The Official Magazine of the UP College of Medicine Community
Finding Strength in Research: The Dr. Evangeline Olivar Santos Memorial Award
By Patricia Therese de Claro, UPCM 2024Research has become increasingly important in our society today. From COVID-19 vaccine development to point-of-care tests before prescribing antibiotics, research provides evidence for medical practitioners to make judicious clinical decisions and provide quality healthcare. Medicine is indeed advancing so quickly, heightening the challenge to stay updated with guidelines and procedures, among many other aspects in this field.Back in a time when research was still starting out with modern advancements, Dr. Evangeline Olivar Santos already found her passion in research. She filled her life with this purpose, from holding positions in various organizations, to spearheading national programs in ophthalmology. With her unfortunate passing last year, her classmates in the UP College of Medicine Class of 1965 set out to keep her legacy alive through the creation of a namesake award for pioneering individuals in research.Even after retirement, Dr. Santos continued to play an active role in the field of medical research. With over 50 years of research experience to her name, she became a mentor to students, residents, and fellows in community ophthalmology. Photo from UPManilaChannel [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbxexofGyPg&t=17s].Dr. Santos’ Early Life and EducationDr. Santos was the eldest of 9 children of a government employee and a teacher. At the age of 3, she contracted tuberculosis of the spine which progressed to a back deformity that other children teased her about. Nevertheless, she persevered to excel in school to pursue a medical degree. Despite her family’s financial status, her parents were adamant to send her to medical school. However, the young Dr. Santos promised to help send her brothers and sisters to school when she finished her medical degree.When she graduated from the UP College of Medicine, Dr. Santos was accepted as a research fellow, and later, as a resident in the Department of Ophthalmology of the Philippine General Hospital – an unpopular field at the time. She joined the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI) when she was forced to stop her residency training due to a recurrence of her illness. Despite not finishing formal residency training, Dr. Santos practiced ophthalmology through various provincial missions and out-of-hospital teach-ins. Through her perseverance, she was certified by the Philippine Board of Ophthalmology and even became a board examiner later on in her career.In her simple and humble ways, Dr. Santos was spiritual, compassionate, and trustworthy. Former UPCM Dean Cecil Tomas, a colleague of Dr. Santos, shares that she was also selfless, caring, responsible, and “generous to a fault” – always concerned for the well-being of her family, friends, and classmates. Dr. Santos possessed many hobbies as well, such as gardening, watercolor painting, and singing.Dr. Santos was a lifelong learner, finishing her Masters in Hospital Administration at the UP College of Public Health in 1981 and receiving a Diploma in Community Ophthalmology at the University of London International Center for Eye Health in 1984. She also received a UP-Fogarty scholarship for a Diploma in Bioethics in 2003. Dr. Santos was also very nationalistic, service-oriented, and committed to democracy. She took a stand for the principles and ideas she believed in that became issues of her time, most especially academic freedom.Dr. Santos in Research and Medical ServiceAs a researcher, Dr. Santos was competent and committed to serve. She was a PERI University Researcher from 1966-2007, Assistant Director from 1986-1988, and Clinical Associate Professor of the Department of Ophthalmology until her retirement in 2006. Even after, she regularly attended conferences and mentored students, residents, and fellows in community ophthalmology. She served as Chair of the UPCM Ethics Review Board from 2005-2011 and remained a member until 2020. Dr. Santos was in two committees of the Philippine Health Research Board (PHREB) and was Founding Chair of the National Committee for Sight Preservation and Eye Care Program Consultant for Helen Keller International and Christoffel-Blindenmission (Christian Blind Mission).Few ophthalmologists practiced in the provinces during the 1970s; patients usually had to travel to Manila for treatment. Dr. Santos saw the need for an ophthalmologist in Batac City where there was a high incidence of blindness. Selfless and generous as she was, Dr. Santos bought instruments with her own funds and visited Ilocos Norte regularly to see patients. In 1982, Dr. Santos proposed a modified residency training program that would train ophthalmologists in provinces, who would then serve for six years. As Former UPCM Dean Cecil Tomas shares, “This was probably the greatest service she did – the training of selected ophthalmologists in various regions.” In 1990, DOH appointed Dr. Santos as its Technical Consultant for the Prevention of Blindness Program where she conducted the National Blindness Survey with a community approach. In 2004, she was awarded the “Dangal ng Bayan'' by the Philippine Civil Service Commission and the “Outstanding Alumna in Community Service” in 2005 by the UP Medical Alumni Society.With the recently approved “Dr. Evangeline Olivar Santos Memorial Award,” the legacy of Dr. Santos shall remain forever