MANILA, Philippines -- Former social welfare secretary Mita Pardo de Tavera passed away last Tuesday after a battle with leukemia. She was 87.
Interment will be on Friday after a Mass at 1 p.m. at the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati City.
Born to the illustrious Pardo de Tavera clan, “Mamita,” as she was called by people close to her, devoted more than six decades of her life to serving the needy.
After graduating from the University of the Philippines in 1944 with a degree in medicine, Pardo de Tavera worked at the Philippine Tuberculosis Society. It was an eye-opener for her. In a 1986 interview with Woman Today, she said, “That’s where I saw the imbalances, the wide disparity between the poor and the better-to-do.”
Pardo de Tavera later became executive secretary of the PTS. She led the organization until 1974.
In the 1970s, she founded the Alay Kapwa Kilusang Pangkalusugan (Akap), an organization of health workers volunteering to teach preventive medicine to poor communities nationwide.
Akap has educated thousands of residents of impoverished communities on ailments like tuberculosis, diarrhea, colds, flu, dengue and malaria.
Even when she was past retirement age, Pardo de Tavera participated actively in street protests against Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.
After Marcos’ ouster, she served as social welfare secretary in the Aquino administration.
She also became chair of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and president of the Philippine Cancer Society.
In 1991, the PCS launched the Hospice Home Care Program, which provided psycho-emotional and spiritual support to the terminally ill. Pardo de Tavera focused on cancer-stricken persons given short-term survival by their doctors.
For her “outstanding community services and medical ethics,” the Philippine Medical Association gave Pardo de Tavera the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Award in 1994.