More than 1,000 residents of Valenzuela City endured long hours of waiting just to get free medical and dental services as well as free dentures offered during “WINning Smile and Medical Screening” in Barangay Dalandanan held last May 29.
Sisters Racquel Brolagda and Encarnacion de Castro of Barangay Paso de Blas were among those earliest, queuing up at the Valenzuela City Astrodome as early as 12 midnight or 8 hours before the actual start of the event.
“Nandito na kami 12 pa lang ng hatinggabi kasi gusto talaga namin na makakuha ng libreng papustiso ni (Valenzuela City) Congressman Win (Gatchalian),” said Racquel, who has been toothless in the last 10 years.
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The 42-year-old mother of 4 children revealed she has been diagnosed with edentualism – a condition of missing one or more teeth and in worst cases, toothless – in the last 10 years, making Racquel and other patients incapable of absorbing nutrients from food properly.
Aside from risking patients to choke from food, the condition also causes low self-esteem to patients like Racquel.
“Hindi po ako makakain ng mga karne, piling-pili lang po ‘yung nakakakain ko kaya mapayat ako. Nakakatakot rin kasi pwede akong mabilaukan dahil hindi ko nangunguya ng maayos ang pagkain,” she complained.
“Nagpatingin na po ako sa dentista noon, sabi po kailangan ko daw magpapustiso agad kasi kapag pinatagal ko pa mahirapan na akong magpalagay ng pustiso. Kaso hindi po kakayanin ng kita ng asawa ko dahil namamasada lang siya ng jeep,” she lamented.
Encarnacion’s case is worse than Racquel’s after being toothless for more than 20 years. She started to lose all her teeth when she was still in high school.
“Nahihiya po ako sa kondisyon ko kasi wala po akong ngipin pero wala naman po akong magawa dahil napakamahal magpagawa ng pustiso,” said Encarnacion, who works in an eatery.
The 36-year-old mother of 3 children cannot contain her gratitude to Gatchalian for conducting the medical and dental missions, which also gave away free pairs of dentures that can cost at least P3,000 each.
“Noon pa po ako naghihintay ng ganito (libreng papustiso). Ang madalas po ay mga dental missions lang. Kaya ang laking pasasalamat namin kay Congressman Win sa serbisyong ito. Nang mabalitaan namin ito, hindi na kami nag-atubili na pumunta dito,” Racquel said.
“Kahit papaano naman nagbunga ang pagtitiyaga namin dahil kami ang naunang na-screen ng mga dentista,” she added.
The sisters, together with almost 500 people screened at WINning Smile Medical and Dental Mission, began the processing of documents needed to claim their free dentures at Gatchalian’s office located at No. 332 MacArthur Highway in Malinta last June 2.
Medical screening for fasting blood sugar (FBS), cholesterol, bone, foot, prostate and breast were also offered aside from the dental services, which were made possible by the partnership of Philippine Dental Association-Valenzuela Chapter, Valenzuela City Health Office, and the Rotary Club of Valenzuela to benefit Valenzuela City first district residents. (Camille Nepomuceno)