A MHAM-held Batch Mini-Reunion made the MHAM mavens of ’76, ’77, and ’78 reunited and reconnected after forty years and beyond in a meet and greet gathering held at MHAM AVR 1 last June 8, 2018 from 8:00 in the morning to 1:00 in the afternoon.
Happily attended by thirty-one successful medical doctors who felt so good for being reunited after long years since they graduated, the ‘Batch Mini-Reunion’ was actively organized by Dr. Luditha Lumapat-Pe whose time, effort and resources with a working team made the mini-reunion colorful, meaningful and memorable as ever.
At present, Dr. Pe is the MHAM School Registrar and Chairperson of the Department of Biochemistry. She is also the Chairperson of the Committee on Scholarship alongside with her motherly role in the MHAM Scholars Society (MHASSo).
Hosted by HR Director, Mr. Pedro Pañares, the gathering of batchmates rekindled their closeness and comradeship as they shared their amazing success stories rooted from a life long dream of becoming a doctor with humble yet noble beginnings and became God’s instruments of healing.
Ushered by some of the first year student-leaders, the event was also entertained by the soothing and heavenly voices of the MHARMONY whose soulful renditions have made the event more meaningful to celebrate.
MHAM Medical Alumni President, Dr. Carlito Astillero; College Dean, Dr. Ma. Socorro Manaloto; VP for Academics for the MHAM COLLEGE, Dr. Arlene Diaz, Associate Dean, Dr. Allan Librando; MHAM Alumni Relations Director, Dr. Ma. Luisita Caturza; MHAM Alumni Management Representative, Dr. Luditha Lumapat-Pe; AVP for Administration, Mr. Francisco Bacalla; HR Director and Mr. Pedro Pañares also graced the 5-hour gathering of cheerful batchmates who haven’t aged at all by heart.
In behalf of MHAM, Dr. Manaloto expressed her delight to see the Medical Alumni mostly from batch 1976 in the temporary building for the past four years during her welcome address and invited them in advance to be present once again for the Grand Reunion Homecoming on 2020 and to support the school’s endeavors to make MHAM great again.
Dr. Astillero also took pride in his speech upon hearing the litany of achievements and colorful success stories of the MHAM graduates who introduced themselves along with their graduation photos. Dr. Diaz on the other hand, shared some of the many glowing to growing accomplishments that MHAM has become since it has acquired its own identity with its new branding to produce competent, compassionate, and committed medical doctors and young professionals.
While motivational success stories can truly inspire from every aspect of life, some of the ’76, ’77, and ’78 batchmates have lived their way of life not as medical doctors but on another path. For Dr. Lilia Otayde Decolongon, hers is a selflessly-embarked journey from a medical doctor to a dedicated politician. Serving for six consecutive terms as a councilor who always placed the first rank for the last eighteen years, Dr. Decolongon is happily serving the people of Bais City as the Vice Mayor at present.
Another alumnus and part of the 1976 batch was Dr. Conrad Hortelano who chose to embark a career pathway in the academe. To date, he is part of the Department of Anatomy and Histology in MHAM.
In an interview with Dr. Emelda A. Almagro, she gladly shared that their batch have celebrated two reunions already prior to the said gathering but their batchmates in the National Capital Region (NCR) initiated the mini-reunion with the plan to bring the group to Cebu. Although they weren’t able to gather a lot of their batchmates due to a short period of time, they were able to push it through where most of them came with bright smiles and colorful life stories.
“It’s a mix emotions and we are happy of course because you met your classmates after forty-two years. We graduated in 1976 but we named it mini-reunion batchmates only because not all of us graduated in the same year which is a usual case but we are that close and we are still close with each other. We did not emphasized which year we graduate but we were classmates at sometime, in the four years in the college of Medicine. I am proud to say that my batchmates handled a lot of higher positions; one of us is the director in Lapu-lapu, one is the dean of the University of the Visayas Gullas College of Medicine, we have classmates in the Department Of Health, and the rest of us are successful in our own field plus the fact that even during our college days we were very close. I am amazed because not all of us can recognize everybody knowing that some are seeing each other more often than the rest while some have met two years ago. Luckily I am good in recognizing faces but not with names. I think we will make our reunion more often because most of us have retired from our jobs and this is the best venue where we can recall, recognize and reminisce our experiences”, said Dr. Almagro.
Having been finished Internal Medicine for her residency training at Silliman University Medical Center back then, the 65-year old alumna went into private practice and is still active at present in Santander, Cebu. “Supposed to be my sub-specialty is Infectious Tropical Diseases but I did not take the exam so I finished Internal Medicine but not my sub-specialty. I am still active into private medical practice in Santander but I cater three towns; Oslob, Santander and Samboan. Due to time and proximity of the place my referrals usually are from Dumaguete City”, she added.
