Arts and Health
What Makes Us Run
WHAT MAKES US RUNBy Irene Mison- Estores, Publications Committee
The city of Boston is famous for many things – baked beans, the bar from Cheers, Fenway Park and of course, the Boston Marathon. First run in 1897, it remains one of the prime races in America and the world. Participating in this requires passion, commitment, discipline and pain! All participants are indeed champions!
As we celebrate this year’s AGC in Boston, we pay tribute to some UPMASANS who have taken up marathon running.
WINSTON UMALI, Class of 1994
He is the current vice-chair of our Board of Governors and has an active and busy pediatric practice based in New Jersey. He completed this year’s Boston Marathon this April. In his 10th year of running, he has done 45 full marathons —31 US states, 5 New York City Marathons, some other city marathons and some international marathons like Berlin, Paris, Wall of China, Philippines, and London. He started running to keep fit and healthy after recovering from a serious neck injury in December 2011. Most were done just for fun and a chance to meet friends and see places. He added another reason for running when he ran the 2017 NYC Marathon for a patient with thyroid cancer. For the 126th running of the Boston Marathon this year, he ran under the banner of CYCLE KIDS, INC., a non-profit organization whose mission is to work with schools to ensure the basic rights of children to a physically and emotionally healthy start in life. School-based interventions, like the CYCLE KIDS Program, can improve a child’s health and academic performance. He is proof that running can be part of our busy medical life and to reestablish connections with friends and colleagues. Running for a cause that aligns closely to his heart as a pediatrician is icing on the cake that he certainly deserves to eat at the end of every race!
AGNES SOLON- ASHBY, Class 1987
It started as an item on a bucket list. She loved sports growing up but found it challenging to squeeze this into her day as a medical student, then as a practicing physician and mother. When her children became older, she was able to start tri-athlete training and got hooked after her first mini- triathlon. After a couple of races, reality hit- 4:45 am trips to the pool twice weekly, 5:00 am track session and the interspersed training sessions were too much for her body. Running was the least consuming so she joined a local training group for a half-marathon. Her first one was the Rock and Roll half- marathon. But what has taken hold of her heart was the St. Jude Annual Marathon and Half- Marathon Event. Anyone who has run this race would understand why. The route takes runners through the hospital and different areas that provide housing to patients and their families receiving cancer treatment at St. Jude Hospital. Patients, some in strollers, others with colorful hats on their bald heads, and their families line the route holding up handmade signs with sweet messages. “Thank you for using your feet to help our hearts”, “ You help me beat cancer”. It was only a matter of time before she moved from being a participant to an organizer, putting together local 5Ks, to raise money for St. Jude’s. One race, the Red Wagon Race, showcases the red wagons instead of hospital gurneys used to transport St. Jude patients. She continues to do races for other causes—food banks, the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Alzheimer’s Association. Training and running with a group has given her the gift of friendships, free “therapy sessions”, physical fitness and clean fun. The only alcohol consumed in their after-race parties is in Ben-Gay, Bio-Freeze and Deep Blue liniments! When she first considered running, she wanted to experience the crossing- the- finish line euphoria recounted by many runners. She now has tasted this euphoria, not just at the finish line but also from bonding with a running group and knowing that this physical exercise is helping others.
JENNIFER LIQUIDO, Class of 1997
She started running to lose weight. But the running bug got her! She continued to train to run faster and farther. Next targets were medals, culminating in the six-star marathon medal achieved by running the marathon majors in Berlin, London, Tokyo, Chicago, NYC, and Boston. She still struggles to get out of bed and lace up but running has been a part of her life for the past 10 years. Runs and races have become metaphors for life. The race can be a sprint or a marathon (or an Ultra!). The preparation can involve doing short bursts of speed, or running for 2 hours, or slowing down for recovery, and all of them are important in training. In life, it is essential to constantly set goals and work to achieve them. As associate chair for the Publications committee, she is doing quite a few “assignment” sprints and marathons as we prepare this issue!
Welcome to Gallery 20 Plus, a new addition to the Arts section of the UPMASA Journal. The gallery features artworks of UPMASAns and members of the UP-PGH community that are for sale (financial transactions are between artist and collector only; the gallery solely provides a venue for exhibition). We encourage the artists to donate 20% of proceeds—or 20 plus—to a cause, organization or family associated with the community. For tax purposes the portion earmarked for beneficiaries should be paid in checks made out specifically to them.
Every exhibition will include the names of the artist and the designated beneficiary.
For our maiden exhibition, we have chosen to showcase “Chasing the Light”, Photographs by Dr. Jose Rizal Fonacier for the Dr. Jacob Matubis Family. (Dr. Matubis was an otolaryngologist and UPCM Anatomy professor who passed away recently.) Dr. Fonacier will donate 100% of the proceeds from the first 10 sales and 70 % of the following ones keeping only 30 % to cover production and mailing expenses. All his photographs, size 11”x14” (unframed), are priced at $150 each. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
Jose Rizal Fonacier, M.D.
