In observance of the 33rd Global Coastal Clean-up celebrations, the newly-organized MHAM student organization known as SAPHE, recently took part in a Coastal Clean-up drive in Talisay City, Cebu last September 23, 2018 at 8:00 in the morning.
Coming together as a team with a meaningful advocacy, the Student Advocates for Public Health and Environment volunteer-members carried out their mission in coordination with Cebu Labuyo Leo Club with the common goal to collect and help reduce ocean trash in Talisay City, Cebu’s public beach, in particular.
A global movement to heal the bay from tons of trash, debris and recyclables along the shores, the Coastal Clean-up drive was well-observed by various volunteer organizations all over the world with this year’s theme, “Building a Clean Swell for Future Generations”.
A collaborative and volunteer effort participated by eighteen (18) SAPHE members, the coastal clean-up drive was one of the activities that the organization had contributed since it was founded to help preserve the environment as its main goal.
Aimed to keep our coastline clean and to preserve it for the next generation to come, the volunteers, who brought their gloves and garbage bags for an environmental cause, successfully actualized their mission and collected bags of plastics, rubber, bottles and food wrappers.
According to SAPHE VP for Programs, Events and Advocacies, Maria Clarinda U. Surpia of batch Resiliere, recent data and figures showed that one bulk that makes our coasts unclean is the use of plastics which gets stuck in the seas for so many years and does not only affect the beach-goers but also the dwellers of the seas.
A licensed pharmacist by profession from Tacloban City, this aspiring doctor always wanted to make a difference, make an impact and leave a legacy inside and outside the campus as she is inclined into service since she was still in her secondary years. Moreover, she strongly believe that joining SAPHE can be an avenue for her to be part of various activities for the community where she now belongs.
“It was my first time to join a coastal clean-up drive and I realized that it wasn’t that difficult to do that left an impact to the community. As a student leader, I believe in leadership by example. These are one of the few instances that students like us can help and further encourage the care for our beaches. The Philippines is blessed with a lot of beautiful beaches, which makes the country one of the favorite destinations for beautiful beaches. But we are also aware that some of our beaches are already abused and misused by the tourists and beach-goers. With activities like the coastal clean-ups we help in raising awareness that we are always free to enjoy these beautiful coastal fronts however it always comes with the responsibility of helping maintain the cleanliness of our beautiful coasts”, Surpia said in an interview.
A recipient of Leadership Excellence and Benedictine Leadership Awards during her college years at St. Scholastica’s College in Tacloban, this student-leader is also the current class president aside from her unremitting service with SAPHE. Prior to her medical journey in MHAM, she worked as a professor in the college of Pharmacy at St. Scholastica’s College. When super typhoon Yolanda wreaked havoc and battered Tacloban in 2013, she got the chance to apply and was hired to a non-government organization under the United Nations World Food Program for two fulfilling years. Gearing to take up a master’s degree of professional specialization for position rankings, her parents then advised her to pursue for Medicine to which she earnestly commit for the second time. Today, ‘Clar’, as she is fondly called, is among the hyped-up student leaders in SAPHE who advocate on refuse use of plastics.
“The beach was created clean and beautiful so that we that we can enjoy it, therefore it is but fitting that we leave the beach like how it looked when we arrived. Always clean as you go. I believe that it’s never too late to be hopeful to lessen the trashes of all kinds through various campaigns. Like what Mother Theresa once said, ‘Just do small things with great love’, and it takes one meaningful deed done with great love to create ripples in our environment”, she concluded.
In the Philippines, amazing volunteer groups actively took part for the National Clean-up Drive using their time and resources with concrete measures to reduce the amount of debris especially from single-use plastics.
A student organization founded last July this year by Andrea Marie Tortugo of batch Resiliere, SAPHE provides an avenue for the members of the organization to promote personal growth and development as healthcare providers through awareness and engagement in public health practices and hones medical students to be community-oriented and socially responsible individuals.
With a growing number of advocates which sums up to one hundred nine (109) members at present, SAPHE is well-guided by Dr. Chamberlaine I. Agtuca Jr. who serves as their adviser.
In just three months since it was officially approved by the College Dean, SAPHE successfully walk the talk with their commitment to create a difference in the lives of the community including their partnership with local organizations’ activities such as the Big Latch On event at Glory Reborn, Everlasting Hope’s Give Back Day, Rise Above Foundation, Little Lamb Center, AMSA-SOMA and RAFI-led Medical Missions and emergency relief operation for Naga City landslide survivors.
Just recently, SAPHE also took part in the movement for HIV awareness campaign in collaboration with the MHAM Student Council together with the participation of the Department of Health Regional Office VII and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center HIV/AIDS Core Team.
Empowered to become future doctors with a passion for service to the community wherever they may be, the SAPHE member-advocates are working hand in hand with the Student Council’s wide-ranging project on plastic-free MHAM- as the first medical institution in Cebu City to strictly implement the ‘no plastic policy’ to become an environmentally-responsible community.
Bringing their mission with renewed echoing to leave nothing but footprints one day at a time, SAPHE’s Coastal Clean-up drive shines a good deed with ever-growing process in a world where silent heroes walk the talk for a healthier, cleaner and greener community to dwell in. (Ana Liza Abao)