Oplan Pahiyom: The gift of a confident smile for the children in the countryside

Boys will be boys, or so the adage goes. And so, children will be children just as well.

Simple needs, simple joys. A light gesture or a gentle loving touch is enough to bring out smiles on their faces.

But not all children have that luxury. Many experience insecurity and feelings of being ostracized because of genetic anomalies.

So when the Craniofacial Foundation of the Philippines Inc. with the Smile Train and the Rotary Club of Cebu-Fuente (RCCF) presented the Oplan Pahiyom surgical project to Provincial Board Member Grecilda “Gigi” Sanchez who in turn presented it to Gov. Hilario P. Davide III, the project was immediately approved.

Oplan Pahiyom gave the rare opportunity to children with cleft lips and deformed palates to be operated on free of charge. The Province provided for thehospital facilities, transportation and food, among others.


Last Mar. 26-28, Manila-based surgeons under the Craniofacial Foundation of the Phils. Inc. volunteered to to come to Cebu to perform the operations pro bono and even paid for the freight of the equipment they had brought along. RCCF member Dr. Alain Señerpida, a high level plastic surgeon from Cebu, supported the Manila based surgeons.

The operations were held at the Dr. Jose Ma. V. Borromeo Memorial Hospital in Pinamungajan. Around 60 children from marginalized families in Pinamungajan, Asturias, Toledo City and other local government units in the 3rd District who passed the medical screening availed of the free surgical mission.

Erwin Buhawi, a construction worker and father of three-year-old Earlrheven who has a cleft lip, was very grateful of the project as he admitted that it is impossible for the family to have his son operated on.

Crispin Dayday, grandfather and guardian of four-year-old Alexander Tresuento who was born with a cleft lip, echoed Buhawi’s sentiment.

Other children who were lined up for the operation were 12-year-old Benedicto Villalon, seven-year-old Gemarie, 11-year-old Rheamae Undang who has started to show boyish traits to fend off school bullies; three year-old Angel May Ricablanca; and, six year-old Diego Segilla, to name some.

Maricel Caballero, grandmother-guardian of seven year-old Kenjie Caballero, said that the medical team who conducted the screening told her that her grandson needed to be operated on in a hospital with an intensive care unit as the kid needed a breathing apparatus during the operation since his case of cleft palate was complicated. She was assured of assistance by the surgical mission organizers.

The other parent-guardians of the beneficiaries also expressed their delight and gratefulness for the program that came their way.

Jose Alfonso Abad, RCCF outgoing president, said that Oplan Pahiyom is the first of such kind of project of the RCCF and they plan to make it an annual event in other parts of the province.

Oplan Pahiyom also enjoys the cooperation of the Mabuhay Deseret Foundation, the Lebumfacil – Santa Ana Medical Foundation, Inc. and the Cebu Association of Media Practitioners (CAMP), Inc.

The RCCF roster of members agreed to go to the venue on three batches for the three-day mission. The first batch was composed of past District Gov. Yumi Espina and spouse Sandra, District Governor nominee Me-anne Alcordo Solomon, past presidents Dave Karamihan and Tina Bacalso, Director Lulu San Pedro and President-elect Marina Kaufman.

Rotaractors who came with the team were Don Canama, Kristofer Llequnas, Dee Violon, Erika Tan and Duane Orfilla. Nursing staff of the hospital and some staff members of PB Sanchez assisted in the screening and facilitation of the operations.