Gawad Kalinga, Las Piñas – Sta. Rita Homeowners Association Health and Development Partnership

The Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity – Gawad Kalinga, Las Piñas – Sta. Rita Homeowners Association Health and Development Partnership aims to be the primary vehicle for community building and organizing in our country. It intends to: (1) identify and prioritize the various health problems present in the community, and, (2) create a local task force that will lead the planning and implementation of health programs in the community.

The end goal of the partnership is to improve the health status of the Sta. Rita community by empowering the villagers to become responsible in caring for their own health. Through an integrated, inclusive and participative approach, we are establishing a health system which will continue to function optimally even when external institutions, including our Fraternity, are no longer supervising it.

Our partnership with Gawad Kalinga (GK) started as a home building activity through the leadership of Most Illustrious Brother Lord Hermida ΜΣΦ 2009 together with ΜΣΦ Batch 2012. This activity was then adopted as the service component of the application process of the succeeding batches. Aside from the annual home building, the Fraternity has also partnered with GK in events like the Quisumbing- Escandor Film Caravan and the GK March for Health. 
The Mu Sigma Phi – Gawad Kalinga Village in Sta. Rita witnessed its groundbreaking ceremony on December 18, 2011 under Bearer of the Staff Marvin Masalunga ΜΣΦ 2014. With the help and generosity of the Mu Sigma Phi Foundation, represented by Brod Dido Feliciano ΜΣΦ 1966, and various international Mu circles, a total of 23 houses were donated to the village.

November 24, 2013 – In celebration of Gawad Kalinga Health Day and the Mu Sigma Phi Service Month, members of the Mu Sigma Phi conducted a medical mission and a series public health lectures.

December 14, 2013 – Spearheaded by ΜΣΦ Batch 2018, WaPaK Rabies (Wastong Pagsugpo Kontra Rabies) was launched as an anti-rabies campaign offering a canine vaccination program as well as health promotion activities on rabies and responsible pet-ownership. The said campaign was awarded as one of the local winners of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) One Health Challenge.

February 23, 2014 – A pre-partnership meeting was conducted with key community leaders from the local government represented by Kagawad Romy Clavecilla, as well as from the Homeowners Association represented by Mr. Akong de Leon. The said meeting oriented the leaders on what to expect in the partnership and gathered their perspectives on the needs of their community.

March 1, 2014 – The first partnership meeting was organized to identify and prioritize the community’s health issues. With malnutrition emerging as the top health concern of the villagers, the team then determined the root causes contributory to this problem and proposed interventions to address these. Spearheaded by Anthony Cordero ΜΣΦ 1992, Perry Lustre ΜΣΦ 2009, Jose Albaño ΜΣΦ 2018, Rey Joson ΜΣΦ 2018, and Mac Manalang ΜΣΦ 2018, this landmark activity included officials from GK Sta. Rita, GK Samata, and Brgy. Talon Uno, principals of the nearby schools, and representatives from the Barangay as well as national agencies such as the Department. of Education, Agriculture, and Social Welfare and Development. Officers of this partnership were elected, and an organizational structure was later drafted.

March 23, 2014 – MUtrition, the flagship program of ΜΣΦ 2018’s batch project, became the Fraternity’s answer to address the pervasive issue of food security in our country. The event featured a public health lecture and a cooking demonstration, as well as the officially launching of the Aquaponics System, an urban farming technology that addresses the constraints on space distribution, waste management, and fertilizer expenditure. Not only does this technology aim to provide a source of nutrition for the community, but it also presents as a viable livelihood project to augment the meager income of the residents. Commitment of the partners to the Aquaponics Farm was sealed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

April 1, 2014 – A post-event partnership meeting was organized to assess the progress of the MUtrition program and to discuss the next steps to be taken to further develop the GK Sta. Rita community. This provided an avenue for the stakeholders to voice out their concerns and generate plans for the subsequent activities, one of which is a lecture series covering family values formation, financial education, and vice avoidance.

May 18, 2014 – The first of lecture series covering the topic on values formation was given by Rev. Domingo S. Palomares Jr. Afterwards, a short meeting led by Dr. Anthony H. Cordero ΜΣΦ 1992, along with Mr. Akong de Leon and various block heads of the Kapitbahayans, clarified the community’s organizational structure and the objectives of the partnership.

Throughout the months of April and May, multiple visits were done by the MUtrition team and Bahay Kubo Organics representatives to check on the state of the Aquaponics farm. With the help of the elected officials, adjustments on the system were made to better suit the environment of the community.

June 28, 2014 – A subsequent meeting with Sta. Rita officials and volunteers, together with Gawad Kalinga Management Team heads Emil and Glenda Virtudes, revealed some issues in the management of the Aquaponics farm. Queries in the handling and care of the plants and fish raised the need for consultations with the training organization Bahay Kubo Organics and with the Department of Agriculture. Other health concerns were also elicited in the community such as the control of chronic diseases, namely hypertension and diabetes.

September 28, 2014 – The fraternity, in partnership with GK Sta. Rita Homeowners Association, hosted a hypertension screening and catered public health lectures with the goal of raising awareness on the chronic disease. Dr. Anthony G.H. Cordero ΜΣΦ 1992, Dr. Perry A. Lustre ΜΣΦ 2009, and Dr. Allen R. Tria ΜΣΦ 2010 also opened forum and answered queries from the community. The Hypertension Screening and Health Forum is part of ongoing endeavors aimed at cultivating sustainable partnerships with communities.

September 5, 2015 – In partnership with Gawad Kalinga under its official program for health, and all the GK Villages of Las Piñas, the fraternity conducted the GK Las Piñas Gawad Kalusugan Health Volunteers Training. The undergraduate brothers, under the mentorship of Dr. Anthony Geronimo H. Cordero ΜΣΦ ’92 and Dr. Ceferino A. Lustre III ΜΣΦ ’09, delivered a series of lectures and skills training workshops to the volunteers of different communities in Las Piñas. The volunteers who were trained will promote community health in their own respective villages.

The Mu Sigma Phi – Gawad Kalinga – Sta. Rita Health and Development Partnership has truly provided a vehicle towards community building and organizing through an integrated, inclusive, and participative approach. By empowering the members of the community, the program becomes a viable and sustainable concept to improve the health outcomes and quality of life of Filipinos, with the potential to be replicated not only in other Gawad Kalinga Villages but also in various communities across the nation.