By Joan Palaci
Joan Palaci is an acudetox specialist in the Cordillera region of the Philippines.
Victorina Molitas Ducat, Vicky or Doc Vicky to those who knew her, served the Cordillera region of the Philippines and other far-flung communities, first as a dentist and then as full body acupuncturist. Later she became an acudetox specialist (ADS) working with NADA Philippines. She climbed mountains and crossed rivers and cultural boundaries to reach communities that are underserved and had not heard of or experienced a service like the NADA protocol.
No amount of discouragement, financial difficulties or even pain deterred her in her love for serving people. Along with other acupuncturists and alternative healthcare volunteers, Vicky helped found an organization of alternative healthcare practitioners in the Cordillera region coordinating with the government and health department to improve the practice of alternative healthcare in the region.
She encouraged her friends, family and other willing volunteers to train as ADSes so “We could serve people.” Trainings were done with no financial backing other than her own pocket and an uncanny ability and belief that all needs, even finances, would be met, because “this is not for us but for service.” And they were. She encouraged people to learn the NADA protocol, so when disasters came we were there to serve – by offering stress management to victims and responders alike. In farming communities, NADA was offered to help people detox from the harmful effects of pesticides and insecticides.
When the Duterte administration’s Operation Double Barrel came in full swing in 2015, Vicky thought that the Cordillera region would not be affected as much as other areas in the country. But, to her surprise, hundreds of surrenderees were on the lists, some of them her own friends, relatives and acquaintances. Armed with a heart full of eagerness to serve and the approval of our priests from the diocese of Baguioshe, Vicky started Project New Hope. This was a church-based community rehab program using the NADA protocol for drug surrenderees – it later extended to include their families and the community. NADA Philippines was instrumental in supporting this endeavor, and it became a permanent program of the diocese in partnership with other agencies.
Her very short 47 years will forever be etched in the lives and hearts of the people she touched, people she helped heal, and those she trained to follow in her advocacies. Ringing in our ears, ingrained in our minds and hearts is her message: Pay it forward, by continuing to help others even with a teary-eyed laugh, which she often shared.
Vicky Ducat’s legacy was giving people the capability and capacity to serve others. She did not stop serving, even in the midst of physical pain. When patients came calling and she could not give a treatment, she reached out to other volunteer ADSes, smiled and said, “This is the value of sharing and teaching others, so when you are not able to, somebody else will.”
Imprints of You
by Iris Gail Ducat
You have left footprints and memories on every mountain you have climbed. As you took your journey, you prepared me and my siblings to build a strong passion in facing life. You also motivated me to create my own path and helped me feel how important and fulfilling it is to serve others.
You were a board member of NADA Philippines and even became the vice president. You were also the president of the Cordillera Traditional and Alternative Health Care Organization and received recognition for this in 2018. You not only worked in your profession, but you extended your compassion through serving different communities.
You advocated for Project: New Hope – a community-based drug rehabilitation program in Cordillera, which built a partnership with NADA Philippines, the diocese of Baguio, the Social Action Commission and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and the Department of Health. Many were inspired, and even the Prison Apostolate of the diocese adopted it as their program for treatment of persons deprived of liberty at the Baguio City Women’s Jail. With your goal to make acudetox accessible, Project: New Hope was launched in many faith-based centers in the towns of Tuba, Baguio City, La Trinidad, Abatan, Madaymen, Kibungan, Mankayan and Tublay.
The missions you made and all the work you have started will be done through the willingness of others. For, as you taught us, when there is life, there is hope. May your good deeds touch our hearts and minds, as we go on our journey.
Mike Smith talks about Vicky
Dr. Mike Smith met Vicky on many occasions. After one meeting he wrote: “Vicky Ducat, the deserving new vice president of NADA, is in charge of the twenty-three ADSes of the mountains and the indigenous peoples’ region. She tells us with pride the locations of rural clinics and the number of hours of walk that are required from the road to reach the clinics. Among her crew are four trained midwives who serve these rural clinics. Vicky herself is a licensed dentist who now helps coordinate the rural health system.”
Vicky demonstrated qualities and strengths that are part of the Philippine culture – diversity of achievement, consistency of services. She emphasized the value of apprenticeship and self-help training. Mike asked us to “value this gift, and appreciate what it shows us about our own humanity and our ability to organize people without artificial hierarchies – with a natural dignity.”
~ March 1, 2015