etched in the stones of time. Photo from UPManilaChannel [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbxexofGyPg&t=17s].Research in the UPCM SettingDr. Santos was one of the few medical students interested in research during her time. Slowly, however, as research evolved, UPCM students also became more interested in the field. However, Dr. Jacinto Blas Mantaring shares that currently, there are few research opportunities available to students save for the IDC 211 projects with limited funding. Research grants for the faculty are provided by the University, College, and NIH depending on the availability of funds.Research is introduced formally in the UPCM curriculum as IDC courses from Learning Unit 3 to Learning Unit 6, as well as in select courses like Pharmacology. Dr. Mantaring also mentioned that when students start to rotate in the clinical departments, application of the principles of evidence-based medicine are integrated into journal clubs.Dr. Mantaring suggested improvements in students’ interest in research by endorsing dual degree programs in the college such as the MD-PhD and MD-MCE (Masters in Clinical Epidemiology) degrees, the latter currently being finalized. Another strategy that Dr. Mantaring suggested is to increase available funding for student-initiated research or provide incentives for students’ research to be published or presented internationally. UPCM students would also benefit from more role models among the faculty, so they can be encouraged to join faculty research as assistants or observers; role models like Dr. Evangeline Olivar Santos who relentlessly fought to integrate research into her life as a student, as well as in her medical practice.The Dr. Evangeline Olivar Santos Memorial AwardThe award was recently approved this 2021 with funding coming from the UPCM Class 1965 Trust Fund. When asked about the inspiration behind this award, Former UPCM Dean Cecil Tomas mentioned, “The entire life of Dr. Evangeline Olivar Santos was a commitment to the betterment of her countrymen by reducing blindness in the underserved areas and by helping provide trained ophthalmologists in these areas.” This commitment to her goals was paralleled by her professionalism; she did not let her physical deformity hinder her from becoming a competent researcher and ophthalmologist. As Former Dean Tomas said, “She stood as tall as or taller than the other delegates and speakers and she was very much respected and admired by her colleagues.” Despite limited resources, her perseverance in preventing blindness and the success of her programs showed that much can be done with the purest intentions.The UPCM Class of 1965 was greatly saddened by Dr. Santos’ sudden death on November 13, 2020. She was well loved and greatly admired by her classmates. They wished to honor her memory with a research award in the UPCM in her name. Her classmates, along with other alumni and friends, donated to the award fund deposited in the UPMASA Perpetual Endowment Fund, and thus, this accolade was born.Guidelines for the AwardsThere are two awards available, one for the students and one for the faculty of UPCM. The award for Best Student Research Paper motivates students to pursue high-impact research work for publishing in peer-reviewed international and local journals, while the award for Meritorious Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals encourages the faculty to publish their work in indexed peer-reviewed journals that adhere to high standards of scholarship.The UPCM Research Implementation and Development Office (RIDO), under the Associate Dean for Research, shall evaluate award applications. The following criteria will be considered for Best Student Research Paper entries: significance of the research, methodologic rigor, and plans for dissemination and publication. Similarly, the Award for Meritorious Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals will be judged based on its publication in a PubMed-indexed or Scopus-indexed journal, publication in a Web of Science indexed journal, and its impact factor. The research paper must also be registered in the UPCM RIDO, technically and ethically approved by UPM Research Ethics Board, and registered in UPM Research Grants Administration Office.The Best Student Research Paper Award shall be granted to one student per year, and the grantee will receive $500.00. On the other hand, the Award for Meritorious Publications shall be granted to two clinical faculty members per year, the awardees each receiving $550.00.A call to actionDr. Evangeline Olivar Santos was definitely no stranger to research, and her many accomplishments in ophthalmology serve as an important reminder to UPCM students that anything can be achieved despite obstacles and perceived difficulties.Evidence-based medicine can be used for clinical practice, developing guidelines and policies, and writing research proposals. We must find ways to entice UPCM students to pursue research in medical school and in their professional careers. Without researchers, there would be no innovations and improvements to the medical field. Thus, we must add focus to research, as it is a necessary skill and discipline that makes a UPCM graduate a holistic, six-star physician. Hopefully, with improvements in the curriculum and an increase of funding towards research, UPCM can produce more research-oriented students and faculty, and reach its fullest potential in contributing to the development of medicine, especially in the national setting.
