Merly “Marita” Maderazo Ferrer


Becoming a Nurse has always been what I wanted to be. It seemed like the profession had the answers to most of my questions and desires. It was a calling of integrity and respect, service was synonymous with it, and it offered a lot of opportunities. I must admit that the white uniform (then) brought a kind of a bonus to the attraction for it.

My family traveled a lot when I was growing up, primarily because of need. At least that was how I saw it. Born in Tarlac, Tarlac, my mother’s hometown, we moved to Caibiran, Leyte where my father came from as soon as I was old enough to travel. After my fourth grade, we moved back to Luzon, this time to San Fernando, La Union where my mother was offered a job with the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. This was also necessary so all us kids can be close to better schools especially for my two older brothers who were ready for college. This also afforded my parents to be available for our “guidance and supervision”. I finished my schooling there up to Pre-Nursing at the La Union Christian College, on a partial scholarship.

An opportunity for a scholarship to UP-PGH, class of 1963, representing the province of La Union came up and I was fortunate to get it. I practiced Nursing the same year I graduated doing private duty cases at hospitals like UST Hospital, San Juan De Dios, Mary Johnston, Chinese General, Ramon Magsaysay, and the like, as it paid more than being a staff.

In 1965, as an exchange visitor nurse, I landed at the Albert Einstein Medical Center, in Philadelphia, PA. I was among the first wave of the sixties’ Nurse “migration” talked about in some of the historical Nursing books. I have always been proud of that. This is where I met my husband and got married.

San Diego, CA was our next destination and I practiced here up to and including the present, interrupted only by several moves out of state during my husband’s naval service. Somehow, we were very lucky to be granted our requests for transfer back to San Diego each time. In a span of almost four decades, I earned a Bachelors Degree in Nursing, worked at hospitals like Sharp Memorial, Paradise Valley, County (now UCSD) and Kaiser Permanente, from where I retired in 1999. But so as not to remain completely idle, I have worked as a visiting Nurse for a private agency on the side.

My professional clinical experience included most areas of expertise, from the Adult Intensive Care Unit, Recovery room, Medical-Surgical, Gynecology, Obstetrics (normal and complicated) and Well-baby nursery. I have been a Patient Educator, a Charge Nurse and a Nurse Manager.
I was involved in the advisory group for contract negotiations with the AFL-CIO Nurse union as a staff nurse. I participated and chaired hospital committees on Chart Audits, Quality Assurance, Nurse Practice, Joint Commission Hospital Survey prep teams etc.
I was awarded certifications in Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS) and Neonatal Advance Life Support (NALS).

Five years after my “official” retirement, I was persuaded to embark on a very part time job in a city clinic. I was told that it was hard to retain someone in the position due to the ongoing Nurse shortage. It was in the field of Behavioral Health. There was a need and it was a challenge. I took it. I have enjoyed it and after two years continue to do so.

I consider community as an extension of family….one advocates for both and hopes that in a small way it makes a difference. Looking back, at all those seemingly inconsequential “Gypsy” like lifestyle I had, I believe, is actually in preparation for this path. It taught me to speak Kapampangan, Ilocano and some Waray. Most importantly, it gave me a broad and differing aspects of life, how to come up with the possible solutions that benefits the whole.

My husband and I brought our families to this country which is certainly not unique in any way. In fact it is replicated many times over by many immigrants till this day.
I truly believe that my sense of community is just an extension of that. Being involved in outreaching the community, especially the underserved and underrepresented for any variety of reasons, still gives me a reason for waking up in the morning.

My involvement in civic activities includes being the Chair of the Community Health Committee for the last eight years, as an active member of the Philippine Nurses Association of San Diego (PNASD), the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurses Associations (NCEMNA), the South Bay Health Collaborative – Kalusugan Community Services (KCS), Samahan Clinic, Philippine Medical Association, Aging and Independence Services (AIS-County Health Services), collaborations with the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Arthritis Foundation, Lifesharing-organ donations, County of San Diego Health and Human Services.

I also devote some time to the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Red Cross-Disaster Preparedness, the San Diego Black Nurses Association, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) San Diego, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Healthcare, Scripps Health, Paradise Valley Hospital, and the UCSD Healthcare.

Educational outreach through community workshops and seminars in collaboration with our health partners at most of the cultural and community fairs in the county is another way that PNASD serves. We also include blood pressure screening, fat analysis, health referrals and sometimes just to listen.

As one who understands the importance of health, be it because of a lack of information or education, lack of or limited access, limited or lack of medical insurance, language/communication/cultural barriers, and for many other reasons, health is one that affects us all….eventually.

I served as past president of PNASD, currently a Board member, and chair several committees. I serve as a Board member of KCS and as Executive VP of the Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County.

I know we do not have to look very far in our community for some very qualified, charismatic and persuasive persons that can effect that big policy change and we’ll certainly do what we can to help make it so. I was requested to Chair PNASD’s Legislative Committee during this term of office and we hope to make some impact here as well.

The goal is to make sure that our membership and by extension, the community that we serve, are made aware of key legislative bills and proposals affecting them so they can make informed decisions. Conversely, it is also imperative that we establish a regular dialogue with our local political representatives and leadership to let them know our issues.