Philmar’s goal: Graduate & return

Philmar Mendoza photographed at Majuro hospital during the recent Canvasback OBGYN team visit. Photo: Hilary Hosia.
Philmar Mendoza photographed at Majuro hospital during the recent Canvasback OBGYN team visit. Photo: Hilary Hosia.


Her name alone is an indication of her roots: “Philmar” — Philippines and Marshall Islands.

Philmar Mendoza was one of 23 individuals who worked at Majuro hospital last month with the Canvasback OBGYN (women’s health) team. Philmar is in the final few months of earning her bachelor in nursing from a school in Chicago.

Philmar worked with the Canvasback team that screened 567 patients, and performed 432 pap smears, 165 ultrasound studies, 241 mammograms and 32 successful surgeries during the nine-day visit.

Philmar’s ethnic background as half Filipino and half Marshallese made her crucial to the Canvasback team, especially assisting with translating.

Philmar joined a Canvasback mission team last year — her first return to Majuro in over a decade — as part of getting practical experience in the Marshall Islands and to meet Ministry of Health staff in anticipation of completing her nursing degree this year.

She said she wasn’t satisfied with her role as translator with the mission and told the Journal she kept asking God if she had a special purpose for her second visit.

The answer to this question didn’t come immediately, but during the second week of the OBGYN visit, it arrived with stunning clarity of purpose — in the form of a seriously sick woman who had visited the hospital numerous times during the past seven months without receiving proper treatment to resolve her health condition.

Days before the mission wrapped up, Philmar received a call from Likiep Mayor Nika Wase, who was concerned about the young woman and pleaded with Canvasback to give her a check up. For seven months, the woman had been experiencing excruciating pain in her abdomen. “This could be it,” Philmar thought. “This could be my calling.”

Sure enough, a sonogram reading from an ultrasound check on the woman showed a build up of gall bladder stones.

Philmar had this look of ease and purpose the minute 20 stones were removed from the woman’s gall bladder by Canvasback surgeons the following day, one day before the mission departed Majuro. “I feel this is the calling I was meant for,” she told the Journal.

She is determined to return to Marshall Islands as a missionary nurse in the near future after she graduates and it is her goal to inspire younger Marshallese.

“Not everyone from a troubled past are problems, it’s how they respond to the situation that makes them standout,” she said.

Read more about this in the March 9, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.