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June 16, 2015

Gift of Smiles

“Gift of Smiles” mega mission commences today. Operation Smile commences today its annual “Gift of Smiles” mission with the deployment of 301 volunteers from 17 countries, including the Philippines, to Bacolor in Pampanga, Manila Cebu City, Bacolod City and Davao City. Over the next seven days, they will provide free reconstructive surgery to at least 750 Filipinos, mainly children and young adults, with oral cleft and other congenital facial deformities. The foreign volunteers, 147 of them from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Cyprus, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America and Vietnam planed in over the weekend to join 154 of their Filipino counterparts in the mission sites.  

June 12, 2015

Operation Smile Shipping 11 Metric Tons of Meds, Supplies, Equipment to PH for “Gift of Smiles” mission that will treat 750 Filipino cleft children this June

Operation Smile Shipping 11 Metric Tons of Meds, Supplies, Equipment to PH for “Gift of Smiles” mission that will treat 750 Filipino cleft children this June

Virginia Beach, VA, U.S.A. A veritable army of packers, sorters, checkers, and cargo handlers is working around the clock inside the cavernous warehouse of the Global Headquarters of Operation Smile, Inc. (OSI) to ready the shipment of medicines, medical supplies and equipment to the Philippines in time for June 12 to 20, 2015 “Gift of Smiles” mega mission in the Philippines.

The cargo comprises of 8 metric tons of medicines and medical supplies and 3 metric tons of medical equipment with an aggregate value of US $1.3 million or roughly P58 million.

“We’ve done the drill a thousand times so it’s more or less routine work for us. But knowing that this will help heal 750 indigent cleft children still gives me and my crew a lump in the throat,” OSI logistics and management vice president Jesse Hines said.

“I’ve seen those children and I know that they will never ever experience the pure joy of smiling at someone and getting a smile in return without the free surgery that Operation Smile provides,” the former U.S. Marine Corps master gunnery said.

The cargo that Jesse and his crew are preparing will travel 14,088 kilometers, nearly halfway around the world, to Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

From there, it will be broken down and shipped separately to the five “Gift of Smiles” mission sites: to nearby Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila; to the Ricardo Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Bacolor, Pampanga, 73 kilometers away; to Our Lady of Mercy Specialty Hospital in Bacolod City, 674 kilometer away; to the Adventist Hospital in Cebu City, 849 kilometers; and to Brokenshire Hospital in Davao City, 1,489 kilometers away.

Another set of troops will take over the cargo when it reaches the mission sites – volunteer plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatric intensivists, pediatricians, dentists, nurses, speech pathologists, biomedical technicians, child-life psychologists, medical records specialists and patient imaging technicians.

A total of 301 volunteer medical and allied medical professionals from 17 countries, including the Philippines, are joining the “Gift of Smiles” mission. Hundreds more from the staff of the mission hospitals and the local site partners will support them.

Philippine-bound. Jesse Hines (extreme right) and some of his crew stand before boxes upon boxes of medicines and medical supplies that they are shipping to the Philippines for the huge “Gift of Smiles” medical mission that Operation Smile is mounting in Manila, Bacolor, Bacolod, Cebu and Davao from June 12 to 20.

June 02, 2015

300 Volunteers from 17 Nations Sign up for Operation Smile International Mission in the Philippines this June

300 Volunteers from 17 Nations Sign up for Operation Smile International Mission in the Philippines this June

A total of 301 highly trained and experienced cleft care professionals from around the world have responded to the call of Operation Smile for volunteers for the “Gift of Smiles” mission in the Philippines from June 12 to 20 this year.

The multinational team will carry out simultaneous free cleft repair surgeries in five sites, namely Bacolor, Pampanga in Luzon; Cebu City and Bacolod City in the Visayas; and Davao City in Mindanao. Some 750 indigent Filipino children with cleft lip, cleft palate or other debilitating facial deformity are expected to benefit from the mission.

Operation Smile president Kathleen Magee said the volunteers who have signed up for this mega mission represent 18 countries reflecting the depth of the organization’s volunteer pool and the global reach of its advocacy.

“We are harnessing our vast international network to help countries with high prevalence of cleft deformities deal with the problem,” she said.

Of the 301 volunteers, nearly half or 147 are coming from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Cyprus, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America and Vietnam.

They will fly several hours to Manila to meet up with 154 of their Filipino counterparts, form themselves into teams, and travel for at least one more hour to their respective mission sites to bring healing to 750 Filipino cleft children who have had an extremely difficult childhood because of their cleft deformity.