Sowing Seeds of Innovation: The ECE 197/ChE 297 Experience
By Jonathan Chan, UPCM 2022In an unprecedented partnership, the College of Medicine in UP Manila and the College of Engineering in UP Diliman launched their first ever joint course offering in AY 2020-2021. Titled “ECE 197: Introduction to Systems Design for Healthcare” for undergraduates and “ChE 297: Process Systems Design for Healthcare” for graduate students, the course was offered to students with either engineering or medical backgrounds.“Identify, Invent, and Implement”. ECE 197 and ChE 297 was attended by students from the UP College of Engineering and the UP College of Medicine.It was an interdisciplinary classroom handled by Engr. Roxanne De Leon, Dr. Richard Hizon, and Dr. Bryan Alamani from the UP College of Engineering. They were joined by Dr. Lourdes Tejero of the UPM Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (TTBDO) and Dr. Edward Wang who is affiliated with both the Department of Orthopedics in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the UP Surgical Innovations and Biotechnology Laboratory (SIBOL).The course was conceived after conversations between engineers and medical doctors within UP SIBOL. UP SIBOL is a partnership that started two years ago in 2019 between the UP College of Medicine and the UP College of Engineering. Under this partnership, there are several teams working on different projects. They realized that in order to encourage a deeper collaboration between Engineering and Medicine, the interdisciplinary thinking required to work at the interface of both fields must be nurtured early on. Preparations were well on their way with how the logistics of a combined course will be handled; that was until the pandemic threw a wrench into their plans.In the chaos of the ensuing months, the UP SIBOL team remained resolute in their mission to bridge the two fields together. Indeed, the collaboration was fruitful as the team accelerated the design of several different projects such as Sanipod, a self-contained disinfecting cubicle, whose prototype is already in use in PGH. The rapid adoption of remote learning also gave them an avenue to push through with the course despite the pandemic. The collaboration is even more urgent now since fresh solutions to address our problem at hand in an effective, interdisciplinary manner are of paramount importance.ECE 197/ChE 297 was attended by undergraduate & graduate students from the UP College of Engineering as well as medical students from the UP College of Medicine. It follows the Stanford Biodesign process that outlines 3 phases –Identify, Invent, and Implement— with two specific stages performed during each phase. The course focused on the first phase of the process that consists of Needs Finding and Needs Screening.COVID Task Force Research Projects of UP SIBOL which were made possible through the support of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.Essentially, the purpose of this phase is to identify a problem whose resolution will yield the greatest value to all stakeholders. The course aimed to help students along this journey in two stages. The first part consisted of a case series where different speakers talked about the translational medicine process. In this part of the course, there were also discussions on bioethics, Intellectual Property (IP) law, and technology transfer.The second part was where the students put it all together— a capstone design project where groups of three students focused on a subfield of medicine to identify an unmet need. The students were divided according to interest and combined together to form groups consisting of a medical student, an engineering major, and a graduate student.At the outset, it may seem like a daunting experience to work with people from different fields. However, Engr. De Leon said in an interview that each individual brought with them a unique perspective and their own way of tackling problems. This sentiment was echoed by Nick Cumigad, a student from Class 2023 who took the elective: “It has been fun to work with engineers for the whole semester of ECE 197. The most important insight from this course that I have learned was [that] no idea is too farfetched to be realized."