Danao Association USA, Inc. (DAUSA)
Danao Association USA, Inc. is a registered non-profit organization, whose members are U.S. and Canadian residents, born, raised or whose roots have come from Danao City, Cebu, Philippines.
DAUSA aims to foster mutual understanding and unity among its members; promote, preserve and instill in their children desirable Filipino values, Danawanon’s strong religious beliefs and traditions; stimulate their interest about Danao City, its historical- cultural heritage; promote projects geared towards improving the quality of life of the city’s poorest of the poor.
First Elected President – Crosine Roble
DAUSA was formally organized sometime in 1993 starting with some 40 Danawanon families in the Los Angeles area. Through Crosine Roble’s initiative and with the help of Fr. Jonathan Lao, Citas Villareal, Letty Toledo, Minviluz Lavidez among others, the first gathering of Danawanons in a public place took place on September 19, 1993 at the Holy Innocents School Social Hall in Long Beach, California. Fr. Jonathan Lao flew from New York to officiate the eucharistic mass in honor the Danao City’s patron saint, Santo Tomas de Villanueva. For this first public fiesta celebration in Long Beach, California, Mrs. Josefa Espera of Maslog, Danao donated a hand-carved wooden 3.5 ft. statue of Santo Tomas. Memet Brava of Looc hand-carried this 40-lb. icon in a flight from Cebu to Los Angeles.
At this event Fr. Lao and Marilou Navarro-Ceniza presided the first election officers and Crosine was the unanimous choice to become the first elected president. Inocentes Tecala, an attorney connected with the U.S. Department of Justine in Washington, D.C. drafted the Associations’ Articles of Incorporation and By-laws. In the beginning, association activities were mainly for the purpose of socializing and getting in touch with fellow Danawanon residents in Southern California. This was held once a year to coincide the the fiesta in Danao City and the feast of Santo Tomas de Villanueva.
The Pioneers – The late Amparo Perez of S.F. and Marieta Palos of L.A.
To most people’s recollection, it was Marieta Palos who started the fiesta tradition in the Los Angeles area on September 1988 who had gathered together many Danawanons at their home. However, much earlier than that, the late Amparo Perez, and his son Rudy and wife Doris, actively promoted the veneration of Santo Tomas de Villanueva, and would invite all Danawanons in the Bay area to celebrate the feast of Danao City’s patron saint. Word of mouth spread about this fiesta celebration and Danawanons would simply show up without formal invitation, bringing food for the occasion, either in San Francisco through Amparing Perez or in Los Angeles at Marieta Palos’s residence.
At a gathering in Marieta Palos’ residence on the fiesta of Santo Nino on January, 1990, there was an attempt by a few Danawanons to formally organize the group into an association. Marieta Palos declined to become president and made a suggestion that Ote Almendras would be designated president, Ramon Barriga, vice-president and Melinda Aquino to act as treasurer. Unfortunately, the designated officers failed to meet or plan out any activity.
In 1991 and 1992, aside from Marieta Palos whose home was situated in the City of Los Angeles, two other families held their own separate fiesta celebrations, Benny Peralta and Paeng Mangubat both in Long Beach. They invited the same people to observe the fiesta at their respective homes. This situation somehow made some people to worry that Danawanons in Southern California were beginning to form into factions. To some it was fun, they went fiesta hopping – three parties in a single day.
Kaming Danawanon Newsletter
In 1994, Ramon Barriga released the first Kaming Danawanon Newsletters chronicling association activities and reporting some interesting events in Danao, spiced with some funny and nostalgic articles about old Danao. It was circulated prior to the fiesta and distributed during the fiesta celebration.
Dr. Plutarco Almendras, President 1995 – 97
When Dr. Plutarco Almendras was elected president, he encouraged the continuation of the newsletter to come out more regularly, and he provided funds to print more copies and mail out to the members all over U.S. Dr. Almendras also had his wife Gloria, and cousin Loretta, both doctors, write column articles to the newsletters during its initial stage.