Practising Ophthalmologist, Long Island, New York
Diplomate, Philippine and American Boards of Ophthalmology
B.S. PreMed, University of the Philippines
M.D, UP College of Medicine, Class ’76
Married to Luz Sison, M. D. UPCM Class ’78
Children: Joey and Frances
Grandson: Silas Michael
Chasing the Light Jose Rizal Fonacier, M.D. June-December 2022
Ted Lasso Review
By Maya Publico Gittelman
When I first heard about the latest binge worthy pandemic TV obsession, I thought it wasn’t for me. As a queer Fil-Am who prefers bookstores to bar scenes, Ted Lasso seemed to center everything I have always been sure I have absolutely no interest in devoting my personal time to: sports, straight white men, and Jason Sudeikis. But that’s what so much of the pandemic has been about, hasn’t it? Finding catharsis in unexpected places. Finding compassion and connection. And choosing to broaden one’s horizons. Because you, like a certain coach, might be surprised to find that once you leave behind the known and the comfortable, there’s so much more to believe in.
So much of contemporary media, especially Western media, loves to center characters who are “too cool” to care, who find strength in ruthlessness and selfishness. Sometimes this can make for fun superheroes or love interests, sure, but it also leaves little room for anything actually genuine—especially when it comes to men. That’s why Ted Lasso himself, and indeed, many of the men on the show, feel like such a breath of fresh air. They choose to be almost overwhelmingly earnest, kind as a baseline, even when they mess up. Meanwhile and just as importantly, the women characters are allowed to be equally complex. It makes for better relationships, and better storytelling overall.
Part of the reason I think many Filipinos in particular cleave to Ted Lasso, especially in the pandemic, is because while it’s often a very white show, at its heart, it is in fact a very Filipino story. This is a story that celebrates resilience and compassion. Relentless positivity in the darkest of times. These are characters who go through the specific devastation of everyday despair, and again and again, we come away from the episodes knowing that solace can be found in community, and of course, humor. Ted Lasso understands that kindness and hospitality, which Filipinos are so known for, does not mean complacency or spinelessness. Being kind is actually one of the bravest things you can do.
It’s about finding hope and strength in each other. Joy, even when life is at its worst. This is it! This is all we have! We can’t choose what has happened to us, we can’t reverse the mistakes we’ve made. But we can choose who we surround ourselves with, and the stories we internalize. And in times of great grief, we know what it is to sing like Rebecca does, to hold each other close like Ted and his team, and to believe.
Let Us Create More Experts
By Leonardo Leonidas, MD, FAAP
If you’re not an avid chess enthusiast you probably have not heard of the Polgar sisters who became world champions in chess. They are the three daughters of Laszlo, a Hungarian psychologist, and Klara, a Ukrainian teacher.
Laszlo studied many individuals who were considered to be geniuses in their field. From his studies he concluded that with the right and proper training any child could be turned into a genius.
In the late 1960s, when Laszlo was wooing Klara, he proposed his theory and explained to Klara he would want to have children who will become experts in their field.
Klara, being a teacher, was convinced of the unique plan of Laszlo.
When they got married, they talked about the field that they would like their children to be an expert in. The two options that they considered were languages and mathematics. During that time there was no top level female mathematician in Eastern Europe.
However, Laszlo and Klara decided on a third option that is easy to objectively say if their system is working. Both of them decided on chess.
In one interview by a reporter, Klara said, “We could do the same thing with any subject, if you start early, spend lots of time and give great love to that one subject. But we chose chess. Chess is very objective and easy to measure.”
Klara and Laszlo had three daughters. In April 1969 they had Susan, followed by Sofia in November 1974, Juliet in July 1976.
The Polgars were determined to control the education of their daughters. So they decided to homeschool them and devoted lots of time to teaching chess.
The result of their experiment did not take a long time to see amazing results. When Susan was just four years old she won her first tournament by topping the Budapest Girls’ Under 11 Championship with ten wins, no losses, and no ties. When she was 15 years old, she became the top-ranked woman chess player in the world.
Sofia, the second of the Polgar daughters, had an extraordinary chess performance. When she was only 14 years old she topped the Rome tournament that included many male grandmasters. At one time Sofia was the sixth-ranked female chess player in the world.
Judit, the youngest of the three, beat the other two older sisters. At 15 years and five months, she became a chess grandmaster. During the time she was the youngest, men or women, to get to that highest level.
How did the Polgar sisters and other top world performers reach their level?
Almost all of them started their skill when they were young children and they had parents who had made up their minds that they wanted their children to be an expert in a particular skill.
In the 1980s, psychologist Benjamin Bloom headed a project to answer the question: What are the childhood experiences that world experts had that could explain their extraordinary performances?
Bloom and his colleagues chose 120 experts in six fields — Olympics swimmers, tennis champions, concert pianist, research mathematicians, neurologists, and sculptors. From this group they looked for common developmental traits.
They found four influential factors. First: These exceptional children found a play when they were very young that eventually pointed to their field of interest. Second: Parents of these children had a particular interest or knowledge of the field that these children will pursue to become an expert. Third: They had older siblings to model from and compete with. And fourth: These future experts were lucky to have parents who are great motivators.
Leonardo Leonidas, MD, FAAP
Distinguished Career in Teaching Award – May 13, 2009, Tufts University School of Medicine, Presented at Omni Parker Hotel at Boston by the Class of 2009
Community Service Award, July 2021, University of the Philippines Alumni Society in America, Awarded in Cleveland.
Outstanding Alumnus Award, UPMAS (University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society), 2010, Awarded at Shangri-La, Makati, Dec. 21, 2010