Men of Influence for the Philippine Cancer Society
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2018 - 12:00am

I have stopped going to parties, but on this occasion I made an exception. It was the annual Men of Influence fund-raising party for the Philippine Cancer Society.

Almost all of us have lost a loved one because of this disease and this is especially true now. What is the reason for its prevalence today?

More research is being made on cure. For now the most important is that we know it at an early stage. Both the poor and the rich are victims.

To me, the most important of the tasks to combat the killer disease is awareness of the first symptoms. That means a lot of education. The poor just suffer in silence and accept their fate without even knowing it was cancer that killed. The disease is a good example of what money cannot buy so the rich are just as helpless when it inflicts.

The Philippine Cancer Society (PCS) is a non-stock, non-profit organization that has taken up the cause. It organizes programs, projects and activities in the prevention and control of cancer. Its advocacies and programs are in cancer registry, education and information for prevention and early detection, patient services, hospice and palliative care. Registered since 1956, the PCS pioneered in such innovative programs as cancer registry, tobacco control, hospice care and patient navigation. It involves all of us.

As I told my friend, Consul Agnes Huibonhoa, who worked hard to make the party a success, I would like to help with the little I can with this column.

To hold huge social events of the wealthy to raise funds for the poor is a form for taxation.

The Philippine Cancer Society is dedicated to the prevention and ultimately (we hope) cure of the disease is also the equivalent of corporate social responsibility.

The gala night of the Philippine Cancer Society as in most years since it was organized honors Men of Exemplary Influence and Best-Dressed Women of the Philippines. The ballroom of the Okada was packed with guests for a good cause. (The newly refurbished Okada ballroom is a beautiful venue for huge events.)

But more than that, the event was a testament to the efforts and perseverance of the PCS to fight cancer and the most in need are the poor.

I am especially proud to say that my late father-in-law, once Secretary of Finance and banker Pio Pedrosa, was the first president of Philippine Cancer Society. He was well aware of the necessity of a group that would be dedicated to the cause for a better awareness of the disease. Don Pio as he was known to family and friends died of cancer.

A special group within the PCS has continuously pursued these fund-raising programs using such attractions for the Best Dressed Women of the Philippines organized by chairpersons Helen Ong and Consul Agnes T. Huibonhoa for the Men of Influence. The men (what about the women) are as pillars of business, medicine, government, and other sectors of society. Except for some lady guests who were overdressed for a fund-raising occasion, I was glad to have come.

One of the men of influence this year was Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, who is an invaluable asset to the President. He is also known as the President’s photo bomber because he is in every picture of the President whether on his side, in front or at the back. I thought he was a perfect choice for a man of influence but unfortunately he could not make it (stuck with the president, of course) because it was raining heavily in Nueva Ecija. The other awardees were US Ambassador Sung Y. Kim, Sen. Sonny Angara, Joey Concepcion, Felix Ang, STAR’s Kevin Belmonte, Ricky Dee and David Ong.

All of them have been successful in their field and no doubt will contribute to the cause of the Philippine Cancer Society. Presenter Johnny Litton added that President Digong was once honored as a man of influence too.

I have drawn excerpts from the speech of Consul Agnes Huibonhoa to highlight the work they do.

“While the war against prohibited drugs continues in the dark suffering alleys of our towns and barangays, we, at the Philippine Cancer Society continue to wage our own war against cancer and its physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and also economic and social damages. We fight our cause here in the spotlight so that everyone can witness, comprehend and play their part in overcoming this malignant disease.

“The Philippine Cancer Society has always been unrelenting in its fight against this equally unrelenting disease. Cancer is the third leading cause of death among Filipinos. Around 53 of every 100,000 Filipinos die of cancer every year, and worldwide there will be 17 million deaths caused by cancer in 2030.

“And yet, not many know that 1/3 of cancer illnesses can be prevented. One third of all cancers can in fact be cured. This is why the Philippine Cancer Society focuses its efforts not only on helping and alleviating the suffering of cancer patients but also in promoting prevention, control and information dissemination.

“Every year, the Philippine Cancer Society organizes various events to raise funds for this noble purpose. And as you all well know, tonight’s event is one that we have all been waiting for and to champion our urgent cause this year are eight formidable men of extraordinary influence. They stand side by side with us tonight to fight with us, supplying invaluable ammunition to our battle. They know and understand that this illness we are fighting is our common enemy. It sneaks up on us without warning and makes no distinction between old or young, rich or poor, man or woman. We are all at risk. And we must fight together and support one another. If we hope to gain ground in our battle against cancer.”

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