KAPWA KO, MAHAL KO started out with a simple intention: to tap private
donors to help shoulder expensive medical and surgical procedures needed
by indigent patients. The venue for seeking assistance was a television
program on GMA Network. Through the decades, desperate and indigent
patients saw the chance to go public with their stories as the lonely
means to survive.
In its early years, Kapwa Ko was also a clinic
on the air. The patients who came for help were also illustrative cases
for specialist-doctors who would then explain on television, the
symptoms, cure and prevention of various diseases. When it first went on
the air in the ‘70s medical diagnosis was less dependent on
computerized technology like tomography or magnetic image resonance.
Good old history-taking was critical.
Program hosts Orly Mercado
(who later became a Senator, Defense Secretary and Ambassador) and Rosa
Rosal (respected and iconic Red Cross Governor) took care of that.
Medical accuracy was ensured by the presence of a renowned nephrologist,
Dr Antonio Talusan, who was the program’s first medical director. GMA
Network President Menardo R. Jimenez’s idea of a medical program that
would not only inform but be of direct help to the poor came into
being. With the Network’s support, the Foundation that was subsequently
established, ensured its longevity. After Rosa Rosal and daughter Toni
Rose Gayda, the list of distinguished co-hosts included Boots Anson Roa,
Rosemarie Gil, Susan Valdez, Cielito Del Mundo, Helen Vela, Mildred
Ortega, Nonoy Zuniga and Rose Clores. The late 80s saw the entry of a
generation of talent. Aside from becoming the medical director, Dr Susan
became the program’s co-host along with Connie Angeles (later to be
of Quezon City) and medical graduate and singer Nonoy Zuniga. Public
Administrator Angelito Banayo also served as the Foundation’s Executive
Doctora Susy (who would later become Undersecretary
of Health) is credited for Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko’s entry into the field of
development work through primary health care and community-based health
programs like psycho-social counselling for disaster victims. It was
also during her stint that the program launched a special project for
children with cancer, the Batang K.