25th Anniversary Celebration

Posted on November 2, 2017


                 Time flies so fast! Kalusugan is now 25 years old this November. I can’t hardly believe that 25 years ago, we started a coalition that became an organization that aimed to help Filipino Americans in San Diego find the path to good health and total wellness through Community education and service, advocacy, research and training. Please come and join us:

November 10, 2017, Friday, 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

404 Euclid Avenue, San Diego, CA 92114

The event starts at 6:00 pm with networking, registration, and viewing of exhibits of Kalusugan’s programs through the years and also various organizations such as AARP and SD County Aging & Independence services; delicious buffet dinner at 7:00 pm catered by Kitchens for Good; and entertainment by the Samahan Performing Arts, Melanie Jimenez, and Chaplain John Cometa, US Navy Chaplain. Melissa Mecija, anchor woman from Chanel 10 will be the emcee.

The speakers are well known professors from UCSD’s  Department of Family Medicine and Public Health who are both long time members of the Board of Advisors of Kalusugan. Since cancer is the major cause of death in Asian Americans including FilAms, they will review  the role of nutrition and physical activity in the prevention of cancer.  Dr. Cheryl Rock who is also a researcher will speak on the, “ Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention: Current Controversies” and Dr. Jim Sallis, Distinguished Professor Emeritus will speak on “Physical Activity and Social and Environmental Factors in Cancer Prevention.” A limited number of “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, 8th Ed” will be raffled at the event so be sure to take a chance and get a copy of it.

Dr. Ofelia Dirige, Founder and President of Kalusugan + Kalakasan Center for Health and Wellness (KKCHW) will speak about the major programs done by Kalusugan since its founding in 1992 to the present that can be replicated by other organizations. This will also be portrayed in the exhibits. The outcomes for the community of the 25 year project will also presented. She will also inform of Kalusugan’s look into the future by reporting its vision for 2018-2010 through the Strategic Planning conducted in summer 2017.

Most important of all, we recognize the “UNSUNG HEROES” in our community. These are the many individuals and organizations that have done excellent service but have been unrecognized. This is our opportunity to acknowledge their accomplishments as well as their help and support for KKCHW for many years and are still continuing to support it. Awards will be given by Dennis-Michael Broussard, Vice-President, Paul Ones Co-Founder and Dr. Ofelia Dirige.

Special recognition will be given to government officials such as Board of Supervisor Greg Cox, Mayor of National City Ron Morrison and Atty.Audie de Castro, Philippine Honorary Consul General in San Diego. We will also recognize and honor Dr. Riz A. Oades, Co-Founder of Kalusugan at his 8th year death anniversary who passed away in 2009 and Marinela Elane, the third recipient of the Riz A, Oades scholarship awardee of 2017 and a student at SDSU. Two young people who will also be honored for their service and passed away this year are: Chris Feraro, former administrative assistant and graphic artist of Kalusugan and active member of FilAm Fest and Virgil Yalong, another devoted coordinator of FilAmFest.

At our anniversary, the Founders and Board of Directors of Kalusugan nominates individuals or organizations for their loyalty and exceptional service to the community. Our 10 awardees for this year are:

  • Marissa Acierto – Active officer and member of PTE Hope and other organizations
  • Juanito Amor – SD County, Registrar of Voters
  • Nita Barrion – long time board member of Kalusugan; Director of Barrion Group Homes for Developmentally Disabled; singer; and active community leader.
  • Rita Buencamino Andrews – Current Vice-Chair, Board of Directors of Operation Samahan; and former President of COPAO and UP Alumni Association.
  • Edna Conception– Founder and CEO of Heritage Investments and Retirement Planning and Co-Founder and CEO of Phil Am Bid (Philippine American Business Improvement and Development).
  • Merlie Ferrer (RN) – Current board member of Operation Samahan, Former President of COPAO and Philippine Nurses Association; and retired nurse currently working with UPAC as mental health counselor.
  • Anabel Kukendall – Works as Program Specialist, Outreach and Education, SD County Aging and Independence Services, giving workshops on all kinds of health topics relating to the elderly.
  • Merle Ramira – Currently Vice-President of the Philippine Nurses Association of America; Director/Professor of the MSN/FNP program USU; and past President of Philippine Nurses Association in San Diego.
  • Heidi Sarmiento – Faculty in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Women’s Defense Classes,

SDSU and various Community Colleges.


To be introduced are the members of  Kalusugan’s Board of Directors from 2015 to 2017 that includes Demy West, Chair; Paul Ones, Vice Chair; Dina Ellorin, Secretary; Alphonso Tsang, Treasurer, and members Erlinda Mascardo and Fe Rivero. The Board of Advisors are Dr. Virginia Claudio, Dr. Mike Juan, Pastor Rick Narag, Dr. Jesse Nodora, Dr. Cheryl Rock, Dr. Jim Sallis and Dr. Mitsuo Tomita. The Executive Board and Staff are Dr. Ofelia Dirige, President; Dennis-Michael, Vice-President; Lauren Garces, Secretary and Alyssa Monge, Administrative assistant. Consultants are Willie Racelis, Financial Advisor; Sim Silverio, Media Consultant and Melissa Pregill, Organizational Consultant.

Former staff, board members and advisors, volunteers and participants or the Kalusugan PIONEERS will all be introduced and honored at this event. If you have been associated with Kalusugan in any capacity, please come to this event and renew your old acquaintances and meet new friends. We will honor the work and volunteerism you have done for Kalusugan. Tickets are $55.00 each or $550 per table. To make reservations, please email Dr. Dirige at odirige@msn.com  or call (619) 254-4702 and leave a message;  or at eventbrite.com/kalusugan25.


We hope that you will come and join us. SEE YOU THERE!!!!!!!!!