the President and Presidents’ Circle
Lourdes Publico, MD, MPH
UPMASA Immediate Past President
Susan Echiverri, MD
2021: Was Good!
2022: Be Even Better
Dear Fellow Alumni,
This is the moment when we bid goodbye to 2021, the International Year of Peace and Trust.
The early part of the year was full of hope and promise as the much-awaited Covid 19 vaccine became available in the US. Suddenly the streets of Manhattan started to awaken and many of the 7:00 pm banging on pots and pans tuned off.
When the January 6 siege in Washington DC happened, for several hours and days the world as we knew it was on edge.
And in the spring, the highly contagious Delta variant fueled back rising infection rates as anti-vaccine wars simultaneously got traction on social media worldwide.
For UPMASA, zoom meetings with PGH Director and UPCM Dean brought their fight against the virus in vivid terms. Our alumni responded with pantawid, PPE, and food pantry money. We mourned the loss of so many colleagues, beloved health care workers and their families. We thus advocated for the release of vaccines from the US to the Philippines ahead of the July schedule by writing petition letters to the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
We produced and made available on the website a Suicide Prevention Toolkit to respond to concerns of several alumni. We also conducted a survey to feel the pulse of the membership.
“The second half of the year is going to be more fantastic”, promised a NY Times Op-Ed article in April. And it was kicked off in the July AGC in Cleveland where for the first time in many long and isolating months, alumni would meet and greet physically. And the young Ohio Chapter led by Dr. Rachel Espiritu ’02, Dr. Jennifer Solivas-Maluyao ’99, and Dr. Jonathan Castro ‘01 did not disappoint. They went over and beyond reasonable expectations and made the event safe and truly memorable.
I am very proud and pleased to work with the newly elected slate of the Executive Committee: President- elect Dr. Henry Echiverri, Chair of the Board Dr. Cecile Pasion-Bregman, Vice Chair Dr. Winston Umali, Corresponding Secretary Dr. Corazon Carillo-Cipriaso, Recording Secretary Dr. Lillian Tocyap-Aquino, Treasurer Dr. Glenn Batiller and Auditor Dr. Annette David. Together with immediate Past President Dr. Susan Concepcion Echiverri and Assistant Treasurer Dr. Rachel Espiritu, the Committee met by Zoom to prioritize and solve important issues. Foremost was the analysis of the survey of what members want and what members think.
A direct offshoot of this is the need for UPMASA to communicate better, to get itself reintroduced to its members and be better known in the UP-PGH community. Even though we have outstanding projects that include Scholarships, Professorial Chairs, Faculty Grants, Funding of Infrastructure like the auditorium in the rising Medical Science Building, wings of rooms in the Pay Ward, Community Pantries in Herran and Diliman, some members still think we are all about the gala. We need to establish UPMASA as a recognizable brand for intelligent leadership and sharing starting as early as medical school. We must make it known that UPMASA is a powerful organization composed of alumni in seventeen chapters. The Executive Committee, the 17 Chapter Presidents and 19 Committee Chairs comprise the Board of Governors, the ultimate policy-making body of the UPMASA universe. A contest among medical students as conceived by Dr. Annette David and in collaboration with UPCM Associate Dean for Faculty and Students Dr. Ma. Liza Antoinette Gonzales is a big step towards achieving this goal. A more involved endeavor would be to use the UPMASA Journal to promote a close communication and interaction with its members and the UPCM-PGH community. This task is assigned to the Publications Committee which is headed by Dr. Irene Mison-Estores as Chair, Dr. Jennifer Liquido, Dr. Henry Ty and Dr. Solita de Jesus- O’Brien as members, with Dr. Zenda Garcia Lat as adviser.
In 2022, we hope to build on the progress of the last term. We want to accomplish the initiative of Dr. Silverio Cabellon Jr. to expand the edge of medicine through transpacific research collaboration and presentations. It is truly thrilling to listen to elegant researches by young scientists, and the thoughtful critiques of Dr. Vicky Lou Herrera, Dr. Laarni Serquina, Dr. Fe Lacbawan-Lardizabal and Dr. Wee Besa.
