His Life’s Mission

WHEN Dr. Christopher M. Guerrero received the Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino Award, President Benigno Aquino III gave him this advice: “Continue what you have been doing.”

Dr. Guerrero is among the 29 outstanding overseas Filipinos and/ foreign organizations who received the 2012 Presidential Award.

The Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino Award is given to “Filipino individuals and organizations overseas, honored for their exceptional or significant contribution to the progress and development in the Philippines.”

Dr. Guerrero, a family physician based in Elmwood, Illinois, received the award for his work, not only in the US, but also for yearly medical missions he conducts in the Philippines.

The 61-year-old Filipino-American is the founding member of the Global Medical Foundation, an organization of healthcare professionals dedicated to providing medical treatment in underprivileged areas of the world.

According to its website, the Global Medical Foundation has served the humanitarian needs of the people in 12 countries, on three continents, including 10 medical missions that Dr. Guerrero has personally led to his home province in the Philippine Islands.

“I have seen the realities of life for those who really don’t have anything,” he told the Elmwood Sun Times. “Those people that are there, they are not living, they are existing.”

“They are very happy and every time we go there we give them hope, we give them life, we give them happiness,” he added.

Education and career

Originally from Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan Valley, Philippines, Dr. Guerrero graduated from the University Of The Philippines Manila, College Of Medicine in 1976.

He finished his residency training at the Illinois Masonic Med Center Advocate Health Care Chicago in 1981.

For the past three decades, Dr. Guerrero has served as a family physician affiliated with St. Mary’s & Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

“His dedication to his field and selfless devotion to his global medical mission are hard to equal,” wrote the Filipino Journal, a Filipino-Canadian news outlet.

In 2008, the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation awarded him the organization’s highest honor.

Dr. Guerrero received the Excellence in Medicine Awards, more commonly known as the Leadership Awards.

The award is considered the “Oscars” within the medical community, given annually by the AMA to “honor a select group of physicians and medical students who exemplify the medical profession’s highest values: commitment to service, community involvement, altruism, leadership and dedication to patient care,” according to the AMA website.

Aside from serving his community as a physician, Dr. Guerrero is also a renowned lecturer in the US and a faculty mentor for the nursing students of St. Mary’s University – School of Health Sciences, in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines, according to the Filipino Journal.

Giving back

He started conducting medical missions in the Philippines in 1992. At first, he traveled by himself to rural villages and remote locations in the country. He provided medical check-ups for free and was shocked to learn that many of the people he was treating had never seen a doctor before.

A couple years later, he created the Global Medical Foundation and recruited other doctors and nurses to join him on his medical missions.

According to the Elmwood Sun Times, those doctors would stay for a week and provide medical assistance to a thousand people a day.

“Once they start coming, they keep coming and tell their friends,” he told the paper. “You can see lines of people coming from the mountain. It takes about two or three hours coming down from the mountain just to get down to us.”

Dr. Guerrero has also given back to his roots in other ways.

The Filipino Journal added that through the years, Dr. Guerrero has provided scholarships for needy students in his hometown of Nueva Vizcaya, adopted an elementary school, and helped create a local children’s park in the area.

This year, Dr. Guerrero and the other doctors he’s formed an alliance with are preparing for another medical mission to the Philippines.

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