During the late 80s to the early 90s, the need to create an association for Speech Pathologists in the Philippines was seen as a necessary step towards the growth of the profession. A collective desire to create an association amongst Filipino speech pathologists was realized by Cynthia - Rodriguez Quiazon, then a faculty member of the nation’s first BS Speech Pathology program at the UP College of Allied Medical Professions (CAMP).
She initiated a meeting with around 30 speech pathology graduates together with Cynthia Villaraza and Aurora Quipit, who were also teaching at CAMP. It was at CAMP’s site in the old NEDA building in Padre Faura, Manila that they discussed the fundamentals of establishing an association. Who would have thought that what seemed like a gathering of a few speech pathologists back then would become a turning point in the history of speech pathology in the Philippines?
Image of the old CAMP building
What we know as PASP wasn’t always PASP. The association went through the tedious process of selecting a name that would perfectly represent its nature and ideals. Proposals included the Association of Speech Pathologists in the Philippines (ASPP) and the Society of Speech Pathologists in the Philippines (SSPP); they ultimately arrived at the Philippine Association of Speech Pathologists (PASP)
The creation of a logo was essential to seal the deal, but the limitations of digital software at the end of the 20th century made this a challenge. The logo was designed by hand. On April 4, 1991, the association was formally recognized by the Securities and Exchange Commission. This event was one of the earliest milestones - and only the start of the journey. What was once just a dream to unite SLPs and provide accessible therapy services in the country was now slowly turning into a reality.
Kicking off from its founding, let us dive back into the early years that shaped PASP. In the 1990s, only a handful of SLPs were practicing in the country; everyone knew everyone. Presidents of the association and their respective officers spent time brainstorming on their various unique ways of attracting SLP graduates to join the association. General assemblies were held in cramped function rooms of restaurants in the metro. Despite the myriad challenges, it was the kind hearts of the members and the small membership fee that allowed the association to blossom. During the early years, there were no social media platforms and websites to connect SLPs. This sparked the creation of the first PASP newsletter in 1995 which was printed and distributed as a medium for an exchange of knowledge within the community. By 2004, membership in PASP had grown to at least 100 members. The association continues growing with every batch of graduates; in 2021, the association numbers around 670 members drawing applicants from at this time four universities offering programs in speech-language pathology. With the active participation of these members, PASP was able to expand its services and work on essential projects.
PASP members at Angel's Walk, January 2020
In 2005, PASP developed international linkages, becoming a member of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics (IALP). As the SLP community continued to grow in the Philippines, so did the need to regulate the profession. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) received reports that persons without adequate training were presenting themselves as competent to provide SLP services to the Filipino public. Circumstances made it difficult for SLPs to achieve professional regulation — rather than potential patients and their families, the main stakeholders in the bid for professional regulation were perceived by legislators to be the graduates of the single university-level training program in speech pathology. PASP members decided to temporarily take matters into their own hands through self-regulation so that the public would have some means for validating any professional’s claim to be a qualified speech pathologist and would have a venue for reporting possible forms of malpractice.
Steps were likewise undertaken to protect the profession by going through the education route. In 2008, Joyce Marzan, together with the help of Barbara Munar and Carla Cuadro, conducted a study, The Core Competencies Expected of Speech Pathologists Practicing in the Philippines: A Validation Study, which was submitted to the Commission on Higher Education. Under the guidance and stewardship of Marzan, Munar and Cuadro also worked with other experienced SLPS in the formulation of course subjects included in the proposed curriculum. In the formulation of this PSG, the SLP contributors referenced existing curricula from other countries and other allied medical professions. Marzan also tapped Filipino SLPs working abroad in order to have a broader scope of the curriculum. Marzan, with the continuous help of Cuadro and Munar, also formulated salient parts of the eventual memorandum order such as clinical internship, faculty requirements, core competencies.
The need to promote quality education and address the proliferation of pseudo SLPs led to the creation of the Technical Committee for Speech Language Pathology Education in 2009. This committee included Mae Sadicon as chair, Fernando Ligot as member, and Perfecto Paolo Sison as representative of PASP. A year later, Sadicon and Ligot were joined by Georgina Mojica and Atty. Dion Rex Africa. The members continued the work of Marzan’s group and made further additions to the eventual CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) number 29 series of 2011, otherwise known as the Policies, Standards and Guidelines for Speech Language Pathology Education. These additions were aligned with the suggestions of CHED as well as based on other existing PSGs from the allied fields of occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT). The aforementioned CMO is competency-based, indicating a 5-year degree program with 206 units. Its main framework espouses the “end view of meeting the national health service delivery needs and keeping pace with the demands of global competitiveness”.