Editing, proofreading and printing of Kaming Danawanon was done with the help of Ramon’s two daughters, Mariel and Monette. At first, the newsletter came out once every three months (1994 – 1996), then once every two months since 1997. Because of the newsletter, membership during Dr. Plutarco’s term, grew to nearly 300, paying .00 annual membership fee. The newsletter, in a way, bonded more closely Danawanons, not only in the U.S. but also those in Canada.
Kaming Danawanon in the Internet
In the later part of 1995 Mariel Barriga created a web-site for Kaming Danawanon Newsletter. DAUSA’s appearance in the internet drew great excitement among a few DAUSA members and other cyber-enthusiast from Danao who began exploring the cyber-world.. The Kaming Danawanon Guest Book that Mariel set up started a forum among Danawanons all over the U.S. as well as other parts of the world, Australia, Bahamas, Thailand, etc. As more contents had to be added, Celso Barriga, a professional software engineer from New Hampshire, took over from Mariel the maintenance of the website, and gave Virtual Danao City a more professional look. Years later – in Y2K – Celso obtained a domain name for the DAUSA website: www.dausa.org. Presently, Wayne and Tess Johns of London, England provided free hosting of DAUSA’s website in exchange for Celso’s free professional consultation.
Ramon Barriga – Gemma Montegrande Team
On September 21, 1997 a third set of DAUSA officers got elected during a fiesta celebration held in Lakewood, California. Ramon Barriga was chosen president and Gemma Montegrande, vice president. Inocentes Tecala who flew from Washington D.C. inducted the new officers. Also, on this particular occasion, Msgr. Alfeo Manaili who came to California for a short visit, officiated the mass.
Medical Mission Project
Two months after the induction of new officers, a meeting of all the officers was called to discuss possible projects. The officers decided and unanimously agreed to conduct a medical mission at the Danao General Hospital considering the many DAUSA members in the medical field, doctors, nurses, med-techs, etc.
A survey-letter was circulated to all medical professional Danawanons asking them to fill the survey form, indicating whether they could be active participant in the medical mission, or just as contributor of medicines or medical supplies or cash. The Medical Mission Committee headed by Dr. Anita Cal Jackson, Dr. Loretta Montesclaros, Cecilia Barriga, R.N., Natie Almeda, R.N., scheduled the medical mission a week after the city fiesta, providing an opportunity for the participants to attend the fiesta, at the same time, do community service through the medical mission.
The results was very encouraging. In less than a month, we received pledges from fellow Danawanons to either participate or contribute. Dr. Julian Banzon and his wife Amparo, a nurse, were the first to respond to Dr. Jackson’s appeal, that they would join. Dr. Banzon had been doing solo medical missions in Danao many years back.
Medicine Collectors/Contributors and the Med Mission Volunteers
The campaign for medicines and medical supplies started as early as January, 1998 for the medical mission scheduled on September 22 – 24, 1998. Main source of supplies were the Danawanon nurses and doctors. They collected medical samples from medical clinics, unused or excess medicines from convalescent hospitals.
Among those who actively collected or contributed medicines were Dr. Anita Cal-Jackson, Drs. Plutarco and Gloria Almendras, Dr. Loretta Montesclaros, Monette Cabahug, Timmy Laurente, Verne Dayondon, Celsa Banzon, Fred and Natie Almeda, and Dr. Vic Oyas of Arizona. Starting May we shipped out to Danao by ocean freight as many as four balikbayan boxes of medicines and surgical supplies every month until August of 1998.
Meantime, the Medical Mission Committee contacted local doctors in Danao to participate in the medical mission to volunteer side by side with U.S.-based Danawanon doctors. A Danawanon doctor in Manila, a noted cardiologist at St. Luke Medical Center in Manila, Dr. Macrina Barriga, was invited to participate and she did join, at her own expense.
Dr. Loretta Montesclaros invited a prominent Danawanon surgeon practicing in Cebu City, Dr. Lito Almendras, and local doctors, such as Dr. Cynthia Duterte, Dr. Jojo Arsenal, Dr. Merwyn Gomez to join the medical mission. Dr. Gregory Canga also pledged to join, after being contacted by e-mail.
DAUSA was also able to enlist the support and participation of the Manila-based St. Martin de Porres Catholic Medical Mission Guild, whose doctors are well-known experts in oral maxillo-facial surgeries. They handled the cleft-lip and cleft-palate surgeries. The group is headed by a UCLA graduate and Harvard trained surgeon, Dr. Ted Nicholoff, a young Filipino-American doctor who devoted his talent to charity.
