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28th USTMAAA Convention & Grand Reunion (Part 2)

USTMAAA/Foundation board meeting with Rev. Father Julius Paul Factora, the new CEO of The University of Santo Tomas Hospital, with Dean Dr. Lourdes Maglinao was fruitful, restoring the Tripartite Alliance and moving forward with great optimism & cooperation with the common goals and mission for the medical students, clerks, interns & residents’ medical education and clinical training.

The USTMAAA Foundation meeting was joined by Rev. Father Richard Ang, UST Father Rector Magnificus via Zoom. He gave his felicitations, message, and congratulations to USTMAAA & it’s Foundation Officers for the continued support to our Alma Mater.

The USTMAAA Foundation Board approved to subsidize the with $ 24,000.00. This is to subsidize 10 surgical cases per month at a cost of $2,000.00 and in a year will subsidize 120 surgical cases at a cost of $24,000.00. There is already $11,000.00 USTMAAA Foundation money in the Philippines which will be turned over to Dr. David Bolong, the new Department of Surgery Chairman in the Charity Hospital, so he can start the program as early as next month October 2021.

The USTMAAA Foundation Board also approved and gave $25,000.00 check for charity hospital workers COVID SRA. This will include interns, fellows, and residents. Rev. Father Julius Paul Factora had acknowledged receiving the check already.

The USTMAAA Foundation has raised the 1 million dollars it promised for the St. Cosmas & St. Damian Simulation Lab & Research Center. This was made possible thru the generosity of  Dr. Rene Lim who donated $100,000.00 and Dr. Anselmo Unite’s Class of 1965 who donated $151,000.00 on their recent fundraising just weeks before the reunion. The USTMAAA Board also decided to continue its fundraising for the Simulation Lab & Research Center.

Drs. Joe and Stella Evangelista

The USTMAAA Foundation for 2021 is disbursing a total of $96,700.00 for its projects according to Dr. Stella Evangelista, USTMAAA Foundation Executive Director & Dr. Roy Flores, new USTMAAA Foundation President.

Overall, the Convention and Grand Reunion in San Francisco was a great success as Jubilarian attendees have attested, having more intimate bonding with classmates and their spouses as well, some saying the best reunion they ever have attended. Some are already planning to join the next Convention & Grand Reunion that will be held at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas from June 30 to July 3, 2022, even if they are not the celebrating Jubilarians. Hope to see you there!

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A Year Worth the Wait, By: Dr. Doreen Tan Abadco

On my calendar, I had drawn a big circle over the dates of September 1st to 6th, 2021. San Francisco, California! I had booked and reserved a trip last year for our 40th medical jubilee, but it was unfortunately cancelled when the COVID-19 pandemic brought fear, distress, confusion, and death around the world, including the United States. It was disappointing for us all, but there was no choice! We had almost 100 attendees last year. This year, the great USTMAAA was tiptoeing, hoping to be able to hold the jubilee celebration in September. Once the date was set, I reserved a hotel room at Hyatt Embarcadero and booked a ticket with Southwest Airlines, a direct flight from New Orleans to Oakland, California.

Six days before the anticipated trip, a weather report of a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico headed toward Louisiana threatened to scrap plans as it was upgraded to a hurricane. I was worried but determined to attend the reunion by hook or by crook! Hurricane Ida made a landfall as a category 4 storm with 140 mile per hour winds on August 29, the same day Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans 16 years before. Eerie! I evacuated to my property in Lafayette, which was less vulnerable to the threat. Three days later, before the authorities made an official statement allowing evacuees to return, I took the chance and drove back to New Orleans to check on my properties, removing all perishables in the refrigerators, remembering the maggots I had to deal with after Hurricane Katrina. The drive was smooth, and debris had been moved from the streets. The storm had destroyed 8 transmission towers, cutting off power to the entire city. Even hospitals had to rely on generators. With the city still largely evacuated and with no help available, I worked for 12 hours cleaning in the summer heat and eventually into the pitch of blackness. With three coolers of whatever I could save, I drove back to Lafayette and went to bed. With no power, with all flights leaving New Orleans still cancelled.

