The establishment of the Philippine Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (also known presently as the Order of Malta Philippines) had its beginnings when Don Paulino Miranda Sampedro, a Spanish Knight, established himself in the Philippines during the pre-World War II days. He organized a Delegation of the Order in the Philippines in 1948 and prominent Filipinos began to be received into the Order. On March 23, 1957, the Grand Magistry of the Order approved the establishment of the Philippine Association. Thus, the Order of Malta Philippines became one of the National Associations of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta worldwide. Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines and the Philippine Ambassador to Spain, Don Manuel Moran, acted as the Association’s first President in 1965.
Negotiations to establish diplomatic relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta were initiated during the early 1960’s under the administration of President Diosdado Macapagal and were concluded on May 1965 during the incumbency of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos. It was Philippine Association member and Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to the Holy See, Don Benigno Toda y Toledo, Sr., who was named Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Philippines to the Sovereign Military Order in Rome.
Soon, Don Fernando Manuel Villena, Marques de Rafal, arrived in Manila as an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Extraordinary of the Order of Malta to the Philippines. He retired shortly after because of ill health. This position remained vacant for four years until 1970, when Philippine Association member, Don Jose Ma. Soriano was appointed for the position of Minister.
Efforts were continued in the Philippines and in Rome to elevate this diplomatic mission to an Embassy status. Negotiations were successfully concluded in 1976, when the diplomatic missions of both sides were elevated to full-pledged Embassies. In that same year, Philippine Association member and Ambassador to the Philippines to the Holy See, Don Antonio C. Delgado, presented his credentials to H.M.E.H. the Prince and Grand Master as the First Philippine Ambassador to the Sovereign Order.
In 1978, Don Jose Ma. Soriano presented his credentials to the President of the Philippines as the First Ambassador of the Sovereign Order to this country. He held the post until he retired in 1980.
This was followed by the State Visit to the Philippines by H.M.E.H. Fra’ Angelo de Mojana di Cologna, the Prince and Grand Master of the Order. This strengthened the relations between the Sovereign Order and the Philippines.
In 1972, H.E. Bailiff Quintin Jermy Gwyn, Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Order, made an official visit to the Philippines resulted in increased activities of the Order in the country.
Since then, the Philippine Association, working closely with the Embassy of the Order, has continued its mission to dedicate itself to the service of the poor and the sick of the Philippines following the hospitaller mission that Blessed Gerard started almost 900 years ago. True to its objective and having one of its primary aim the assistance of hansenites, in January 30, 1974, the Association entered into a quadripartite agreement with the Philippine Government, the UNICEF, and the Leonard Wood Memorial-American Leprosy Foundation to carry out an epidemiological study of leprosy in the Island of Culion in Palawan for a period of six years from 1973 to 1979, together with the research protocol using the technical facilities of the Leonard Wood Memorial Laboratories in Cebu. It also adapted a medical assistance program aimed to cater to the needs of the poor and the needy: directly through the Order of Malta Medical Clinic located at the Asilo de San Vicente de Paul, United Nations Avenue, Manila in collaboration with the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity (DC Sisters) and dedicated volunteer doctors and medical personnel and currently serving an average of four hundred patients a month.
The Philippine Association also serves as a conduit for donations of medical and relief supplies from local and international donors which tremendously served the less fortunate especially in the depressed communities. With the assistance of the Embassy of the Order of Malta in the Philippines, shipments of donations from international donors in Japan and USA such as the AmeriCares Foundation and the Meehan Family Foundation have been received by the Order of Malta. The Order’s “network groups” of more than 120 organizations are located all throughout the country and consisted of medical mission groups, charity wards of hospitals, parish based clinics, feeding centers, orphanages, institutions for the aged, sanitaria and non-government organizations and groups with an integrated medical and socio-civic programs for the poor by providing them with the necessary medicines, medical supplies, and equipment which the Association had coordinated with its foreign and local donors Its programs also include hospital visitations, sponsorship of a medical and surgical mission to an identified rural area seldom reached by medical team and feeding program.
In 1999, the Order, in line with the guidelines of CIOMAL, announced its desire to participate in the Program for the Prevention of Mother-To-Child-Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and AIDS. . In response to this new directive, the Order of Malta Philippines began to actively participate in various HIV and AIDS PMTCT-related activities in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) – San Lazaro Hospital (SLH), the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) and the Order’s network groups in the field who are being prepared to handle cases of HIV and AIDS in their areas of responsibility. Awareness and Advocacy Programs were also taken cared of. Likewise, tools had been developed to further capacitate health care workers in their provision of care and support to Patients Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). Among the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Materials being developed include the HIV and AIDS Flipchart and Modules for Trainors on Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and the other one dealt on Integrating Spirituality in the Care and Support of HIV and AIDS patients. IEC Materials also include the Radio Plugs and Posters indicating its main program, the “St. Ubaldesca Program for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and AIDS”.
During calamities, the Order made possible the provision of basic necessities, food and non-food items to the affected communities. This is also made possible through collaborative efforts of its network groups spread out in the areas affected. This program has been strengthened with the presence of Malteser International, the Order of Malta Worldwide Relief, who came in to the rescue of thousands of disaster-affected areas after the aftermath of typhoons Ketsana (Ondoy) and Parma (Pepeng) during the latter part of the year 2009. It extended its year of assistance to include two (2) villages under the Diocese of Baguio-Benguet through the rehabilitation of farmlands damaged by landslides, provision of livelihood programs for farmers, strengthening cooperatives, trainings on Community-based Disaster, Risk, Rehabilitation and Management (CBDRRM), Basic Health and Hygiene and Basic First Aid. The assistance also covered the provision of school and church latrines with hand-washing facilities and the implementation of a concrete and stable water system in Coroz, Benguet.
The Order also provides a program for the spiritual upliftment of its members through regular formations, recollections and retreats, among others.