CONGRATULATIONS are in order for the 85 graduates of Healthbridge Lifestyle, Inc., an affiliate of the DOH (Department of Health)-accredited Remnant Institute of Alternative Medicine (RIAM).

The graduation rites last June 5 was the 7th commencement ceremony for Healthbridge, which is a SEC-registered school in Bacolod, offering a course in Massage Therapy under the curriculum of the DOH.

The training course that includes the required subjects Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology and Pathology, and Massage Therapy prepares Healthbridge’s graduates for licensing.

RIAM’s chairperson Mechelle Palma, MD, AMD, LMT, exhorted the 85 graduates to observe proper ethics and morality, and to uphold the integrity of the profession.

Dr. Palma reminded them that becoming a massage therapist is a noble job considering that a job well-done uplifts spirits, decreases stress levels, and imparts overall good health to the clients.

By 2015, all spas are required to hire only licensed massage therapists. AO 2010-0034 states that nobody can practice massage therapy without holding a valid certification of registration from the DOH.

Healthbridge, after three years of existence in Bacolod, hopes to fulfill its mission to professionalize its graduates. To do this, one has to not only graduate from this training course but also to pass the written and practical examinations.

The good news is, Healthbridge Lifestyle president Gloria O. Fisher proudly announced that the bi-annual exams yielded 99.9 percent and 100 percent passing averages in 2013! She hopes the graduates will achieve the same feat this June and December.

Licensing also applies to the visually-impaired; seven of the 85 Healthbridge graduates are. In fact, the school has produced 20 licensed visually-impaired massage therapists.

Trainers Gloria Fisher, RN, LMT, and Ceril Undan, RN and a cum laude nursing graduate, lecture on the skeletal, muscular, integumentary, circulatory, lymphatic, nervous, respiratory, digestive, and excretory systems to give the students a comprehensive understanding of how our body works.

This arms them with working knowledge and confidence in actual therapy sessions.

I congratulate the graduates who landed in the top five of their class. Number 1 is my good friend, a registered nurse, and computer expert Jude Anthony Chua, who seemed to be the most popular guy in school. No. 2 is Ronelo Tongoy, No. 3 are Russel Ganan and Ester Sta. Monica, No. 4 is Jinnefer Conclara, and No. 5 is Winny Pearl Fuentebella.

The graduation ceremony was graced Dr. Grace Tan, chief of the Environmental Sanitation Division of the Bacolod City Health Office, and Department of Trade and Industry provincial director Rebecca Rascon, and Engr. Engiemar Tupas also of DTI.

Spa Association of Negros (SPAN) president Vicky Que and the other members of the association filled the hall at Palmas del Mar Resort.

There are over 30 spas in the city and many still want to join the health and wellness bandwagon. This also means that licensed massage therapists are assured of employment. The stresses of living in the 21st century translate to turning to wellness professionals who can ease away bodily pains and tight muscles and anxiety. Stress can come and go but I know that spas are here to stay.