The Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP)—a professional liver society that champions research, education and advocacy on liver health and liver-related diseases—hosted a gala and an art auction at the Atrium and Courtyard of Enderun Colleges to benefit its flagship advocacy project, the B Aware Campaign.
The evening started with wine and cocktails as guests browsed the art pieces that were up for auction; works from established and emerging Filipino artists such as Sylvia Amorsolo-Lazo, Aris Bagtas, Max Balatbat, Kris Brasileño, Marrz Capanang, Rafael Cusi, Daryl Dalipe, Alvin De Jesus, Vic Fario, Ronald and Jonnel Castrillo, Toym Imao, Jonn Laserna, Ram Mallari, Pierre Patricio, Rene Robles, Paulina Luz Sotto, Bea Tan and Edwin Wilwayco, among others. The exhibit was curated by Bill Perez and Ver Cuison of Kunst Art Gallery.
Dr. Ian Cua, current president of HSP, formally opened the event by highlighting the need to spread awareness regarding hepatitis B to the public.
Meanwhile, Dr. Janus Ong, public relations officer of HSP, introduced the B Aware Campaign and its story; how the campaign began with a Facebook page (BeAwarePH) in October 2014, followed by an informative website, beawareph.com. The online following has grown to over 10,000 followers and B Aware is poised to embark on a multimedia campaign in the coming months.
An important highlight of the evening was the B Aware Hero Awards, which aimed to honor individuals and organizations who contributed greatly to both the B Aware Campaign and Hepatitis B awareness in the country.
Among the awardees is Baltazar Lucas, an advocate who lost three brothers due to hepatitis B complications. He is also a courageous hepatitis B patient, and survivor of liver cancer and liver transplant.
Another awardee is Dr. Roel Cagape, a Mindanao-based community doctor serving the B’laan tribe of Sarangani, whom he discovered to have a high prevalence of Hepatitis B infection.
Other distinguished awardees were: Yellow Warriors Society of the Philippines, a national organization of individuals living with viral hepatitis; Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc, also a strong partner in the B Aware Campaign; and Gilead Sciences, a company committed to supporting community-based educational programs for awareness and disease prevention. World Health Organization, and the Department of Health were also recognized for their continued partnership with the HSP in its advocacy projects in Hepatitis B.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, was guest of honor during the event. In her speech, she acknowledged the social stigma and discrimination that exists against those living with hepatitis B.
“This is grossly unfair, to anyone. Sometimes, those who test positive for hepatitis have been unfairly denied employment. It is my firm conviction that all forms of social and psychological stigma need to stop and I am very open to push for legislation that protects the rights of individuals who fall victims to discrimination” Senator Risa Hontiveros said.
Hosted by Niña Corpuz and Dr. Angelo Lozada, the evening was made more lively when a shadow play group showcased stories inspired by battles against hepatitis B – from a doctor’s and patient’s perspective. As a finale, one of the country’s foremost singer-songwriter, Ogie Alcasid entertained and enthralled the guests with some of his hit songs.
The event was graced by over 120 guests, many of them giving invaluable support by taking home beautiful pieces of art from the silent auction. The funds raised during the event will be used to fund future projects of the B Aware Campaign and HSP.