The possibility of resuming the Visiting Teachers Program, virtual, if not physical is something to look forward to. After all, Blended Learning was the topic of the first teacher, Dr. Rosalinda “Bing” Milla, which became quite useful when students and faculty went on lockdown. The virtual anatomy tables UPMASA delivered in time for the dean’s LEAP (Learning Enhancement in Anatomy Program) was critical when the students went back to the campus this Academic Year.
Conversations will continue about the possibility of full-time faculty practice in PGH as it has found an advocate in Dr. Raffy Marfori who picks the brain of experienced UPMASANs like Dr. Wee Besa, Dr. Connie Uy, Dr. Mutya San Agustin, Dr. Silverio Cabellon Jr. and the original proponent, Dr. Jose Peczon.
We expect to see the robust publication of Acta Medica, which got a sizable boost from Dr. Alectis Rabor-Santiago and Dr. Teodoro Santiago in honor of beloved Dr. Iole Rabor. We also expect the publication of the e-book on Colorectal Surgery as advocated by Vice Chancellor Armand Crisostomo MD.
The newly created Committee on Legacies chaired by Dr. Henry Echiverri has the enviable task of doling out the largesse of 2 beloved alumni, Dr. Emilia Salanga and Dr. Necita Roa. These endowments have strict specifications which we shall uphold.
The UP Los Banos Infirmary is getting its much-needed ER Extension to contain Covid patients, through the collaboration of UPMASA, Dr. Arelynne Pacho-Ramos’ UPLB’71 and the team of UPLBHS Director Dr. Jessie Walde. This project was personally visited by UP President Danilo Concepcion and should be operational early 2022, for the health care workers, students and faculty of UP Los Banos.
We appreciate the work of our colleagues in the Upstate NY/New England Chapter where President Fe Festin MD, Chairs Henry Ty MD and John Capino MD lead the AGC team in preparing for the 2022 Annual Grand Convention in Boston in July.
We are equally excited about the inauguration of the much-awaited UPCM Medical Science Building in December when the donors to the UPMASA Auditorium will be celebrated.
I do believe UPMASA is a force for GOOD. Let’s roar into 2022, the year of the tiger.
And “whatever else may separate us, sharing a love for Ted Lasso is enough common ground to start the harder conversations.”
Thank you for the privilege of your time.
Lourdes Publico, MD, MPH
My Two Years of Privilege
Two and a half years ago, in July 2019, I officially became President of the UPMASA. In this report, I am giving a summary of what transpired during my 2 years’ term as President.
I had been part of the UPMASA Board of Governors in various roles before. However, it was still quite difficult during that July 2019 month to feel at ease with the title UPMASA President. This is an organization composed of brilliant people, all from the school I had the highest regard for. And we were all volunteers, many of us still working, including myself.
With some trepidation but with a lot of self-coaching to do the best we could, I started and carried on.
Work eagerly began, both here and in the Philippines.
Henry and I made trips to the Philippines in to attend the UPMAS December homecoming, and meet with Dean Charlotte Chiong and her management team. we worked on obtaining items on the Dean’s wishlist of digital anatomy sets, cadaver freezers, virtual microscopy site scanner. UPMASA was able to help cover the estimated cost of $26,000! With Drs. Agnes Mejia and Rody Sy, we were able to finalize the Memorandum of Understanding for the donation of $100,00.00 from Dr. Ed VA Lim, in the UPMASA Permanent Endowment Fund (PEF). The drawdown from this fund will be used to pay for maintenance of then upcoming Medical Science Building. I recommended Justin Serfino, the son of an UPMASAN to be admitted to the UP College of Medicine as the UPMASA Legacy student for the school year starting 2021.We also met with UPMASA Scholars, which I consider the highlight of that visit.
