Operation Smile Philippines- Partnerships, Collaborations, and Renovations bring us one step closer to a zero-cleft City of Manila

Deliberations on how to transform children’s lives are always met with heartwarming eagerness, but rarely are they executed with precision and haste.

The goal? A Cleft-Free Manila City with the support of Operation Smile Canada.

Operation Smile Philippines, the City Mayor of Manila, and Sta. Ana Hospital agreed a year ago on a project that will double down on transforming the lives of cleft patients by creating a Manila Cleft Care Center “MCCC.”

By renovating the 8th-floor surgical wing, we will ultimately double the capacity at which we can screen and conduct surgeries.

Today marks a milestone for Operation Smile Philippines as we had a ribbon-cutting day for the newly renovated Sta. Ana Hospital Ambulatory Surgical Clinic x Operation Smile brings us within striking range of the goal.

Present at the ribbon-cutting event:

Manila Mayor Honey Lacuña

Hospital Director Dr. Grace Padilla

Manila Vice Mayor John Marvin C Nieto

OSP Executive Director: Emiliano Romano

Pigeon Philippines Beneficiaries

Today, the first 2 beneficiaries of the donations from Pigeon Philippines received products for their babies who are born with cleft lip and palate conditions. These products shall support these children to receive the right amount of nutrition that they need as newborns. 

Babies born with cleft lip and palate conditions face various challenges of malnutrition because of difficulty in latching caused by the malformation of their lip and palate.

Pigeon is a brand well-known for its high-quality maternal and baby products. They are dedicated to promoting inclusivity by offering solutions that are tailor-fitted for the needs of babies so as to achieve happiness for every child one at a time.

Putting smiles on faces when we all need it most

The global pandemic has created a lot of disruptions, but the one thing it could not shut down is the power of volunteerism – people overcoming challenges to give their time and services to aid those impacted the most.

For Operation Smile Philippines (OSP), this means continuing to provide free reconstructive surgery, post-surgery speech therapy and related healthcare to children in resource-poor communities affected by a cleft lip or palate.

However, the pandemic has prevented volunteers from conducting the therapy in person. To get around the problem, they initiated an online speech therapy, or teletherapy, program in July 2021 so that they could continue their work to improve the children’s communication skills and self-confidence.

“This can have a transformative impact on the children as the goal is for them to be able to speak normally so that they can attend school and interact with other people without fear of being ridiculed,” said University of the Philippines professor, Fernando Alejandro Ligot, an OSP volunteer of 20 years. “We work with various partners, including UPS Philippines, to bring that smile back to the children.”

The global logistics provider, via its charitable arm The UPS Foundation, awarded a grant to OSP for the purchase of internet-ready tablets and headsets to equip patients with the tools to undergo therapy online. With more children, many of them scattered across the country, gaining access to the sessions, it helps OSP’s online speech therapy service – known as Assessment and Clinical Care through Electronic Speech Services, or ACCESS – to expand.

ACCESS comprises eight virtual sessions – one session per week for two months – with each patient assigned to a volunteer speech therapist. Each session is conducted in the presence of the patient’s parent or guardian who is also given instructions on additional exercises the child can practice at home in between sessions.

UPS employees are also volunteering to support the patients and their parents during therapy as well as outside of these sessions via teleconference calls. Each employee volunteer is assigned to a particular patient for the entire duration of the engagement.

“The partnership with UPS is a very significant and crucial collaboration because more kids are able to receive therapy, and therefore they have better opportunities to develop communication skills and become confident members of their communities and society,” said Emiliano Romano, Operation Smile Philippines Executive Director.

That difference is felt by those on the receiving end.

Maraming salamat sa Operation Smile kasi hindi sila nagsasawa na tumulong sa amin, mula surgery hanggang therapy. Hindi na mahiyain makipaglaro si Reeze. Mas naiintindihan na sya ng ibang bata. Nakatulong yon breathing exercises at lahat ng speech and reading exercises. Maraming salamat rin sa UPS sa pagbibigay ng gadget. Ang laking tulong sa therapy, pati na rin sa online classes ni Reeze [Thank you very much to Operation Smile for helping us from surgery to therapy. Reeze is no longer shy to play. Other children understand her better. Breathing exercises and all speech and reading exercises helped. Many thanks also to UPS for providing the tablet. This really helped in therapy, as well as with Reeze’s online classes,” said Joanalyn Pingki-an from Caloocan. Her 9-year-old daughter, Reeze Alaina is a Grade 3 student at the Arsenio Lacson Elementary School.

As part of their #UPSGivesBack global campaign, UPSers have committed to 30 million volunteer hours by 2030, with UPS Philippines participating in Operation Smile’s programs and other charities across the country as part of UPS’s Global Volunteer Month which takes place every year in April.

“Despite the pandemic, UPSers find ways to give back to the communities we serve by sharing our time and resources and connecting with people to build purposeful relationships and engagements,” said Tessa Santos, UPS Community Involvement Committee (CIC) executive sponsor and operations manager.

The UPS CIC is also organizing activities in partnership with SOS Children’s Villages Philippines, Project Pearls for the COVID-19 Hunger Relief Program and AIP Foundation for the Safety Delivered campaign which raises awareness of the importance of safe driving and child helmet use. 

“Many of these partnerships have been in place for years. We’ve completed numerous projects together already and we’re looking forward to continuing new initiatives for many years to come,” added Tessa.

Pigeon X OSP Partnership

Pigeon X OSP Partnership

July 29, 2022 – Pigeon Philippines representative Ms. Catherine Que, Division Marketing Manager visited the Operation Smile Philippines Makati head office to turnover their donations for their ongoing and future missions of putting smiles on children’s faces one at a time.

Pigeon is a brand well-known for its high-quality maternal and baby products, such as breast pumps, pacifiers, and baby bottles to name a few. They are dedicated to promoting inclusivity by offering products that are tailor-fitted for the needs of babies with cleft lip and palate conditions.

With this partnership, they donated the following to Operation Smile Philippines:

✔️ 108pcs Manual Breast Pump

✔️ 240pcs Nursing Bottle for Cleft Palate

✔️ 240pcs Post-op Bottles

This marks the beginning of Pigeon Philippines and Operation Smile Philippines working simultaneously for their shared vision of bringing happiness to children’s lives.

AirAsia Philippines, Operation Smile Philippines forge partnership to help children with cleft

Philippines AirAsia is giving free transport to volunteers and patients of Operation Smile Philippines (OSP) to areas served by the leading budget carrier. OSP has been treating Filipino children with cleft lip and cleft palate since 1982, providing them with medical evaluation, dental treatment, reconstructive surgery and speech therapy – all for free. To date, the medical charity has treated more than 30,000 patients from all over the country. Philippines AirAsia serves 14 domestic destinations. The sponsorship agreement was signed recently by Philippines AirAsia president and CEO Ricardo Isla (middle), chief finance officer Raymund Berja (second from left) and OSP executive director Emiliano Romano (second from right). Also in photo are AirAsia Communications and Public Affairs head Steve Dailisan, (left) and OSP development manager Carol Arriola (right).