FOR the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos working and living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dr. Rosario B. Tigno is widely known as a generous hero.
The first Filipino doctor from the Philippines to practice in UAE, Dr. Tigno was issued a medical license by the Department of Health and Medical Services of Dubai in 1992.
Instead of taking advantage of the fact that she could enrich herself by being the first (and for a time, the only) Filipino doctor to cater to the then more than 240,000 Pinoys in the region, Dr. Tigno committed herself to helping her kababayans, by providing free services to the needy and hard-up.
For more than twenty years now, Dr. Tigno has devoted her outstanding medical skills and philanthropic spirit to care for the health of the Filipino community in UAE.
It isn’t easy to live in the UAE, away from everything familiar and in a culture that is vastly different from that of the Philippines.
Stress, extreme loneliness, and constant pressure to perform take their toll on the health of the Pinoy community there. High blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease have become prevalent.
Unfortunately, the high cost of medical screenings, treatment and medicines plus the language barrier have prevented our kababayans in UAE from getting help for their health concerns.
Dr. Tigno saw the problem and decided to provide a solution for her countrymen.
In 1999, she founded the Filipino Health Care Provider that provides medical missions offering free medicines, hypertension and diabetes screening, and dental and eye check-up in the different emirates in UAE.
Noting that Filipinos prefer discussing their medical problems with “kapwa-Pinoys,” Dr. Tigno persuaded other Filipino medical practitioners to help her treat the huge number of Pinoys wanting to avail of their services.
“The group was formed to help our fellow Filipinos, especially domestic workers who cannot get medical service because they do not have money or time,” Dr. Tigno said.
Another project she initiated is Share Blood, Spare A Life — a blood donation drive and information campaign for the Filipino community in UAE.
First Filipino-owned clinic in Dubai
Moved by the ever-increasing needs of her kababayans in the region, Dr. Tigno established the Philippine Medical Center in 2003. The first Filipino-owned clinic in Dubai, the Philippine Medical Center caters principally to Filipino patients. Those who are underprivileged are provided with either free services or huge discounts in professional fees.
Education, career and achievements
Born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Dr. Tigno obtained her pre-medical studies at the University of Santo Tomas, and her medical degree from the Manila Central University in 1972. She had her residency training at the Bulacan Provincial Hospital.
Two years after graduation, she joined the AFP Medical Corps in 1974. Dr. Tigno was commissioned as a Reserve Officer and served with the Mindanao command.
For her meritorious service and outstanding performance of duties as a member of the V. Luna Medical Center Surgical Augmentation Team, she was awarded the Military Merit Medal.
In 1975, Dr. Tigno became an OFW, working as a doctor for four years in several hospitals in Iran.
When the Islamic revolution took place in 1979, Dr. Tigno went back to the Philippines and established her medical career in her homeland for more than 13 years. She immigrated to Dubai in 1992.
In recognition of Dr. Tigno’s notable achievement in the field of medicine and her service to the Filipino community in Dubai, she was chosen as one of the Ten Filipino Achievers in 2001 by the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
In 2006, Dr. Tigno received the Presidential Banaag Award from no less than President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, who recognized her “tireless efforts in effectively inspiring medical practitioners to provide medical assistance to Filipinos.”
Like the other awardees, Dr. Tigno was selected for her “excellence in work, untiring service to the Filipino people, dedicated leadership in community initiatives that promote the common good.”
Other philanthropic efforts
Aside from her work in the Filipino Health Care Provider (FHP), Dr. Tigno has also served the UAE Filipino community through other various means: she established fund-raising projects for the Adopt-a-School Hometown Project of ABS-CBN Foundation; she has volunteered medical service during the sports activities of Filipinos in Dubai; she has donated for the victims of the Quezon and Leyte landslides; and she has visited Filipinos who were confined in government hospitals in Dubai and helped their families in coordinating with the Philippine Consulate General for financial assistance.
Through FHP, Dr. Tigno and other medical practitioners have promoted medical support in most community and church events.
They also served as the liaison between the Philippine Consulate General and distressed Filipinos in Dubai, including runaway maids seeking shelter at the Philippine Labor Office and Filipino evacuees from Lebanon.
In the souvenir program during the 2006 Presidential Awards, the article said of Dr. Tigno: “Filipinos in Dubai refer to her as a medical beacon within the Filipino community and a doctor-at-large who is always on call whenever needed, exemplifying the bravery, industry and zeal of the Filipino migrant.”
Truly, the Filipinos in the UAE have been blessed, having Dr. Tigno in their midst.
(LA Weekend March 16-19, 2013 Sec. A pg.10)