Our 25th Anniversary Awardees “The Unsung Community Heroines”

Posted on December 4, 2017

Kalusugan Kalakasan Center for Health and Wellness (KKCHW) celebrated its 25th anniversary last November 10 at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. It has been our tradition to review our accomplishments for the year so the community can rejoice with us and also continue their support of our mission and programs. Additionally, we also recognize Filipino American community leaders who have contributed their time and effort to help individuals be healthier and our community a better place to live. For this year, we have eight awardees, all of them women, that shows the FilAm women’s place in the community and mainstream society. Here they are and please, salute and honor them.


Rita Buencamino Andrews

Rita Buencamino Andrews is currently serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of  Samahan Health Centers serving the communities of National City, Mira Mesa and Rancho Penasquitos.   While serving as Board Member of Samahan Health Centers, Mrs. Andrews was elected as President of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of San Diego for 2 terms.  In 2015, Mrs. Andrews was appointed as Commissioner of the newly-created Districting Commission in the City of Chula Vista wherein the Commission has successfully created 4 voting districts in the City of Chula Vista.

In 2010, she was appointed as Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Bureau of the Census representing the Filipinos and Asian communities in the County of San Diego.   Prior to her appointment, Mrs. Andrews served as President of The Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc. (COPAO) for four years.  Mrs. Andrews was employed in the City of San Diego Clerk’s Department for almost 30 years of faithful service as Management Analyst. She retired in December 2003.

Mrs. Andrews immigrated to the U.S. in 1967. She studied in the University of the Philippines and while employed in the City of San Diego, she took advanced studies at National University and graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree. She was married to the late Edwin G. Andrews, who retired from the U.S. Naval Service. Serving the Filipino American community since the 1980’s, Mrs. Andrews is a member of numerous organizations in San Diego County.


Anne S. Bautista

Anne S. Bautista, Esq. is the Legal Program Director for the Access, Inc. VAWA Legal Program and SAVE Legal Network of San Diego County.   She is an immigration attorney specializing in representing immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). She began the VAWA Legal Program at Access, Inc. in 1997 and has successfully represented thousands of women and children under VAWA.

Ms. Bautista is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at California Western School of Law (CWSL) teaching two courses: Women and Immigration Law, a course which takes a critical look at the effect of immigration laws and policies on women immigrating to the United States, and the Immigration Seminar and Clinical Field Placement: Helping Victims of Domestic Violence. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from California Western School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature from the University of California at Berkeley.

Additionally, Ms. Bautista is the Director of Education for Silayan Filipina.  She has received numerous awards for her work on behalf of victims and survivors and has trained both advocates and students on the protections available to immigrant victims under VAWA. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Diego Domestic Violence Council for her work to eradicate domestic violence.


Edna Consing Conception

Edna Consing Concepcion is grateful to her parents, the late Remedios and Rafael Soriano Consing, and to the Belgian nuns and teachers at St. Theresa’s College in Manila for the excellent education they imparted to her.  Shortly after martial law was declared in the Philippines and then President Marcos sequestered and confiscated the family’s businesses which led to the demise of her father, Edna with her siblings and their mother Remedios migrated to the U.S.

Edna graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Finance from the University of Maryland (cum laude). She also holds Program Certificates from Wharton Business School (Finance) and UCLA Anderson School of Management.

As Founder and CEO of Heritage Investments and Retirement Planning, Inc., an independent Financial Advisory firm with offices nationwide, Ms. Concepcion developed the L.I.L.A.C.S. Financial and Tax Planning System. This Financial Planning System has garnered outstanding acclamations and reviews from Financial Institutions. Heritage Investments & Retirement Planning, Inc, has also received the “Most Referred Independent Financial Advisor of the Year” numerous times. Beginning in the Spring semester of 2018, the L. I. L.A.C. S. Financial & Tax Planning system will be taught at community colleges.

Ms. Concepcion is also co- Founder and CEO of the Philippine American Business Improvement & Development (Phil Am BID), an organization whose mission is to connect commerce, culture and community. Phil Am BID hosts the prestigious STARBlazers and TOP HATS “Giving Back and Beyond” Awards Gala annually.


Marita Merly Ferrer

Merly Ferrer as she is called, has a diverse and strong clinical and administrative nursing experience from 1965 to current (both physical and mental health).  She has been in Medical-Surgical Nursing for more than 15 years as Staff and Charge Nurse and Perinatal Nurse Educator/Chair, Quality Assurance, and Improvement/Policy and Procedure/Chart Audit with Kaiser Foundation, San Diego.  At Kaiser, she was also a Maternal Child Health Staff and Charge Nurse, a Nurse Manager Maternal-Child Health Division for 17 years,  House Manager (Rotational), and has a high Leadership Inventory (LPI) rating result.

