Puerto Princesa, General Santos, Lipa City, Manila

November 2014 Philippines

While we have been giving the gift of hearing in the Philippines for years, we visited Puerto Princesa for the first time in November. While we fit more than 900 people during the visit, one in particular stood out. Isagani Santa Ana lost his hearing at age five and could still remember what it was like to hear. He helped organize the mission and his wife, Sarah, is one of our local hearing care coordinators. Their three children are musicians. Bill Austin fit Isagani with hearing aids, and he and Sarah were able to listen to their children perform together — hearing the music.

From Puerto Princesa, the team traveled to General Santos, a city primarily known as “The Tuna Capital of the Philippines” and home to professional boxer Manny Pacquiao. The mission in General Santos happened to fall on the same day that Pacquiao was fighting for the WBO Welterweight Championship title, and the team was invited to watch the fight on television alongside the people of General Santos in the Lagao Gymnasium. The thousands of spectators were elated as Pacquiao defended his title and emerged victorious.

As the spectators began to file out after the fight, the team went to work preparing the gymnasium to fit more than 600 people. We were assisted by generous volunteers from the General Santos Doctors’ Hospital of Sarangani, as well as a few special guests from the local government, including Governor Steve Solon and Vice Governor Jinkee Pacquiao — wife of the boxing champion. The night concluded with speeches, traditional dances and, of course, some famous General Santos tuna.

Lipa City was our next stop. The team arrived the day before Thanksgiving and immediately got to work preparing for the next day’s mission. Longtime Starkey Hearing Foundation sponsor and supporter Ninez Arreglado assisted the team by coordinating volunteer logistics, including taking all volunteers on a “patient journey” simulation to give them the opportunity to experience the process firsthand. That evening, the team was treated to a Thanksgiving feast at the home of long-time supporter and ENT surgeon Dr. Norby Martinez.

Hundred of patients were fit on our Thanksgiving Day mission. As we reflected on the meaning of the holiday, the team felt a special sense of gratitude for their ability to change the lives of so many people. Bill Austin concluded the impactful day by sharing his Thanksgiving thoughts, stating, “The best way to give thanks for the life we’ve had and the opportunities we’ve had is to give someone else a chance.”

The final stop on our Philippines tour was the capital city of Manila. We are always excited to return to Manila, but this visit was even more special because our friend and recording artist Jessica Sanchez joined us. Prior to the hearing mission, Jessica announced that she was donating the proceeds from her new single, “This Love,” to support the gift of hearing. We fit more than 600 people per day in Manila, giving the gift of hearing to thousands in the city.

Special Thanks

University of Santo Tomas; Honorable Mayor Lucilo Bayron – Puerto Princesa City; Palawan Dr. Cecilio Pedro; Lamoiyan Corporation; DEAF Inc.; Rotary Club of PalawanJCI of PalawanCagayan De Oro City; Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes – South Cotobato; Mayor Peter Miguel – Koronadal City; General Santos Doctor’s Hospital; SOCSARGEN Technical Working Group; Dr. Cesar Yabut; Dr. Daniel Yap; Asma Akmad; Harold Aponesto; Joshua Asuela; Ninez and Bill Schiffmiller; Mitos Hearing Foundation 59 Villa; AKOIO; Rotary Club of Lipa City; JCI Lipa; AYNLA Batanga; Red Cross Batangas Chapter; Parish Social Action — Lipa; Lipa City Colleges; Patsie Leviste; UST Simbahayan; Colegio De San Juan De Letran; TaosPuso Foundation; Medical Missions Inc.; Bahay Bata 127; Dr. Norberto Martinez; Dr. Salve Olalia; Dr. Robert Ang; Brother Ramon Moreno; Jessica Sanchez; Edita Sanchez; Rev. Fr. Boyd R. Sulpico; Lani Chua; Pastor Joe Mcgourn; Ana Dizon

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