Thrilla in Manilla
Do you remember the Thrilla in Manilla that took place in October 1975? This newsletter is NOT about the final boxing match for the Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Rather, this story is about my personal “Thrilla in Manilla.”
The Republic of The Philippines, as it is officially known, is a sovereign country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean, east of Vietnam across the South China Sea. With a population of more than 92 million people, The Philippines is the 12th
most populated country in the world. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the over 7100 islands in the Philippines. The weather is hot and humid as May starts the monsoon season.
What a treat to have been asked to represent COVD
at the 36th
Annual Integrated Philippine Association of Optometrists Inc. (IPAO) convention in Manilla, the capital of The Philippines. The theme of the National Convention was, “Emerging Trends in Vision Science.” The convention, May 25-27, 2012, was attended by approximately 300 optometrists. I was the guest lecturer for what they called “COVD Pediatric Optometry Module on Vision Development.”
Speaking at the convention was great, but learning about the Filipino people and the state of optometry was fascinating. There is a strong core of optometrists who are working to upgrade the field of optometry in the Philippines. These courageous optometrists are confronted by many challenges. After hearing their state of optometry, it took me back over 30 years when I first started optometry. There are challenges with credibility, delivering full-scope vision care, battles with expanding laws to use drugs and medications, and more.
My hostess, Dr. Tess Yambot, MAED, MSO, FPAO, an International member of COVD, is the leader of bringing developmental vision into her country. She has been a dean of an optometry school, involved in the Philippine’s optometric board, and is now consulting with the Dept. of Education on the importance of vision and learning.
Dr. Yambot is also doing research in a clinic in a hospital, sponsored by Civitan, a non-profit foundation whose mission is to help children with special needs. Dr. Yambot and Civitan have collaborated to bring improved education and vision care to children in Asia. Civitan, with its headquarters in Alabama, has a large presence in the Southern United States, Asia and many other countries worldwide. It is part of the Citivan Philippine program to educate their optometrist to improve vision care, which ultimately will impact children’s ability to learn.
The Filipino people are beautiful, generous and extraordinary hosts.
is truly an international organization. COVD continues to spread the developmental vision message around the world! Now that’s what I call a Thrilla!
After our visit to the Philippines, we spent a week in Viet Nam. What a beautiful country! After the Vietnam War ended in 1985, the country struggled politically and economically. In 1986, the government initiated a series of economic and political reforms
,which began Vietnam's path towards integration into the world economy. By 2000, it had established diplomatic relations with most nations. Its economic growth has been among the highest in the world since 2000. The cities, names of which you may recognize from the war reports (if you’re a baby boomer) including Hanoi, Ho Chi Mihn City (formerly Saigon), Hue and Da Nang are bustling with thousands of motor scooters, cars and pedestrians. The food was great, the hotels were fabulous and our Vietnamese Tour guides were wonderful.
to see pictures of our visit including crazy traffic in the cities, war sites, Cu Chi tunnels, private cruise on Ha Long Bay (where we celebrated my big 60th
birthday and my 36th
wedding anniversary), a cooking lesson with a top Vietnamese Chef and our best attempt at farming!
My husband, Bruce, and I want to express our deepest gratitude to COVD, IPAO Board, Dr. Yambot and Civitan for making this extraordinary trip such a memorable one. We are grateful that we could add the Viet Nam segment to our travels. Our hearts go out to our American soldiers who fought in the war as well as to the Vietnamese people.
Feel free to send questions, comments or insights on your journey of transformation.
With love and gratitude,
Lynn Fishman Hellerstein, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO
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