, Japan. "Helping them with their teeth really matters to them."
The patients who received treatment didn't hide their gratitude for the assistance.
"It was amazing how much reading glasses can make someone's day," said
Staff Sgt. Dwain Tolvert, an optometry technician from Kadena Air Base,
The mission didn't go unnoticed by local government officials.
"We are very honored to have you here in Negros Oriental Province. You
are making a difference throughout our province," said Roel R. Degamo,
governor of Negros Oriental Province, during a meeting with Alana.
Alana joined his AFP counterpart, Col. Francisco M. Patrimonio, on
regular visits to the sites and meetings with mayors of the cities
closest to the sites.
Two of the sites provided medical care and three contain civil engineering programs to improve schools in the area.
Operation Pacific Angel is a U.S. Pacific Command humanitarian mission
that sends primary care, dental, optometry and civil engineer experts to
different countries each year to partner with their militaries and
other non-governmental organizations. This marks the sixth year of the
operation, and Pacific Angel-Philippines is the first trip of the year.
It is scheduled to last through March 9.