Antonio R. Penilla, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.S.C.A.I., K.H.S.
A retired Interventional Cardiologist with a passionate dream of having a successful and vibrant Anargyroi Foundation for the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.
He is a member of the Anargyroi Board of Trustees; the USTMAAA Board of Directors and PRO of the USTMAAA Foundation in 2019-2020.
My annual visit to the Philippines in 2015 was unlike any other. In addition to the yearly medical mission trip, I was to make a presentation to establish a development office for the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, a concept recently conceived by three thoughtful alumni. Although I had not done anything like this before, I was inspired by my desire to help my Alma Mater.
On Friday, January 30, 2015, then FMS Dean, Dr. Jesus Valencia, Regent, Fr. Angel Aparicio, O.P., Faculty Secretary, Dr. Edwin Rodriguez, and Dr. Corazon Gemil, one of the early proponents of the concept, were in attendance for the presentation.
The concept of establishing a development office for the FMS, similar to what is common in institutions of learning in the United States, was presented, including the advantages of such an office, the way it might function, and how it could support the Faculty’s continued quest to be the premier medical school in the Philippines and in all of Asia. It was emphasized that, if it became a reality, it would be a Gift to the FMS that would keep on giving in perpetuity.
The initial response was one of excitement and epiphany! Dr. Gemil, who was seated next to Father Aparicio, repeatedly whispered, “Carpe Diem” to him. Dr. Valencia uttered, “A once in a million chance to happen.” Dr. Rodriguez was similarly in awe. The sole agenda was to have a successful, vibrant foundation with a Development Office able to take care of the needs of FMS.
Unknown to me, my journey with Anargyroi, had just begun! From then on, I have been designated as spokesperson, facilitator, negotiator, diplomat, and even ambassador. It is a complex and uncertain role which I have honorably accepted for the sake of the Alma Mater and for which I have no regret.
At the onset, the proponents and founders recognized the necessity of alumni alignment, participation, and support, for the idea to succeed. In 2015, at the USTMAAA Convention in Florida, the concept was presented to the USTMAAA leadership in the presence of then Father Rector, Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P., the Dean, Regent, and USTMAA officers. The response was like the original presentation in Manila, positive and encouraging, akin to an “Epiphany.”
In May 2016, to show sincere, genuine desire to encourage alumni participation in the plan, the major benefactor met with the powers of USTMAAA in Las Vegas, Nevada. The concept was clearly laid out. There was an immediate meeting of the minds leading to the creation of a Matching Fund for the Regent’s Scholarship Program. Sadly, later, the USTMAAA Board failed to approve this resolution, but the Regent Scholarship Funding graciously was assumed totally by the major benefactor, a most generous alumnus. Subsequently, the USTMAAA did embark on fund raising for the Simulation and Research Center.
Since 2015, Anargyroi had been a subject of conversations at the Annual USTMAAA Conventions, whether officially or unofficially. Commencing that year in Florida, Anargyroi has had a presence in succeeding years at the Long Beach, CA, Vancouver, BC, Las Vegas, NV, and Washington, DC conventions. Most notable was the Washington DC 2019 meeting wherein there was a clear show of support for Anargyroi. All the important and vital players were present including the Regent, the incumbent Dean, Dr. Ma. Lourdes Maglinao, then UST Secretary General, Rev. Fr. Jesus Jay Miranda, O.P., the USTMAAA and USTMAA hierarchy. The atmosphere and reaction were so favorable that I thought the real and true Epiphany had descended upon the group!
This journey has been long and complex with the road frequently bumpy, rugged, and full of obstacles, thus, it was frustration and disappointments for everyone along the way. It was a two-year process for Father Rector Dagohoy to approve and establish Anargyroi as an independent foundation. Certainly, it has been a learning process, not only for the proponents, but also for the early followers and believers as well. Struggles continue. Father Aparicio has enumerated and described the difficulties encountered in his article on the FMS Foundation, published two issues earlier in this Newsletter.
What do I see along the way of my own journey with Anargyroi: FMS Foundation, Inc.?
Everyone agrees that it is the best thing that could happen to the UST Faculty of Medicine, to have a mechanism in support of its initiatives to maintain excellence in medical education. I have made numerous presentations to officials, individuals, groups, and organizations to discuss and promote the idea with uniform favorable response.