She has certifications in PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support – till 1999) and BLS (Basic Life Support).  Merly was a recipient of the Spotlight on Leadership award as well as Nurse Administrator of the Year Award – Philippine Nurses Association of San Diego County (PNASD) in 1994.

Merly served as President of PNASD, 2003 – 2005 / March of Dimes Task Force / United Way Ambassador/ Cancer Society Liaison and as President of the  Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO) / Civic Engagement and Policy Advocacy.  She was a board member for Kalusugan Community Services, Samahan Community Health Clinics, and many other organizations.


Anabel Miana Kuykendall

Anabel Miana Kuykendall is an Aging Program Specialist II serving in the role of Outreach & Education within the Community Unit of Aging & Independence Services (AIS) for over 17+ years. Ms. Kuykendall graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Psychology in 1994. She wanted a career that focused on helping people and making a difference. Ms. Kuykendall has extensive experience in case management and passionate about working in the social service arena.

Ms. Kuykendall possess strong leadership skills that allows her to excel in training colleagues, supervising/mentoring interns and building meaningful partnerships with service providers and community-based organizations. She is the coordinator for the South County Action Network (SoCAN), a voluntary group of professionals and consumers working collaboratively to improve the quality of life for seniors and persons with disabilities. Special events that SoCAN has hosted and continue to offer to the community are “South County Intergenerational Games”, “Live Stronger Longer” and “Dancing for Your Health”.

Ms. Kuykendall conducts presentations in the community and is the lead presenter on the following topics; Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse, Fraud/Scam prevention and Living Well. She has worked with many professionals and colleagues in developing campaign materials that have been recognized at a national level. Ms. Kuykendall have been invited several times to speak and represent AIS at both statewide and nationwide conferences. Ms. Kuykendall is a member of Diversity & Inclusion committee which is a County of San Diego initiative that promotes understanding differences by eliminating biases and stereotypes and keeping an open mind by embracing our uniqueness.


Dr. Merlie Ramira

Dr. Merlie Ramira is currently the Director and Professor, Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Program at United States University. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner and nationally board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner (AANP) and a current member of AANP and California Association of Nurse Practitioner (CANP). She is also a Certified Emergency Nurse.

Dr. Ramira received her doctoral degree in nursing at the University of San Diego and her Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner from the California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) with full Federal Traineeship Scholarship Award and was chosen as the “Most Outstanding Graduate.” Furthermore, she received her Forensic Nursing Certificate from UCSD/John Hopkins University.

Dr. Ramira has over 20 years of clinical experience and over 10 years as nurse educator. Her clinical expertise includes quality improvement, emergency and critical care nursing. She has worked as a Senior Nurse Specialist and Educator at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center emergency department and as a Critical Care Outcomes Data Coordinator at University of California, San Diego. Her Doctor of Nursing Practice clinical project, titled “Pediatric Pain Management in Emergency Department: An Evidence Based-Approach” has been published by Pediatric Nursing journal and has been featured on the Pediatric Update section of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Connection Magazine.

Her other manuscript titled, “Challenges and Satisfiers of Foreign-educated Physicians Transitioning to Nurse Practitioner Role in the US” has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Cultural Diversity. Dr. Ramira is a Book Reviewer of Pharmacotherapeutics for Advance Practice Nurses. She is currently employed by the California Emergency Physicians, Med America and works as a Nurse Practitioner in Emergency Department.


Heidi Sarmiento

Heidi Sarmiento has been active in Kalusugan Community Services since its inception in 1992, first as a student, then secretary, community worker, nutritionist, fitness instructor, served on the board of directors, and now as a consultant.   She has been a fitness professional for over 30 years and currently is a member of the Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Science faculty at San Diego State University, Mesa College, Cuyamaca College, and Kearny High School.  She holds 2 Masters Degrees from SDSU; one in Public Health (MPH) and one in Nutritional Sciences (MS).  She teaches the following college credit courses:  General Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, Cultural Nutrition, General Health Education, Public Health, Women’s Self Defense, Martial Arts, and Kickboxing.  She has received the Teacher of the Year Award at Cuyamaca College both in 2003 and 2015 for Excellence in Teaching.

Heidi formally ran a martial arts dojo with her late husband Grandmaster James Wilson where she taught as a 2nd degree black belt instructor in Taekwondo.  She currently still trains in Hapkido with Grandmaster Hong, Filipino Martial Arts/Arnis with Master Joe Abueg, and Aikijujitsu with Master Wayne Collins.  She runs a taekwondo program at Body By Discipline boxing gym in Lemon Grove and is a Boxing trainer at Maxwell’s Boxing Gym on Miramar Road.  Her true passion is teaching women’s self-defense/offense and holds seminars empowering women in self-defense workshops.

Heidi is a nutritionist and personal trainer who enjoys cooking and offers healthy meal prep services for clients seeking to lose weight, eat for energy, or control or manage various health conditions while training a variety of clients in fitness and martial arts.