Jeri Abenoja is the M&E Manager for Roots of Health. Jeri has extensive experience in the non-profit sector in both program and monitoring roles. Previously, Jeri developed his Monitoring and Evaluation skills while working in Disaster Response and Health programs with Compassion International as a Partnership Facilitator. Before that he served as a Clinical/Hospital Management Adviser with VSO International in the Republic of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health. It was this posting that cemented Jeri’s passion for health care.
Jeri graduated with a Bachelors in Nursing from the Western Mindanao State University in 2001. He is a Registered Nurse in both the Philippines and the U.S.A. He is currently pursuing his Masters in International Health through the University of the Philippines’ Open University.
Jay Arguelles was born and raised in Narra, Palawan. He graduated from Panacan National High School in Narra in 2002. Prior to joining the ROH team, Jay was a personal driver for three years. Though primarily responsible for driving, Jay also carries out multiple activities in the field, including helping staff with setting up materials and assisting with entertaining kids and crying babies.
Before joining Roots of Health Jay had an illustrious career as a stuntman and dancer.
May Arzaga is our resident midwife and Clinical Team Head. Together with clinical team, May ensures that all of the pregnant women in our communities receive pre and post-natal care. May also co-ordinates and attends the deliveries for all of our clients and refers them to partner clinics if a client wishes to give birth at a medical facility.
Prior to joining us, May worked as full time midwife in both clinical and community settings. While working for the Department of Health Rural Health Unit in Aracelli, an Island municipality in Palawan she delivered over 100 babies. In 2012 May returned to Puerto Princesa and continued her practice at J&M Alfonso Birthing Home.
May completed her Midwifery studies at Palawan State University in 2008 and passed the Philippine Midwifery Board Exam the same year.
Melinda D. Buñag is our Health Outreach Coordinator. Melinda is responsible for a variety of significant activities including overseeing the organization’s clinical outreach expansion, liaising with government and other partners, and serving on the Executive Committee of the organization. She provides support to Roots of Health to achieve its vision of providing high quality programs aimed at women and young people in community settings.
Prior to joining Ugat ng Kalusugan, Melinda completed 10 years of professional NGO work experience with Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Culion Foundation, PATH Foundation Philippines, and Philippine Business for Social Progress as a Community Organizer and Team Supervisor for community-based outreach projects on Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. She also served in the academe for three years at Western Philippines University. She has a solid background on project planning, implementation and Monitoring & Evaluation. She possesses strong leadership, communication and interpersonal skills and a proven ability to work in a team and interact in cross-cultural settings.
Melinda graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business, with a major in Economics from Western Philippines University in April 2000.
Rowena F. Clasara (Weng) is Ugat ng Kalusugan’s Monitoring & Evaluation Officer. Together with the M&E Manager, Weng is responsible for the organization’s data collection, entry and analysis. She works with the M&E team to ensure high quality and reliable data are collected, entered and analyzed in a timely manner.
Prior to joining UNK, Weng worked as a Sales Information Specialist where she developed her skills in the Monitoring & Evaluation process.
Weng graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture Degree from Palawan State University.
Maria Robelle Lahoz Cortezano (Belle) is the Director of Community Programs. Belle plans, organizes, and coordinates the reproductive health education classes, the Community Health Advocates (CHAs) and clinical services. She also trains young people on how to become peer counselors on reproductive health issues. Prior to joining us she conducted English tutorial services to Korean nationals willing to learn the language.
Belle completed her Bachelor of Secondary Education in English from Palawan State University in April 2011.
Daisy Comia Ellorquez is a nurse for Ugat ng Kalusugan. Together with the other clinical team members, Daisy provides clinical health services to women in our community sites. Daisy also conducts reproductive and general health education classes for women and girls in Pulang Lupa and Little Tondo.
Prior to joining us, Daisy worked as a nurse in both clinical and rural health unit settings with the Department of Labor and Employment, Medicare Hospital and Araceli Rural Health Unit (all in Palawan). She also served as a nurse in the Narra Rural Health Unit under the Provincial Health Office of the Provincial Government of Palawan.
Daisy earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Our Lady of Fatima University in Manila and passed the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination in 2008.
Susan Evangelista is the Founder of Roots of Health and currently serves as the organization’s Director of Youth. Susan oversees all aspects of the high school and community youth programs. Prior to the founding of Roots of Health, Susan worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and went on to teach at the Ateneo de Manila University for 30 years. While a faculty member at Ateneo, she also worked in Nigeria’s University of Maiduguri, in a Burmese Refugee Camp in Thailand, in Cambodia’s Royal University of Phnom Penh, and in Osaka Gaidai, Japan. She has published academic books and articles as well as creative pieces – both fiction and nonfiction – and handled various administrational jobs in the university, notably Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies. She also worked with ACELT, an outreach organization that conducts teacher training all over the Philippines.
In 2000 Susan retired from Ateneo and moved to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, where she is currently a consultant at Palawan State University. Susan is also adjunct faculty with the SAIDI foundation in Manila and Secretary of the Board of Bahatala, a local orthopedic rehabilitation NGO, funded by the British Palawan Trust in England and the international Christian Blind Mission.
Susan received her Bachelors degree from Swarthmore College, her Master of Applied Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, her Master of Asian Studies from the University of the Philippines, and her Doctor of Philosophy in Philippine Studies from the University of the Philippines.
Mark Vil B. Favila is an Associate Nurse. Prior to joining Roots of Health, Mark held a number of health positions across Palawan. Most recently he was the Health Officer at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, where he provided basic and emergency care to visitors of the park.
