Forty-year-old Paciano Madlay, a member of the indigenous group Palaw’an from Aribungos, Brooke’s Point and a volunteer barangay health worker who admits he doesn’t know how to read and write, has inspired his colleagues with his story. Madlay, a 2016 ‘Bayani ng Kalusugan’ awardee, shared his story in the two-day regional BHW Congress held on April 17-19 in Ermita, Manila.
According to Madlay, he has been volunteering for the ‘Nun Missionaries’ and their malaria program since 2007. He said he was tagged in the community as “manigtusok” because he does RDT (rapid diagnostic test) to detect malaria. In 2011, he volunteered himself as a BHW.
“Noong una, tinatawanan lang nila ako. Saan mo ito nakuha?” his fellow indigenous people in Brooke’s Point questioned.
Despite criticisms and resistance, he never gave up and eventually went through different training programs on how to perform his tasks better.
“Hinahabol ko sila. Inaakyat ko sila sa bundok kung saan sila nagtatrabaho. Halimbawa naman sa tatlong araw, pinapaubos ko muna gamot bago ako magbaba [umuwi],” Madlay explained.
When he received the award last year, Madlay said he did not ask for it.
“Ayaw ko ng award award na ‘yan. Noong nasa Manila ako para sa award, ang iniisip ko nga ‘yung mga ‘pasyente’ ko sa bahay,” Madlay said.
When he received his P200,000 cash, a portion of it was allotted to buy a tricycle to help his patients in case of emergency.
“Eh hindi nga ‘yan ako marunong mag-drive. Mabuti kapag may dapat dalhin sa ospital may magagamit agad,” he added.
The volunteer BHW also started a small business from the prize money, which he hopes will be able to support the education of his children. Madlay said he wants his kids to become professionals someday.
“Para hindi matulad sa akin. Ang problema ko kasi, hindi ‘yung trabaho, [hindi] ‘yung pag-akyat sa bundok. Ang problema ko paggawa ng report,” he explained.
Dr. Janairo recognized the dedication and strong heart of Madlay.
“Kailangan natin ng maraming BHW na may pusong kagaya ni Madlay,” Janairo said in an interview.
Madlay promised that no one can stop him from wanting to serve as a BHW as long as his physical strength allows him to do so.