“Most workers in the Philippines hardly make ends meet,” say Access Trainers Remar Soliza and Alan Along, Filipino CBPs who engaged some 31 workers in a BodyTalk Access Outreach event in Metro Manila (pictured below). “They receive less than 10 dollars a day and have no health insurance. With no savings and poor healthcare policies, an extra burden is placed on families when someone gets sick.”

“Thanks to simple and effective healthcare systems like BodyTalk Access,” Soliza writes, “a terrible weight is lifted from the shoulders of these workers when they need immediate healthcare. At the same time, it is a joy for us Outreachers to be able to help!”

The Access Outreach program is a unique BodyTalk program supported by the IBA that targets needy communities both in the urban and rural areas of the Philippines. Dorothy Friesen, Canadian CBP and Access Instructor, has been the liaison to the IBA and supervising instructor. Designed as a self-help and self-empowering program, learning is facilitated in the participants’ own language, using picture-only manuals which “graduates” take home to use with their families.

The “Outreachers” must have taken the BodyTalk Access and BodyTalk Fundamentals courses and have offered Access to family and friends for at least one year.

As BodyTalk Access Outreachers, Soliza and Along completed a three-day intensive training with Dorothy, who introduced BodyTalk to the Philippines some nine years ago. Dorothy was immediately followed by Fundamentals Instructor Ben Manalo and other dedicated teachers. Since then, the Philippine BodyTalk Outreach organization has grown in numbers, skills and creativity, and is now led by Along, Soliza, and Gina Lee, all certified CBPs and Access Trainers who train, supervise and accredit new Outreachers.

This formalized Access Outreach program grew out of Along’s outreach experiments beginning in 2009 with the first BodyTalk Access class taught in the Philippines to people who were victims and survivors of toxic wastes left by U.S. military bases. As payment for the class and before they received a certificate, participants shared BodyTalk Access with family and neighbors for six months. From 2009 to 2012, ongoing Access clinics were supervised by Along who is now the point person for Philippine Access Outreach.

With moral and material support from the Be Healthy Foundation and the International BodyTalk Foundation (IBF), the Outreachers in the Philippines go to healthcare-deprived communities as needed. Most notably, they have gone to disaster-stricken areas like Tacloban, Davao and Cagayan de Oro, communities devastated by super typhoons. (In the case of Haiyan in Tacloban, the storm surge killed some 3,000 people overnight.)

Despite the challenges, a lot of effort is placed in establishing regular clinics for Outreach. In Makati, Outreachers Hermie Morales and Gina Lee (who is also a professional acupuncturist) have been running an Outreach clinic at the San Ildefonso Parish Church for the past two years. Although Makati is known as Manila’s Wall Street, hundreds of thousands of its residents belong to the urban poor. Inspired by the results and encouraged by the parish priest and volunteer staff, the Outreachers are now training subgroups to quickly expand to other poor communities in the parish.

Meanwhile, in another district in Metro Manila, Malate’s Our Lady of Remedies Catholic church’s parish priest, Fr Leo Distor of the Columban Fathers, set aside a day to sign a Memorandum of Agreement for BodyTalk Outreach in their well-lit six-bed clinic. The church, a stone’s throw away from the historic Manila Hotel by Manila Bay, serves a mixed-class community—Manila’s old rich live here as do workers’ families and street children. In this milieu, the Columban Fathers have created a niche for themselves by strongly advocating peace, social justice and care for the environment.

Thanks to persistent efforts by Along and Outreachers Liway Arceo and Gemma Bunag, the Malate clinic will popularize BodyTalk among poor families in the parish. Its soft opening was on July 4, and it is intended to be open every Thursday.

The Philippine BodyTalk Association, with its president Annie Lao, continues to seek capable and committed Outreachers for work in healthcare in the Philippines, and possibly for the Southeast Asian region much later on.

By Marilen Abesamis

Jul 14, 2017