There are more than 400 Agta members in Dinapigue
For the first time since the pandemic has restricted all mass gatherings in the communities, the Agta tribe came out in full force for a ‘Dental-Medical Mission’.
Dinapigue Mining Corporation (DMC), a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corporation, initiates the medical program for the Agtas, the Indigenous People (IPs) of Dinapigue, on August 17, 2022.
It is the mining company’s way of connecting and bonding with the IPs who are hosts to their mining operations in Dinapigue in the province of Isabela – a first corporate social responsibility (CSR) outing by DMC as soon as the lockdowns due to the pandemic start easing out.
The medical team is composed of volunteer-doctors and healthcare workers from Southern Isabela Medical Center (SIMC) headed by Dr. Nezer Soriano and the volunteer dental team from Unciano College of Dentistry headed by Dr. Yoya C. Tarriela, former president of the Philippine Dental Hygienists’ Association. The volunteer team offers free medical services as part of their personal social responsibility agenda.
“Our dental team has been doing this for almost six years now and what makes this mission interesting, other than giving back and paying forward, is that this is our first time tying-up with a mining company. The IPs are so appreciative of the services we provide and that gives us a feeling of fulfillment,” says Dr. Tarriela.
The Agta communities, who are known to be wary of medical procedures, welcome the visitors with open-arms and came out in groups for dental procedures, especially the children, as well as for general medical check-ups.
The DMC medical mission provides the much-needed healthcare to the IPs and other residents of Dinapigue who often find it a challenge to avail of regular medical care due to the remoteness of the area.
“Malaking bagay po ito, kasi para sa aming nasa malayo, itong mga ganitong pagkakataon, madalang po nangyayari. Kaya malaking pribilehiyo sa mga Dinapigueno ang ganitong mga event,” says Benedicto Candido, Punong Barangay of Dibulo, one of the 6 barangays of Dinapigue.
Edicia Vetriolo, a member of the tribe from barangay Digumased, says she and her husband and children appreciate medical missions like this because the IPs need this whether they admit it or not.
The Agtas are the primary beneficiaries of the Mission but the services extend to the non-IP residents who also availed of health assessment through medical consultations and dental care. A total of 247 patients receive the benefits from the day-long medical mission.
The medical team has five volunteers from SIMC and five volunteers from Unciano College of Dentistry plus the volunteers from the LGU headed by Dr. Reygene Caratiquit and the DMC team headed by the company dentist, Dr. Melvin Dionisio.
Funded through DMC’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, the Medical and Dental Mission is the first event organized in Dinapigue since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.