April 22, 2014

RSO Bukidnon Summer Immersion Program: No Dull Moments!

Almost a week ago, one of the most awesome trips of my life officially ended. In two and a half weeks, I was able to experience so much! No Dull Moments, as my co-Bukidnoners (I, Nash, Therese, Divine, Aina, Cherry and Jab) would say.

Meet the group :)

The official date for the immersion-proper was April 7-11, but our trip lasted a lot longer because of the side trips we took. We explored not just Bukidnon, but also CDO. Aside from our immersion in Bukidnon, RSO also had simultaneous immersions in Batanes, Polilio Quezon, and Quezon Quezon. I'm sure those who immersed in other areas also had a wonderful time.

In this entry, I will give you a glimpse of how our Bukidnon/CDO trip went. I'll try my best to relay to you our adventures concisely, without sacrificing accuracy. 

Warning: This post is extremely long and image-heavy, but please stay with me.

Day 0. Sunday: Arrival at Cagayan de Oro City CDO arrival 

I, together with Jab, Divine and Therese left Manila on Cebu Pacific's 6:55am flight to CDO. Aina's flight was bound for Davao and she met with us in Bukidnon the next day. Cherry, Jab and Divine's college classmate, is studying in Cebu Doctors University (RSO summer immersion is open for all medical students), came from Cebu, and met with us in the CDO airport. Nash left on an earlier flight so he was already waiting for us in the airport when we arrived. His family hosted us in all of our CDO stay.

It was Sunday, and I never thought I would be able to go to church that day. Thank God Nash's father is a pastor and they brought us to the Light of the World Church where he preached. In the afternoon, Nash's mom drove us around the city as we visited Therese's Grandpa and bought personal supplies. This was the day that we were introduced to Persimon's baked siopao (The best siopao I've ever tasted!), La Favorita homemade ice cream, and the best food for the gods! In the evening, they brought us to a Christian concert which we were not able to finish, then they took us to dinner at Kagayanon - kare-kare, pinakbet, grilled tuna, bangus sisig. Yum!
Photo taken before dinner at Kagayanon

Day 1. Monday: Journey to Impasugong, Bukidnon - Meet the MHO + Orientation 

The next day, we embarked on a 2-hour journey to Impasugong. This marked the official start of our immersion. We rented a van for 2,000 php which brought us to the municipal hall. There, we met the MHO - Dr. Neil Illescas, a UPCM alumni. Through the Doctor's to the Barrios Program, Dr. Neil, originally from Bulacan, was assigned to Impasugong and has been its MHO for more than two years now. He'll be serving until the end of April, 2014. In the Municipal Hall, Dr. Neil introduced us to the officers and government workers of the municipality and they gave us a warm welcome. 

After lunch, Dr. Neil brought us to the Municipal Health Office - our headquarters/workplace/classroom for the next 4 days. We observed him as he entertained patients. He also oriented us on what we were going to do for the immersion. He asked us what we wanted to experience and tried to fit our suggestions in the schedule. He also introduced us to the midwives and our would-be hosts.

The day ended and we went to the respective midwives’ households to which we were assigned. Nash went with tita Inday, Cherry and Aina with tita Ping, Therese and Divine with Tita Betty, and I and Jab with Tita Lea. They all had decent homes and we are all grateful for their hospitality.

While all of us slept soundly in our host families' homes, Divine, Therese and Nash stayed at the Health Center for the night duty.

Day 2. Tuesday: Jogging + A day in the life of a Barangay Health Worker (BHW) + CHITS + Trip to the Market

The second day of the immersion started with an attempt to stay fit even if we were on a medical immersion. Dr. Neil led us (except Nash, Divine and Therese who were still at the Health Center) on a jog along a road leading to a swimming pool. The view was wonderful! Too bad I can't show you because we did not bring cameras. Before reaching the endpoint, we were already getting tired, and I and Jab had to get back because we promised tita Lea that we would be her tag-alongs that day to the Barangay Health Station  (BHS) she was assigned to. So, we headed back.

Ate Lea is assigned to the BHS at Kapitan Bayong, and so we went there. It was time for their routine house to house administration of vitamin A and deworming pills, so, we joined them. It was my first time, and prior to that, I never thought BHWs actually did house to house visits . It's amazing how they knew who to visit and where to go.

House to house administration of vitamin A and deworming pills

In the afternoon, we went back to the Health Center. I got so tired walking that morning, so I took a nap while the rest of the group explored CHITS (Community Health Information Tracking System). CHITS is an amazing software where you input the patients’ information. Everything from basic information, vitals, history, physical examination, and management, are encoded into the program which is accessible for all the computers connected to the local server. Tablets can also be used to input and access data. It's a very efficient paperless information system. (For more information about CHITS, visit their website). It's wonderful how Dr. Neil helped bring CHITS to the area. 

