Operation Smile Philippines Represented In East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) Multi-Sector Consultative Council

Operation Smile Philippines’ Executive Director Emiliano Romano was recently inducted as a council member for the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) Multi-Sector Consultative Council.

With the thrust of strategic governance and collaborative efforts across various community sectors, EAMC takes proactive steps towards its Transformation Roadmap.

With the goal of elevating the center to greater heights of proficiency in healthcare delivery, the council will play a key role in a collaborative effort in EAMC’s governance mechanism for the proper and efficient implementation of their future plans.

Together with Emiliano, the council members are as follows:

  • SEC TEODORO “TED” HERBOSA – Secretary of Health
  • SEC RENATO U. SOLIDUM, JR.. PhD – Secretary, DOST
  • DR. PAULYN JEAN BUENAFLOR, ROSELL-UBIAL – Adjunct Professor of the UP College of Public Health
  • MARIA LINDA BUHAT, RN, MAN, Ed. D – President Emeritus, Association of Nursing Service Administrators of the Philippines
  • DR. RAYMUNDO P. ARCEGA, CESE – Chairman, National Network of Quality Assurance Agencies NNQAA
  • ATTY. RENE S. GRAPILON, MD – QC Assistant City Administrator for General Affairs
  • DIR. NOEL V. SALUMBIDES – CSC Acting Director III
  • EARL JASON VISTRO – Senior Vice President, Supply Chain, Management & Logistics, EEI Corporation
  • MR. TIRSO RAYMOND “MON” GUTIERREZ, JR – Chief of Staff, E-Government, DICT

Miss International 2022 Jasmin Selberg and Philippine representative for Miss International 2023 Nicole Borromeo spread positivity among children with their smiles

Jasmin Selberg, the winner of Miss International 2022 from Germany, along with Nicole Borromeo, who was crowned as Binibining Pilipinas 2022, and the Philippine representative to Miss International 2023, made a special visit to Sta. Ana Hospital. Their charming smiles had a powerful impact on past and present patients. During their visit, the two lovely women took time out of their busy schedules to meet the children, listen to their stories, and share some of their own. The children were ecstatic with their presence but were also treated to a special lunch and dessert, bringing their beautiful smiles all around.

At the event, the children showcased their unique talents. Among them was a young girl who dreams of becoming a vocalist. Despite having undergone surgery for a cleft lip and palate, and receiving speech therapy, she stunned everyone with her beautiful singing voice. Her performance was truly inspiring.

The two pageant winners were given a tour of the Sta. Ana Hospital Center, which is the driving force behind the positive impact on the lives of these children.  

Soaring to New Heights with AirAsia and Operation Smile

In the photo: Jehro, Luke, and their families with AirAsia’s cabin crew.

Philippines AirAsia’s partnership with Operation Smile Philippines (OSP) began this year by transporting two children with cleft lip and palate conditions from Tacloban City to Manila on March 19, 2023. Jehro, who is three years old, and Luke, who is nine months old, received cleft and surgical care at OSP’s Pampanga Cleft Care Center, located in The Medical City Clark.

Jehro was born with both cleft lip and palate conditions. He had his first surgery at seven months old in OSP’s Tacloban Surgical Program in January 2019, right before the pandemic started. He was supposed to have his second surgery in 2020, but the pandemic affected all activities of OSP, causing a delay. However, at the start of 2023, OSP sought patients to fly to Manila for cleft care, and Jehro was chosen as one of the two patients.

Jehro, a 3-year-old boy, is an energetic kid who loves playing and watching sports like football, golf, and billiards. He also enjoys the ocean and exploring the nature around him. He is talkative and likes to sing. Jehro’s parents are very hands-on with their children, and they make ends meet by freelancing and selling clothes online.

“Hindi po namin makakalimutan itong moment na ito. Taos-puso po kaming nagpapasalamat.” [We will never forget this moment until he grows old. We’re grateful sincerely, from the bottom of our hearts.] Jehro’s mom said in an interview with the parents of the children.

Luke was born with a unilateral cleft lip. When he was nine months old, he received his first lip surgery. Luke’s father is a farmer and construction worker who is on call. When Luke was born, his parents were unaware that his condition could be addressed. Additionally, he was the only one in his family with a cleft lip. Upon seeing his cleft lip condition, neighbors often looked at Luke with dismay, but this did not trouble his parents. They immediately committed to the schedule after learning that Luke could receive surgery last March.

“Maraming salamat po sa AirAsia sa tulong po ninyo lalo na po sa anak namin. Di po namin ito makakalimutan. Kayo po ang maaalala namin tuwing ngumingiti po ang anak namin.” [Thank you, AirAsia, for all help specially to our child. We will never forget this. You’ll be the one we’ll remember every time our child smiles.] Luke’s mom said.

