Bob Mirani

It has been a century since an American soldier came to the Philippines in 1899 to spend the mid-years of his life serving Filipinos who were physically deformed and disfigured. Irving S. Hart, or Daddy Hart as he was fondly called, founded the Philippine Band of Mercy in 1937. Since then, the PBM has taken on the mission of providing thousands of indigent Filipinos, unfortunately physically disfigured at birth, with the opportunity to avail of medical help and support for reconstruction, rehabilitation and medical treatment. In all its 69 years of existence, the Philippine Band of Mercy has attended to indigent Filipinos suffering from cleft/palate harelips, cataract and glaucoma in children, hydrocephalus and meningocele.

Relationships and networks have been established and maintained with the country’s top specialists and doctors and the various hospitals so that these services could be rendered to the indigents for free, with PBM shouldering the costs of the treatment. Aside from the medical services, the PBM has also maintained therapists and speech experts to provide patients with adequate psychological support so that after the operation, they will be able to adjust to a new renewed life offered by the opportunity to be assimilated into society. As the handicapped and the disfigured are afforded a chance to improve, reshape or reconstruct their physical deformities, PBM’s patients are helped into becoming renewed citizens of society, able to merge with people and make a contribution, instead of being wasted away, isolated or unjustly alienated and abandoned, simply because of an abnormality in their features or in their physical condition. This report is a chronicle of the milestones and achievements of the Philippine Band of Mercy across 69 years of existence. At the same time, it is a fitting tribute to Daddy Hart, Paz Reyes, and to the hundreds of volunteers and members who have helped the organization to pursue its mission during the fledgling years of the 1930’s and the 1940’s, its climactic growth in the 1950’s and the 1960’s, the quiet years of the 1970’s, and its comeback in the 1980’s and the 1990’s. Historically, PBM’s existence these past years marked a gradual evolution in its relentless drive to serve and to stay alive. Surviving purely on donations alone, PBM’s efforts to help its beneficiaries were sometimes restrained by lack of funds. Moreover, the technology during the earlier years also had to be reckoned with. Although the technology and knowledge used then may have been considered modern and suitable during these time periods, there were still a myriad of ailments and diseases which such technology could not fathom or cure. Moreover, while there were truly many success cases, there were also times when certain hindrances arose or some diseases proved to be untreatable because medical science at that time was still searching for more adequate and effective treatments, cures and alternatives.

The past has indeed been quite a journey, with many lessons learned, many successes reaped, and hardships undergone. As we move on to the new millennium, there is more optimism that PBM will be able to reset its directions and achieve greater heights. Armed with a rejuvenated spirit of lending a helping hand, coupled with a more balanced and skillful decision-making process, PBM believes it is now in a position to be proactive, to re-create its future and set its course for a more inspired and fulfilling destiny. Furthermore, medical science and technology have taken a great leap forward over 69 years and many illnesses and diseases once thought hopeless or incurable can now be managed, eliminated or even prevented. With all these above-mentioned factors, combined with PBM’s current solid financial standing, PBM eventually hopes to elevate its status to becoming a full-pledged funding agency, capable of supporting other civic organizations aiding indigents on a larger scale and doing high-level philanthropic work to the maximum. When this happens, more and more people can benefit and various types of medical services can now be made available to them.

  We dedicate this report to the thousands of Filipinos out there, to those who have supported us and continue to help us, to those whose lives we have touched and help to change and improve, as well as to those whom we are about to encounter and usher into a new life.

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