May 10, 1990 was the beginning of extending the charitable hands of the team of the Philippine American Group of Educators and Surgeons (PAGES) to the poor people of the Philippines. This group of medical missionaries had aspirations of helping the poor constituents of the Philippines, especially children who suffer from birth defects such as cleft lip and palate.
The mission of Operation Hope is to help those who cannot afford surgery cost and hospital expenses. Without the surgeries,these children will continue to be ostracized by the community and society because of their appearance. However, they keep hoping that someday, a good samaritan group like PAGES will come along and help them fulfill their wishes of looking like normal human beings.
With the combined efforts of accountant Matthew Azares, Attorney Frank Koh, Educator Antonio Remollo, Anesthesiologist Dr. Benjamin Rigor, and Registered Nurse Vid Figueras, the formation of a charitable group was conceptualized.
In May 1990, when the Secretary of State of Delaware certified, and issued a Certificate of Incorporation to the P.A.G.E.S. as a non-profit, charitable corporation that qualifies a tax exempt organization under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Dr. Benjamin Rigor and Mr. Vid Figueras started communicating with a number of individuals who they thought would dedicate their free services and volunteer their time and money for the good cause.
The people from the medical field who responded without hesitation were anesthesiologists Dr. Honorato Nicodemus and Dr. Romy Buzon; plastic surgeons Dr. Sam Pejo, Dr. Albert Capinpin, Dr. Revelo Argamaso, Dr. Jesse Corres, Dr. Basilio Bautista and nurse anesthetists Mr. Steve Putnam and Ms. Laura Cohen. They were recruited to join the “A” team. With the assistance of expert and dedicated nightingales like Vid Figueras, Emy Villanueva, Connie de Guia, Clarita Flores, Sheila Rager, Mila San Luis, Cely Padilla, and Nelda Jacob, the medical team of PAGES was formed. Along with the medical team, the support team was also created to help with the needs of documenting the mission. Joining the medical mission team were Letty Rigor, Violy Pejo, Nora Corres and Robert Coe.
The PAGES “A” team came into reality on February 1991 at Ospital ng Maynila in Manila and St. Martin de Porres Charity Hospital in San Juan Metro Manila. During the two weeks of intensive patient examinations and treatment sessions and training seminars on reconstructive surgeries, more than 500 patients were examined and 226 operations were performed at the two hospitals.
On October 4, 1990, the State of New Jersey, County of Hudson also certified under the Laws of New Jersey that PAGES existed as a non-profit, charitable group composed of doctors, nurses and other medical support team for the purpose of Helping Other People Excel (H.O.P.E.) on other countries, especially the Philippines.
PAGES mission of HOPE continues with great pride and satisfaction as they extend their volunteer services. It is a great honor to have loyal and dedicated team members who throughout the years have been untiringly serving to benefit the underprivileged people of other countries like the Philippines.
There are only a handful of people who can spare their time and expertise to do the mission of Hope, but there are plenty of people who can support their good deeds financially and in-kind, and most indisputably, “in spirit and in heart.”It is worth mentioning that Mr. George Chaker of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, despite his limited knowledge of medicine, became very instrumental in pursuing the financial needs of PAGES. Since its first year, George never failed to ask his associates with good hearts to support PAGES financially. Also, the continued support of Northwest Airlines through Ms. Jannette Lau, Northwest Airlines International Sales Manager ensured that mission travel to the Philippines are made easy and without encountering major problems.
The PAGES salutes all the people who in one way or another have contributed to the success of the organization, through which 7,500 patients, mostly children, with birth defects realized their dream of having their lives changed forever and making them smile again.
We have three encompassing possessions-our TIME, our TALENT and our TREASURE. Our TIME of course, we cannot keep. Only that which we give to others is lost. We also cannot keep our TALENT. We must use it or lose it. Our TREASURE , at last, is not permanent either. Most of us have lived long enough to know that we really keep only that which we eventually give away.