“No Idea is too farfetched to be realized,” The UP SIBOL challenges minds for the innovation of surgical devices adapted to the health needs of Filipinos.The success of all groups in the elective was because of, not in spite, of the interdisciplinary nature of the discussions. The medical students brought with them biological knowledge and field experience, while the engineers provided the technical skills to design novel solutions.In a virtual interview, Dr. Wang was delighted with how the groups were learning and collaborating since, according to him, that is how we should be tackling problems in the real world—through a holistic perspective. Engr. De Leon was also surprised at how one group was able to identify a problem one UP SIBOL team was currently working on. It was a testament to how effective the program was in imparting interdisciplinary thinking to students.One limitation of the course, however, was the purely virtual setting. The elective may have been more fruitful had the students met in person and seen the current innovations that the UP SIBOL team have been working on. Engr. De Leon and Dr. Wang expressed their desire to hold future classes onsite, and tackle the next stages of the Biodesign process.In the meantime, the UP SIBOL team has launched the Biomedical Immersion in Health-Related Industries (BINHI) as a pilot immersion program for students. This was offered to students who want a more in-depth experience in the biodesign process. Students chosen to be part of BINHI will have the opportunity to learn theoretical knowledge and practical skills in health research, and take part in UP SIBOL and its ongoing flagship projects.It is the hope of UP SIBOL that all these initiatives will spark in students a deeper interest in research at the interface of Engineering and Medicine. This close cooperation is envisioned to foster better collaboration between the two fields and translate to innovative medical products by our homegrown engineers and doctors. One can envision a local tech startup arising from this partnership, which can then manufacture state-of-the art biomedical devices for our patients that are truly for Filipinos, by Filipinos.
Purpose of UPCM Inspire
As the official publication of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM) community, the magazine aims to create a sense of community among various constituents of the UPCM faculty, students, alumni, and administrative staff.
This community magazine's namesake came from Dean Charlotte M. Chiong's strategic vision of the UPCM as discussed in detail in her inaugural speech in September 2018. Through this publication, the editorial team aims to share the progress of the many projects and endeavors that the college has initiated in pursuit of this goal.
Origins of te UPCM InSPIRE Magazine
The UPCM InSPIRE magazine, formerly known as the UPCM Newsletter, is the official magazine of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM). This was an initiative started by Dean Charlotte M. Chiong at the start of her term. With the goal of engaging and connecting the UPCM community as a whole, including its students, alumni, and faculty, through shared experiences and stories, the magazine realized itself as a biannual publication, released in both digital and printed formats. Aside from a core team consisting primarily of current faculty and students, the magazine also includes various guest contributors from all sectors of the UPCM community.
In late 2018, the office of the dean collaborated with a team of medical student volunteers for the release of the first issue. This student team, then composed of 14 medical students from different learning units, formed the editorial board and was able to publish the first issue. Eventually, the first faculty Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Angela S. Aguilar, was appointed to head the team.
While still retaining some elements of the old newsletter, the first issue was successfully released during the UPCM fundraising concert, “Musika ni Ryan, Medisina ng Ating Bayan,” on Sept 21, 2019. Given the experience earned in the first issue, the UPCM InSPIRE team reorganized itself and recruited more student volunteers to bolster its capacity and fill up additional roles. Furthermore, the magazine strived to distinguish itself further from the old newsletter format by focusing on engaging features and visuals. In the interim, plans were materializing for the eventual release of the UPCM InSPIRE website, which was launched on June 24, 2020. The second issue involved extensive collaboration with the University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society (UPMAS) and was released to coincide with the annual homecoming celebrations of the college in December 2019. Recently, the magazine is currently working on its website and preparing for its third issue in time for the July 2020 college graduations.