The FMS officials, particularly Fr. Angel Aparicio, O.P., showed genuine interest in the project early on, shortly after hearing the initial presentation. Father Aparicio has coordinated to have persons in important positions, not only in the FMS but also from within the University, to be aware of and to participate in the Foundation’s organization and establishment, as well as eventual support. The former and current Deans welcomed the idea of the independent foundation for FMS, although most recently, Dean Maglinao and Father Aparicio have undeniably owned it for FMS.
The alumni segment has also shown its interest and involvement. They are kept abreast of the developments in the Foundation. They are represented on the Board of Trustees of the Foundation. The USTMAAA supports the Anargyroi Foundation and disseminates relevant information to its members. It acts as a Pass-Through entity with waived fee for donations coming from the US to avail those in the States of US Tax benefits for donations. It helps Anargyroi in its activities geared toward the US based alumni, having partnered with Anargyroi in its successful Launch in Vancouver, BC in 2017, and generating over $430,000.00 in pledges during the Meet and Greet event hosted by Anargyroi. USTMAAA and its officers coordinated Anargyroi activities during their convention, providing information to the attendees, assisting in the establishment of an Anargyroi Exhibit Booth during conventions, including waiving of Exhibit fees. Finally, the continued monetary donations to Anargyroi and its initiatives coming from the Organization and its members. Notable is the recent fundraising campaign by USTMAAA from its members raising 1M dollars for the Simulation and Research Center project. Unfortunately, a proposal to partner with one of the Anargyroi founders for construction of the Simulation and Research Building with USTMAAA Naming Rights for the facility, did not pass approval by its BOD.
AFI Launch in Vancouver
AFI Launch in Manila
In 2018, Anargyroi Foundation was formally introduced in its Philippine Launch in Manila. It was a well- planned event. The relatively silent response was likely due to the unfamiliarity of the practice locally. However, it served as a steppingstone for further activities planned and undertaken by the Foundation. A donation of 500,000 pesos was received during the event.
The USTMAA in the Philippines is aware of the Foundation and its objectives since its inception. The response is always positive to the presentations made at local meetings. They were active participants in the Sesquicentennial activities of FMS, serving on committees and participating in the fund-raising activities. Most notable is the Sesquicentennial Commemorative Watch Drive initiated by local alumni, resulting in a successful fund raising for the Simulation Project. Other activities included the Sesquicentennial Walk/Run, the successful Sesquicentennial Gala and the Golf Tournament. USTMAA has also made a direct donation to Anargyroi in addition to individual donations from its members. Recently, the USTMAA administration had as its important project the active promotion of the Anargyroi Foundation to its members, including to the provincial chapters.
I am also proud to say that the FMS faculty members are actively involved with Anargyroi, serving as officers and as members of the BOT. Others are serving on various committees, as chairs and members. I saw their interest and commitment as I interacted with many during my two stints of working-week visits to assist the Development Office in its early formative years. Undoubtedly, they have remained convinced and are unwavering in their desire to promote Anargyroi to all alumni.
It is clear from what is heard, observed, and seen, that there is near unanimous, if not unanimous opinion that the Anargyroi Foundation is beneficial and essential to the FMS. There is no conflict of interest with any of the alumni organizations or alumni classes in their mission to assist and support the FMS. Rather, the existence of Anargyroi should and will facilitate their process in supporting the Alma Mater in whatever way desired. There is no intent to compete with other organizations, who has other missions. Supporting the FMS is the sole reason for Anargyroi’s existence.
Father Regent Angel Aparicio and Dean Lourdes Maglinao eloquently stated FMS ownership of the Anargyroi Foundation, as well as their confidence in the critical role it will play to ensure that the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, the Cradle of Medical Education in the Philippines, can remain not only competitive but also be a premier medical school in the country and abroad. They enjoin every alumnus to come aboard the Anargyroi train. This is especially important as FMS celebrates its Sesquicentennial and embarks on the most unprecedented project ever undertaken, the Simulation and Research Center Project, so vital to medical education in the future.
So, my dear friends and colleagues, we share a common bond of having had the opportunity and honor to receive a great medical education from the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. This undoubtedly has shaped, at least to a certain degree, our professional and perhaps, even our personal destiny. I join Father Aparicio and Dean Odette in asking everyone to come aboard, to put the differences aside, to give back and to give forward, to align together in harmony, and to show our love for the dear Alma Mater.