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Ming Ramos: PCDEF’s First Lady

Posted on September 12, 2021 | No Comments on Ming Ramos: PCDEF’s First Lady

Traditionally, first ladies are known more for their social skills and charm than what they ever said or did. They are expected to be amiable, outgoing, often seen but rarely heard. But these did not apply to former first lady Amelita Ramos, wife of former ,president Fidel V. Ramos.

While other Filipino first ladies remained housebound housewives, Ming, as she is fondly called, chose to play a more active role through her many advocacies. She headed several organizations for various groups of people. She was involved in foundations for the environment, health, musicians, soldiers and police welfare to name a few. The reign on some of these foundations ended when Ming’s term as first lady expired, but some linger up to this day. Among those chosen few she continues to support is the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation (PCDEF or Diabetes Center, Philippines) where she is the chairperson.

“You know, I joined foundations if they were viable, whether they were good or whether they helped people,” Ming said. “So because a lot of our people have diabetes and they don’t know they have it, I thought it [PCDEF] was a good project. I wanted to help the foundation help our people.” Her first years at the foundation were marked by difficulties. “In the first year we had a hard time trying to raise money,” she said. But thanks to the foundation’s indefatigable efforts in raising funds, PCDEF soon took on a solid footing. Now the foundation is able to sustain annual projects such as the Diabetes Awareness Week which is held in July and Camp Cope, a summer camp intended for children with type 1 diabetes.

At the helm of PCDEF
PCDEF’s ultimate goal is to educate people who are afflicted with diabetes. Through lectures and educational materials, the foundation teaches diabetes educators and patients the basic information about the disease, proper diet and correct exercise. It also trains patients the proper way of conducting blood tests and daily record keeping of their blood sugar levels. It provides educational program for diabetic patients and their families through lectures and educational materials.

Ming is happy with what the foundation has accomplished, particularly in making diabetes patients more active in their treatment regimen. “I have a niece who is diabetic. She lives in Vancouver and she was not taught to be independent,” she shared. “Every time, she eats, she asks her mother `can I eat this?’ And this niece of mine, she must be close to 40.” That is why she is particularly fond of Camp Cope. “This summer camp teaches the diabetic how to be independent, how to decide for themselves, what should they eat, what should they avoid.”

She also has high praises for Dr. Augusto Litonjua, the founder and president of PCDEF. “I am very proud of Dr. Litonjua because he is internationally recognized and he has done a lot for diabetes prevention and management,” she said. She also lauded Dr. Litonjua’s efforts in bringing in diabetes experts from abroad to train local healthcare professionals in the management of the disease.

While diabetes awareness has greatly improved over the years, Ming said that there is still a lot of work to be done in order to stop the escalating number of people afflicted with the disease. That is why she continues to encourage people to be a part of PCDEF or any diabetes support group for that matter. “I hope they can join the activities of the foundation and if they can, disseminate information they learned.”

Walking the talk

Since joining PCDEF, Ming has learned to live a healthy lifestyle. Not that she was leading an unhealthy one. After all, she was a varsity swimmer during her days at the University of the Philippines and is a known badminton advocate to this day. But it was her eating habits that greatly changed. “I tell our cook not to fry too much and avoid food that contains high cholesterol like pork. So we eat a lot of fish, seafood and vegetable.” Since she rarely swims nowadays and has little time to play badminton, her exercise is mainly walking. “If my office is on the second floor, I don’t take the elevator.”

Despite being in retirement mode, Ming said that she still would like to be a part of the foundation for the next two years. Asked what she wants to be remembered for, she shrugged. “Really I don’t think of myself,” she said matter-of-factly. “I think the foundation has done a lot for diabetes, I don’t care whether I’m mentioned or not.”
In a country where many government “servants” tend to flaunt their humanitarian efforts, Ming’s candidness is a breath of fresh air. It is nice to know that there are still few people who just do what they have to do, without much fuss and fanfare. But then again she is Ming Ramos, a remarkable first lady and a formidable woman-truly, in a class of her own.

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