As early as April, we started deciphering the steps of two dance videos assigned to our “Midwest group” (even though I live in the South, not the Midwest). I was assigned to look for costumes for our dance. Resourcefully, I was able to get the costumes straight from Bali, Indonesia without any problem. Initially, our group had some disagreement about the original Shantik dance assigned to us. I felt the steps were vibrant and energetic! Some thought the steps were impossible to follow. Rather than replacing it with an easier routine, we eventually chose to tackle the original dance, but we had no way to practice together, being in five different states! Using the video as a guide, I recorded myself with my interpretation of the steps to make the process less painful.

Early the next morning, I was able to request Southwest Airlines to change the outbound airport from New Orleans to Houston, Texas, and the date from September 1st to September 2nd.The next night, I left Lafayette at 11:00 pm and arrived in Houston at 3:00 am. We boarded at 4:30 am. Then a 3 hour nap. After arriving in Oakland at 7:00 am, a simple trip on the BART to Embarcadero, just steps from the Hyatt. The check-in was smooth, and by 9:00 am, I was in the hotel room. Still full of energy, I picked up the class practice merienda from Good Mong Kok Bakery. With reasonable prices and delicious goods, no wonder there is always a mile long line filled with locals and some tourists who read the Fodor's Travel Guide! Somehow, the 1979 Class found out I was on my way to the Bakery and begged me to pick up orders for them, so I texted the new orders to my private contact inside the Bakery to bypass the line. The walk to the Bakery was nine blocks on streets going uphill and downhill. I waited while they prepared the orders and handed cash payment before I could receive them. I am very thankful to my back-up, Rolly and his son, who carried the gigantic boxes of food along with me in their car to the Hotel.

It was a wonderful experience to see our classmates again since we had not seen each other physically for several years. All smiles, laughter and chatting, eating and also practicing our own assigned dances. We have classmates with less hair, or grayer hair, since we saw each other 6 years ago. We had classmates who never attended reunions before but were now attending after 40 years. Wow! We had pictures taken with our professional photographer Willy Tupas, and also with other classmates who were photographers by circumstances. We posed here and there and tried to be wherever a ready camera was located!

That night, after the USTMAAA's sumptuous dinner, I was so tired and collapsed into a very sound sleep.

Dr. Doreen Tan Abadco is a retired Anesthesiologist from New Orleans. She married a fellow Thomasian, Dr. Douglas Lim Abadco, who passed away in 2007. They had two children together, both of whom are now practicing doctors in the States.

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28th USTMAAA Convention & Grand Reunion (Part 1)

The 28th USTMAAA Convention & Grand Reunion in San Francisco, California from September 3-5, 2021, was a successful event despite the uncertainties, restrictions & challenges due to the COVID-19 Delta variant surge just weeks prior to the convention. 

The Jubilarians attending this year's grand reunion were those with graduations ending in 0 & 5 and those ending in 1 & 6, requiring 2 separate Gala night celebrations.

Class of 1980 Mag

Dr. Malou Tiamson Kassab, a class 1980 Psychiatrist, gave the Welcome Address speaking on “How to Cope with the COVID Pandemic in our medical practice and daily lives”. The welcome reception followed for colleagues, guests, and benefactors with Asian, American & Italian appetizers as classmates were eager to talk about each other’s experiences over the last 18 months coping with the Pandemic, life changes, and adjustments made to accommodate the current health landscape.

Dr. Onie Yorro & Dr. Greg Tan, Chairman & Co-Chairman of CME, prepared a 13- hour, credit 1 CME that included updates in both medicine and surgery, including a lecture on Nanotechnology, COVID related lectures on its current managements in the various fields of medicine including the latest innovations on vaccines, as well as, a testimony of a Thomasian Physician COVID Survivor, Dr. Alvin Cadalin, class 1979. The attendees gave excellent evaluations to all the CME Lecturers.