Dinner-Dance and Fiesta in the Park
To raise funds for the Medical Mission and at the same time celebrate the fiesta and the association’s 5th Anniversary, the first DAUSA formal dinner dance was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Torrance on September 12, 1998. There were over 300 guests coming from all over United States. Then outgoing Cebu 5th District Congressman Ramon Durano III was invited as guest speaker and Msgr. Pascual Ypil delivered the invocation.
The fiesta celebration continued the next day, Sunday, with a mass presided by Msgr. Pascual Ypil followed with a big pot luck luncheon at the Long Beach Recreation Center Social Hall.
First DAUSA Medical Mission Sept. 22 – 24, 1998
The first Medical Mission jointly conducted by DAUSA Medical Mission Team and the St. Martin de Porres Catholic Medical Mission Guild held on September 22-24, 1998 was a mega success. Key to the success was the support extended by the City Government of Danao, the Danao General Hospital and the Government Officials of the City and Province of Cebu.
A huge crowd showed up at the hospital the day before the medical mission started. On the last day, police had to be called to control the crowed. Nearly 1,500 patients were served, including 18 cleft-lip, 18 major and about 40 minor surgeries.
With the local officials and NGO’s working hand in hand in the project, everyone got so inspired that everyone pledged to help make the medical mission a yearly event. Other than those coming from the U.S. and Manila, local Danao doctors and nurses also contributed their free time and professional services.
City Councilor Rosemarie Dira and Dr. Mary Ann Arsenal served as chairperson and vice chairperson for the Danao City Medical Mission Committee. Dr. Julian Banzon, a surgeon practicing in Chicago and Dr. Anita Cal Jackson led the U.S. team.
Among the U.S. Nurses were Natividad Almeda, Cecilia Barriga, Chona Diao, Petit Banzon, Leizl Entero, Bella Miro and Timmy Laurente. Among local doctors were Dr. Camilo Tomboc, Danao General Hospital Administrator, Dr. Simeon Sato, Dr. Mary Ann Arsenal and husband Dr. Jojo Arsenal, a surgeon; Drs. Cynthia Duterte, Wilfredo Ypil, Jr., Merwyn Gomez, Drs. Wilfredo and Proclyn Gesulga (Micronesia); Dr. Mary Liz Ferolino and Dr. Joseph Hope Cal.
Coming from Manila were five doctors from the St. Martin de Porres Catholic Medical Mission Guild led by Dr. Ted Nicholoff, Executive Director. A prominent cardiologist from St. Luke Medical Center in Manila, Dr. Macrino Barriga also volunteered her services fro two days.
2nd DAUSA Medical Mission Sept. 21 – 23, 1999
The 2nd DAUSA Medical Mission held on September 21 – 23, 1999, mainly had the same participants as in the previous years, but this time, the Philippine College of Surgeons, headed by Dr. Florencia Miel, sent 30 volunteers, surgeons and nurses from Cebu City. Two prominent surgeons practicing in Cebu City, Dr. Lito Almendras and Dr. Gregory Canga, both native Danawanons, served as lead-surgeons in the 2nd Medical Missions. Again, the St. Martin de Porres Catholic Medical Mission Guild, handled the cleft-lip/cleft-palate surgeries, giving back hope, dignity and smile to over 20 children and adults.
The number of people who showed up in the second medical mission more than doubled. They not only came from Danao but also from neighboring towns as far as Borbon, some from Asturias and Bantayan Island.
During the second DAUSA Medical Mission, Dr. Anita Cal-Jackson was able to enlist the support of a big drug company, SmithKline. Two Americans representing the company went to Danao to observe. They provided the anti-biotics and even contributed cash to buy more medicines in Cebu City. DAUSA Treasurer Melinda Aquino herself came along with the team to make sure the Medical Mission would have enough funds to meet emergency purchases.