Another day was coming to its end, but us Bukidnoners would not let a day end just like that! We were invited to ate Betty's for a snack, and I and Jab needed to stop by the market to shop for tomorrow's breakfast (we planned to cook breakfast for ate Lea's family the next day) so, we decided to walk home. Walking could be so dull and tiring but, it wasn't for us! We took pictures along the way, even stopped to pose with some of the municipality's landmarks! We stopped by the market, shopped, and that's when a brilliant idea came to Nash. He suggested that all of us cook for our host families and Doc, and bring it to his host family's home and have a small gathering. We all agreed to it and planned on what we would bring to the party.


Day 3. Wednesday: Dahilayan Adventures!

 The 3rd day was a holiday - Araw ng Kagitingan. Last year, I spent it conquering Mt. Batulao (see my post: Mt. Batulao Conquered!) This year, I spent it overcoming yet another item worth placing on your Things I Must Do Before I Die list.  

A week before, we've already planned to spend Araw ng Kagitingan in Dahilayan Adventure Park. I and Jab woke up extra early that day to fix our hosts' breakfast. We made tuna omelet for them and for dessert, we left them the fruit-cocktail-graham-float that we prepared the night before. Nash's family fetched us at the Municipal hall and off we went!

It was a first to visit Mindanao for some of my co-Bukidnoners and a first to visit Dahilayan for most. I've been to Dahilayan before but all I've tried were the zip lines and the Zorbit. I've never tried anything as daring as the DROPZONE. I was hesitant to buy a ticket but I knew I wanted to. So, I paired with Jab (I couldn't do the drop alone!), and we bought one.

After the girls tried the Asia's Longest Zip Line, we went to the area for the dropzone. As I watched other people do the 120ft high drop/swing, I got stomach-tied. I was screaming just watching them, but I couldn't back out. I already paid for the ticket, and I did not want to waste money, and I knew deep in my heart that I wanted to try. Among us, Aina and Therese went first, Divine and Cherry next, then I and Jab, and Nash and his mom, last. We did all sorts of crazy stuff to prep ourselves. However, nothing we ever did prepared us for what was about to come. Even when it was our turn, and even when they were securing my harness, I still hesitated. It took me a long time to finally allow them to finish securing my harness. I knew I had to try it before I die and I did not want to desert Jab so I finally submitted myself to the experience.

The trip up as you're pulled to the top was dreadful. When we reached the top, It took a while before Jab pulled the string for our drop but when she did it, we really could not do anything anymore but to hold on each other for dear life and scream our lungs out! The first few seconds were the scariest but after that, everything went fine. I enjoyed every time the projectile reached Ymax or V=0! At the end of it, I felt so fulfilled. It was a wonderful experience and I'm so willing to do it again! You should try it too! 

After doing the dropzone, we tried the ATV (All-terrain vehicle). I and Jab almost missed the experience because we were wearing slippers, but thanks to Tita and Tito who lent us their shoes, we were able to try it. The experience was fun, but it was nothing compared to the dropzone. It was a bit hard to maneuver the ATV, and one of us had an accident (guess who?). In spite of that, we all made it alive and in one piece. Thank God!

Lunch time came and we ate at Pinegrove. The food was great, especially the cinnamon roll. However, our hosts were so eager to let us try the best burger and roast beef in the area. They brought us to the del monte Clubhouse for a 2nd lunch. Indeed the roast beef and burgers were delectable!

We went back to Impasugong that day with full tummies and a sense of bravery (for overcoming the dropzone!). We were tired but happy. When when we arrived, our first stop was the market to shop for the ingredients we needed for that night's gathering. Nash volunteered to make adobo, Aina and Cherry, sinugbang bangus, Divine and Therese, dessert and rice, and I and Jab, pinakbet.

It was our first time to make pinakbet and we just followed a recipe that Jab found in the internet. Thank God we were able to pull it off! Or at least Ithink we were able to pull it off.

During dinner, we entertained our host families with songs. Dr. Neil even sang for us! Good thing Aina has the app The Voice, so we had lyrics and accompaniment as we sang. We wanted to go out for Videoke, but the weather did not allow. We were stuck with the app, and eventually, went home.

Day 4. Thursday: Meet Baby girl + Prenatal Check up + Tuli (Circumcision) training + Kinect  

