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Helping some 200 geriatric patients via St Theresa Christmas Project in PH

Photo4-Jon[33011] Photo3-Packingstaff[33010]BY EVELYN OPILAS

The call couldn’t have been more propitious.

It came after the 15 Oct. feast day of St Teresa of Avila, patroness of St Theresa’s College, Quezon City in the Philippines and by extension, her graduates of High School Class 1966, Section 3.

“May I propose a project… to brighten the existence of about 200 elderly women from the geriatric ward of the National Center of Mental Health,” texted my classmate, Dr Leticia (Lettie) Salvador-Tojos, a faculty member at the University of the Philippines’ Department of Community Development and a specialist at the Research for Extension and Development Office both in Metro Manila.

“These patients are an invisible sector of our society. They are neglected and marginalised. According to (Hospital) Director Noel Reyes, our gesture will really bring momentary joy to them this Christmas,” Lettie continued.

PHOTOS: Main – Bec Ledonio-Yao, Leila Vicente, Lettie Salvador-Tojos emerge from a breakfast planning meeting. 2nd – – TGP owner Jon Bantigue ensured essential supplies were available. 3d –  TGP team members Reg Enriquez, Rane Fabot, and Marivic dela Cruz pack boxes of essential supplies.

The response on Viber came immediately.

“I’m all for it; thanks for initiating,” typed in Bec Ledonio-Yao.

“Expect my full support,” said Tess Borja-Halili.

“Count me in,” added Marilyn Salcedo-Teotico.

“Add me to the list,” directed Beth Panlilio-Aquino.

The ball kept rolling since, my classmates in Manila mindful that one of our own has been confined at the institution for years, perhaps among the fortunate ones whose family had the means to support her stay.

STCQC HS’66 marks 55 years since graduation, our Emerald Jubilee, in 2021.

Lettie said she was informed that the Center seemed unable to provide adequately for the needs of their patients.

“Dr. Reyes identified the 200 in the geriatric women ward as a priority,” Lettie explained, adding that they required personal hygiene supplies such as bath soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, adult diapers, alcohol for their personal use, hand towels, undergarments and slippers.
“If we plan to give them food, soft diet including fruits should be given. If we plan to give the packs in time for Christmas, they should reach the NCMH any time during the third week of December (15-20). Since time is of the essence we need to move fast,” Lettie advised, seemingly overwhelmed at our classmates’ generosity of spirit, intention, action.

The beneficiary groups are two wards in Pavilion 8 – Ward 1 with 109 patients, ages 40-70 years old; all mentally ill, unable to take care of themselves, attended to by four nursing aides; and Ward 2 with 115 patients, ages 50-83 years old; more manageable; functional; able to take care of themselves; attended to by four nursing aides.

Breakfasts with Bec, Tess, and Leila Vicente followed to draw the action plan.

Donations in cash and in kind flowed in as other classmates (and non-classmates) responded to the call – Bee Calderon-Angeles, Tinna Papa-Aquino, Elvira Vital-Daza (California), Vickie Villar-Demmer (Frankfurt), Stella Estrella, Rory Tan-Kho, Ada Dacanay-de Leon (south of France), Katrina de la Fuente-Navarro, Fe Villanueva-Nolasco (Chicago), Myra Soliman, Evelyn Uy-Sy, and Virgie Papa (Sydney).

Beth, meanwhile, ordered personal hygiene supplies for the women from her nephew, Jon Panlilio-Bantigue, who owns a pharmacy in Marikina. All solicited goods would be brought to the NCMH Dec. 16.

The NCMH (Pambansang Sentro ng Pangkaisipang Kalusugan), is a 4,200-bed psychiatric hospital in Mandaluyong city “dedicated to delivering preventive, curative and rehabilitative mental health care services,” according to its website.

In June 2020 Rappler reported that the NCMH crisis hotline received an average of 30 to 35 calls per day and 400 calls per month during the lockdown.

Take care of your body, take deep breaths, meditate, eat healthy and well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, hydrate yourself well, get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol and drugs, and read quotes on positive affirmation were among measures people could adopt for their mental health and well-being, says the NCMH advisory, inviting those who may be at risk to “Tara, Usap Tayo!” (Come on. Let’s talk!) on 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 989-USAP (8727). –