photos by Whistling in the Wind and Fr Edgardo Dumaual,OFMCap

Medical Mission to Kibanoot: Opening Doors to Inter-religious Dialogue

January 6 to 8, 2014 – Last October 2013, I was invited by Fr. Leny Escalada, OFMCap, Administrator of Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Caburan, Jose Abad, Santos, Davao Occidental to conduct a medical mission at Kibanoot, a small village in the wilderness of Marabatuan. It is about 3 hours hike from the main road to a lush rain forest. He informed me that the area does not have a GKK (Small Roman Catholic Community). 

The Initial plan was for an inter-Franciscan team to go to the area but due to some unexpected developments, the team was reduced to three Capuchin Friars (Capuchin Medical Mission Team) consisting of Fr. Edgardo Dumaual, OFMCap, Br. Pio Clemente, OFMCap and I. 

It was the first time that the tribal communities there (Manobo and Blaan tribes) were visited by a priest, religious and a doctor. The area was seldom visited by people from the municipal save for eight brave local government educators who painstakingly provided education for children up to the level of grade six. 

In the one and a half-day of consultations, we were able to treat 235 patients. More than half of the children I treated showed signs of protein malnutrition. 

The community was noted to have the largest number of religious denominations in Jose Abad Santos (greater than 30 religious groups) and in one moment during our medical consultations, I found myself treating five pastors from different groups simultaneously. We took that opportunity to sit down together and try to create an activity for the different religious groups to work together in harmony and dialogue. From this short gathering came forth a resolve for the different groups to gather every two months and have a medical mission and feeding program in the different areas where all could gather together in harmony and solidarity.