Beauty in the Smiles of the Beholders

By Rikki Pamela Gabriel | Posted on September 23, 2023

Among the basic life necessities that marginalized groups need support in order to gain access is health care. In the nature of their predisposition in life, health care often becomes a secondary situation and is often placed at the bottom of their priorities. Health care is by no means something that these people intentionally do not prioritize, but a priority that they do not have the means to prioritize. With this in mind, the Rotaract Club of Manila Bay chose to highlight an integral part of health care – oral hygiene and dental care. Carefully crafting a program and welcoming a notable amount of support for the initiative from the months of June and July, until its actualization on the 5th of August 2023, the project came to be called Ngiting Tagumpay.

Students of Malipay Elementary School, together with the Rotaractors and volunteers of the project

Ngiting Tagumpay is a collaborative project with the Rotaract Club of Manila Bay, Rotaract Club of PCCR Manila, Rotaract Club of University of the East – College of Dentistry, EJPL Dental Clinic, and Academy for Christian Education, in partnership with the Rotaract Club of Chinatown-Manila, Rotaract Club of Manila, Monheim Group of Companies, the Music Lounge, and the Lachryme.

The volunteers imparted their basic knowledge of dental hygiene to the students of Malipay Elementary School, who were gleeful in their presence. While providing them with a hearty meal for the morning, the volunteers explained the presence of cavities and tooth decay, helping them to understand where it comes from and how it develops. By making it a part of the program, the students actively learned how to prevent the development of cavities and tooth decay by proper tooth brushing and dental flossing.

Rtr. Brenda Butardo of RAC Manila Bay with a group of students from Malipay Elementary School, during the discussion of proper tooth brushing and dental flossing.

Selected students were also given tooth extraction, performed by Dr. Ely Jesse P. Legaspi. In the midst of all of the activities in the program and the urgency to provide the students ample information on dental care and hygiene, the volunteers also provided them with something to remember the project from – a chant which the volunteers taught them; and something to look forward to in the future – better dental health, and healthier, more confident smiles.

While the volunteers reflect on the smiles that they received during the program, the volunteers also had something else to reflect on: the journey on the way to the school, the people they encountered on that journey, and where these people’s hope lies for the future of the school, the students, and the barangay. The teachers, accustomed to the twenty-minute walk from the road to the hillside, had warned the volunteers to be prepared for muddy tracks and the heat of the sun. Along the way, the volunteers also met some of the local villagers, who told them that the area may be hard to trek, but the mountain remains beautiful on a sunny day, with both humbleness and pride. Some students fell and slipped, and some stumbled on their way to the school, but all had been fun in hindsight, and something to reflect on about the labor of teachers dedicated to the students of the school.

Transportation of learning materials, school kits, and dental hygiene kits to the school. The volunteers were advised that only off-road vehicles can successfully travel to the school due to the muddy and uneven terrain.

The students have been left with a few things to equip them for school, as well as a dental hygiene kit for them to use and begin their dental care journey. The learning materials, tooth extraction equipment, school kits and dental hygiene kits, as well as the sixty-four Rotaractors and volunteers for the project are all thanks to the generous hearts of the people from the Rotary International District 3810: Rotary Club of Manila Bay, Rotary Club of Paco Manila, Rotaract Club of Bacoor, Rotaract Club of Dasmariñas City, Rotaract Club of Manila Metro, Rotaract Club of Manila San Miguel, Rotaract Club of Manila Supreme 198, Rotaract Club of Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Rotaract Club of RCDM Scholas, Rotaract Club of San Antonio de Padua; Rotary International District 3780: Rotaract Club of Cubao, QC; Rotary International District 3820: Rotaract Club of Nuvali, Rotaract Club of Tanauan; and the Rotary International District 3850: Rotaract Club of Zamboanga City.

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