PINOY HOMECOMING:

Gifts of health and wellness in the Philippines

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SHOPPING TREAT. A balikbayan family at one of Metro Manila’s shopping centers.

Christmas in the Philippines is the most anticipated event for many Filipinos living and working overseas; at no other season does everything of value and meaning for Filipinos come together in one joyous package:  family and friends, religious faith, and food!  No wonder many balikbayans and those of Filipino descent come over to the homeland every December.

For a lot of balikbayans and other Filipinos from abroad, however, a Christmas vacation in the Philippines promises something more: the chance to experience health and wellness as possible only in the caring and competent hands of their fellow Filipinos.

For example, some balikbayans schedule a dental appointment beforehand, so that when they arrive in the country, they are able not only to visit relatives and take a relaxing vacation but also to get a brand new smile.  Filipino dentists are renowned for their competence and careful, caring attention for the patients—and their services are at much lower cost than those offered in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and other countries in Asia.  The best of them are experienced in treating patients from Australia, the U.S. and other countries.

The best Filipino dentists also use the best equipment, similar to that in other countries; they are also abreast with the latest, safest, and most effective procedures. Another advantage for balikbayans getting dental care in the Philippines is that there are many competent dentists available—even a walk-in consultation is possible, unlike in other countries where there are long waiting times for dental appointments.

Balikbayans and Filipinos from overseas can avail of more health and wellness opportunities in the Philippines—and below are some examples. (Note: when booking a medical procedure or a wellness treatment as part of your itinerary in the Philippines, ask the hospital, clinic, or spa/wellness center about the amount of time and other particulars required for recovery from the treatment/procedure, if any, and include these in your schedule and travel plans.)

Executive check-up

Doctors agree that an executive check-up is a very important tool in knowing the state of our health. It’s a way of knowing what health risks we may have or even identifying actual illness that has so far been undetected. In this way, we can make the proper lifestyle changes we need to prevent diseases or we can get treatment as soon as possible, should illness be discovered, and prevent a health condition from becoming more serious.

There are many executive check-up packages available at various hospitals in the Philippines.  Depending on the package, an executive check-up could last from one day to three days—and may be done on an in-patient or outpatient basis.

Those who opt for an executive check-up that require an overnight stay will be accommodated in the hospital’s best rooms and enjoy a high level of comfort and convenience.

Generally, the various tests conducted are designed to screen patients for three of the most common and most serious conditions in the world today: heart disease, stroke and cancer. Of course, the tests may also detect conditions that need attention because they could lead to the three conditions mentioned earlier, i.e.,  diabetes (might lead to stroke); obesity (might lead to heart disease); abnormalities, infection, or damage in certain organs (that may lead to cancer).

An executive check-up would include urinalysis, fecalysis, blood chemistry (including lipid profile, cholesterol; creatinine, etc.); CBC; and fasting blood sugar, among others.  Imaging tests like X-ray and ultrasound would also be done; more advanced imaging procedures (CT scan; MRI) may also be conducted, depending on a patient’s pre-existing condition or a patient’s specific health concerns; and of course, on the package availed of.  Tests for the cardio- vascular system may include an ECG, 2D or 3D Echo, treadmill test, among others.

In general, the more comprehensive the executive check-up package availed of by a patient, the more specialized tests it would include. Also, remember that certain tests require advanced preparation before they can be conducted. For example, fasting blood sugar would require that a patient not ingest food or water for a required number of hours; or certain foods might have to be avoided before going through a fecalysis, i.e. foods colored red or brown, etc.

Expert specialists would be on-hand for a thorough consultation with the patient, including a cardiologist, pulmonologist, gastroenterologists, urologist, gynecologist, etc.  Throughout the check-up, the patients would be under the care of Filipino nurses, who are known and sought-after all over the world for their caring, compassionate, friendly and cheerful bedside manner.

Before booking an executive check-up in any hospital, be sure to inquire about the tests included within a hospital’s various executive check-up packages to see which one suits you most. You will also need to inform the hospital in advance regarding pre-existing illness, conditions, and other health concerns. Before coming to the hospital for an overnight stay/s, be sure to bring along any maintenance medicine you may have, and also inform nurses and doctors of any allergies and special conditions.

An executive check-up is a very good investment—after all, it’s the kind of investment that will help you enjoy a better quality of life and more time with loved ones.

Aesthetic procedures

The Philippines still has a way to go before it can become “the beauty capital of Asia”—but with so many expert dermatologists, plastic surgeons, internationally accredited hospitals, and specialty clinics offering beauty and aesthetic procedures, balikbayans and foreigners will be able to undergo safe, effective, and affordable aesthetic procedures in the country.

Affordability, convenience and quality go with having aesthetic procedures done in the Philippines. Since most of these procedures may be done on an outpatient basis, patients may schedule such procedures along with their other vacation activities.

The best dermatologic and aesthetic clinics in the Philippines are already experienced in treating foreigners. Some of these clinics are more renowned like the Belo Medical Group (www.belomed.com) and The Zen Institute (www.zeninstitute.com) among others.  Other ambulatory clinics have also started offering aesthetic procedures such as the Medicard Lifestyle Center.

It’s important to remember this:  no one can really say that a certain aesthetic procedure is just “minor”.  A nose-lift (rhinoplasty) may seem “minor” but having it done by an unqualified person can be a nightmare. So it’s best to do a lot of research first before having any aesthetic procedure done.

The best dermatology and aesthetic clinics would have their own website—and a patient would do well to send an email to any of these clinics and ask all the relevant questions before booking a treatment.

For balikbayans or foreigners with friends in the Philippines, they can ask their relatives and friends regarding a clinic’s or hospital’s reputation so they can make a more informed choice—whether for an aesthetic treatment or any other medical procedure. In short, do all relevant research possible before choosing a clinic.

Three of the Philippines’ top hospitals like Makati Medical Center; The Medical City; and St. Luke’s Medical Center are also offering aesthetic treatments. Generally, getting treatment at a hospital is more expensive than at a clinic—but the prices charged by these hospitals in the Philippines would still cost lower than those charged in many foreigners’ home countries.  These hospitals have detailed information about their treatments in their respective websites.

Spa and wellness

Two of the most reputable spa/health and wellness facilities in the Philippines are Nurture Spa in Tagaytay; and The Farm in San Benito in Lipa City, Batangas. These clinics offer a complete range of spa and wellness treatments, including massages, wraps, detox, cleansing, dietary and lifestyle consultation, and many more. Yet there are also other quality spas in the country that one can search through the internet.  These spas and wellness centers help their patrons achieve relaxation, relieve stress, cleanse mind and body, and learn a healthier lifestyle.

Balikbayans and tourists visiting the Philippines during the Christmas holidays can have an even merrier, more enjoyable Christmas if they choose to include medical check-ups, aesthetic, or dental treatments in their itineraries: after all, isn’t it great to have your vacation and/or reunion with loved ones and at the same time go home with a fabulous new smile; or looking more youthful; relieved of the effects of stress; and in better health?

Reputable travel agencies also have medical travel packages, so be sure to inquire about these when planning to avail of a health and wellness experience in the Philippines.

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