In the coming years, the UPCM InSPIRE magazine hopes to further improve itself and to become a medium where the whole UPCM community can participate and connect.
Dr. Amparo "Ampy" Buenaventura-Kenny
Dr. Amparo “Ampy” Buenaventura-Kenny, 90, died peacefully in her sleep on July 7, 2020, in Antipolo City, Province of Rizal.
Ampy was born on October 31, 1930, in the City of Manila to Catalino F. Buenaventura and Carmen R. Buenaventura. She attended the University of the Philippines (U.P.) and graduated in 1952 with her medical degree, belonging to the first batch of post-World War II graduates. She took her medical residency training at the U.P. Philippine General Hospital – Department of Pathology. She then went to the University of Illinois College of Medicine and the Wesley Memorial Hospital both in Chicago, Illinois for her fellowship training in clinical hematology.
She got married in 1964 to Dr. Brian James Kenny, and the couple had two (2) children. From 1971 to 1992, she practiced medicine at the Kinderspital (Children’s Hospital) Immunology Department in Zurich, Switzerland. Ampy returned to the Philippines in 1995 and established a medical clinic in Alaminos City, Province of Pangasinan, providing free healthcare service to indigent community members.
In 2005, she was the recipient of a Special Award for Community Service given by the U.P. Medical Alumni Society. She dedicatedly continued her medical mission in Pangasinan until she reached the age of 84.
Ampy is survived by her husband Brian; their children, Anna and Urs; and her grandchildren, Roisin, Ronja and Juri. She is preceded in death by her parents, Catalino and Carmen; her sisters Ma. Luisa, Ma. Angeles, and her brother, Ramon.
May her family and friends take comfort in the truth that she showed sincere dedication as exemplified in her lengthy medical service mission towards her fellow countrymen.
Dr. Antonio R. Lahoz
He found joy as a servant-leader and a thought leader
Dr. Antonio R. Lahoz (Tony) was born on January 27, 1925 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, the second of three sons of Jose Lahoz and Lourdes Reyes. He attended local public schools for his elementary and high school education. In 1944, Tony began his Pre-Med studies at the University of the Philippines (UP) as a university scholar and a member of the varsity basketball team. He obtained his MD degree from the UP College of Medicine (UPCM) in 1953. Tony went on to train in General Surgery at the UP Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), becoming Chief Resident in 1957. During residency training, he met his future wife, Trinidad Rasay, an operating room nurse.
In 1958, Tony returned to his hometown with his wife and young family to establish a rural practice and begin blazing new trails. In April 1959, Lahoz Clinic was inaugurated; a private clinic with 10 inpatient beds was a relatively new concept at that time.
Unlike other physicians in town, Tony did not make home visits. He was a General Practitioner in the morning and a surgeon in the afternoon. In 1969, with a growing practice, he relocated and expanded Lahoz Clinic and Hospital. He was loved by patients and their multi-generational families.
Tony dedicated himself to improving health care and achieved this in so many ways. As President of the Ilocos Sur Medical Society (ISMS) (1963-1967, 1971-1973), he pioneered two projects. For Operation Salun-at (meaning health), ISMS members ventured to remote towns of Ilocos Sur to provide free consultations and free medicine, and conduct public health information campaigns. Operation Salun-at is the forerunner of ISMS’s ongoing medical missions. For the Medical Aid to Rural Indigent Areas (MARIA) Project, Tony partnered with the Philippine Medical Association to build medical aid stations in underserved areas that were staffed with physicians trained in community development.
Another way Tony improved health care was through education. He returned occasionally to UPCM to share his experiences in rural practice. He took charge of the UPCM regionalization program for Region I. He invited UPCM faculty to offer post-graduate courses to ISMS members. Locally, he started teaching in the nursing program at the University of Northern Philippines (UNP). Later on, he helped create UNP’s Step-Ladder Curriculum for Health Professionals that eventually became the foundation for the establishment of UNP’s College of Health Sciences and its College of Medicine. Through his leadership in the Rotary Club of Vigan and other civic organizations, these entities were able to expand their community outreach endeavors exponentially.
