Among the recipients of the much-coveted award is a Pozorrubian – Dr. Blesilda dela Rosa-Salvador, of the ‘Doctora Bles at Your Service’ fame, a program of DZMM. TOFP is a JCI Senate Philippines and Dept of Health project started 9 months ago.
Dra. Bles is described in the one of the paragraphs of the post below as ’an OB/GYN who has made her mark as a health educator through media. For more than 10 years, Doctora Bles continues to bring medical information to people from all walks of life through the radio, TV, and the Internet via her Teleradyo program “Doctora Bles at Your Service.” She renders free medical advice on air and gives vital knowledge about medicine and science in Pilipino. Because of the wide coverage of media, her program reaches OFWs abroad, who benefit from listening and understanding the medical topics she tackles. Most of all, her free consultations via letters, phone patch, or cell phone text messaging effectively help those who cannot immediately see a doctor. Just like some of the other awardees, she has chosen to continue her medical practice here, while her nuclear family has migrated to the US.’
‘Doktora Bles’ is a Pozorrubian by marriage to Dr. Raul Francisco D. Salvador of the deep-rooted Pozorrubian Salvador-Doras clan. The couple established a clinic in Pozorrubio in their early years of medical practice, and while serving their local clientele, the Pampangena wife assimilated with the elite, folks and commoners of the community. They are blessed with three pretty/handsome, intelligent and responsible children, Ryan, Sandra, and Barbara, who, themselves, are starting to create their marks in their respective careers. When this author congratulated her and thanked her for bringing honor to the town, she texted back: “Salamat, Kuya. Siempre, parad sicatayo yan amin, taga_Pozorrubio aq met lan talaga”.
We salute you, Dra Bles!
-from Pozorrubio Online, in behalf of the Pozorrubians
Following is an article from JCI Senate Philippines weblog… http://www.tofpjcisp.com/
A Guinness Book world record holder, a media health educator, a producer of classroom health modules, an anti-epilepsy advocate, a miracle heart doctor – these are among this year’s Top 10 awardees for The 2008 Outstanding Filipino Physicians.
Launched in 2007, the project, also dubbed as TOFP Search, will culminate with elaborate awarding ceremonies on Monday night, September 29, at the Centennial Hall of the historic Manila Hotel.
A total of 38 nominees from various medical fields underwent a rigorous search and screening process directly handled by the 2008 TOFP National Steering Committee led by JCI Senator Melandrew T. Velasco as the National Chairman.
“We are privileged to bestow this award to deserving, outstanding and patriotic Filipino doctors who have elected to stay and serve our countrymen. After thorough deliberations by the eminent members of the Board of Judges, the 10 best Filipino doctors have been selected from all over the Philippines,” said JCI Senate National President Carlos G. Co.
A mixed roster of six civic-minded individuals, educators and medical practitioners comprise the 2008 TOFP Board of Judges: Atty. Gonzalo T. Duque, president of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU); JCI Sen. Sergio Osmeña Valencia, Chairman of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Director of the Philippine Social Security Association; Dr. Jaime Z. Galvez Tan, former Secretary of the Department of Health (1995) and incumbent president of the Health Futures Foundation, Inc. as well as Dr. Rey Melchor F. Santos, president of the Philippine Medical Association and this year’s TOFP Chairman of the Board of the Judges; Ms. Lorna O. Fajardo, the Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer (EVP/COO) of the PhilHealth; and Dr. Kenneth G. Ronquillo, Director IV of the Human Resource Development Bureau at the Department of Health.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in a message about the TOFP said, “It is high time that medical doctors, like policemen and teachers, be recognized as distinct professionals for their sacrifices in keeping healthy the young and old Filipinos. Many out there are quietly doing heroic work, serving the health and medical needs of those who need them most, the less privileged sector in our society. In fact, doctors who choose to practice their professions here in our country, instead of seeking more lucrative jobs overseas, is already an act of sacrifice.”
The TOFP 2008 theme is “Serving and caring for our countrymen are the best works of life.” It is actually a takeoff from the 6th Tenet of the JCI Creed that says, “Service to humanity is the best work of life.” “It is also a patriotic plea to Filipino physicians to stay despite the lure of greener pastures and better opportunities overseas,” said Mr. Velasco.
Only on its second year, the TOFP is establishing itself as the “Oscar Awards for Filipino Physicians.” As such, it is now a much-awaited annual event organized by the JCI Senate Philippines and the Department of Health, with the support of the PhilHealth and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) as the TOFP’s new institutional partner.