L-R: AirAsia Philippines Head of Communications and Public Affairs Steve Dailisan and Chief Executive Officer Ricky Isla hand over a cheque donation amounting to PHP229,249 to Operation Smile Philippines Executive Director Emiliano Romano and Development Manager Carolynne Arriola

In January 31, 2023, OSP and Philippines AirAsia renewed their alliance and strengthened their relationship with new innovative projects in the pipeline. AirAsia has been instrumental in the success of providing care to OSP’s patients, serving as their transportation provider, and sharing their cause with the many transient travelers who pass through their airlines. They announce their cause and collect onboard donations, making them a vital partner in providing care to their patients.

Inflight cash donations totaled more than half a million pesos for the past year, allowing OSP to provide even more comprehensive cleft care to their patients who need it the most. This year marks a new year and new opportunities to improve how to transform smiles more effectively.

AirAsia Philippines Chief Executive Officer Ricky Isla shares: “This reinforced partnership with Operation Smile Philippines signifies our resolve to make it happen for the Filipino children and their families. Our vision in AirAsia of inclusive growth is evident—-beyond connecting people, we want to be there for the people we serve, especially the marginalized. Each time you fly with AirAsia, you don’t just reach your destination safely, but you can change people’s lives for the better.”

Operation Smile Philippines Executive Director Emiliano Romano said, “I am ecstatic about renewing our partnership between Operation Smile Philippines and AirAsia.  Our vision and cause of transforming lives cannot be done alone; instead, it takes a community of like-minded individuals to affect change.  AirAsia has been an essential partner, a vessel, and a catalyst of change.

We look forward to more projects in the many years to come.”

AirAsia will be vital in transporting medical volunteers and patients in the coming years as Operation Smile Philippines grows.

Inspiring and Empowering Others

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ICCPI) recently concluded its Leadership Awards for the year 2022. And our very own Executive Director Emiliano Romano bagged the coveted Outstanding Leadership Award!

This award celebrates exceptional Italian and Filipino business leaders, entrepreneurs, and organizations who continue to promote outstanding practices and global excellence in their respective fields This also aims to recognize executives who have proven significant leadership skills by being role models for their passion, integrity, authenticity, vision, strategy, perseverance, commitment and business capacity in his industry.

Fielded are thirty (30) nominees for 10 different awards categories including, (1) Woman in Business of the Year, (2) Exceptional Entrepreneur Award, (3) “ItalPinoy” of the Year, (4) Restaurateur of the Year, (5) Emerging Entrepreneur, (6) Sustainability Business/ Entrepreneur, (7) Innovation Champion, (8) Young Business Leader, (9) Outstanding Leadership, and (10) Italian Executive of the Year.

The event also had the privilege of having an esteemed group for its panel of judges. Among them ICCPI’s President Sergio Boero, Dusit Thani’s Managing Director Stanley Lo, BDO Capital’s President Eduardo Francisco, Proactive Resources CEO Hermod Allertsen, and Italian Consul Antonio Gallo.    

The event also strengthened relationships within the Italian-Filipino business network creating a sense of family, very dear to both cultures due to its shared practices and common cultural heritage. 

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.

Operation Smile Announces 10-Year Commitment to Transform the Lives of 1 Million Patients Globally

Marking its 40th Anniversary Year, Global Non-Profit Scales Up Commitments to Transform Local Health Systems, Address the Most Critical Needs in Global Cleft Care

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Jan. 19, 2022 — Global nonprofit Operation Smile announced a 10-year commitment today to increase access to care for 1 million patients who need cleft care and other essential surgeries. Entering its 40th anniversary year, the organization will scale up its investments in underserved remote areas around the world.

The announcement marks an evolution for Operation Smile, which will continue to work as the leading global nonprofit specializing in expert cleft surgery and care and will focus more intensely on transforming local health systems. The organization’s new vision includes creating expanded opportunities for women in medicine, investing significantly in research, innovation, surgical education, and youth empowerment, all of which are factors that impact cleft care.

“As we enter our organization’s next decade, we are deeply focused on increasing the number of high-quality cleft surgeries, which requires strengthening local health systems,” said Operation Smile Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Bill Magee. “We’re committing today, to transforming lives by challenging inequities in the health system head-on to serve a million people who need care.”

Founded in 1982, Operation Smile has provided free, life-changing surgical and dental care for more than 326,000 patients, enabling them to eat, breathe, speak, and live healthier lives. With each surgery, the organization has seen how gaps in health care infrastructure create barriers to access and perpetuate inequities in health care systems.

“Our experience has shown us that long-term investments in health care infrastructure and partnerships with local medical leaders are critical to serve children with cleft conditions, and that our work and presence in a country provides greater access to high-quality care,” said Kathy Magee, Co-Founder and President of Operation Smile. “Our focus will always be on cleft care, but we are also empowering our world-class medical teams fueled by 6,000 global volunteers to provide comprehensive care for patients autonomously.”

Over the next 10 years, Operation Smile will collaborate with local partners, including ministries of health, donors, corporations and academic institutions to bolster in-country health systems to reach its goal of increasing access to care for 1 million patients.

