Pastor Benny Capuno, a tribal leader in Porac, Pampanga, knows all too well the great distress his Ayta community goes through when an earthquake strikes. In April 2019, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake devastated Porac, affecting hundreds and killing 10, five of whom were from the Ayta community. For Capuno, it reminded him and the community of the fragility of life, especially as when the same town was devastated by the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption. It also reminded him of the mental well-being of those who survived.So when the community partnered with PLDT and Smart, they co-developed a Psychological First Aid Program that catered to the mental health needs of the community. According to Capuno, the Psychological First Aid Training enhanced the awareness of the community to better address future psychological needs.
Capuno serves as a mamuun or tribal leader of the Indigenous People’s Political Structures in CADT 123 or the ancestral domain of the Ayta MagIndi and Ayta MagAntsi in Porac, Pampanga.
“Malaking pasalamat namin kasi natuto kami na kami mismo meron pala kaming kakayanan. Natuto kami kung paano makinig, ‘yung paano namin labanan ‘yung nagaganap at tsaka natutunan namin kung ano ‘yung kahulugan ng mga nagaganap [sa amin] at paano namin mapagtagumpayan at mas mapalakas pa. Natuto kami sa parte na iyon at kami mismo, kaya naming lagpasan ang mga ganitong sitwasyon,” Capuno said. (We are really grateful because we learned that we also have the capacity [to address the mental health needs of our community]. [Through the training] we learned how to listen. We learned that we can fight the difficult things that are happening to us. We learned to understand the meaning of what is happening around us and how we can overcome and strengthen these. We learned in those aspects, and we now we know that we, ourselves, can overcome these situations.)
Promoting mental health strength as fundamental to digital wellness is a key part of PLDT and Smart’s continuing commitment to help the Philippines contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) #3 that stands for good health and well-being.