“Despite the cynicism of the times, we wanted to believe that there are still many doctors who are quietly practicing their Hippocratic oaths, doctors who have resisted the seduction of the almighty dollar and euro for the sake of their countrymen. The rich harvest of awardees this year is a living testimony to that belief. The prestige that comes with the award will again make us proud of our Filipino physicians,” said DoH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III in his message to the TOFP organizers.
A common thread that binds this year’s awardees is the fact that they have chosen to practice their medical profession in the country, despite great and very promising possibilities of attaining wealth and stature overseas. Often, a number of this year’s TOFP awardees have even shared their expertise and medical services, for free.
One shining example is Dr. Mark R. Kho, the first and only Filipino to have full, formal training in Surgical Oncology, in both research and clinical fields. Despite possessing all the qualifications for legitimate and continued medical practice in the U.S., including a California medical license and medical board certifications, Dr. Kho shunned lucrative offers to practice medicine in the US. After five years of training abroad, he came home, continued working at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) – the premier hospital for indigent Filipinos – even without compensation. In spite of this, he went on to help establish and maintain the Philippines’ first Surgical Oncology Division in the country at the Department of Surgery of the UPCM-PGH Medical Center which has the first of only two training programs in this field.
Dr. Edward Wang‘s outstanding academic achievements would have also assured him of a successful medical career abroad. But like Dr. Kho, Dr. Wang rejected an offer to work at the US Medical Center after topping the Orthopedic Board Exams in 1990. He continued his training at the PGH until he finished his residency in 1998. Having acquired cutting-edge know-how in orthopedic medicine from further studies abroad, Dr. Wang gathered doctors from different disciplines and set up the UP-Musculoskeletal Tumor Unit (UP-MuST Unit), the first of its kind and a model of multidisciplinary medical cooperation. Dr. Wang traveled the country setting up similar units and training other doctors. He pioneered a training program at the UPGH where doctors from around the country could come for intensive training. To date, physicians from Iloilo, Baguio, Cavite, and around Metro Manila have been duly trained by Dr. Wang, himself.
Unlike them, however, Dr. Victor Dumaguing, a native of La Union, began and completed his medical studies in the country, to the extent of joining the UP Concert Chorus (University of the Philippines) as a tenor, to finance his Pre-med studies. In 1979 Dr. Dumaguing found himself among the ethnic tribes of Mountain Province where, as a volunteer resident physician, he performed circumcisions; lectured on maternal and child health, on indigenous herbs with medicinal values and on child delivery. Eventually, he established the MOM Foundation (Medics on Mission) composed of volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists and other allied health professionals, whose main mission is to reach out to as many Filipinos and spread the value of preventive medicine to the poor.
Following a similar path is Dr. Rimando Saguin, an orthopedic surgeon who, as President of the We Care Foundation, Inc., has successfully coordinated with Filipino-American doctors of the Philippine Medical Association of Michigan (PMAM) in organizing medical-surgical missions in the country. A native Batangueño, Dr. Saguin also founded PROJECT: R.S.V.P (Reconstructive Surgery for Victims of Polio) in 1981, whose aim is to provide surgical treatment to post-polio disabilities and enable them to attain maximum function and become productive members of the society. As an active Rotarian, he successfully chaired in 1999 the Rotary Helping Hand together with the Reconstructive Surgery Foundation of Buenos Aires, Argentina. This foundation attended to 200 indigent Filipino children with various congenital deformities.
Of course, there is also Dr. Egidio P. Elio, a urologist from Antique who organized and led the Philippine Urologic Manpower Program (PUMP) from 1995-2000, after discovering the scarcity of urologic doctors in the country, in a study he conducted. Through inspiration from the PUMP, the first urology training programs outside Manila were conducted, particularly in Cebu and in Davao cities in 1997. As a result of those trainings, urologists were produced in provinces with previously no practitioners. Dr. Elio continued to promote the advocacy of bringing urologic services to the unserved and underserved areas of the country. In 1999, the program laid the groundwork for the organization of the Philippine Urological Association Foundation, Inc.
Some awardees, on the other hand, like Dr. Anthony Leachon, Dr. Blesilda de la Rosa-Salvador, Dr. Elvira L. Henares-Esguerra and Dr. Leonor Cabral Lim have shown their mettle in the field of mass advocacy or medical education through media.