We went back to the Philippines in February to participate in UPMASA/Pahinungod Medical Mission in Bukidnon, Malaybalay. We were able to see 2,005 adult and pediatric patients, and perform 82 Major surgeries (thyroid, gall bladder, head and neck, gynecology).
We made it back to our home in Illinois just before the COVID- 19 was declared a pandemic and
Quarantining became and PPE’s became a way of life. But we kept working stateside, assisting PGH in securing PPEs and testing kits. The US based alumni class of 1993 donated $10K of their Class funds to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to be used for acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE’s) and testing kits. The UPMASA Executive Committee approved a Pandemic Disaster Relief Fund transfer of $2K to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), UPMASA launched its own fundraising campaign, using a link on our website for web-based donations on March 16, 2020. With overwhelming support and donations from classes, chapters and individual donors, we raised more than $145K! This fundraising effort, The UPMASA Covid-19 Assistance Fundraising continued through the Fall of 2020 into 2021 Winter. UPMASA has received a total of $154,708.40 since March 2020. We remitted $123,726.70 to date. There was a boost to the collection of $15,000.00 from a member donor in December 2020. UPMASA donated $10K to the OSTREA VENT II venture. Working with the patent holder, the Breath of Life Foundation, Dr. Enrique “Buddy” Ostrea successfully modified his pediatric OstreaVent into an Adult ventilator.
Gifts and donations during my term include:
- Furniture for the reception area of UP Visayas, Miagao Iloilo Campus and Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio/Tennessee (IKOT) chapter donated $2K for a microscope
- Financial assistance to the victims of the December 22, 2019, 6.9 earthquake in Mindanao.
- PGH Wings – Operation Wildfire (WOW) Renovation -$108K.
- Medical Science Building (MSB) PhP32M Fundraising Project –$423,629.00 has been fulfilled. We have increased the pledge to PhP50M.
- Philippine General Hospital Fire Relief on May 16, 2021 – Autoclaving machines and surgical instruments were burned and destroyed. $25,850.00 raised for new purchases
- 2 Community pantries – $20,300.00 for University of the Philippines in Diliman and Manila in cooperation with Ugnayan ng Pahinungod.
- Acta Medica Philippina, the scientific Journal of the UP-PGH System received a substantial philanthropic gift from alumni Drs. Teodoro and Alectis Santiago, both of class 67.
- A Rural Surgery Initiative: Co-Operasyon Project. Dr. Frances Tolete-Velcek gave the initial $4K donation to this program, a collaboration between the Mabini Community Hospital in Mabini, Batangas, UP PGH Department of Surgery, supported by the Department of Health Center for Health Development.
Early in my term, I invited new committee members and Dr Francis Tolete Velcek as chair to the Post Graduate Education and Faculty Development Committee. We revised policies and procedures to the UPMASA Visiting Teachers Program in order to make the time of engagement more attractive. The new batch of visiting professors included:
- Vic Malabonga, MD – Patient Safety (return visit)
- Mutya San Agustin, MD – Ambulatory Pediatrics
- Alex Sy, MD – Pulmonology/Intensive Care
- Francisca Velcek, MD – Pediatric Surgery
- Ian Soriano, MD – Bariatric Surgery
On our return to the US following the pandemic lockdown, we had to make several changes, starting with canceling the Chicago/NW Indiana/Milwaukee BOG meeting and the AGC at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. But we kept going with several projects that included the Necita Roa and Salanga Legacy Scholarships, PANTAWID Scholarship Fund, the Suicide Prevention Tool Kit now on our website. We welcomed on board our Executive Director, Ms. Pearl Ontalan in 2021. We resumed the Online UPMASA Journal Publication, with Dr. Angelina Castro, class 1967 as guest editor. For the first time we adapted digital technology to our virtual celebration of UPMASA 2020 Awards Ceremony on December 5, 2020 with more than 180 virtual attendees. The theme was “We Shall Rise Again!” with our 9 Outstanding Awardees and 6 Presidential awardees.
