FOR many years, I have always chosen to be active in educating the schools, communities, etc., about substance abuse prevention.

When I was younger, I started to work as a nurse in a private rehabilitation center until I became a consultant.

I can say that working with other health care professionals to promote mental health has always been my priority.

And so, in 2017, when the Ateneo de Davao University created the Center Against Illegal Drugs (CAID), I was a part of it. I was handling the Drug Hotline or Helpline with nurses trained to answer calls therapeutically.

However, when the pandemic started, the operation stopped temporarily. I must say that I missed talking to our clients. Still, I promised myself that I would continue my service to help substance abusers attain recovery in other caring or therapeutic ways.

I must be honest that I still receive calls from my old clients; not all of them have substance abuse concerns.

Some are having anxiety and broken relationships, and I can say that I feel good listening to them and being empathetic.

I guess this is the life that God has given me and fulfills me.

So, when Ms. Mary Grace P. Monocillo, MSSW, RSW , the humble Director of the CAID, invited me to attend Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy (PADS) Innovative Awards, I was very excited.

The activity aimed to showcase the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) strategies and innovative programs and projects related to drug prevention, education, and drug use control.

The criterion for judging includes policies and structures installed within the organization, programs and projects implemented in the university and partner communities, and anti-illegal drugs extension and outreach services.

The PADS was initiated by the Commission on Higher Education per RA 7722 and EO No. 66, S. 2018, otherwise known as the “Higher Education Act of 1994,” and institutionalized the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy.

And what is proud worthy is when the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) bagged 1st place in the PADS Innovative Awards at the National level.

I could not contain my happiness when I did see the pillars of the CAID, Dr. Roawie L. Quimba, RN, Atty. Romeo T. Cabarde, both the former Director but still members of the Board of Directors. And of course, Dr. Melba L. Manapol, Program head of the Healing and Recovery for Drug Surrenderers, was also present.

Other board members who attended the activity were Wilfredo Samante and Diana Carmela T. Labra.

Indeed, the event last June 9, 2022, is unforgettable. The four key pillar programs of CAID, namely: Healing and Recovery for Drug Surrenderers (HERDS), Drug Hotline and Referral Helpline (DHRH), Human Rights Training and Rights-based Policing and AdDU in House Community Awareness, and Mindanao Drug Trade Research, have attained their goals of promoting mental health, assisting the needy, protecting human dignity and human rights.

With this, I am so proud of CAID, and I choose to remain to promote mental health by disseminating information about the harms of substance use and abuse and listening to the cries of substance abusers.

We also would like to thank Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, AdDU University President, for helping us realize CAID objectives. Ahh... CAID will continue its advocacy today, tomorrow, and in the future.