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Hugs, Not Drugs At Self

“Stop being a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future.”


First some good news… “The Best of Aliw” will be on at the Resorts World theatre this Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. With “the Best” of its awardees like my favorites The Angelos led by George Tagle, Lea Salonga, Dulce, Gerphil, RJ Jacinto, Lisa Macuja, Spirit of ‘67, Jed Madela, Rico J. Puno, Halili Cruz Dancers, and Imelda Papin.

All those great performers will be directed by Freddie Santos and will be for the benefit of the Aliw Welfare Fund and Christ the King parish. See you all there!

Now  in the midst of our violent drug war which has claimed many casualties, caused many also to surrender and drug factories to be raided and shut down, we met a rehabilitated former addict who showed us how the drug war can be modified to rehabilitate the “willing.”

“Been there… done that…here I am now…”

SELF Founder Martin Infante

SELF Founder Martin Infante

Our guest at our weekly “Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel” stood tall and straight (at 6’4) as he related his descent into the hellish world of illegal drugs for 20 years and his arduous climb back to sanity and sobriety. Martin Ynfante, scion of a well-to-do clan, was just 13 when he first took illegal drugs in a prestigious Catholic school where he was a student in high school.

By the time he finished high school he had long hair to express his rebellion against society and was deep into illegal substances and was a troublemaker.  For the next 20 years he took the road that addicts take to perdition and his family could only watch helplessly. He had fathered two sons out of wedlock, and still, he was in deep into his private hell. He lost his business, he was an outcast.

His sister decided enough was enough and with the help of his brothers, they literally dragged him to “the basement” of a medical hospital to be rehabilitated. It was while he was in deep despair in “the basement” that he began to question why he was what he became—an addict. It was then, Martin said, that he began to pray the rosary, somehow remembering what he learned as a child. Pretty soon, another addict joined, and then another until they became a group of 10 or so addicts praying the rosary. Their prayers helped them, Martin admits now.

Martin left the rehab basement and other centers the family brought him to with a realization that addiction to illegal substances, alcohol, even sex, was basically an “attitude” problem.  One had to have the proper motivation to change one’s attitude which leaves one open to bouts of depression, inadequacy, peer or parental rejection, low self esteem which they want to resolve by some form of addiction. Martin has proven that with the support of medical supervision and the right medicines, family support, a therapeutic community to work with yes, an environment conducive to all the modalities, there is hope and deliverance.

When he came to terms with himself, he made peace with his family. He began his dream of putting up a rehab center using the “TC” (Theraputic Community) approach he learned from experienced mentors here and abroad. His first “house” in Cavite burned down and there were other hard challenges to overcome—bills to be paid, suitable sites to find, etc. He persevered because he had a dream of helping others like him because he knew rehabilitation could be done, the right way, for life too.

Today, 25 years later, Martin still directs the operations of SELF and is active in various international TC agencies such as the world Federation of Therapeutic Communities, and personally trains local and international rehab workers. He is also co-author of several books on fighting drug abuse published by the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Board. SELF is a certified TC Learning Center by the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities.

He named his center SELF for Self Enhancement for Life Foundation, Inc. dedicated to the Therapeutic Approach to the treatment of substance abuse and behavior disorders. SELF uses Martin’s own tested program and what he learned in the Therapeutic Community approach. In the SELF center now perched on a hilltop in Talisay, Batangas, (called Taal View House) residents undergo a three-stage, five-Ppase TC program over four years. The facilities are first class, and residents have internship and practicum programs at the end of their own stay there. They have co-curricular activities that enhance self-discovery and self confidence in the theatre arts, sports activities, and at the core is the family empowerment program.

I and the hundreds he has helped in their recovery are so thankful Martin was born before this administration’s “kill the addicts” policy.  Otherwise SELF would not have been born. It is, by the way the only full service facility of its kind in the country offering diagnosis, detoxification, treatment, and values formation services.

One accolade on the value of self came from a former resident, Samantha Matias who called the facility after her stay for four years, “The School of Life.” Martin looked on smiling approvingly at our forum. Now, Sam is working at the main office of SELF.

Martin, at 62, has been “sober” for 25 years. He is ready to help the Department of Health in training mentors to help in rehab centers although he is too aware of the limitations of government. Not many families may be able to afford SELF initially but the success rate (85 percent says Leah Tumbado, program director) a look see at the facility and programs of SELF will convince parents or spouses to enroll their dependents there.  The confidential hotline is 63 28 552 5656.