Starweek Magazine

Turning wine into mobile hospitals

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Call it a modern day miracle. Raising P16.8 million for charity – specifically to support the operations of mobile hospital facilities for disaster victims – is not an easy task. More so if you have to do it in a matter of hours.

But Cebu-based hotelier and wine lover Manny Osmeña did just that, at a charity wine auction that he organized at the Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island recently.

“The wine auction is the convergence of two of my passions in life: wine and compassion for disaster victims,” Osmeña recently tells STARweek.

“For the last 30 years, I have collected fine wines and created my own wine blends. I have also involved myself regularly in disaster relief,” he adds, stressing that auctioning his own wine creation to fund medical response was his way of building synergy into his efforts to bring hope to disaster victims.

His wine creation that was on the auction block that night – the multi-awarded Bibulus ’07 – came with a hefty price tag. One bottle was auctioned off for P1.2 million, while another was sold at P1.1 million.

The two bottles, numbered 8 and 88, came with special edition inscription created by top notch calligrapher Gail Anne Madalag. Both also had display stands crafted by celebrity furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

All in all, Osmeña says a total of P8.4-million worth of wines was sold during the auction. His company, the Manny O. Group, matched the sales and brought the total proceeds to P16.8 million.

The money will be used to support HopeNow Philippines, which seeks to launch a fleet of all-terrain mobile hospitals – literally called Hospital on Wheels – that will be deployed to disaster zones.

“Prior to the auction, I have already placed in this project a seed amount of P25 million. We are continuing with our fund development and have already received financial commitments from various prominent people,” he says.

Osmeña says HopeNow Philippines has recently assembled an executive team that is working out the details of the Hospital on Wheels project.

“Our aim is to pilot the project in 2015,” he adds.


Hospital on Wheels

The Hospital on Wheels is the pilot project of HopeNow Philippines, which has previously participated in the rehabilitation and building of communities affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake and Super Typhoon Yolanda that struck parts of the Visayas last year.

The new project, which seeks to provide a full range of medical services on-site for disaster victims, “envisions the adoption of a ‘zero-day’ medical response in the wake of a disaster or mass casualty emergency.”

Osmeña says the goal of the Hospital on Wheels project is to deploy rapidly and operate a fully functioning mobile medical facility in the disaster zone within 24 to 48 hours following the disaster.

It will be manned by highly trained health professionals and volunteers, who will be ready to assist those affected by such incidents.

According to Osmeña, the Hospital on Wheels project enjoys the backing of prominent business leaders, including Lucio Tan of the LT Group, Tessie Sy-Coson of the SM Group, Helen Yuchengco-Dee of RCBC, Alfred Ty of the Metrobank Group, Ben Chan of Bench and Carl Bautista of Credit Suisse.

Other supporters of the project include Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga, Sen. Bam Aquino IV, broadcaster Karen Davila, Philippine Heart Center executive director Manuel Chuachiaco and World Economic Forum founding chairman Klaus Schwab, among others.

Meanwhile, Osmeña says HopeNow Philippines has pledged to continue supporting the housing communities that it established in Leyte, Bohol, Cebu and Samar in partnership with Gawad Kalinga.

“These housing communities will continue to receive support from HopeNow Philippines in the form of livelihood programs and assistance,” he says.

“I am extremely happy that God gave me the opportunity to bring hope to the hopeless. I am also delighted that God surrounded me with friends who have big hearts and are willing to walk alongside me in this endeavor,” Osmeña adds.


‘Blessings for a greater purpose’

The most expensive bottle of wine that was auctioned, the Bibulus ’07, is part of the Manny O. Wines signature line and has won the coveted Trophée Vin Rouge for the dry red wine category during the 2013 Vinalies Internationales in Paris.

The wine, which has previously won accolades, bested over 1,736 other entries during the said competition.

“As soon as I heard of the award, I immediately kept all the remaining bottles of the wine,” Osmeña tells STARweek.

Asked why he decided to include the wines in the auction, he says it is his belief that his precious possessions were entrusted to him for a greater purpose.

“I have come to realize that the blessings that I enjoy, even my precious possessions like wine, were entrusted to me by God for a greater purpose, that is, to bring hope to hopeless,” he says.

“With its numerous international awards, the Bibulus ‘07 was remarkable enough to merit its place in an auction and to be desired by wine enthusiasts,” adds Osmeña.

For him, every Filipino – whether those in the public or private sector – has the responsibility to participate in seeking the greater good of the society, especially those who are in need.

“As a Filipino, everyone should count it as a privilege to engage in disaster response and to complement the efforts of the government,” he says.

Osmeña says future wine auctions that he will organize will still focus on raising funds for the Hospital on Wheels project.

“It is such a blessing to be on the giving end,” he says.










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