“Charity cannot wait.”
In this monthly feature, we shine a light on different individuals in society who are using their voice, experiences, influence, and platforms to spark a positive change. Through these stories of lives lived with meaning, we hope to inspire everyone to make a difference in whichever corner of the world they may be.
When she visited the sick child of one of her employees, Alice Eduardo saw with her own eyes the challenge of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to provide comprehensive healthcare to its young cancer patients. From this experience, her philanthropic motto that “charity cannot wait” was called to action.
In 2014, Eduardo funded a 320-square meter pediatric hematology and oncology isolation ward for terminally ill cancer patients. After the President of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation’s generous donation, she received the unfortunate news that mortality rates among PGH’s pediatric patients were decreasing.
The high fatality rates prompted Eduardo to ask PGH medical director Dr. Gerardo’ Gap’ Legaspi how else she could help.
“In response to my question, Dr. Legaspi immediately thought of the restoration of the 1911 Old Nurses Dorm into a home for the hospital’s nurses and transient patients, ‘Isang Bahay na masisilungan‘ (a home to take shelter in),” the philanthropist recalls.
“You see, some female nurses with no relatives in Metro Manila lived in cramped dorms, Eduardo continues. “[And] some transient patients and their caregivers wanting to save on transport costs merely slept on flattened cardboard boxes in the hospital parking lot.”
To provide ample resting space for medical front liners, patients, and caretakers, Eduardo restored the 110-year-old building with Arch. Mico Manalo and restoration expert Andrew De Guzman in close collaboration with Dr. Legaspi.
According to Eduardo, since the structure was initially built as a nurses dormitory, they envisioned Bahay Silungan to be the “same safe-haven this time for our frontline heroines, heroes, and precious transient patients as well.”
They birthed a fusion of colonial architecture from an abandoned building with Philippine elements, as its original architect William Parsons intended it to be. Bahay Silungan now boasts hardwood floors, expansive capiz-shell windows, and spacious bedrooms and bathrooms.
In addition, the building’s first floor houses more beds for transient patients and their relatives. “Dr. Legaspi found out that attending to the restoration of the building was therapeutic. Perhaps, it was like bringing a sick patient out of the ICU and into the sunshine again,” the philanthropist fondly shares.
Paying it forward
As the head of one of the foremost construction companies in the country, Eduardo sees her success as an avenue to actively help others. “Every day, I count my blessings, and I try to make my blessings count,” the mother of three shares. “So that sense of contributing ingrained something in me and has become a part of me. With all the breaks that have come my way, there is also that instinctive desire to pay it forward.”
Before her projects for PGH, Eduardo donated 100 houses to typhoon Yolanda victims and annually provides tuition fees, financial aid, and sports funding worth millions to students, athletes, and multiple organizations.
Currently, she funds the building of houses for the poor through Habitat for Humanity, donates to the Philippines Red Cross through Red Charity Gala, and supports programs for the underprivileged through Caritas Manila.
For Eduardo, a meaningful life is one where you can positively impact people’s lives—even those you’ve never met. “[It’s] a life where I have matched my blessings by being even more of a blessing to family, friends, and as many people as possible,” she shares.
Banner photo from @alicegeduardo on Instagram.