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Filipino community mourns
death of Kalusugan co-founder
Special to ASIA
In many ways, he hardly fit the description of a
health advocate – somewhat overweight, in question-
able health, battling physical problems. Yet, no one
probably did more to advance the cause of health
through nutrition and exercise than Dr. Riz Oades,
founder of Kalusugan Community Services (KCS)
in National City. Two-time winner, along with Dr.
Ofelia Dirige, executive director and co-founder of
KCS of the prestigious Asian Heritage Award, first
in the category of health and in 2008 in the category
of community service, Dr. Oades died the past week-
Born in Lumban, Laguna Province, in the
Philippines, Dr. Oades earned his master’s degree in
history from Hong Kong University and a doctorate
in East and Southeast Asian history from the
Dr. Riz Oades...
University of Hawaii.
Longtime health advocate
After earning several scholarships and fellowships,
he came to the United States in 1961 to study at Cornell University as a Fullbright scholar
and applied for immigrant status in 1967 after coming to Hawaii as a doctoral candidate.
In the late 1950s and early ‘60s, he served as head statistician for the Far Eastern
University Hospital and held positions as a lecturer at the University of Hawaii, before
moving to National City in the late 1960s, when he founded Kalusugan Community
Services, dedicated to helping the Filipino community in the areas of health, education and
human services. He was the first president and CEO of that organization and remained so
until his death.
Highly regarded as a historic scholar, he taught Asian history as a guest lecturer at San
Diego State University for years, but spent most of his time advocating in the community
for much-needed projects and programs addressing a variety of issues, including affirma-
tive action, youth gang violence, teen suicide and substance abuse.
Among those projects, he has pioneered ongoing Tagalog and Filipino history classes
and through Kalusugan administered programs that addressed the social and health needs
of Filipino Americans, among them tackling obesity and diabetes, which is almost epidem-
ic among San Diego’s Filipino population.
“Working with Dr. Oades was never knowing what to expect,” said Dennis-Michael
Broussard, who helped put together several Kalusugan events. “He was a very passionate
man who spoke his mind without regards for its consequences. His words were often con-
troversial and his reactions were often very memorable.”
He often had a way of navigating equally between anger and humor, according to
Broussard. “I would see him as set off by something as I would hear him make jokes about
anything.” Above all, added Broussard, “ he was a respected man and a person who cared
about the community.”
continued from page 1 limited to basically only eating staple foods
– oatmeal, potatoes, rice, and the like.
I am not a vegetarian, but cannot afford meat. This year, they also cut all optical and
dental benefits. I had to find a way to pay for my last set of glasses, and had to run up my
credit cards and debt to do so. I have a chipped tooth, and don’t know how I am going to
be able to get it fixed.
And for those who may think life on disability is easy, let me make it clear – people on
disability are not having a great time not working.
Dealing with delusions and hearing voices is a mental hell when your symptoms act up,
and even when the symptoms are not apparent, it still dictates every action and decision.
Money doesn't relieve these problems directly, but helps make a difficult life bearable, and
allows us to be contributing community members.
A couple of my friends on disability also have had to make very difficult personal deci-
sions due to the budget cuts – giving up their pets. Pets are very therapeutic for the dis-
abled and I'm sure a comfort for what can sometimes be a very solitary life.
What California decision-makers should know when they cut the benefits of the dis-
abled is that we have fewer resources or options to supplement our income than the average
working person who might look for another job or get food stamps (one cannot get food
stamps if on SSI.)
California's budget balancing should be more proportionate to the ability of the person
to bear the burden, rather than to their political voice. Unfortunately, for those who are not
heard, can't speak, they end up carrying the heaviest load.
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