Charter Files; Women Crusaders for Health

Article excerpt

Byline: Willie T. Ong, MD

Who among us have not felt pity for sick, deformed children begging for money to buy medicines? As a young boy, I watched in awe at shows like "Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko" wherein weeping mothers beg for donations, and teary-eyed fathers search for their lost children. And after coming up with the money to assuage the pain of one child, then comes another child with the same problem, and another. Then it hits us that there are just too many sick Filipinos.

The first donation is easy, but the second and third time is more difficult. That is why I admire people who throughout their lives have found the strength to continually help others. In our study of Philippine health history, two lady crusaders stand out: Ms. Rosa Rosal and Dr. Fe Del Mundo.

Ms. Rosa Rosal and the Red Cross

After watching countless "Kapwa Ko Mahal Ko" episodes at GMA-7, I have often wondered why someone who is not a doctor, could spend so much time caring for the poor. Philanthropists know the concept of burn out or donor fatigue, but those words are not in this ladys vocabulary.

Tita Rose (as she is fondly called) has been in show business for more than half a century. I dare not guess her age but she is still beautiful and going strong with her program "Damayan" at NBN-4, which airs Mondays and Wednesdays at 1:30-3 p.m. This show features the same patient appeals, doctor interviews and medical updates we have grown to love.

Aside from TV, movies, and soap operas, the name Tita Rose is practically synonymous with the Philippine Red Cross. "I have been in the Red Cross for 54 years now," gushes the actress. Till this day, she continues to be an advocate and a mover for the organizations charitable works.

But what many readers do not know is Tita Roses legacy with regard to the Polio Vaccine Program of the government during the Marcos years. Tita Rose is the author of the Polio Vaccine bill in the 1970s and she was instrumental in paving the way for widespread vaccination to be implemented in our country.

Why was polio close to her heart? "A victim of measles or chicken pox can still lead a normal life," she confides, "but a polio victim is crippled forever." Luckily she was not alone in her advocacy for she found a kind-hearted doctor to back her up in her polio campaign. Dr. Fe Del Mundo is someone Tita Rose immensely admires. "She is my role model," she says.

Dr. Fe Del Mundo and the Childrens Medical Center

Dr. Fe Del Mundo is an institution in her own right. …