The SWU Medicine Class of 1968 commenced their Golden Grand Reunion with a meet and greet celebration at Cuarto Mercedes, Montebello Villa Hotel, Gov. M. Cuenco Ave. Apas, Cebu City last February 6, 2018 in the evening.
A rekindling of friendship and reminiscing of connectivity with its theme, “Pagbalik sa Kagahapon” after fifty fruitful years since they graduated in 1968, the gathering started with a delectable dinner sponsored by Dr. Zeus Hito Quijano together with comeback conversations, among others.
Reviving their identity as ’68 batchmates, thirty-four medical doctors who came from the different parts of the country and abroad reunited once again with unparalleled smiles for having been able to grace the once in a lifetime significant gathering.
In an interview with the overall chairman of the 5-day grand jubilee celebration and event-host, Dr. Marlou Gravillo-Fuentes, the grand reunion has been realized with the help and all-out support from the Philippine organizing committee composed with Dr. Carlito Astillero, Dr. Napoleon Camacho, Dr. Antonio Fabular and Lourdes Pacaldo-Magpayo.
“This is our 50th School of Medicine reunion with the theme which means reminiscing the past. This is the first time we have seen each other after fifty years”, Dr. Fuentes said.
A US-based medical doctor who resides in Michigan for forty one years now, Dr. Marlou, as she is fondly called by everyone is a dedicated pediatrician and devoted her life in the medical field she had chosen. Having been married to the late Dr. Rogelio Fuentes who was also her batchmate, they moved to the States and have been blessed with two offspring.
“I can’t find enough words to express or describe how I feel right now that we are all here, something that you would not even expect. I actually started this journey and organized this group. Way back in 2015 I attended the Bisaya Medical Association Alumni event in SWU and when I was there I found out that we were only four from batch ’68 so I told them if we can have our own reunion. When I went back to Michigan I started talking to my four friends there and started organizing if this can really happen”, Dr. Fuentes added.
This 74-year old alumna-doctor also added that the Alumni Association in USA had initiated two mini-reunions prior to the golden jubilee. The first one was held in Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina with nine batchmates who were present in 2016. A year after, another get-together gathering was held in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA with fourteen batchmates who graced the remarkable bonding along its beach-lined atmosphere well-organized by the US organizing committee.
To reminisce the past and to rekindle their spirit, a slide show presentation of their batch with matching photos taken from the beacon yearbook was one of the highlights during the event.
Moreover, the deceased batchmates were also well-remembered namely; Dr. Constancio Abapo, Dr. Vidal Abella, Dr. Urias Almagro, Dr. Marieta Banzon, Dr. Conchita Bacog, Dr. Jesus Corna, Dr. Henrieta Damasco, Dr. Leo Fuentes, Dr. Rogelio Fuentes, Dr. Romell Lasta, Dr. Jose Mate, Dr. Joselino Maningo, Dr. Ciriaco Pongasi, Dr. Romeo Preagido, Dr. Leodigario Sabaduquia, Dr. Ricardo Zamora, Dr. Alfredo Soberano, Dr. Delano Sydiongco, Dr. Flaviano Rudina, Dr. Priscilla Evercito, Dr. Elexzar Vanora, Dr. Ernesto Donaire, Dr. Arturo Enanoria and Dr. Bern Gaylo.
In a separate interview with an alumnus Dr. Jesus Neri, he delightfully shared that looking back from the past of what made life worthwhile and reminiscing the fondest memories as medical students are beyond compare. This 76-year old medical doctor also moved to US for twenty years now in the northern part of Michigan with three children and eight grandchildren.
“This is the 50th year since the last time we saw each other and this celebration is very significant to all of us. This has been a long journey, an important part of our lives since we graduate. It is so nice seeing them with different stories to tell and reminiscing our student days”, said Dr. Neri.
Meanwhile former MHAM Board of Trustees and Corporate Treasurer, Dr. Carlito Astillero, expressed his gratitude to all ’68 batchmates who graced the most-awaited event of their medical journey since their graduation. Being the Class President back then, this 77-year old alumnus has been a recipient of several exemplary achievements and awards due to his indebted contribution and deep commitment in promoting quality medical education and humanitarian services here and abroad.
“It’s nice to see you after fifty years and I can still remember one time during our last meeting where everybody was very anxious about what was happening to us and I am referring to the revalida. I saw that you have mixed feelings as it was a class meeting with our legal counsel at Southwestern University with an arrangement that we all agreed that we will take the examination with the condition that everybody can participate during the graduation. Anyhow, that was a history which we cannot forget but tonight we are proud to have guests of honor including one of our professors before in the person of Dr. Bayani. Looking back, she is the only professor which we can talk to because during our time we cannot knock the door of other professors unlike the present time wherein the relationship between professors and students is so different from ours”, said Dr. Astillero.
Looking back, Dr. Astillero was then the Class President and the 9th placer in the 1968 Board of Physicians. Last year, he received a prestigious recognition conferred by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña being an Outstanding Individual in the City of Cebu on the occasion of the 80th Cebu City Charter Day Anniversary. His indebted contribution and deep commitment in promoting quality medical education and for having been organized the MHAM College of Medicine Multipurpose Cooperative for the benefit of the employees made him an Outstanding Individual, along with other Cebuano awardees.
In her privilege speech, Dr. Anunciacion Bayani could not contain her gladness to be with her former medical students after long years with heartwarming gratitude for having been invited as a special guest. A former Pharmacology professor, the 90-year old faculty-doctor graced the night with an inspiring speech infront of her beloved students who are now in the same chosen field as medical doctors.
“I am very glad for having been invited to see all of you because I missed all of you for the past more than thirty years and now I am already ninety years old and above. I would like to thank all of you for the invitation and for giving me the chance to be here to see all of you and it is so nice to see these students who are now very successful with the hope to see you again next year because we never can tell”, said Dr. Bayani.
Also gracing the Meet and Greet event were MHAM Community Extension Services Office and Campus Safety & Security Director, Mr. Jarvis Prochina; Human Resource Director, Mr. Pedro Pañares; AVP for Administration, Mr. Francisco Bacalla; VP for Academics, Dr. Arlene Diaz and MHAM Banawa building contractor, Engr. Nolan Diaz.
A fun-filled gathering with memories to behold, the Class of 1968 will be enjoying the whole week with itinerary activities such as the Cebu City tour, Bohol tour, Gala Night and sponsored-meal gatherings aside from a Thanksgiving Mass to complete.
The 3-hour night gathering marks another milestone to connect and strengthen a meaningful relationship between the alumni and their Alma Mater. Today, the Office for Alumni Relations and Services and the MHAM Alumni Foundation takes pride with some of the alumni reunions and homecoming from the different batches to rekindle and rebuild their connectivity and the identity as MHAM graduates. This time, the class of 1968 took the spotlight. (Ana Liza Abao)