The Talent Night was full of discovery and revelation of great Thomasian talents. Dr. Maria Luisa Corpuz, class 2011, and Dr. Robert Ang, class 1981, sang with operatic voices to the enjoyment of the audience. Dr. Doreen Tan Abadco, class 1980, played piano pieces that were delivered a la Van Clyburn style and the tango - salsa dance number of Dr. Leo Yason and his wife Susan were superb with gracefulness & elegance. The most surprising revelation of hidden talents were the two Boys to Men bands of class 1976 and 1979. Class 1979 band members were USTMAAA President Jess Chua, Past President Ed Cabigao and CME Co-chair Greg Tan while the Class ‘76 band members were USTMAAA Past President Al Estrada, Manny Sevilla & Emmanuel Fabella. They call their band “The Litter Boys” singing love songs of the famous 1960-1970 band - “The Lettermen”.

The first gala night was themed “The Roaring Twenties” with formal attire, ladies in sparkling, long gowns with colors corresponding to their Jubilarian years and men in black Tuxedos or suits. The night was highlighted with the induction of the new USTMAAA officers with Dr. Ferdinand M. Ramos delivering his inaugural presidential address and the presentation of the Jubilarian Awards. Martin Nievera, the Philippine’s Concert King, surprised the audience with almost an hour of love songs both old and new in English & Tagalog to the delight of the Lady Jubilarians who rushed to the stage to have pictures with him as he sang. The younger artist Jay-R, also a Filipino actor and entertainer, serenaded the younger Jubilarians with hip hop hits.

The second Gala Night was themed “Ebony & Ivory”. It was highlighted with the Induction of the new USTMAAA Foundation Officers with the Valedictory address of outgoing USTMAAA President Jesus Chua & presentation of the Jubilarian Awards. Miriam Pantig, the beautiful & alluring Fil-Am Concert Queen of San Francisco, wowed the male Jubilarians. Similarly, Martin Nievera, the Philippines Concert King made the lady Jubilarians’ night complete, serenading them with his Tagalog love songs.

USTMAAA President Jess Chua & Wife

Dances all around the world were presented by Medicine Class 1980, including Havah Nageela, Lagi Syantik, Tum Hi Ho, Tico Tico, Hungarian Dance, Tranquillo, Cotton Eye Joe square dance & Sitsiritsit Alibangbang. The split-second costume changes received good raves from everyone. Dr. Max Basco’s band provided old favorites and new dance music that the Jubilarians enjoyed and danced to until the end of the celebrations at midnight.

Harborview Chinese Restaurant

Each medicine class had their own class reunions. They toured the city and had pictures at Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Twin Peaks, Lombard Crooked Street, saw the Pink Ladies’ colorful painted houses made famous by the sitcom “Full House”, Chinatown, North Beach, Italian Village, Ghirardelli Square, Alcatraz & Presidio, to name a few. Some went to Napa Valley & Tracy for winery tours, Muir woods, Yosemite, Beaches of Monterey & Carmel including Peeble Beach, and others went for the SFCO Bay Boat cruise. The most enjoyable were the gastronomical experiences that SFCO offers with the various restaurants including those with ratings of 3  Michelin stars.

To be continued….

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Featured Thomasian for September 2021: Healing with One’s Heart

Surgical oncologists, due to the nature of their work, may have several encounters where their decisions may cause a standstill in the operating room.

Just in the year 2020, there were more than 10 million deaths. Most of these deaths occur in low and low-middle-income countries. In the Philippines, neoplasms or cancers, as they are more commonly known by, is the second leading cause of death. Thus, alongside oncologists, surgical oncologists must have extensive knowledge to accurately diagnose tumors, have expertise in handling complicated surgical procedures and have a well-rounded awareness of mechanisms of cancers—knowing the how and when to do these operations.

Dr. Samuel D. Ang is recognized as one of the country’s top surgical oncologists. A graduate of UST-FMS Class ’75 as magna cum laude, Dr. Ang also had his internship at Santo Tomas Hospital in 1976 and in St. Thomas Medical Center in Ohio in 1978. He completed his residency for General Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Ang has been widely recognized by several societies for his contributions in his field. He was one of the minds behind the Cardinal Santos Cancer Center, which boasts its multidisciplinary management of cancer. This “one-stop-shop” hosts all the necessities that one may need to have a empowered and dignified journey with cancer. He has served several positions among several top hospitals in the Metro and has served as a resource person in the Department of Health.

