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DR. ZSA ZSA MAY T. MENESES, M.D.
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DR. ZSA ZSA MAY T. MENESES, M.D.

Category: Individual Adult Category SOV Awardee FY: 2019

Imagine... a young lady doctor traversing muddy roads, mountains and rivers to reach out to Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and the underprivileged, seems like a movie scene. But this is real life and Dr. Zsa Zsa May Taguinod-Meneses did all this in the name of love and volunteerism and as inspired by his father Dr. Romulo U. Meneses who himself is considered as a doctor of the masses.

Doc Zsa's love for community services was ignited when she was hired by the Asian Health Outreach Program in 2005 as the first Filipino Parish Community Doctor to serve in 16 barangays of Solana and Tuao, Cagayan where she ensured that right medical services are enjoyed by the community. She personally drove her father's old owner-type jeepney to reach far-flung communities. Through this experience which became an eye opener for her, she started her first medical and dental mission that reached out to 300 families of indigenous people known locally as Agta which she calls her adopted communities.

In 2014, she initiated the Summer Educational Program for Agta children dubbed as "Karunungan: Gabay sa Pag-unlad ng Buhay-Agta" which afforded the IP children the opportunity to learn at the comfort of their own community and without being bullied or ostracized.

For the health needs of the Agta, Doc Zsa established the "Klinika na Agta", a structure that serves as clinic and convergence place during medical and dental missions. Unlike before when doctors, volunteers and patients stay under the shade of trees, the clinic provides comfort and safety while undertaking medical examinations and treatments. As a result of her intensive health education campaign conducted with her team of volunteers, the IPs who used to trust only faith healers now accept and subject themselves to immunization, medical check-ups and the use of medicines, thus availing themselves of better healthcare services. Her initiative contributed to increased health awareness and a decrease in maternal and child mortality among the Agta. Her initiative contributed to increased health awareness and a decrease in maternal and child mortality among the Agta. Around 980 Agta benefited from these activities covering Zinundangan Valley, Sicalao, Claveria, Gattaran, Palaui Island, Kapanikian, Gonzaga, Penablanca and Sanchez Mira.

Soon after, her tireless dedication and service to the Agta were noticed by other organizations which paved the way for a meaningful collaboration. She has established partnerships and linkages with generous individuals and organizations to institutionalize the medical and dental missions for the IPs.

Beyond her genuine concern for the IPs, she also served the farmers in Solana, Cagayan through her "Kislap Kuliglig Project". Kuliglig is a hand tractor used by farmers to plow their fields. Farmers usually attach a wagon or a cart and use it to transport people and goods to and from their farm, using national and provincial highways thus posing traffic hazard and accidents due to its lack of warning device such as brake lights and reflector. When there was an increase in incidence of accident involving farmers using kuliglig, Dr. Zsa improvised by making use of used Compact Disc (CD) as reflector for kuliglig which resulted to decrease of accident involving kuliglig.

Doc Zsa is an Internal Medicine specialist and runs the Dr. Meneses Medical Clinic in Tuguegarao City. Even with a stable and promising career and a supportive family, she did not rest on what she had and chose to walk the less-travelled road of service. To her friends, she is called Star Doc Zsa Zsa, a doctor who brings light in the faintest of the night and serve as hope to our less-privileged brothers and sisters in the hinterlands of Cagayan.

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