Dr. Joan Wanyama, a Kenyan anaesthesiologist, said she has been doing volunteer work for Operation Smile for many years because in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, there are not enough trained cleft care professionals to treat children afflicted with the deformity.

Oral cleft is one of the most prevalent congenital defects in the Philippines. An estimated 5,000 are born in the country with this abnormality, which disfigures their face, impairs their speech and, if not treated early, dooms them to a life of despair.

“If we don’t lend a hand to our Filipino colleagues, many of these unfortunate children will remain untreated and face a bleak future,” Dr. Wanyama said, adding that Filipino volunteers also take part in Operation Smile mission in her country.

The “Gift of Smiles” international mega mission forms part of Operation Smile’s new strategy to increase the number of cleft children it can treat.

Operation Smile Philippines president Wigbert Funtanilla said the ultimate goal is to eliminate the backlog of cleft cases in the country and treat cleft children before they turn one.

Early treatment is critical, he said, because the cleft children would not have yet lost their self esteem or have grown accustomed to faulty speech thus making it easier for them to transition to normal life.

A cleft surgery normally takes only from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Operation Smile is also able to bring the cost down to P15,000 per child because the volunteers give their services for free.

Still, the resource requirements are huge so the continuing support from socially aware private corporations, civil society organizations and individual philanthropists is critical.

About Operation Smile:

Operation Smile, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is an international medical charity with a presence in more than 60 countries, whose global network of thousands of credentialed medical volunteers from more than 80 countries is dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children. Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile has provided more 220,000 free surgical procedures for children and young adults born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. To build long-term sufficiency in resource-poor environments, Operation Smile trains doctors and local medical professionals in its partner countries so they are empowered to treat their local communities. Operation Smile also donates medical equipment, supplies and provides year-round medical treatment through its worldwide centers, two of which are in the Philippines: at the Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila and at the Brokenshire Hospital in Davao City

May 14, 2014

OSP Launches the “Gift of Smiles” Mega Mission Project in June

OSP Launches the “Gift of Smiles” Mega Mission Project in June


Makati City, Philippines.  -  Operation Smile Philippines (OSP) announced that the “Gift of  Smiles” mega mission project targeting to provide free reconstructive surgery to a thousand Filipinos born with cleft deformities is ready for roll out on  June 7 to 14, 2014 in seven (7) different locations in the Philippines, namely Davao, Cebu, Silay, Samar, Cavite, Pampanga and Manila.


 OSP, the host for the forthcoming effort dubbed as an “International Mega- Mission”, has finalized preparations which involves mobilizing the tremendous manpower and logistics needed to undertake a humanitarian project of this magnitude. In coordination with Operation Smile International, arrangements have been made to field around 300 medical and non-medical volunteers to participate in the Gift of Smiles missions (over 100 international volunteers coming from 18 different countries ) and ship around 12 tons of medical supplies and equipment donated for the project.


To accomplish the “Gift of Smiles” project OSP acknowledges the support of a number of long standing local foundation partners at the mission sites; namely the Mariquita Salimbangon Yeung Charitable Foundation in Cebu City, the Hope Foundation in Bacolod City and the Kapampangan Development Foundation in Angeles City as well as the invaluable assistance of ADRA and Eagle Express in the deployment of medical supplies and equipment needed in the multi-site missions across the country.


 In partnership with SMART Communications, the search and recruitment of potential cleft patient beneficiaries for the missions will be aided by a mobile app developed by SMART for Operation Smile which will be used by social/health workers for patient mapping and building a digital database for pre and post surgery record maintenance. This SMART-enabled mobile app is the first digital patient mapping tool of its kind in the Philippines and could become a standard tool for Operation Smile missions globally.


OSP Vice Chairman and Interim Executive Director Patricia “Ricki” Arches attributed confidence in the success of the “Gift of Smiles” missions slated in June  to the fact that “OSP has always had an excellent working relationship with our  medical volunteer corps as well as our local foundation partners in the mission sites.  It’s one of the foundation’s key strengths. It is our hope that our efforts will inspire even more generous hearts to contribute to the Operation Smile advocacy and help us in our vision to eradicate cleft deformities in the Philippines completely. ”  

March 03, 2014

Operation Smile Philippines Wins Anvil Award for “The Journey Home”

Operation Smile Philippines (OSP) has received an Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines for the successful staging of “The Journey Home,” a special event to celebrate the advocacy’s 30th global anniversary in 2012.  

