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Is PALMT Brewing the Formula for Its Own Downfall?
By Benjamin Eugenio Jr LMT, CIBTAC, MPA

It is wee hour in the morning and yet I am still robbed of my precious
The events that transpired during the last national Department of Health
Committee of Examiners for Massage Therapy (DOH-CEMT) meeting I
have attended in Manila recently, has disturbed me a lot.
Some Philippine Association of Licensed Massage Therapists (PALMT)
officers caused and imbroglio when they violated an agreement among
training institutions, training providers and the Department of Health
through the Committee of Examiners for Massage Therapy (CEMT) about
the standardizing tuition fees.
A few months earlier, it has been unanimously agreed that training
institutions should peg their tuition for the training on the DOH massage
licensure examinations to a minimum of Eight Thousand Five Hundred
Pesos (P8500) per person. Some training institutions purportedly offered
similar training at a whopping price of Four Thousand Five Hundred Pesos
(P4500) only. This development caused a stir among those present in the
said meeting.
What is mind-boggling is that the personalities involved were current
national officers of PALMT.
Here are my personal views on the matter:
How did the good intention go awry? The deadline for the
implementation of Department of Health Administrative Order 2010-0034
is coming to a close. Some organizations such at the Quezon City Chamber
of Commerce meant it good when it invited select training institutions such
as the Occupational Oikogeneia Provider Corporation, the Potters Hand
Training Institution and IV-A Training Institution (for easy recall, I shall
be using the acronym OPA) to come up with an offer on the tuition for the
training of massage therapists in Quezon City, the much-acclaimed Health
and Wellness Capital of the Philippines.
However, the gleeful meeting turned into a combative mode bordering on
high-pitch and rapid exchange of words when the Chambers
representative took the issues upon herself. The discussion of valid and
legitimate issues made a downturn when albeit unintentionally, everything
switched into somewhat a struggle among personalities involved. To me,
things could have been avoided were if not PALMT took immediate and
effective damage control.
Is having double standard become the norm here? Said training
institutions and PALMT officers were perfectly aware of the standing policy
among DOH accredited training institutions that it should bench mark
their tuition fee rates as mentioned earlier. Why on earth, did OPA and
said PALMT officers never raised a howl about lowering the tuition fee rate
into such a scandalous proportion much to the detriment of majority of the
training institutions all over the country?
Needless to mention that the most affected institution in this entire
hullabaloo is the Department of Health, who relentlessly announced in
media and other forum over and over that the standard rate is P8, 500 and
yet these institutions, for whatever intents and purposes, offered a
prohibitive rate. Now isnt that a clear case of manipulation and unfair
competition as training providers and abuse of discretion as PALMT
Didnt the concerned training institutions and PALMT officers
involved made an error of judgment in this regard?
Finally, when things have settled down, it has become clear that the
OPA/PALMT officers made a mistake by failing to follow agreements made
by the group members. They were easily swayed by the lofty and noble
ideals of the Chamber (which are intrinsically faultless) but they have
unconsciously negated their duty to uphold a standing policy on tuition
and created chaos in the process.
We sorely missed the national PALMT leadership during this
crucial moment.
When things went offhand and DOH aired its concerns among the
trainings institutions and training providers present, where was PALMT
then? Obviously, it skirted its way out by failing to make a stand to help
diffuse the situation thus causing uneasiness among all present especially
the Chamber representative. Causing the latter to leave the CEMT meeting
with a heavy heart and the rest of us confused and baffled not knowing
what to do.
Lessons Learned. However, things had happened and it cannot be
undone anymore. Perhaps, we can learn a thing or two from this
unfortunate incident.
First, apply stick-to-itiveness. Let it be noted that we have to abide by
any unanimous agreements we made among ourselves. If instances call for
some allowances let it be but it should never be the norm to wantonly
disregard principled agreements.
Second, think of the others. Let us be reminded that the current splurge
of students is but temporary. After the DOH exam moratorium ends this
year, things will definitely change. I expect that there will be fewer people
to enroll. We cannot afford to lose friendships on quick fixes and subtle
manoeuvres, can we?
Third, be conscious of your standing in the community. Elected
officers must lead by example. As they say, "to whom much is given much
is required." They should never be blind followers and be toyed around by
friends putting the PALMT organization or industry in peril.
Fourth, let us never forget to obey the Code of Ethics at all times
whatever the situation might be and be ready to face consequences for the
wrong done to rectify the situation.
Last, but not least, the public and the PALMT members deserve an
apology from the training institutions and the PALMT officers involved
for the confusion, distrust and doubt the ensued after the latter committed
and error of judgment which may sound harmless at first but could prove
fatal in the future and sadly (God forbid!) usher the beginning of downfall
of PALMT. Bbe
Editors Comment: Days have passed and this writer expected that the
PALMT officers involved shall show remorse over the controversy,
unfortunately, the public has not seen any yet. Under the principle of
accountability as espoused by the Massage Code of Ethics and the right of
every PALMT member to know, the author is compelled to make this issue
known to all.

Note: Linda Villagonza, also a member of the PALMT Board of Trustees
and Chapter President of PALMT Quezon City, allegedly posted at
Facebook the much-ballyhooed rate. I suggest that PALMT has to
investigate her about it.

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