Initial investments as part of the organization’s next decade of commitments include:

  • $8 million investment in Guatemala over five years, which will support five hospitals across the country to provide cleft surgery for 1,200 patients and comprehensive care for 3,400 patients
  • $10 million investment over five years to support a network of hospitals and care providers across seven geographic areas in Mexico, which will provide care for 4,500 patients
  • $9 million investment over five years to support patient care in Colombia, including in Riohacha Hospital, a public hospital located at the border with Venezuela where indigenous communities and migrants receive care
  • $6 million investment over five years to support the CHUK Hospital hub in Rwanda and outlying locations, including surgeon and clinical support, patient nutrition, dentistry and more

To ensure the long-term success of these investments, Operation Smile is partnering with local stakeholders to revolutionize how health systems deliver surgical care in underserved areas around the world.

Emiliano Romano

“Philippines has been one of the major hubs of Operation Smile and was actually founded here. So this milestone is especially important to us. It’s a great time to rededicate ourselves to our commitment to provide access to high-quality and holistic care to Filipino children and their communities. So we can continue the legacy of 40 years of learning and success,” said Emiliano Romano, Executive Director of Operation Smile Philippines.

For media inquiries please contact Tabresha Langham at [email protected].

Operation Smile is a global nonprofit specializing in expert cleft surgery and care. We provide medical expertise, research and care through our dedicated staff and medical and student volunteers around the world, working alongside local governments, nonprofits, and health systems, and supported by our generous donors.

For more information about Operation Smile, please visit: https://www.operationsmile.org/

To Come Full Circle With Operation Smile

“Help the life of one person and you can help the community”

This could not be more evident with the story of Chaimaa Zamoum from Morocco.

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Chaimaa was a former Operation Smile patient who received free surgery for her cleft lip condition. But there are two things that makes her story unique – the doctor who operated on her and what she is doing now.

Her doctor is no other than Dr. Sonny Santos from Operation Smile Philippines (OSP). Dr. Santos is one of the long-standing medical volunteers of OSP. Dr. Sonny has been volunteering not only for local Philippine missions but international missions as well. That’s where he met Chaimaa.

Here is how Chaimaa shared her story:

Operation Smile Morocco cannot be described in one word. That’s what I’ve discovered while my colleagues were shooting a video yesterday.

My name is Chaimaa Zamoum, I’m 23 years old and I’m an ex Operation Smile patient, now volunteer.

I was born with a bilateral cleft lip so, I had about 3 surgeries, 2 of them were right after I was born and I have no memory about. However, I can remember the last one and will be sharing with you some of them. It was at the hospital of Settat on 2006. I was twelve by then so, I can remember pretty much everything. I still remember the atmosphere that was there very clearly, the joy I was feeling, the kids I was playing with, and the toys I was given.

My surgeon back then was Dr. Sonny Santos. I can remember how nice he was with me, not just him but everyone who was there including the OR nurses and the child life.

The image I’ve maintained from Operation Smile, is “Happiness” “friendliness” and mostly “Kindness”, those are the words I thought of while I were asked to describe Operation Smile in one word.

On 2019 my brother, who had a unilateral cleft lip, was also operated by Operation Smile. My dad  immediately recognized Dr. Sonny and so, I met my doctor for the second time in my life. It was a feeling that no words can ever describe especially when I talked to him face to face.

Dr. Sonny insisted on operating my brother as well, which was an overwhelming feeling for my family.

At the same mission my brother was operated in, at El jadida, I met Ms. Nour and asked if I can volunteer with, the operation that’s giving me so many memories, Operation Smile. Since, I have a BA in English studies, I was able to volunteer as a translator, which was my major for my master’s degree, hopefully I’ll graduate by next month once I finish my thesis.

So far, I’ve been part of three missions. My first mission was on October at Agadir, my second was at Tangier on July 2021, and my third one November 2021, sadly, just ended today. I hope I participate in more missions, God willing, because by meeting those kids I remember myself as a kid. Specifically when I was given the chance to get into the OR at the mission of Tengier to see how the Operations work. I would lie if I say I wasn’t gonna burst into tears. I felt proud of myself knowing that I’ve been on the bed of surgery and now I’m being on the other side. It’s a feeling that no words can ever describe.

By joining the Operation Smile family I’ve met several lots of people, now friends, from different backgrounds, who made me feel loved and included and that’s one of the so many things I’m grateful for after joining the family.

Operation Smile means a great deal to me and words can never give it justice.

My family and I will forever be grateful for it. 🙏🏻

This is just one of the stories how Operation Smile provides more than just surgery. As Dr. Sonny puts it, we are happy we are able to effectively change lives of the patients we touched.

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).

BRAND LOVE by Ngiti Manileño

Have a business but struggling to get a foothold in the online markets?

Learn best marketing and branding practices from the industry experts this Saturday, November 20, 2021.

Join us in our fundraiser webinar and learn Brand Design, Strategies, and Execution to further boost your brand’s online presence.

Not only will you get to learn from the best but your participation in this event will also help kids with cleft have brighter smiles.
Registration link is indicated down below:

Admission Fee:
JCI Member: PHP350
Non-JCI Member: PHP500
When: November 20, 2021 (Saturday)
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM onwards
Attire: Casual