The Anvil Award, considered among the oldest and most prestigious awards of excellence in the Philippines, recognizes the impact of “The Journey Home” on local communities and the skilful way with which OSP used communication to engage the organization’s local and foreign volunteers, corporate and individual donors, and private and public site partners in the effort. 

“The Journey Home was a triumph of volunteerism,” OSP executive director Roberto Manzano said. “We dedicate OSP’s Anvil Award to our volunteers as well as to our site partners, and donors who unselfishly shared their time, talent and treasure to make The Journey Home a historic success.”

Held from October 25 to December 1, 2012, “The Journey Home” mobilized 1,000 volunteers from 37 countries and brought them, with 14 tons of medical supplies and equipment, to nine cities across the country where they provided 8,000 free medical and dental evaluations, over 6,000 free oral treatments and 1,219 free cleft surgeries. 

Communication played a key role in the event’s success. OSP orchestrated an extensive information campaign with the help of volunteer communication professionals from McCann Worldwide, PLDT-Smart, Weber Shandwick, Century Properties and the Araneta Group to create awareness, excitement and support for the event. The campaign generated an enormous amount of national, local and online media coverage, including a rare editorial in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s leading publication.

The Anvil Award adds another feather to OSP’s cap; it was previously cited by the Professional Regulatory Commission as the model in mission organizing.  OSP vice chairman Patricia Arches, OSP executive director Manzano and Weber Shandwick president Diana Lesaca (from left to right) received the award at the Anvil Awards Night in Solaire Resort & Casino in Paranaque.

OSP conceptualized “The Journey Home” with OSI as a homecoming. The advocacy traces its roots in the Philippines, where founders Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee had their first cleft surgery mission. Jolted by the gravity of the cleft situation and inspired by the warmth of the Filipino people, they formed a volunteer-based charity organization dedicated to providing free surgery to cleft children. 

Operation Smile now operates in 61 countries around the world.

December 17, 2012


by: Bobby Manzano, President & Executive Director, OSP

I am elated by the continued outpouring of support from our partners who supported The Journey Home.

For instance, the Philippine Air Lines (PAL) and its sister-company, AirPhil Express, which ferried our volunteers to the provincial sites, is launching soon a campaign to solicit donations of Mabuhay Miles for our future missions.  Mabuhay Miles is the PAL Group’s reward program for its frequent fliers. This will will help us tremendously; being in an archipelago, air fare represents a huge part of our mission cost. Thank you PAL and AirPhil Express for helping us bring healing to Filipino cleft children...

…to read the full story, go to

December 09, 2012


by: Bobby Manzano, President & Executive Director, OSP

I mentioned in my previous journal entry that one of our staunch partners, Smart Communications, is going to run a campaign to drive donation via text messaging for Operation Smile. The campaign started last December 6 and in 4 days, it has generated over P600,000 or nearly US$15,000 which means that at least forty (40) children will receive the gift of a smile soon... read the full story, go to

December 07, 2012


by: Bobby Manzano, President & Executive Director, OSP

The Journey Home generated a lot of good press for us and the excitement it created seems to be yielding the effect we had intended from the start. This morning, I got two calls, one from the incoming president of a Rotary Club in Makati and another from a local government official in Eastern Samar, a province which lies many miles south of Manila. Both expressed keen interest in hosting an Operation Smile medical mission in their respective locality. If this continues, we’re going to have another busy year in 2013...

…to read the full story, go to

December 04, 2012


by: Bobby Manzano, President & Executive Director, OSP
I’m back in harness.  After a brief rest to recuperate, I’m up and about once more and raring to go. It has been four days since The Journey Home ended, yet the euphoria of that highly successful mission still lingers, and I’m savouring every bit of memory that comes to my mind.  For the benefit of those who weren’t here to celebrate with us, I would like to share this report, which I delivered during the after-mission thanksgiving dinner and party on December 1.    
…to read the full story, go to

November 30, 2012


by: Bobby Manzano, President & Executive Director, OSP
By the time the operating room closes today in our four mission sites, we would have exceeded the 1,000 mark in reconstructive surgery.  I don’t have today’s tally yet, but as of yesterday, we’ve already done 972, including the 541 we did in five other mission sites during the first and second legs of The Journey Home.
Hurrah to our volunteers!  You’ve given these children, and their family, an early Christmas gift they will treasure forever.   You’ve given them a life.
…to read the full story, go to

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