DISPATCHES FROM THE PHILIPPINES
Ilocos Sur and Hawaii to try nurse exchange
Gov. Lingle approves a program with KCC for reciprocal training
VIGAN, Philippines » It's not only the students at the University of Northern Philippines who dream of a nursing career overseas. Most of the faculty have already applied to leave the country.
About 60 percent of the instructors here have been teaching for less than two years, and many have only a few years of experience in the profession.
Star-Bulletin reporter Craig Gima is on assignment in the Philippines, where Gov. Linda Lingle is leading an official visit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Filipino immigration to Hawaii.
"Most of the older ones already went abroad," said faculty member Evangeline Jara.
A nursing shortage worldwide and the attraction of making a lot of money in Hawaii and elsewhere have prompted a boom in Filipinos studying to be nurses. But most do not want to stay, which means it is hard to find experienced nurses or nursing instructors here.
About 1,000 students are studying to become nurses at the University of Northern Philippines -- nearly 20 percent of the student body. After working a few years in the Philippines, most will try and get a job in other countries.
Some of the Filipino nurses who come to Hawaii will need to go back to school to improve their English and to prepare to pass the state nursing exam.
It is hoped an agreement signed yesterday by Gov. Linda Lingle and Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson will help improve the faculty and curriculum here so that graduates are better prepared to take Hawaii's nursing test. The agreement might also provide at least a short-term incentive for some nursing instructors to teach a little longer.
Under the agreement, believed to be the first of its kind in the Philippines, Kapiolani Community College will help faculty here improve curriculum and to provide for faculty exchanges so that instructors from the Philippines can spend some time at KCC learning about new technology and teaching techniques.
Those faculty members going to Hawaii will have to sign a contract promising to return and share what they have learned, said Brigida de Leon, director of nursing at the University of Northern Philippines.
"It's hard to run a program without experience," said Mae Kanemoto, who heads the nursing department at Kapiolani Community College. "If we can go and help them build up their faculty, it would be a benefit for them."
Kapiolani faculty members are also interested in learning about cultural practices and the type of community health care practiced in the Philippines, she said.
If the exchange program is successful, the University of Hawaii could expand it in the Philippines and establish similar exchanges with schools in China and other countries, said Leon Richards, KCC chancellor.
For now there is no dedicated funding for the exchange program, but Richards said the college has enough money to start it up.
During the signing ceremony yesterday, Lauro Tacbas, president of the University of Northern Philippines, talked about the connections between Hawaii and the Ilocos region. He noted that his grandfather worked in Hawaii and that he still has relatives there.
This program, he said, is an example of the continuing relationship between the Ilocos region and Hawaii.
CRAIG GIMA / CGIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Students attended a class yesterday at the nursing school at the University of the Northern Philippines in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Faculty member Romeline Asanion will be going to Hawaii, probably before the exchange program starts.
Her husband's family lives in Waipahu. He started working in Hawaii several years ago, and now her petition to immigrate has been approved.
Asanion said she will likely take some classes at either Kapiolani or Leeward Community College before trying to take the nursing exam.
"We all know nurses are in demand," said nursing student Sheena Villanueva, who also has relatives in Hawaii.
"If there's an opportunity to go to Hawaii, why not?" she said.
Over the last 30 years at the University of Northern Philippines, de Leon has seen many of her students and staff leave. But she stayed in the Philippines to raise her six children, including four daughters.
One of her daughters is now a nursing instructor at UNP, and might also leave if she can be hired overseas.
"She will be the one to realize my dream," de Leon said.
Filipino girl injured by bus in Lingle's convoy
SAN FERNANDO, Philippines » A bus carrying members of Gov. Linda Lingle's delegation hit a young girl crossing the highway near San Fernando in La Union province north of Manila on Sunday afternoon.
The girl apparently suffered minor injuries to her face and shoulder.
The bus was the last of four buses in a convoy escorted by police. Lingle was traveling in a separate car near the front of the convoy and did not see the accident.
The incident occurred as the delegation was traveling to Dagupan in Pangasinan province from Vigan in Ilocos Sur.
Witnesses on the bus said the girl ran across the northbound lane of the two-lane highway and was hit by the bus, which was traveling south.
A police car following behind the bus took the girl to a local hospital.
Tony Soria, a tour guide on the bus, told passengers that the girl, who appeared to be 9 or 10 years old, was OK but required a few stitches. He said she was being kept at the hospital overnight for observation.
The bus driver went with police to the hospital, and a new bus driver continued on the journey to Dagupan.
The incident did not affect Gov. Lingle's schedule, which included a dinner with Pangasinan Gov. Victor Agbayani and the signing of a sister-state and province nursing initiative with Virgen Milagrosa University at the governor's residence and a concert with "American Idol" star Jasmine Trias and Tihati's Polynesian Review.