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  • Chelsea Kamille F. Fandiñola

Love Can Move Mountains


It was love that brought Team Sinag together. Driven by love, our Ideas Positive journey started as we wanted to be Barangay Tacayan’s allies for health.

What is love? What does it mean to love and be loved?


Some say that love hurts, love waits, and love stinks. For me, love is an experience. This story is about a different kind of love. A love that knows no boundaries, no limitations and no distance. A love that can move mountains (literally and figuratively).


What would you do for the one you love?


At Team Sinag, we would climb three mountains and cross a river, just for love. It is the kind of love that touches people’s lives; a love that helps people who need it the most; a love for protecting lives and for preserving Filipino culture; a love for our chosen community, the Panay Bukidnon Indigenous People of Barangay Tacayan, Tapaz, Capiz. And this love is addicting.


It was love that brought Team Sinag together. Driven by love, our Ideas Positive journey started as we wanted to be Barangay Tacayan’s allies for health.


“Sinag” is a Filipino word that means rays of the sun, symbolizing the light of hope that we wish to share with others. “Health for all” is our battle cry, and we fight for health equity. Barangay Tacayan, a geographically isolated and disadvantaged area (GIDA) with indigenous people, faces staggering logistical challenges when it comes to the delivery of health services.


Our team targeted the problem of filariasis in the community.


It is a parasitic infection transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The parasites develop into adult worms in the lymphatic vessels. Filariasis causes painful, disfiguring swelling of the legs and genital organs. Tapaz is the only municipality in Capiz that is still filariasis-endemic, with Barangay Tacayan reported as one of the barangays with ballooning cases. The chronic outcomes of the disease are not only physically disabling, but also psychosocially and economically impairing. It is profoundly detrimental to one’s quality of life, with the impact greatly felt by the socially marginalized and the poor.


The people of Barangay Tacayan sought to stop the transmission of filariasis in the community, and this is where we came in. Our project was composed of different interventions to achieve our objective. It included the implementation of Directly Observed Treatment System (DOTS) for Mass Drug Administration; the establishment of a Community Health Team; the distribution of bright-colored personal protective equipment (PPE) and insecticide-treated mosquito nets; an age-stratified educational campaign; and livelihood linkage with the Philippine Fiber Industry. After six months of project implementation, we successfully attained 0% microfilaremia.


We believe that the goal was attained because of the people’s collective action. We taught them how to analyze their own problems, and asked them to formulate their own interventions. Through this, we were able to develop a sense of ownership among the people of the community. We wanted them to own the project to ensure its sustainability. We wanted them to be empowered so that they can find solutions to a problem. We wanted the people to be part of the solution. As a result, the solution was developed by the community for the community. The team’s role was just to facilitate, and to serve as a catalyst, igniting the flame of bayanihan spirit.


Of course, it wasn’t easy. But it was worth it. We had to endure four hours of trekking every time we visited the community, but distance did not stop us. We even received much discouragement from public officials, because of tensions between insurgents. But love conquered all. Love fuelled us. Love made us crazy. Perhaps we were crazy going so far, for going to such a distant community, climbing mountains, and crossing a river. But what was crazier was seeing the people’s beaming faces and hearing their most sincere thanks.


All the physical, emotional and political struggles seemed insignificant after we felt the love from the people of Tacayan. They would wake up early to pick us up at or bring us to the starting point, and they would carry all our things to ease our burden during the hike. They would even cook their chickens and offer us their beds and pillows. They would share their stories with us, and laugh the night away over tuba (coconut wine), with adobong amakol (indigenous mushrooms) as our pulutan (appetizer).


During our culminating activity, we received the best and most memorable award of our lives. The members of Team Sinag were inducted as honorary citizens of Barangay Tacayan. Everything felt surreal during the ceremony. I felt my heart bursting with joy. The butterflies in my stomach went crazy. I felt loved. And I learned so much.


I will never forget the mountains of Tacayan. As Edmund Hillary would say, it’s not really the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves. We just have to keep on climbing and hiking forward for us to see the world. Like our journey through life, the destination is really not important. What matters most is why you decided to climb in the first place. And now, I know why. It’s because of love.


So what does love really mean? No single definition really encompasses what love is. You can define it anyway you want. You’ll just know it’s love when you feel it. But one thing is for sure, love can indeed move mountains.


Your mountain is waiting. Get on your way!


Chelsea Fandiñola is a member of Team Sinag, Ideas Positive Run 6 Third Placer. He is a student of University of the Philippines-College of Medicine. He loves to eat, read, and serve the community.

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