Rosa bids Damayan goodbye
STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco () - November 20, 2010 - 12:00am

Rosa Rosal had just quit Damayan after hosting the public service show for almost 35 years.

The great actress-humanitarian was actually the one who started out Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko (with former Sen. Orly Mercado) and when she was host of that program, it would even beat the televised games of the PBA, then at the very peak of its popularity.

Ugly political hands, however, forced her out of that show until she ended up with her own Damayan in 1976 on Channel 4. Since the show had always been aired on the government network, working conditions weren’t always ideal. But the host had always been a pro.

To the production staff’s relief, Ms. Rosal was never the type to demand for a fancy dressing room with an expensive bottle of champagne waiting for her on her dresser. (It’s been basically a Spartan life for her even if she will always be remembered as one of our most glamorous actresses.) She’d get there dressed and always paid for her own clothes and accessories. Heck, she didn’t even get paid for doing that daily show in all those 35 years. Yes, she had always done Damayan gratis. And yet, even without a budget, it saved countless lives during all the time it was on the air — without necessarily exploiting personal affairs of the recipients like what most public service programs do today.

But even without much fanfare and the onscreen drama to prop up the ratings, Rosa Rosal was able to refer the needy to the country’s best medical specialists, who charged not a cent for their services. They all did that because of Rosa Rosal.

Only she was able to summon — for free at that — doctors who did intensive training in the best medical schools abroad.

Damayan was also able to share useful medical information and tips to viewers since Ms. Rosal often interviewed doctors in the program. Nobody can count anymore the number of medical cases that were threshed out in the show. More importantly, those ailments that were remedied free-of-charge — thanks to Tita Rose, who lent her energy and precious time to Damayan.

But Rosa Rosal, after three decades and a half, felt it was time to leave the show to be able to pour all her remaining strength (she’s not getting any younger, after all) to her blood bank program in Red Cross. There really is so much to do there. Even if she was able to transform her blood bank into one of the most modern and complete this side of the world, the need for blood hasn’t stopped since the population is getting bigger and bigger every day. (I have to stress that just in case our Catholic bishops haven’t noticed yet.)

The truth is, her Red Cross activities eat up much of her time. She averages three emergency cases (all in need of blood) in one day. Up to now, she still sleeps with her cell phone on and with her on standby all the time — just in case there is somebody who needs blood in the middle of the night.

She’ll still be doing charity work and will be active and busy as ever — like the time she first joined the Red Cross, gulp, 60 years ago. Is there anyone else who has done charity work that long — and that involved — aside from her and Mother Teresa?  

It’s really sad that Ms. Rosal decided to give up Damayan for good. But we can’t complain anymore. She had served us well and served us long.

The officials of Channel 4 aren’t even thinking of bringing back the show with somebody else because, as they reasoned out — and rightfully so — Damayan will not be Damayan without our beloved Tita Rose.

It’s just too bad that there is only one Rosa Rosal in this world. This is why she can’t even rest yet. She’s just channeling her energies to other charity work.

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