Tony peacefully joined his creator on May 4, 2020. He is survived by his wife, 9 children (four of whom are UPCM/UP-PGH trained physicians blazing their own trails in the Ilocos region), 15 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren.
Eduardo Reyes Mercado, MD, FAFN, FAANS
April 24, 1947 - June 24, 2020
Eduardo Reyes Mercado, UPCM Class of 1972, passed away peacefully on May 24, 2020 after a short battle with complications of lung cancer. He was 73.
He had a friendly outgoing nature yet he engaged everyone with thoughtful and deliberate attention. His neurosurgical operative technique was meticulous. His bedside manner and diligence endeared him to his patients. His calm demeanor, love for teaching, and incredible enthusiasm inspired colleagues.
He was “Eddie” to family and “Cadô” to friends and colleagues. Born in Benguet, Eddie was the third of five children of Doctors Pablo Mercado and Paciencia Reyes Mercado. He attended Grade School and High School at the Ateneo de Manila University at Loyola Heights.
A consistent college and university scholar, he completed BS Pre-Med at UP Diliman in 1967 and proceeded to the UP College of Medicine. At the UP College of Medicine, he performed well and his scholastic achievement was exceptional. He was a Rockefeller Foundation Exchange Scholar to the Kansas University Medical School from 1968-1969. After graduating in 1972, he spent two years as a general surgical resident at the Philippine General Hospital before he left for the United States to pursue neurosurgical training.
He was accepted to a straight surgical internship at the Presbyterian University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia. He qualified for a residency position in the neurosurgical service at Tufts Medical Center (then Tufts-New England Medical Center). Residency positions were competitive in Dr. Bennett Stein’s Neurosurgery Department and there was just a single slot available yearly. Eddie Mercado was accepted a year before the position was available. While waiting for the position to open, Eddie, upon Dr. Stein’s recommendation, completed a Neurosurgery Fellowship at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York with Dr. Joseph Epstein who was known for his work in spine surgery.
From 1976 to 1981, he was a Neurosurgical Resident at Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Stein’s chief interests were arterio-venous malformation and pineal tumor surgery. His influence would have a profound impact on Eddie. While at Tufts, he was in the company great neurosurgeons. Dr. Volker K. H. Sonntag, was his chief resident. Volker eventually established the spine fellowship program at the Barrow Neurologic Institute in Arizona and was responsible for major publications in spine surgery. Dr. Kalmon D. Post, Eddie’s consultant at Tufts, was already internationally known for his work with pituitary, parasellar and cerebello-pontine angle tumors. Dr. Post, who would be the future Chairman of Neurosurgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center, had a far-reaching influence on how Eddie performed his pituitary surgeries.
After completing his Chief Residency, he returned to the Philippines the next year. He was an Associate Professor at the Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, UP Philippine General Hospital from 1982 to1988. For a time, he was Dr. Faustino Domingo's Training Officer at the Neurosurgical Section. He took on academic and executive positions in several other institutions. He served as Chief of Neurosurgery in several hospitals and eventually had two stints as Medical Director of the Cardinal Santos Medical Center. He was chair of the Cardinal Santos Medical Center-Brain and Spine Institute for over a decade.
Cadô performed the very first micro-neurosurgical procedure in the Philippines, an STA-MCA bypass. Over the length of his career, he performed more than a thousand transphenoidal surgeries, the most by any Filipino neurosurgeon to date. He worked tirelessly to enhance neurosurgical education and training in the country and served as the Chairman and eventually the Executive Secretary of the Philippine Board of Neurological Surgery.
Inspired by his former chief, Dr. Bennett Stein, he was an eloquent advocate for developing the different sub-specializations of Neurosurgery. In 1996, Cadô Mercado together with a core group of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and other specialists worked to make Stereotactic Radiosurgery more readily available to Filipinos. The result was the Philippine Gamma Knife Center at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center which opened in 1998, today a center of excellence for Stereotactic Radiosurgery in the country.
