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A salute to our fallen medical heroes

By MYLENE MENDOZA-DAYRIT, The Philippine STAR Published Sep 28, 2021 5:00 am

In 1957, then-President Carlos P. Garcia signed a decree that the fourth week of September would be known as Medicine Week to give due recognition to the nations healers. It was therefore quite appropriate that the posthumous awarding of The Outstanding Filipino Physician (TOFP) 2021 was held during its 64th celebration. 

Nine months ago, the JCI Senate Philippines and the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) bestowed the posthumous title on 22 physicians who died in active duty during the first year of the pandemic. This year, another 20 were awarded virtually last week.

In this pandemic, new heroes emerged, JCISP national president Greg Lipa said in his opening remarks. Masks and PPEs became their armor, their medical wisdom, their weapon. Now, more than ever, we need every doctor we can keep to serve this country in this still-evolving battle.” 

One doctor saw someone who lost consciousness at a bus stop. He didn’t hesitate to take him in his vehicle and rush him to the hospital. The doctor contracted the virus and died. 

He added, Since it started in 2007, the mandate of this annual search is to honor the outstanding contribution of a physician and to inspire young medical professionals to dedicate their service to the country. 

“While we have always believed in the importance of TOFP, it is definitely one of our most relevant projects, especially now that the medical community is at the center of the pandemic response. The stories of our 20 honorees and their massive contribution to the welfare of their patients and their organizations leave me in awe and inspire me to remain true to our JCI value that service to humanity is the best work of life.” 

Masks and PPEs became our health care workers' armor, their medical wisdom, their weapon. Photo by Walter Bollozos

PMA president Dr. Benny Atienza said that the most shattering phenomenon of all was the second and third waves of Covid-19 when countless lives were lost across the globe. Among them were doctors, who died while battling the virus on the frontlines.

“These physicians left noble not just their respective local communities, affiliated hospitals, and the PMA, but also the entire medical community,” he said. “They adhered to the three principles in the practice of medicine: caring, science, and ethics. They were chosen because we believe that even in their passing, these doctors continue to serve through their friends, colleagues, and loved ones they left behind.” 

Dr. Atienza explained, These fallen caring physicians are successful social leaders as well because of their contributions to the publics health, scientific progress, societys resources, and the welfare of humankind. They have earned the respect and admiration of their colleagues who selected them for the recognition. Their heroism and selflessness allow the rest of us an extent of reassurance that we will and we can overcome this virus.” 

Dr. Elmer Santos, PMA chairman of the Committee on Awards, and PMA secretary general Dr. Liza Henson announced the 20 TOFP 2021 Posthumous Awardees. Honored were:

  • Dr. Eduardo Ed” Uycoque of Tanauan Medical Society in Batangas
  • Dr. David Ben Gurion, Pangasinan Medical Society
  • Dr. Jaime Jimmy Capco, Marikina Valley Medical Society
  • Dr. Katherine Anne” Mimay-Magkasi, Bulacan Medical Society
  • Dr. Aretas P. Singson-Alday, Las Piñas Medical Society
  • Dr. Ronaldo Onie Mateo, Cavite Medical Society
  • Dr. Maria Regina Gina Uy-Alegado, Cavite Medical Society
  • Dr. Rumar T. Andanar, Surigao del Norte Medical Society
  • Dr. Joselito Adi Teodoro, Laguna Medical Society
  • Dr. Eugenio Ken L. Puzon III, Quezon City Medical Society
  • Dr. Hadji Amilbahar Matingka, Sulu Medical Society
  • Dr. Reynaldo C. Yang, Nueva Ecija Medical Society 
  • Dr. Marcelino Lino” Caleon, Santiago City Medical Society in Isabela
  • Dr. Robert Banting Seares, Abra Medical Society
  • Dr. Resurreccion Cion” Acop, Antipolo City Medical Society
  • Dr. Joseph Jojo Aniciete, Caloocan Medical Society
  • Dr. June Camitan, Quezon Medical Society
  • Dr. Cirilo Ciring R. Galindez, Nueva Vizcaya Medical Society
  • Dr. Aurito C. Ampong, Zamboanga del Sur Medical Society
  • Dr. Adriano Ading Dela Paz, Marikina Valley Medical Society
Heroes emerged during the pandemic as health care workers put their lives on the line in the care of Covid-stricken patients.

No amount of narrative will do justice to their heroic stories. Dr. Anne was seven months pregnant and was unvaccinated, but still went on duty as an OB-Gyn. 

Dr. Lino was still answering text messages from patients who continued to consult him the night before he passed away. 

Dr. Ading would go to an emergency call in the hospital at 2 a.m. only to attend to patients at 5 a.m. the same day in his home clinic. 

One doctor saw someone who lost consciousness at a bus stop. He didnt hesitate to take him in his vehicle and rush him to the hospital. The doctor contracted the virus and died. 

Since TOHPs inception in 2007, actively serving physicians in the country vie for the title. They are nominated based on their contribution to public health, medical advancement and service to humanity. Due to the pandemic, posthumous awards were deemed proper, but this December regular honors as conceptualized will be awarded. 

Nominations will be accepted by the PMA and JCISP until Oct. 30 (go to The Outstanding Filipino Physician 2021 Facebook page for details and to watch the posthumous event).