Dateline Manila: Senate pays tribute to a barrio doctor PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 07 November 2014 11:16

BY Sammy Santos


Kudos to the officers and members of the La Hermandad Zamboangueña Foundation Inc. (LHZFI) for the highly successful holding of its annual fellowship dinner dance dubbed “Salsa Night” to commemorate its 54th founding anniversary last Oct. 24 at the Manila Polo Club in Forbes Park, Makati City.

Under the able leadership of LHZFI President Betty Fernando-Villareal, this group of prominent Metro Manila-based Zamboanga natives was reinvigorated with the injection of young blood into its ranks recently.

And these youngsters have assumed significant leadership roles to make the organization and its activities more attractive to younger Zamboangueños and Zamboangueñas in the National Capital Region and its nearby provinces.

I am referring to the likes of Nelida Bowen (secretary), Pemela Ledesma-Meily (treasurer), Teresa Ong (assistant secretary), Glenda Torres Argana (assistant treasurer), Lalaine Ramos-Ylaya (auditor), Philip Macaso Rama (PRO), Jess Tambunting (director), and Jean Michelle Gimena-Montinola (director) who are now very active in running the affairs of the foundation.

Of course, the old reliables are still there to guide the young leaders. They are veteran officers Annable Santos-Ardiano (vice president), Joy Toribio Sta. Ana (a director who is young but is an old hand in the group), Teresa Suter-Harper, Linda Macaso-Atayde, Monsie David, Teresita Suarez Tambunting, and my beloved baptismal godmother Gloria “Tita Loli” Pichel-Mara.

Also serving as advisers are Teresita Rodriguez Montinola, Nene Lopez Tan, Emma Bucoy-Carag, Expedito Sebastian, Fred Suarez, Guess Doroja, Etta Mendez, and Zeny Santos Hernandez.

The samba party was a huge success and it brought together a large portion of the Zamboanga community in Metro Manila in an exciting evening of camaraderie, fun, delicious food, good wine, and a lot of ballroom dancing.  Yes, there were several pretty and handsome dance instructors to share.

Guido Ylaya and Jean Michelle Gimena Montinola hosted the affair as masters of ceremonies.

Aside from its highly successful scholarship program that has sent several poor but deserving students from the Zamboanga Peninsula to  colleges in the past several years, the LHZFI has also been hosting fellowship activities that Zamboanga natives here always look forward to.

On a personal note, I was glad I attended the party as I was able to reconnect with a lot of old (read: not elderly) Zamboanga friends like Snoogie Apolinario, Alvin Cabato, Rolly Makasaet, Bingbong Ledesma, Ashok Parmanan, Chistine Lee, Hagibis Macho Man Mike Respall, ZC Secretary to the Mayor Mike Saavedra, Ray Corro, Kirk Bayabos and Social Security System VP for Public Affairs Susie Bugante.

Also in attendance were my co-officers in the Ateneo de Zamboanga University Metro Manila Alumni Association (ADZUMMAA) led by its president, Paulino Pe. With his group were ADZUMMAA officers Sonny Suñaz, Fred Suarez, Guess Doroja, Nando Roxas, Jimmy Panganiban, and Teng Santiago. It was a night of fun and renewed friendships.

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Officials and employees of the Philippine Senate are mourning the passing of a former member of the institution who had served as an inspiration to many Filipinos in the field of public service.

The flag of the Senate is flying at half-mast to pay its respects to the late senator and former health secretary Juan Flavier who passed away last week due to pneumonia at the National Kidney Institute at the age of 79.

When the senate resumes its sessions on Nov. 17, Senate President Frank Drilon will lead senators, Senate secretariat officials and employees in a necrological ceremony at the Senate session hall. Drilon and a number of senators will wait for Flavier’s remains at 9:30 a.m. at the main entrance of the Senate building.

Flavier was an incumbent senator when I joined the Senate in 2004 and it was indeed a delight serving under him as a media officer since I shared a number of his advocacies in the field of public health.

Having served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography during previous congresses, Flavier championed the health agenda in the Senate by pushing for reforms in health care delivery, health care regulation, and health care financing.

Some of the landmark legislation he authored and sponsored are the Traditional Medicine Law, the Poverty Alleviation Law, Clean Air Act and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.

In particular, I was one of Flavier’s active supporters when he spearheaded legislative efforts to discourage smoking in country that eventually led to the enactment of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.  Remember the ‘Yosi kadiri’ campaign?

Flavier was also the early advocates of the Republic Health Bill which I also support.

Senate Secretary Yabes said the senators, together with Flavier’s wife and children, the Senate Secretary, Sergeant-at-Arms, Deputy Secretaries, Senate Legal Counsel, Directors-General would escort the urn containing the remains of the former senator to the Session Hall at the Second floor of the building. The urn will be carried by pallbearers of the Philippine National Police.

Senators will then deliver eulogies for the former legislator and will present a resolution expressing the Senate’s “profound sympathy and sincere condolences on the death of the former senator” to Flavier’s family.

“The hard working legislator registered a perfect attendance during the sessions and was instrumental in the enactment of landmark legislations promoting public health care and improving the quality of life of the people,” according to the resolution.

“The passing away of the illustrious senator is a great loss not only to his bereaved family but to the nation as well,” it added.

After the public viewing of the former senator’s remains, the Senate will host lunch for the family and relatives of the late Honorable Flavier, senators, and guests at the Recto-Laurel Rooms. The pallbearers will carry the urn to the Ground Floor after lunch for its departure with senators and Senate officials in attendance.

Flavier’s remains were moved to the main office of the Department of Health in Manila Tuesday morning. His colleagues requested for a public viewing at the DOH, where he served as its secretary from 1992 to 1995 before he was elected as senator under the administration of former President Fidel Ramos. He will be cremated after the DOH viewing.

Flavier authored and sponsored several bills that became laws, such as the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act (Republic Act 8423); Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act (R.A. 8425); Philippine Clean Air Act (R.A. 8749); Indigenous People’s Rights Act (R.A.8371); Anti-Money Laundering Act (R.A. 9160); law declaring Eidl Fitr as a National Holiday (R.A. 9177); Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise (R.A. 9178); National Service Training Program for Tertiary Students (R.A. 9163); the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (R.A. 9165); the Plant Variety Protection Act (R.A. 9168); the Philippine Nursing Act (R.A. 9173) and the Tobacco Regulation Act (R.A. 9211).