A multi-awarded advocate and champion for children’s rights, pediatrician and educator Dr. Bernadette Madrid will receive the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel prize, on Nov. 29.
The Ramon Magsaysay Foundation announced that she is recognized for “Her admirable commitment in championing the rights of the most vulnerable… and transformative work in integrating child protection into the health infrastructure in the Philippines.”
In 1977, she started the Philippine General Hospital-Child Protection Unit (PGH-CPU) in the Philippines. It is the first child protection facility in the Philippines and it has evolved from being crisis-oriented to providing long-term case management services. This includes a multidisciplinary team of doctors, social workers, police, and lawyers providing free medical care, psychiatric treatments, legal counselling, and family therapy to abused children and children-at-risk.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized PGH-CPU in 2006 and cited its best practice in the UN Secretary General’s Report of Children and Violence in 2008. As of 2021, PGH-CPU has served more than 27,000 abused children.
Dr. Madrid leads the Child Protection Network Foundation in finding resources for the establishment of Women and Children Protection Units (WCPUs) and training specialists around the country. All government hospitals now have WCPUs. There are 115 WCPUs in 59 provinces and 10 independent cities that have served 142,000 abused women and children.
She is co-chair of the WHO Guideline Development Group and part of a small group of global violence prevention leaders and experts who contribute ideas and solutions to inform WHO and UN bodies concerned with violence against children.
A graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman (BS Psychology, cum laude) and UP Manila (Doctor of Medicine), she trained in child protection in the USA and United Kingdom. As a high school graduate of Assumption Convent, Iloilo, she received the distinguished St. Mother Marie Eugenie Award for leadership and service.
Among her many awards are the 2021 Most Outstanding Pediatrician of the Year by the Philippine Pediatric Society, Inc. She was given the Most Influential Filipina of the World (Pioneer and Founder Category) award by the Filipina Women’s Network in 2019, in Paris, France; the UP Alumni Department of Pediatrics’ Most Outstanding Alumni for Child Advocacy 2015 and UP Alumni Association’s Most Distinguished Alumni for Service 2013 awards; was the National Children’s Advocacy Center, Alabama, USA’s Most Outstanding Service awardee on Child Protection 2012; and was one of The Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation (TOWN’s) Service for Medicine: Child Protection 2001.
Dr. Gerardo D. Legaspi, Director of Philippine General Hospital sent his message:
“It is both an honor and pride for the Philippine General Hospital that one of the 2022 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees is coming from our ranks.
“This is the most fitting recognition to Dr. Bernadette J. Madrid, who has devoted her career to addressing violence against the children.
“She has been at the forefront in providing medical, legal, psychosocial care to children who are victims of abuse, thus creating safe spaces for them nationwide.
“This may not be known to many, but the work she does involves roles of educator, researcher, social leader, organizer and advocate.
“We are very proud of Dr. Madrid.”
Many people reacted to the announcement of the Magsaysay Laureate.
“Bernie is a force of nature with a giving heart and graciousness of spirit. She is a joy to work with and her level of commitment towards helping abused children literally consumes her waking hours (and perhaps extends to her dreams)!” — Irene Martel Francisco, Child Protection Network (CPN) president
“My cup overflows with joy and we share in her glory.” — Katrina Legarda, a lawyer and CPN director of the National Network of WCPUs
“She is the true embodiment of a five-star physician — a compassionate clinician, a committed educator, a passionate leader, a prolific researcher and a dedicated advocate and social mobilizer” — Philippine Pediatric Society, Inc.
“Bernie Madrid is the prototype of a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee. She lives and breathes selfless service to the abused children of not just the Philippines but all of Asia. And she does it with charming ease. We are so lucky to have her.” — Johnny Velasquez, CPN Trustee
“Bernie is a superwoman and I admire what she has done for the CPUs nationwide. She is smart, witty and very knowledgeable.” — Renna Hechanova Angeles, CPN Trustee
“Dr. Bernie is committed to strengthen the child protection system in the Philippines. She is compassionate, genuine and humble. Her positive spirit radiates and lights up any room she is in. Her daily sunset photos and the caption reflection that goes with it is something we always look forward to.” — Melissa David, CPN Resource Development Officer
“The forever Child Advocate! I met Bernie in 1988 in Auckland, New Zealand at the 12th International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect… This congress gave birth to the annual Ako Para Sa Bata national conference. She has a multi-disciplinary and team approach… and gives importance to the contribution of each discipline for a better result to the lives of many abused children.” — Sr. Nida Viovicente, Marian Missionaries of the Philippines, family therapist.
This is a special year for the Child Protection Network as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the founding of the first CPU-PGH. Dr. Madrid is chair of the conference which will open on Sept. 29. She will give a lecture at the Magsaysay Foundation Center. It opens the 14th Ako Para Sa Bata Conference. The theme of the 14th annual conference is “25 Years: The Beginning, the Building and the Institution of Child Protection in the Philippines.”
For more information about CPN, announcements and updates, visit their website www.childprotectionnetwork.org and their Facebook page @AkoParaSaBataConference.
The online conference will have a series of webinars on Zoom and streamed on Facebook. The webinars will be held every Thursday starting Sept. 29 until Nov. 24, at 10 to 11 a.m.
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.