UPMASA lived through the pandemic and flourished in many ways. Despite the cancellation of the spring BOG meeting in Chicago and the July 2020 Annual Grand Convention in Las Vegas, UPMASA found creative ways to get together, virtually. There were a lot of virtual meetings held by the Board of Governors and the Executive team, with the UPCM Dean and her team, the PGH Director and the UP-Manila Chancellor in attendance. Chapters within UPMASA also had numerous Zoom meetings.
The Ohio chapter successfully organized the 2021 hybrid Annual Grand Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on June 30 to July 4, 2021 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The AGC 2021 was a highly successful event with more than $60K in total net income.
I extend a BIG thanks to the 2019-21 Board of Governors for their precious and valuable support. And I also like to express my deep appreciation for all the hard work of my friend, Pearl G. Ontalan, our Executive Director.
A special thanks to my better half, Dr. Henry Echiverri for his valuable insight and being my steady support throughout the challenging but very fulfilling journey during my term as President.
It is truly heartwarming to know that so many UPMASA members have given with a cheerful heart and a generous spirit to help alleviate the suffering of our fellowmen. However painful they are, setbacks, failures, and tragedies are a part of life. Through it all, we managed to find joy in giving of our time, talent, skills and money. To achieve success is largely dependent on our ability to persevere through even the toughest adversity without giving up. We have become stronger, more resilient and jubilant.
We have successfully seen the so-called Ripple Effect or Phenomenon in charitable giving.
One little donation begun and known leads to other donations big and small. The ripples form a small wave leading to the formation of a bigger wave.
Be the light that shines brighter. The Light of UPMASA can never, ever be dimmed. Mabuhay ang UPMASA!
OUR GLORIOUS LEGACY AND GIVING BACK
By Eusebio C. Kho, M.D. ‘60
DID YOU KNOW that graduates of the UP College of Medicine studied at the FIRST American medical school established in the whole of Asia?
Yes, our Alma Mater has a very illustrious beginning! The UP College of Medicine (UPCM) sprang from the first American medical school created in Asia: the Philippine Medical School (PMS), established in 1907 by American medical administrators. The first Dean was Dr. Paul Freer, followed by Dr. William Musgrave. Later, the Philippine Medical School became the UP College of Medicine when the University of the Philippines (UP) was established in 1908.
Under the Deanship of Dr. Antonio G. Sison, a medical graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the College became a Class A member of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) prior to World War II. After the Philippines became independent, such membership was untenable for a variety of reasons, primarily financial and procedural. UPCM continued to send faculty members to well-known medical centers in the USA, Canada and European countries for advanced training. UPCM has evolved into the premiere medical institution of the country.
Medical education at UPCM was much sought-after because it was a steppingstone to great prestige, opportunity for medical service, economic success and opportunity for academic/specialty advancement, specially training in the specialties in medicine and surgery abroad. Members of the UPMASA have experienced that.
Without UPCM, where will you be?
With the great medical legacy that we are heirs to and the great benefits that alumni of UPCM had reaped, we have a lot to be thankful for. We must resolve to give back to our Alma Mater (UPCM and UP) to make sure that our benefactor institutions will have the finances and other supports to advance along the frontiers of science.
While material gifts such as medical books, periodicals, internet materials are very helpful, monetary donations are especially versatile. It is not the amount that is cherished. It is the capability of the donor that matters. Biblical mention of the widow’s mite is instructive: the widow had very little money, hence the mite she gave was truly special because that was the only money she had!
When we donate to UPCM or to UP, we must give as much as we can! Theoretically, if an alumnus of UPCM donates $20 each, the sum otal will be in the millions of dollars! The Filipinos are noted for gratitude. Wherever they go, they show that trait, which endeared them to people they meet.
Let us all show what we can do to make our beloved Alma Mater a world-class institution of medical learning.