With his expertise, he was the hope of many in times of uncertainty.

Dr. Samuel Ang is currently the Medical Director of Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center (CGHMC). As a surgical oncologist, the “big C” might already be a part of daily conversations, but as medical director in the year 2020 – and as we’ve all learned, another “big C” – COVID19 has also left the whole world in a daze.

As the cases surge with Metro Manila as the epicenter, hospitals were filling in fast, CGHMC was among of the first hospitals to declare to be at risk of full capacity. Beds were running low, personal protective equipment were also short, and long-excruciating shifts- being a frontliner himself, along with his age, he had increased chances of being infected himself, but he remained committed to his responsibilities. He is known to be very hands-on with his patients, many have shared their admiration for Dr. Ang for his excellence, more so, for his compassion.

His commitment to ensuring excellent quality care doesn’t stop with his patients. Through these times where frontliners are most vulnerable, he ensured the same level of care among his colleagues. With several programs to improve the over-all wellbeing of their employees, including its employees’ community pantry, he ascertained that CGHMC will promote and ensure a safe environment for both patients and health workers.

“92-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Wins Battle Against Covid-19 At CGH”                             Employee’s Community Pantry
    Courtesy of Chinese General Hospital Official Facebook Page                                           Courtesy: Manila Bulletin

 

Dr. Ang has remained to be vocal and active in health promotion campaigns as well as calls to the government to improve its response to COVID19.

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Celebration of our Patron Saints: Cosmas and Damian

“Competent, Committed, Compassionate”, are the values the University expects from each one of its graduates, and more often than not, have been the common attributes associated to a Thomasian Doctor.

The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery has been and continues to be the “Cradle of Medical Education” in the country. This title is not simply given because of its age, but because it continues to be the hallmark of medical education. Its pursuit of excellence has led it to be the first university in the country with a Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rating of five –stars and a continuing pioneer in the region.

While all doctors are expected to be competent and compassionate, it still is a challenge to follow the footsteps of Saints Cosmas and Damian, the patron saints of the FMS.

ca. 1370–75, Master of the Rinuccini Chapel (Matteo di Pacino) (Italian, active 1350–75), tempera and gold leaf on panel. North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Born in Cilicia, now known as Arabia, Saints Cosmas and Damian were the first children of a family with seven (7) sons. Following the death of their father, their mother has raised them in Christian piety and has influenced the twins to live a life of righteousness. After studying and training for medicine, Cosmas and Damian became well-known and had great success. They have set- up their practice and are even credited to the first attempt of a limb transplant. Even with this, through their devotion to the Lord and love for their neighbors, they have greatly been faithful to “Freely have you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). They refused payment for their services, for rich and poor alike, thus earning the title “Anargyroi” or the penniless ones. Their lives were cut short under the Diocletian’s rule which saw the severest persecution of Christians. Along with three of their other brothers, they were tried and sentenced to death by torture. They have survived drowning, burning, and flogging but finally met their demise through decapitation as they refused to renounce their faith. Liturgically, the memorial or feast day is on September 26.

Thomasian doctors take pride in their compassionate approach to medicine. Not only do they hone their heads and hands, they also extend their hearts. Many alumni over the years have demonstrated this virtue, through their participation in medical missions, supporting and founding organizations, charities, and foundations. The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery is one of the grateful beneficiaries of many kind-hearted Thomasian doctors.

With a thankful heart, FMS gives due recognition to its alumni with its St. Cosmas and Damian Allegiance Award. This award gives credit to those whom have shown loyalty, allegiance, and generosity to their Alma Mater.

This year, FMS will celebrate this with a Thanksgiving mass along with a short program on September 24. May we all have a glorious and blessed celebration of the Feast Day of Saints of Cosmas and Damian!