NAVSUP Global Logistics Support (GLS) employee Tito Malig, a retired Navy senior chief, organized a medical and dental humanitarian mission to aid more than 2,000 indigent residents of Santa Rita, Republic of the Philippines this past February.
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Dr. Rodolfo "Rudy" Manalac (center), from Baker, La. and Tito Malig (right), President and Chairman of the "Ritenians" of San Diego County in Santa Rita, Republic of the Philippines. Malig organized a medical and dental humanitarian mission to aid more than 2,000 indigent residents of Santa Rita. (Photo by Juliet Malig)
He organized a team of 10 doctors, 10 nurses, four dentists and four dental assistants, and accompanied them to Santa Rita. While there, they aided more than 1,300 outpatients for general consultations, 129 outpatients for dental hygiene and tooth extractions, distributed 750 pairs of reading glasses valued at $500, and gave away prescribed and over-the-counter medicinal products and vitamins worth about $7,000. Men and women of all ages were seen, and most all of the children received vitamins to support their lack of nutrients and minerals.
“Most members of the Ritenians of Santa Rita come from that town in the Philippines,” Malig explained. “Our organization allows us to give back to the community we grew up in, because those of us who left Santa Rita feel like we were the lucky ones to leave the poverty and to become successful citizens here in the United States.”
When asked why he organizes these teams, Malig said, “In the Philippines, there are two classes of people, the rich and the poor. There are very few of them in middle class. If we did not do this, many would suffer. For instance, I saw about 10 patients there who I grew up with -- I left in 1976 -- and I could hardly recognize them. They looked so old and in poor health from the lack of medical and dental care. So few of them can afford health or dental insurance.”
“Also, I know first-hand what it like to live there,” he added. “I lived on a small farm purchased by my uncle, where my father grew rice and vegetables. We were a family of 10, dad, mom, and eight children. Life in Santa Rita was hard, especially during the rainy season. Back then, we also didn’t have machinery for farming; it was done manually.”
“We also didn’t have organizations to come out to help us while I was growing up,” Malig said. “We were lucky to survive.”
He said that by bringing medicine and medical and dental teams to Santa Rita is their way of giving back. “All the volunteers for this mission feel the rewards of giving back to their former community,” Malig said. “And the people of Santa Rita are so grateful. They come up to us a give us hugs with tears in their eyes.”
Malig said that through volunteer efforts, the rewards are endless. “To see a patient receive reading glasses for the first time and being able to see better was heartfelt,” he said. “Their faces would light up, they would have a big smile and they would just look at you with gratitude.”
“To get an idea of how poor these people are, one local dentist in Santa Rita told me that the poor will sacrifice and endure tooth pain in order to buy rice and fish for their family,” he said.
Malig said the local dentist told him one tooth extraction can set a family back 500 pesos, or approximately 12 U.S. dollars. That could feed a family of seven for about a week. Minimum wage in Santa Rita is about 300 pesos a day, about $7.
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Free medical and dental services are provided by the "Ritenians" of San Diego County in Santa Rita, Republic of the Philippines. More than 2,000 indigent residents of Santa Rita came out for the services provided. (Photo by Juliet Malig)
Malig explained that the feedback from the volunteers has been extremely positive and they all want to volunteer again next year if they can raise enough money and medical supplies to make another trip in 2014.
“Special thanks to all officers and members of our association, the medical and dental professionals who volunteered their time and money,” Malig said. “And, thank you to Dr. Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Manalac, from Baker, La., who not only donated his professional services, but a large amount of medical supplies. Without volunteer support this could have never happened.”
“I am also thankful for Renato and Agnes Romero for hosting my wife and I while in the Philippines, and providing us with a vehicle and driver to complete our mission,” he added.
Joining the U.S. Navy was always a childhood dream for Malig. His Uncle Tito was in the Navy, and Malig looked up to him. Coincidently, they shared the same birthday so he was named after his uncle. Both are named, “Tito.”
Malig joined the Navy in 1976. To be able to join the Navy was like winning a lottery in the Philippines. The Navy would test 300 applicants every day, five days a week; however, only one or two at the most would be recruited.
“It was very tough to join,” Malig explained. “Fortunately for my Uncle Tito and my older brother, Manuel, we were all able to join.” Tito’s older brother is now a retired master chief living in Jacksonville, Fla. Tito’s uncle, who served as a steward in the Navy, passed away in 1992.
At Malig’s first duty station in Mayport, Fla., it was on Valentine’s Day 1978 that he met his wife, Juliet.
“I had duty that day on my ship, USS Saratoga (CV 60),” he said. “My shipmate who was in the same duty section had his girlfriend stop by with her friend, Juliet.” It was a mutual immediate attraction, and they were married the next year and they now have two children.
“Unbeknownst at the time we met, Juliet was a ‘military brat,’ and her father was also in the Navy,” Malig said. Her father and Malig’s Uncle Tito served together in the Navy and were good friends.
So, Tito Malig and his Uncle Tito have the same birthday, both joined the Navy -- which at the time was very difficult to be accepted -- and his wife, Juliet’s father was good friends with Malig’s uncle. And, Malig and Juliet met on Valentine’s Day ... Destiny!
By Kim Longstaff, NAVSUP GLS Office of Corporate Communication