The Guinness Book of World Records, just like Ripley’s Believe It or Not, is often associated with bizarre human feats or physical attributes. Certainly, there is nothing bizarre about the female mammary gland. But because of it, Dr. Elvira L. Henares-Esguerra landed the Guinness Book for gathering the most number of women breastfeeding simultaneously in one site (3,541 mothers); this, in partnership with the City of Manila in 2006; then, again, in 2007 breaking the same world record for gathering breastfeeding moms in multiple sites (15,128 mothers in 295 sites in the country). The feat was accomplished in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Today, under her Children for Breastfeeding, Inc. organization, Dr. Esguerra continues to promote breastfeeding, while protecting mothers’ rights to breastfeed against milk and tobacco companies. Recently, she went to Beijing to launch The Breastfeeding Olympics.
In the same league of advocacy work is Dr. Blesilda de la Rosa-Salvador an OB/GYN who has made her mark as a health educator through media. For more than 10 years, Doctora Bles continues to bring medical information to people from all walks of life through the radio, TV, and the Internet via her Teleradyo program “Doctora Bles at Your Service.” She renders free medical advice on air and gives vital knowledge about medicine and science in Pilipino. Because of the wide coverage of media, her program reaches OFWs abroad, who benefit from listening and understanding the medical topics she tackles. Most of all, her free consultations via letters, phone patch, or cell phone text messaging effectively help those who cannot immediately see a doctor. Just like some of the other awardees, she has chosen to continue her medical practice here, while her nuclear family has migrated to the US.
Dr. Leonor Cabral Lim is a neurologist-epileptologist. She has spent the last 25 years not only in clinical practice but also as an educator, leader, researcher and advocate of continuing health education.
As president of the Philippine League Against Epilepsy (PLAE), she has conceptualized and put together most of the component projects of the National Epilepsy Campaign, “Epilepsy: Out of the Shadows.” The projects within the Epilepsy Campaign span from the grassroots to the tertiary level and cover the entire country from North Luzon to Mindanao. As director of the campaign since 2001, she has successfully inspired and empowered PLAE member volunteers to implement programs at the grassroots level with available resources.
Dr. Leonor Cabral Lim, in her advocacy on epilepsy, was behind the declaration of National Epilepsy Awareness Week in 2002 and in organizing epilepsy support groups in the country. National Epilepsy Awareness Week is celebrated every first week of September in cooperation with the epilepsy support groups: The group is now known as Epilepsy Awareness Advocacy, lnc. (EAA Inc.). It is the umbrella organization for all the epilepsy support groups in the country and is the national chapter of the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) in the Philippines.
No pun intended, but some would consider Dr. Anthony Leachon a hero, simply for supporting universal and preventive health care, better known as Executive Order 595 or the Health Education Reform Order of 2006 (H.E.R.O. of 2006) that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved and signed on December 27, 2006. The H.E.R.O. originates from the Policy Recommendation to the Senate that aims to reduce the burden of illnesses in the Philippines through comprehensive health education and disease prevention, of which Dr. Leachon is the principal author. Despite his busy schedule as an Internist-Cardiologist, an active consultant at the Manila Doctors Hospital, and as the Medical and Regulatory Affairs Director of Pfizer-Philippines, Dr. Leachon finds time to meet with different medical associations, government officials, non-governmental organizations, and private groups to get their support and commitment for H.E.R.O. as the largest doctor-initiated advocacy in the country today. H.E.R.O. has been launched in different cities and municipalities in the Philippines. The launching includes the Universal Medical and Dental check up of pupils in the elementary and secondary schools. In just a few months, around 500,000 elementary kids have been checked up by volunteer doctors and health workers in the H.E.R.O. launches all over the country.
Last, but not the least of the 2008 TOFP awardees is “Miracle Doctor” Lorenzo Rommel G. Cariño, who earned his monicker after leading a team of surgeons in successfully operating on First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo for 14 hours. Unknown to the general public, Dr. Cariño, a heart specialist, has had 19 long years of medical training, mostly as general surgeon and later, as a heart specialist. The low-key heart surgeon would have quietly done his services to government and to Filipinos with heart conditions, had it not been for his accidental patient-the First Gentleman-who was diagnosed of a leaking aorta that would have led to his death.
To date, he has successfully performed over 1,300 open-heart surgeries, a feat he started performing since he passed the cardio-vascular licensure examination in 1992, of which close to a third, or 30 percent of those surgeries were undertaken for free as part of his continuing lifetime advocacy to help the poor. He has recently formed the Heart Matters Foundation with the Rotary Club of Cubao West to give free lectures on heart ailment prevention as well as offer heart surgical operation to indigent patients with acute aortic dissection and other heart ailments particularly the children. His reputation as a miracle doctor has helped enhance the image of Filipino doctors as being at par with world’s best, thus boosting the sunrise medical tourism industry.