In 2015, CHED initiated a shift to an outcomes-based model for the creation and upgrading of PSGs. Thus, a second PSG, CMO number 59, was created in 2017. In this CMO, the number of units was reduced to 160 and the number of years needed to complete the degree program to four. The second PSG explicitly states program outcomes that are specific to the profession, as well as career options in allied-related fields. The technical committee likewise strengthened the guidelines in order to address the persistent problems of certain higher education institutions offering SLP programs without going through the proper channels. Guidelines on sanctions regarding non - compliance were then added to this current PSG. Thereby, ensuring that the profession and more importantly, our clients are further protected. During this period, there was also a push for continuing education for speech pathology graduates in the country. Special Interest Groups (SIG) were created to expand and specialize the profession. Focused group discussions on itinerant practice - in which a practitioner conducts on a regular basis at a location other than at his or her resident practice address - were also conducted with the goal of enhancing services for Filipinos outside of Metro Manila in need of our speech therapy. Online forums through Yahoo Groups which were eventually integrated into the website, along with the very first online PASP newsletter entitled “Talastasan”, were created. Creative means apart from the membership fee were developed to generate funds, such as official PASP merchandise exclusively for the members.
The PASP continued the effort to obtain national legislation mandating the regulation of speech pathology in the country. The story of transitioning from self-regulation towards the push for the SLP law is one truly worth telling. The effort towards professional regulation started as an undergraduate thesis by Grace Gozum-Angeles and Rowena Arao-Ynion in 1993. The two pioneers drew inspiration from the OT and PT laws, as well as policies authored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). A proposal was filed the same year under the presidency of Jesusa Wolgamotti and submitted to Senator Orlando Mercado. Arao-Ynion would continue to represent the association in the final stages of the passage of the SLP bill into law. In 2006, PASP started a system of certifying SLP graduates of recognized HEIs. The SLP bill was introduced one decade later. However, the journey was not without its challenges. A lot of these challenges were brought about by matters that were beyond their control, such as the postponement of senate hearings and bill signings, since there were other agendas prioritized by the Senate. These were overcome through exercising punctuality, making appropriate modifications to the proposal, and advocating for the progression of the bill to the different governing bodies. Years of collective work and effort invested by the whole Filipino SLP community for the growth of the profession culminated in the successful passing of Republic Act No. 11249 AN ACT REGULATING THE PRACTICE OF SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY IN THE PHILIPPINES. Follow this link to take a closer look at this legislative journey.
The successful transitioning from the traditional era towards the online/virtual era may be considered a game-changer for the association. From the year 2014 onwards, the association made sure to take advantage of online platforms to make itself known in the community. The launching of an official PASP website paved the way in order to connect with and reach out to more members of the association. Automation facilitated the processing of membership applications and responding to the needs of PASP members. The presence of PASP in different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram served as a mode of connecting with SLP practitioners and drawing their support for the association.
The association then marked big milestones that will forever be etched in the history of PASP and the profession. In its 25th year, PASP held its first national convention Beyond Borders from July 23 to 24, 2016. This was an important moment for PASP as it symbolized how much the association had grown and what is in store for the years to follow. The following year, PASP was invited to send representatives to ASHA’s international convention in Los Angeles, California. The networking at ASHA fostered a relationship that led to partnering with ASHA for the second convention Transcend: Moving Towards Excellence in Practice in 2018. PASP held its first virtual convention July 24-25, 2021 entitled Emerging Together. SLP experts from different areas of expertise, including members of IALP were among the speakers.
Hon. Maria Eusebia Catherine S. Sadicon and Hon. Juan Paolo D. Santuele were officially sworn into office as the chair and member of the Professional Regulatory Board of the Speech Language Pathology (PRB-SLP), respectively on July 15, 2021. All positions in the PRB-SLP were filled when Hon. Rowena Arao-Ynion took her oath of office as the third member on March 9, 2022. This milestone was followed by the oathtaking of all three PRB-SLP members as the first registered SLPs in the country on April 7, 2022. These continuous efforts for the regulation of the profession lawfully ensure that speech therapy services and SLP programs in the Philippines are delivered by authorized and competent professionals and institutions.
PASP has been continuously adapting, particularly in relation to the extensive use of telepractice in this time of pandemic. Relevant standards and guidelines were developed to ensure the safety of speech-language pathologists, clients, and the client’s families in relation to COVID19. Regardless of the variations in mode of service delivery, the association continues to uphold its mission and vision of enhancing and promoting the practice of speech pathology and providing quality speech pathology services to Filipinos.