In 2005, his encouragement helped establish the Philippine Movement Disorder Surgery Center. For the very first time, Filipinos had access to Deep Brain Stimulation procedures for Parkinson’s Disease and Dystonia.
Cadô was instrumental in creating the Brain and Spine Tumor Center at Cardinal Santos Medical Center, which championed the multidisciplinary team approach to managing patients with neoplasms of the brain and spine. Established in 2008, the Center organizes yearly symposia promoting unbiased, multispecialty, comprehensive neuro-oncology care.
An excellent Spine Surgeon, his best quality was his ability to meticulously discern a good surgical candidate from someone who was not. “Treat the patient, not the MRI,” he would always say. Very early in his career, he realized that true progress in the field of spine surgery in the country could only be achieved by collaborating and establishing a harmonious relationship with his orthopedic spine colleagues. In 2010, he established the Cardinal Santos Medical Center-Spine Center, a multidisciplinary endeavor of spine surgeons from both Orthopedics and Neurosurgery. The center has organized educational spine workshops and monthly case-management conferences.
Cadô Mercado believed in academic excellence as a path to excellence in patient care. In 2015, he established the first neurosurgical fellowship programs in the country: one year programs for both Stereotactic Gamma Knife Radiosurgery and Spine Surgery.
“Patient first!” was a maxim for Cadô. Recognizing that majority of our countrymen lacked resources for neurosurgical care, he spearheaded the establishment of the Cardinal Santos Charities Foundation and the Philippine Alliance for Brain and Spine Tumors, both registered foundations assisting marginalized neurosurgical patients with imaging, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and even surgery.
Skilled, competent, honest and compassionate; Eduardo Mercado was a steadfast friend and colleague. He was a pillar of Neurosurgery in the country and a beloved mentor to many generations of neurosurgeons.
He is survived by his sons, Luigi, Joaquin and Eric, his siblings Rolando and Rosario, and long time companion, Sharon Dunn.
Johnny Yee Fong, MD
September 14, 1946 - April 29, 2020
The World was His Table but Family First
On April 29, 2020 Johnny Y. Fong UPCM ’71 succumbed to complications arising from a subdural bleed. He leaves Grace behind, his enduring wife and partner in life for the past 40 years, 9 children, 17 grandchildren, and innumerable loved ones.
By many measures Johnny lived an extraordinary life. At heart he was a natural entrepreneur. Not just in the business of his profession but in the business of life.
Starting in 1971 with a residency in Pediatrics at the University of Illinois, his path first led to a pediatric private practice in Chicago. Then in 1976 he made a seminal move to the West Coast, and the city of Fresno, California became the capital of his life and his dreams.
He became a picture of the modern renaissance man. His mind ventured into many directions, reveling in innovation, opportunity, risk. He established several clinics, extended healthcare to underserved areas, took on the business of medicine. His interest segued into medical education. He helped establish a medical and nursing school in the Philippines, a nursing school in Saipan, and a vocational school for medical assistants in California.
He invented a safe restraint for children undergoing lumbar punctures and developed software for tracking immunizations. He loved playing lead guitar and drums. He enjoyed cartoons and wrote and published a children’s fairy tale book. His philosophy on the importance of family and community rooted him to personal agendas he considered imperative. He started the Tamaraw Lions Club in Fresno, diligently served at local and national Filipino American organizations, his medical alumni association the UPMASA, and his Phi Kappa Mu fraternity. He was generous with his time, ideas and service.
At his core he was an extreme family man, an indulgence borne from the supreme respect he bore his parents, a wellspring for the kind of family intimacy he engendered by years of dedicated family conversations, dinners and road trips, the fount of his overwhelming drive to care for his children’s wellbeing, careers, future and happiness. Of them he would say that his greatest accomplishment was the strength of his children. True, he was stern, and when he made up his mind, his direction could be painfully unwavering and unforgiving. One had to look beyond that agony to find burning sincerity and love.
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