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Philippine Narratives of Public Health (2): Contemporary Institutions, Structures, and Agents

Friday 20 March 2015, 1630 – 1830, Lecture Theatre 5

Part 2 of 2. View part 1.

Organiser:
Nicolo Paolo P Ludovice
Ateneo de Manila University
nludovice@ateneo.edu

Chair:
Nicolo Paolo P Ludovice
Ateneo de Manila University
nludovice@ateneo.edu

Discussant:
Nel Jason Haw
Department of Health, Republic of the Philippines
neljasonhaw@gmail.com

The public health experience in the Philippines is a product of its long history of interaction and immersion with native practices and colonial policies which oftentimes have led to different trajectories. The central state objectives were at times incongruent with what localities were used to that resulted in different responses from those concerned. Convergences and divergences in the discourses of public health can be gleaned from the competing influences in colonial administration, political governance, socio-economic transformations, cultural and legal experience, all of which contribute to a unique history of public health in the Philippines. This proposal is for two panels whose aim is to present the diversity of public health experience in the Philippines. The first panel consists of papers dealing with the American colonial influences and local responses on diseases from 1898 to the first half of the twentieth century. The second panel explores the localization of responses through an expansion of the operational definition of public health as once centered on diseases to include personal wellness, social services, disaster management, and environmental protection from its independence in 1946 to the present. Both panels present narratives of public health that are important in constructing the landscape and nature of public health in the Philippines.

Paper 1: Public Health for a Private Industry: Assessing the Health Interventions for Prostitutes During the American Presence in Olongapo City

Michael Agoncillo
Ateneo de Manila University
michael.agoncillo@obf.ateneo.edu

Rozelle de Leon
Ateneo de Manila University
rozelle.deleon@obf.ateneo.edu

Francesca Querubin
Ateneo de Manila University
francesca.querubin@obf.ateneo.edu

From the introduction of sanitation policies to the construction of hospitals and medical schools, the United States is often recognized for the massive improvement of health in the nation. This narrative, however, is one that needs further inspection especially in the frame of the unintended health consequences they have dealt to a vulnerable group in an industry they entrenched – prostitutes.
Olongapo City hosted the American military and naval bases, the biggest outside of the United States. Prostitution thrived near the bases and later on grew to be a thriving entertainment and sex industry in the region. This paper will argue that the American presence, more specifically the military soldiers, not only contributed socio-political factors that provided the grounds for hospitality girls, entertainers, or sex workers to operate in the region, but also how even the public health policies intended to address the harms of the industry only exacerbated the very health impacts they sought to avoid. Through oral accounts and interviews, the paper will present three key areas – a background on military prostitution in the Philippines, the public health policies established for prostitutes in Olongapo City, and the outcomes of these policies.

Paper 2: From One to Many: The EMBO Migration and the Exclusivity of the Army General Hospital in Makati City, Philippines

Frances Bianca Bautista
Ateneo de Manila University
frances.bautista@obf.ateneo.edu

Kristine Valerie Bernil
Ateneo de Manila University
kristine.bernil@obf.ateneo.edu

Jacqueline Ong
Ateneo de Manila University
jacqueline.ong@obf.ateneo.edu

Fort McKinley, known today as Fort Andres Bonifacio, was established in 1901 in the area formerly chartered as the province of Rizal to serve as one of the bases of the United States in the Philippines. In accordance with Military Bases Agreement in 1947, officers of the United States Army were obliged to vacate the Fort McKinley base. In 1949, the base was reactivated by the placement of enlisted men and they were further followed by the migration of other enlisted men coming from different localities, thus forming the enlisted men’s barrios (EMBOs) of Makati. To address the issue of providing social services, the Army General Hospital was transferred to Fort McKinley. Regardless of the subsequent name changes, the hospital was remembered most by the enlisted men and their dependents for the free quality service that it provided. The efficient and functioning health services provided to the enlisted men and their dependents led to extending the same health services to civilians as well. This paper will argue that the exclusive services of the military hospital achieved its purpose at first for the enlisted men, but with the emerging transformations of political and social order in the 1970s forced its services to include the military and civilians.

 

Paper 3: After the Unexpected Unfolded: Disposing the Dead in the 1990 Earthquake in Baguio City

Camille Justine Malinit
Ateneo de Manila University
camille.malinit@obf.ateneo.edu

During the Luzon earthquake that occurred in 1990, one of the places that suffered the most was Baguio City. Although it was not the only place to experience the earthquake at intensity 7.7, Baguio recorded the said phenomenon as the worst earthquake to hit the city in its entire history which resulted to the deaths of over 400 people. How the local government of Baguio responded to the unexpected disaster was commendable considering that they had lack of equipment and resources. In addition, foreign aid also played a big role in the alleviation of the damages caused by the earthquake. The biggest concern in disaster management was the retrieval, identification, and disposal of dead bodies. Little was known regarding the way these dead bodies were handled or disposed. This paper will argue that the local government’s use of innovative and resourceful methods of corpse disposal after the earthquake helped in mitigation of the spread of epidemic in the city.
Paper 4: The Flows of Time: Leadership and Governance in the Public Health History of Marikina City, 1992-2000

Joanna Feliz O. Cortez
Ateneo de Manila University
joanna.cortez@obf.ateneo.edu

Francis Thaddeus S. Lazaro
Ateneo de Manila University
francis.lazaro@obf.ateneo.edu

Gian Paulo Alberto V. Soliman
Ateneo de Manila University
gian.soliman@obf.ateneo.edu

Having won numerous awards, Marikina City or the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, has been known to be one of the cleanest and healthiest cities in Metro Manila. One would be surprised to discover how unsanitary it was in the past. The narrative of its economic shifts from simple farm tenancy to rapid industrialization show how development comes with a price. Marikina River, once the center of economic and industrial life of the city, had become disreputable, mainly because of heavy industrialization and informal settlers in the area. The industrial and human wastes imposed health risks to the people, and disrupted the normal flow of the river, causing heavy flooding in the city during heavy rains. In the incumbency of mayor Bayani Fernando in 1991, an engineer, manifest improvements were seen in the prioritization of health and environment, as he started to build infrastructures and institutions that catered to the development of these aspects. This paper will argue that by pervading through the culture of the people, discipline and order was instilled, while fostering an understanding of the importance of attaining better health-seeking behavior. The study of history and the narrative of development can contextualize and guide actions and policies one makes towards health.