Break's over and we were back to work. We were awakened by a text message informing us that a woman was in labor at the Health Center and would give birth soon! Excited to witness a delivery, Jab and I prepared ourselves as fast as we could and went to the Health Center. I was so excited that I postponed taking a bath and brought the cup of coffee I was sipping, as we dashed to the Health Center. When we arrived, it turned out that the delivery would not be commencing soon, so I decided to take a bath first. When I came back, fresh and all, the woman in labor was already lying down in the delivery room. This was at 10:30am. We observed and waited for a couple of hours until the baby was born past 12:00pm. What was for us just seen in videos and read in books, was then before our eyes. It was a wonderful experience! After the delivery, we helped out in the prenatal check up. We did Leopold's maneuvers, listened for Fetal heart tones, and some of us did as far as counseling the pregnant women and administering Tetanus Toxoid shots as needed. It was a good learning-filled-OB-day!
After the prenatal check up, we still had a long day ahead of us. Activities for the night included dinner at Doc's and Tuli (circumcision) orientation and training to prepare us for next day's tuli mission. So, we went home, prepared our stuff, and went to Doc's. We would be bringing our stuff at Doc's place since we would be spending the night there, and would leaving Impasugong the next day. After the filling dinner we had, and before the training, we played Kinect. No dull moments indeed! When we were done dancing, we called Doc and he finally oriented us, discussed the anatomy, briefed us on what we should expect, and then showed us how to do simple interrupted stitches. We used bananas as dummies that night.

Day 5. Friday: Tuli Mission + Back to CDO = Chingkee tea

Finally, tuli mission day came! But sadly, it also meant our last hours in Impasugong :( We started the day with breakfast at Rodeo Grille courtesy of Therese's family friend. We spent the rest of the morning helping out with the circumcision of a lot of boys. We were also given opportunities to do the circumcision ourselves. I wasn't able to do one entirely on my own though, but I learned a lot. When lunch time came, we ate lunch with all the medical personnel in the Health Center. After lunch, we had our final pictures taken, thanked our hosts and everyone who helped us. Dr. Neil left before us because he had a flight to Manila that afternoon. Shortly after he left, we left too.

Once again we were back in CDO at Nash's. It felt like it was just yesterday when we first arrived! A lot has happened in Impasugong, but everything felt so fast. All of us were tired, so, we took the time to rest. While they rested, I went to visit my high school classmate, college schoolmate, and good friend, Andrea (or Den as we call her), who happened to live nearby. It was nice seeing her again after 3 months! Her family welcomed me to their home. She gave me a tour of their place and offered me dinner which of course, I did not refuse.

It took a while before Nash and the group fetched me, so I and Den had time to catch up. When they finally came, I was surprised to find a familiar face with them - Almira, our classmate who's also from CDO.
Nash brought us to this unique milk tea place - Chingkee tea. The interiors were oozing creativity. Their menu was unique too! I ordered Roasted Oolong Milk tea with popping bobba. What is popping boba? It's like a bubble that you burst for the flavor to come out, again, a new experience. We enjoyed our milk teas, and played charades. All in all, it was a fun night!


Day 6. Saturday: White Water Rafting + Food Trip 

Last full day in CDO and we were not giving up on adventure! We were booked for white water rafting with 1st Rafting Adventure that day. I've gone white water rafting in CDO before with a different group of friends and I had an awesome wild time! It was in the month of October and it recently rained before we went rafting, so the river was really wild! I was expecting the same thing for my 2nd try. However, that did not happen because the water level was not enough for a wild ride. Albeit the relatively calm waters, I still enjoyed the experience.
Lesson learned: go white water rafting during the rainy season to have the ultimate experience! Pray hard for safety though because when the water's raging, it will definitely be untamable!
After white water rafting, we were all tired. We ate lunch, went back to Nash's, washed up, and  rested. All of us had aching bodies and Nash's parents noticed how tired we looked. They suggested that we get a massage. Nash took us to Thai Boran and all of us except Therese got a 1-hour swedish massage. Therese got a 1-hour foot massage. We were all relaxed after. When the massage was done, we went downtown to get our rafting pictures. Then, we went on a food trip -  pasalubong at Vjandep's (home of the famous pastel), Persimon's baked siopao (again), and finally barbecue. We also went by Centrio to buy some last minute stuff (including our token for the Silava family). That day's final stop was at Xavier Estates Clubhouse where the Silava family treated us to dinner (again). Not only did they feed our stomachs, but they also fed our souls as Nash's dad shared to us his experiences, and his faith. It was a very good way to spend our last night.

Day 7. Sunday: Goodbye CDO, Hello Davao!

Finally, it was time for us to leave. We were so grateful for the Silava family for being generous hosts. We know that we could not repay their generosity but we tried our best to express our gratitude by giving them our simple token. Our trip to CDO/Bukidnon has come to its end. I thank God for the new experiences, strengthened relationships, and new friends. Thank God I chose to join the RSO summer immersion and thank God I chose Bukidnon.
 The bus ride was long, but after 9 hours, finally -  HOME.


Photo Credits: Thank you so much Jab Miguel and Aina Salem for the photos :)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Just found out about your blog through the BBN :) I also had a dream to enter the medical field but I didn't think I could handle the stress so I've changed career paths. I hope to read more about your journey! I'm really curious to read about an pre-med life, keep it up :)

    Hope you can take some a little time to visit my blog!

    1. I hope and pray that I can keep up with the pressure! I hope you'll find satisfaction in your new career path. Followed you on blogger :) nice blog!


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