It started with Tugon SLP (speech-language pathology)—a collective movement of SLP students against COVID-19. Carl Lora, a then first-year SLP student who co-founded the initiative, had just envisioned a national organization to unite speech pathology students in the Philippines. A year later, the Speech-Language Pathology Students’ Association of the Philippines (SLPSAP) was officially launched.
SLPSAP is the national organization for SLP students in the Philippines. Its main goal is to instill solidarity, leadership, and passion among speech pathology students from the four universities offering the course(University of the Philippines Manila, University of Santo Tomas , De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute, and Cebu Doctors’ University). Overall, SLPSAP’s objectives, vision, and mission reflect the organization’s aim: to provide an avenue for its members to build strong relationships with SLP students across the country and develop love for service.
At present, the Executive Board (EB) of SLPSAP is composed of seven members—Carl Lora (President), Tish Canlas (Vice President for Internals), Amelia Luna (Vice President for Externals), Kristel Galeos (Secretary), Kimberly Zuñiga (Auditor), Noah San Pablo (Treasurer), and Maxinne David (Public Relations Officer). In an interview with them, the officers talked about their respective roles and motivation to join SLPSAP’s EB. Noah and Tish shared their desire to take part in a cause that will help people become more knowledgeable of speech pathology. Tish added, “I want people to realize that no matter how small our community is, we’d be able to create these big changes and big differences in the world.” Kim also mentioned how joining the EB has helped her step out of her comfort zone. She gained more confidence in herself and her capabilities as a student leader. When asked about their relationship with each other, Amelia stated that they are a close-knit barkada supporting each other in both organizational and personal matters. Maxinne attested to this, describing their relationship as a “mighty bond.”
The Speech-Language Pathology Students’ Association of the Philippines Executive Board 2020-2021
Row 1, L-R: Carl Leann Lora, Maxinne Catrisha David, Kristel Andrei Galeos, Kimberly Callista Zuñiga; Row 2, L-R: Noah Emmanuel San Pablo, Amelia Cecilia Luna, Margarette Tish Canlas
In terms of advocacies, SLPSAP is firm in having a significant impact on the number of SLPs in the country. There is still a need for speech therapists, especially in underserved settings, with only 714 members (as of December 11, 2021) listed in the Philippine Association of Speech Pathologists (PASP) directory. As such, the organization wants to “market the profession” and encourage more students to consider taking up speech pathology as a degree program. Aside from this, the group advocates for the awareness of concomitant conditions and specific disorders faced by SLP clients. Spreading the word on events like Stuttering Awareness Day is a way the members thought of to fulfill this advocacy. Moreover, Carl mentioned that the organization desires to continue the work done through Tugon SLP. They aim to reach out to communities that do not have access to therapy services.
While the EB did not reveal specific details about their campaigns and events during the interview, they mentioned that these will all aim to showcase what SLPSAP is all about. A sneak peek of their upcoming projects can be found on their social media pages. They also shared their insights regarding the future of the organization. Internally, they hope to have a more organized and well-established system. SLPSAP also envisions growth in the number of members, especially if additional colleges and universities offer an SLP program. Aside from this, they expect to complete the remaining positions in their organizational structure (i.e., other executive committee roles, co-adviser). Externally, the EB sees the organization gaining more recognition since it is still in its pioneering years. They hope that SLPSAP will be affiliated with SLP-related organizations like PASP and other institutions focusing on fields outside speech pathology. In five years, they dream of connecting with organizations outside the country. Essentially, the EB strives to stay true to their objectives while turning SLPSAP into a bigger organization with more advocacies.
As the interview neared its conclusion, they requested both SLP students and professionals to support and recognize the organization’s endeavors. They hope that SLPSAP can contribute to the growth of the profession and bring out the best in all members of the SLP community.
Through SLPSAP’s objectives and advocacies, the future of speech pathology in the country looks promising. The difference that the organization can make for the profession and the populations we serve is definitely something to look forward to in the coming months and years ahead.
To stay updated about the organization, visit their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Written by: Paolo Capati, Jen Leynes, Kyla Lu, Paula Tison