Mark gained experience while working in the Northern Palawan Provincial and Roxas Medicare Hospitals. He also worked as a Public Health Nurse in the municipalities of Roxas, Taytay and Cagayancillo. In addition to all of this, Mark worked as a staff nurse of a private birthing home where he honed his labor, delivery and postpartum care skills.
Mark earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Palawan State University and passed the Philippine Nurse Licensure Examination in 2008.
Gehnefer Lavirez (Gehn) is our internal bookkeeper. She handles the administrative aspects of running the organization, including preparing employee benefit payments and making monthly finance reports. She also assists the teachers with the Educational Support Program for children when time allows.
Prior to joining us, Gehn worked as a bookkeeper at All Snacks Marketing, Inc. in Puerto Princesa City.
Gehn graduated with a degree in Business Administration and a major in Economics from Palawan State University in 2004.
Mary Rose Miranda (Rose) is Ugat ng Kalusugan’s encoder supporting the Monitoring and Evaluation Team. Rose is responsible for the encoding in clinical services, surveys and KAPs for analysis. She works with the M&E team to ensure high quality and reliable data are collected, entered and analyzed in a timely manner.
Prior to joining UNK, Rose worked as a encoder at All Snacks Marketing Inc. where she developed her skills in encoding and data entry.
Rica Andrea Pacaldo is our Administrative Assistant. Rica is responsible for the administrative needs of the organization including keeping track of files and expenses, ensuring the smooth operations of the office. She also conducts data entry and analysis of the information gathered from Ugat ng Kalusugan’s community sites.
Prior to joining us, Rica worked as a Cashier at Lily Hill Trading in Puerto Princesa City. Rica completed a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management at Palawan State University and graduated in April, 2010.
Robaika Densing Pagusara (Aika) is the Assistant Director of Community Advocates. Together with the youth team she helps create and teach workshops and sessions focused on leadership and adolescent reproductive health to teenagers in all of our communities. Aika also assists the Community Program Director with the training and management of the Community Health Advocates.
Aika earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Ateneo de Davao University.
Ivann Polizon is one of our youth teachers. Together with Jan and Connie, he prepares and conducts reproductive health education sessions for young people in the schools and communities that we work in.
Before joining us, Ivann worked as a private school teacher. He completed his Bachelor of Secondary Education, majoring in English, at Palawan State University and passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers in 2013.
Ciara Lee Quiban is Ugat ng Kalusugan’s encoder supporting the Monitoring and Evaluation Team. Ciara is responsible for the encoding in clinical services, surveys and KAPs for analysis. She works with the M&E team to ensure high quality and reliable data are collected, entered and analyzed in a timely manner.
Prior to joining UNK, Ciara worked as Sales Associate at Tru Point Guns & Ammo where she developed her skills in encoding and data Entry.
Jan Michael Servando is the Assistant Youth Director. With the teaching team, he helps create and teach workshops and education sessions focused on reproductive health in schools and community sites. He also provides general support to the staff with other administrative and programmatic needs.
Prior to joining us, Jan worked as an English teacher in a public school, as an instructor at Palawan State University in Taytay, Palawan, and also as an ESL Teacher in a Korean Language School.
Amina Evangelista Swanepoel (Ami) is the Founding Executive Director of Roots of Health and the local administrative arm of the organization, Ugat ng Kalusugan. Ami provides leadership in the day-to-day running of Roots of Health and trains staff in implementing all Roots of Health programming. She is the liaison with the Roots of Health Board of Directors in the United States, and with the Philippine-based Ugat ng Kalusugan Advisory Committee. She oversees the organization’s finances and raises new funds for the organization. She is currently working with the Board of Directors in a Strategic Planning process to ensure the continued success of the organization.
Prior to this post, Ami spent two years at Human Rights Watch where she researched and documented human rights abuses in Asia. She also held a position with the Guttmacher Institute researching health and HIV issues among youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. She worked in the Program Division of UNHCR in India, where she created an HIV information curriculum currently being implemented among refugee populations in New Delhi. She also served as the Coordinating Manager at Anthony Knerr & Associates, a consulting firm specialized in strategic planning and counsel for nonprofits.
Amina received her Bachelors degree from Wellesley College, and her Master of International Affairs and Master of Public Health from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Mailman School of Public Health.
Marcus Swanepoel is the Operations Director. As such, he oversees the organization’s financial, media, monitoring and evaluation departments. Marcus ensures that the program strategies, budgets and impact are all aligned. He also manages the organization’s online presence and creates the media strategy. Marcus also created and manages the Vertical Garden Program.
Prior to joining the organization, Marcus was an English teacher who taught across the world, from New York City to South Africa to Taiwan. He also worked on media marketing and website optimization for Sweccha – We for Change, a nonprofit environmental organization in India and for an online editing company in the US, Edit.com.
Marcus received his Bachelors degree from Rhodes University where he majored in English and Journalism, his Post Graduate Diploma in Enterprise Management from Rhodes University and his Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of South Africa.
Shery Ann Villagracia is a nurse at Ugat ng Kalusugan. Together with the clinical team Shery provides high quality services to vulnerable populations in resource poor communities. She takes are to ensure that data collected is entered and used to ensure that women receive the services on schedule. Shery is also responsible for keeping track of the commodities inventory.
Prior to joining us, Shery worked as a staff nurse in several hospitals in Palawan namely the Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital, Quezon Medicare Hospital, Roxas Medicare Hospital and Ospital ng Palawan. She most recently worked in King Khalid University Hospital in Riyadh,Saudi Arabia.
Shery earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Palawan State University in Palawan and passed the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination in 2007.