Driven by her passion and dedication as a medical doctor and as a loving mother of two sons, Dr. Almagro and her life story has been an inspiration to many. Unknown to others, she was one of the champions in the “Istorya ng Pag-asa” (Stories of Hope), a collection of extraordinary stories of ordinary people initiated and launched by Philippines’ Vice President Leni Robredo.
Intended to search for inspirational stories in order to change the national conversation that will be compiled in a coffee table book and on social media from every street corner and every pathway in the country, Dr. Almagro was among the nineteen (19) Cebuano-champions honored by Vice President Robredo in the “Lakas ng Kababaihan: Istorya ng Pag-asa” last March this year. Her remarkable story, which was highlighted in a traveling photo gallery at Cebu Provincial Capitol building has truly empowered others as she battled and kept her breast cancer condition from the knowledge of her sons just to ensure that they can both graduate and pass the licensure examination. Her eldest, who is now a medical doctor, is also a MHAM graduate while her youngest is an accountant.
“I was given an award together with other eighteen champions by Vice President Leni Robredo’s Istorya ng Pag-asa. I had a breast cancer back then but I did not go into surgery, chemotherapy and radiation because I want my sons to finish their studies and it lasted for two years. After my eldest passed the board exam and my youngest finished his studies, it was then that I submitted the medical procedures for a cure”, she concluded.
Meanwhile, another product and topnotcher of the batch, Dr. Emmanuel U. Trinidad, received a plaque of recognition from the school for his exemplary performance in the Physician Licensure Examination given last June, 1977 being the 7th placer. In his heartwarming response, the alumnus-topnotcher could not contain his appreciation and gratitude to the MHAM management and to the organizer-batchmates who made the event possible. He is happily married to a batchmate, Dr. Josephine Relampagos-Trinidad.
Meanwhile some of the attendee-doctors were awarded with certificate of recognition for bringing pride and distinction of their Alma Mater through their dedication, commitment and compassion for service during their forty years of clinical and administrative practice.
Moreover, as one of the main organizers and dedicated batchmates, Dr. Pe emphasized in her noteworthy response that all that starts well, ends well, however, the meet and greet was just the end of the welcome program for her beloved batchmates.
“Thank you to all who and in one way or another have made this little bonding moments possible. Listening to the success story of each one of us, you inspired me and you have made me very proud of you and what you have become now. Though we are just a handful but we are still so good. We have added years to our lives, but we have added lives to our years. Remember age is just a number. Though physically we changed with our looks like wrinkles start to appear, with grey hairs and the protrusion of our tummy is inevitable but today we all look beautiful and graceful while the gentlemen are more dashing and handsome today than yesterday. But there is only one thing that remain in all of you; it is the goodness of your heart. You are an epitome of the saying, ‘Of all the things that I want to learn and of all the things that I want to remember is the healing touch of the caring heart’. Indeed, we are reunited and it feels so good“, Dr. Pe said.
As their way of giving back to the institution that molded them for who they are at present, the batchmates from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao groups donated a generous sum of money for classroom chairs to be used at the new building and soon-to-be MHAM’s permanent home in Banawa, Cebu City.
Right after the memorable meet and greet moments, the group headed to the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist, popularly known as Simala Shrine in Marian Hills, Lindogon, Simala, Sibonga, Cebu to give thanks to the ‘Giver of Gifts’ for the bountiful blessings they have received.
Aimed to reminisce memories that lasts forever and a day, the MHAM mavens continued their connectivity for the next two days by unwinding themselves at Dr. Luditha Lumapat-Pe’s Rest House in Pinamungajan, Cebu, making memories like a diary that they all carry about with them wherever they may be.
Having been delighted for the remarkable moments they have shared with each other’s company with grateful hearts, they sponsored a thanksgiving mass at the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod, SM Seaside Complex (SRP), Cebu City, Cebu on the third day of their mini-reunion.
Enjoying some of the beautiful sights that Cebu has offered, the MHAM mavens went to Cebu’s Taj Mahal known as Temple of Leah, one of the most visited new attractions in the city.
In addition, they also enjoyed a hearty lunch in a VIP space and five-star hotel setting with the widest selection of Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Western cuisine at Buffet 101 Cebu in Mandaue City, Cebu.
Beaming with pride and esteem as MHAM graduates, the batchmates who came from the Philippines, USA, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Fiji Island over forty years ago are now enjoying their senior years with all the memories they have created and treasured with the most noble profession they have bestowed. Living life to the fullest with different path, the batchmates of ’76, ’77 and ’78 who made the 3-day celebration of togetherness, expressed their gratitude to the school who supported their mini-reunion in a special way. Reunited, rekindled and reconnected with such colorful stories, they look forward to feel the joy of meeting again in the future as one solid batchmates. (Ana Liza Abao)