Dr. Vic Oyas of Arizona, Drs. Peping and Tessie Laude of New York, not only volunteered their time and professional services during the 2nd DAUSA Medical Mission, they also brought with them expensive medicines and supplies. With Dr. Anita Cal-Jackson, other medical volunteers from the U.S. included Dr. Jocelyn Gargantos, Natie Almeda, R.N. Candy Canga, R.N., Cecilia Barriga, R.N., Adolfo Famas, R.N., Annalee Gorre, R.N., Medical Technologist Bebe Orquiza, Respiratory Therapist Dyesebel Alvaro, ICR Nurse Myrna Ypil.
A new computer was donated to the Hospital during this time through Rudy Lofranco of Texas. DAUSA Board of Trustee Joe Campo, also from Texas, also turned over to the hospital a brand new printer and scanner.
While the DAUSA Medical Team and local volunteers were busy at the hospital, the DAUSA Educational Mission Team led by Marieta Palos, made its first appearance and distributed books, school supplies to several elementary schools and barangay high schools. Suba High School got a TV set, VCR and also a medical first aid cabinet which DAUSA Board of Trustee Nick Gonzalez committed to supply to this particular school.
The Educational Mission was then made a component of the annual DAUSA Medical Mission. With Marieta Palos visiting barrio elementary schools were Grace Ypil of Chicago, Emma Duterte from Australia and Candy Canga of Modesto, California.
The 3-day medical-surgical and educational mission has been videotaped with Candy Canga experty acting as reporter.
3rd DAUSA Medical Mission Sept. 19 – 21, 2000
The City of Danao expressed its appreciation and gratitude for the unselfish efforts of many DAUSA Medical-Surgical-Dental and Educational Missions volunteers entertaining them with a sumptous dinner, dance and songs at the culmination night, ending the 3-day medical mission on Sept. 19-21 at the Danao City Gym.
The mission was another huge success, reaching out and making a big difference in the lives of our less fortunate fellow Danawanons.
The medical group had performed 15 major surgeries and over 100 minor surgeries and must have seen close to 2000 individuals for consultations. The Dental group, which got introduced for the first time, through Crosine Roble’s initiative, was a big hit. Cebu City’s Dental Mobile Unit has U.S. standard equipments and the dentists volunteers, one from Chicago, five from Danao, are all skilled dental professionals. An Italian-American dentist from Chicago, Dr. Giusto Romano joined Danao’s local dentral practitioners in the first DAUSA’s free dental clinic.
The Educational group, led by Pat O. Misa, the current Chief of Educational Mission having handed out some typewriters, has been besieged with requests from barrio school principals for their share of typewriters, used computers, sports equipments and books. Pat O. Misa also distributed books and school supplies to some school principals including a VCR which went to Cabungahan High School.
DAUSA Adopt-a-Student led by Darling Dayondon met the initial 26 DAUSA scholars and some Cebu State College – Sabang Campus officilas at the school’s Home Economics Building. They had a get-to-know-you lunch.
A student spokesman for the the DAUSA scholars expressed the difficulty of some kids from the far mountain barrios as they could not afford to buy books and project materials. One almost dropped out for this reason.
An instant pass-the-hat was initiated grossing over 0.00 and was given to the guidance counsellor to meet some of the scholars’ immediate needs.
Adopt-a-Student Project is one major association project that is aggressively being pursued by Candy Canga and Martinette Dayondon, two very active and supportive DAUSA officers, assigned to manage the project.
The principal of the five barangay high schools in Danao were asked to identify poor and deserving students desiring to pursue college education at the Cebu State College of Science and Technology – Danao City Campus. DAUSA Members who had volunteered to participate in the projet adopt and support these students for the 4-year period of college, paying .00 per year for each student. At present, DAUSA members are supporting 38 students.
Danao City Little League
The Association had also embarked another project aimed at helping school children of Danao learn to play baseball. Several volunteers were asked to adopt a school and donate to these schools needed sports equipments, such as little league bats, gloves, balls and other baseball accessories. Project Manager responsible for the Danao City Little Leauge Assistance is Ben Jackson, husband of Dr. Anita Cal-Jackson, Chief of Medical Mission.
Two schools, Suba and Guinacot Elementary Schools were initial recipients of baseball equipments, which DAUSA donors bought from garage/yard sales or thrift stores.