Hotelier targets $10 million to fund mobile hospitals
Cebu hotel owner Manuel Osmeña is counting on a vision of hope for calamity victims through rolling hospitals that can reach people who need them anywhere in the Philippines when a disaster strikes.
“I’m a man with big dreams,” he said, at the start of a side conference of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for East Asia held in his establishment, Movenpick Hotel in Mactan, Cebu.
His blessing, said Osmeña, is that “I have big friends with bigger hearts”.
His proposal to finance and outfit 30 to 40 mobile hospitals has gained the support of some of the country’s biggest investors, including taipan Lucio Tan.
For the project, he targets raising US$10 million from donors here and abroad.
Osmeña, group chairman of property owner Oikonomos International Resources Corp., was one of the opening speakers of the WEF event Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN 14) last May 24 in Cebu.
He announced that his company The Manny O. Group would jumpstart the project by puttting in half a million dollars as “seed money”.
After brainstorming on an initial concept of a 1,000-bed floating hospital in April, Osmeña said he immediately consulted “my mentor Lucio Tan,” who assured him, “I’m in”.
Further discussions with another supporter Tessie Sy-Coson of the SM Group refined the concept to using trucks that can be fielded to any island in the archipelago through arrangements with shipping companies.
The specially designed trucks will be outfitted with operating theaters, diagnostic laboratories and X-ray machines so that with a set of three trucks “you would have an almost complete hospital.”
Osmeña, who recently turned 60, said the past 45 years of his business career “was all about dominion” and that he wanted to devote the remaining years to building a “treasure” that lives on, helping others.
At present, he is helping build 160 houses with Gawad Kalinga for victims of typhoon Yolanda and the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Cebu and Bohol last year. Four communities are the target benficiaries – Madridejos in Bantayan island, Cebu; Divisoria in Leyte, Hernani town in Samar and Sagbayan town in Bohol province.
Founding directors of the foundation being set up for the “hospital on wheels” project are the Manny O. Group, Dr. Lucio Tan (LT Group), founder Antonio Meloto of Gawad Kalinga, technology entreprenuer Winston Damarillo, and ABS-CBN broadcaster Karen Davila. Damarillo and Davila are WEF Young Global Leaders who organized the Cebu conference.
Osmeña counts as his supporters so far Sy-Coson of the SM Group, Credit Suisse, JK Srinivasan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mark Vlasic of the UN Foundation, Richard Lee of Hyundai Philippines, Martin Pascual of Pascual Labs, HP Philippines, and Melanie Ng of Ng Khai Development.
His big dream is already reaching the world stage.
During a meeting with WEF founder Prof. Klaus Shwab and Tan, the professor told Osmeña to present the project in the next WEF global conference in Davos, Switzerland.
The foundation for the rolling hospitals will be named “Hope Now”.
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