by Stefanie Anne D. Francisco, Φ2021, Class 2024
There is no denying that parenting is, in itself, tough, and that the pandemic has made the responsibilities associated with it doubly demanding. When the parenting journey is shared with others, however, it becomes not only easier to navigate but vastly more fulfilling.
Last October 16, 2021 from 2 to 4:30 PM, mothers from around the Philippines gathered via Zoom for Mommy Matters, a parenting convention under Milk Matters, the flagship project of the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority in which guest speakers talked about the ins and outs, the highs and lows, as well as the joys and challenges of parenthood.
This year’s convention, aptly entitled Mommy Matters: Motherhood in Changing Times, tackled not only neonatal and breastfeeding care, developmental milestones, and maternal health, but also some useful tips and must-knows for parenting in the time of COVID. With hosts Alyssa Regino Φ2021, Class 2024 and Leovic Rapirap, Φ2021, Class 2025 at the helm, the panel was graced with the presence and expertise of esteemed speakers Dr. Tita Villanueva-Uy, Φ1986, Class 1989, Dr. Maria Isabel Quilendrino, Φ199B, Class 2004, and Dr. Valerie Tiempo-Guinto, Φ1991, Class 1995.
Dr. Tita Villanueva-Uy is a renowned pediatric neonatologist, an American Academy of Pediatrics’ Young Investigator Award recipient, and a mom herself who discussed proper nutrition and breastfeeding and kangaroo care. Dr. Ma. Isabel Quilendrino, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, a board-certified expert on nutritional medicine, and a proud mother of three energetic boys, shared her personal experiences and anecdotes on the lifetime commitment that parenting calls for. Dr. Valerie Tiempo-Guinto, an adviser of the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology for Contemporary Issues in Women’s Health and a former president of the Philippine Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine likewise gave a talk on maternal health, emphasizing the adage that behind every happy and healthy infant is a happy and healthy mother.
A lot of the moms from more than a hundred participants who tuned in via Zoom and Facebook live joined the lively discussion that ensued, either by sharing their own experiences or by asking for tips on how to keep themselves and their babies as healthy as possible during these trying times. The breastfeeding mother’s journey is definitely not easy and may at times be daunting, even.
In addition to hosting conventions such as Mommy Matters, the sorority conducts milk pick-ups alongside partner communities in order to help sustain a steady and stable supply of breast milk for the infants in the PGH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (https://bit.ly/BreastmilkForPGHNICU). All mothers in attendance were encouraged by the organizers to join their online Facebook community (https://bit.ly/BreastfeedingMama) and to donate breast milk for this worthy cause.
Mommy Matters is brought to the public by theAsianparent and is made possible through the generous assistance of sponsors Goodfellow Pharma and Babymama Inc. as well as the Sorority’s numerous publicity partners. To learn more about Milk Matters, visit https://www.facebook.com/PLDMilkMatters/.
By Rizza Mae Saavedra, Φ2021, Class 2025
The recent increase in COVID-19 cases and the subsequent hard lockdowns have severely depleted PGH’s blood unit stores to critical levels. In response, the sisses and brods rallied to address this pressing issue. With the help of our generous donors, we were able to successfully collect and donate a total of 92 blood bags.
What led you to pursue medicine and how much have these reasons changed? What keeps you motivated and focused through the long years of studying?
There are moments before studying medicine
where I was certain I wanted to go to this direction.
Putting on that white uniform even if it's just for Career Day.
Knowing that I'll be the first doctor in the family.
Getting my feet wet in the cold river,
walking to the next far away barangay without a doctor.
There are moments in studying medicine
where I was certain that I was in the right place.
My first murmur.
My first delivery.
My first "doc!".
My first PF in the form of milk tea.
But there are moments where
I was sure I didn't belong.
"Let's call on our students" on zoom.
Listening to a mother in the verge of tears, about her son's conditions,
not sure what to say next or how to comfort her.
Tremors and not being able to extract blood on the second try.
- moments where I'd question if it was a place I deserved.
My first PF in the form of pastries.
My first "doc!".
My first delivery.
My first murmur.
But all these are moments you hold on to.
Moments, uncertain or certain,
that have a special place in our heart
that we hold on dearly to
that we keep on the back of our head
because you know deep down
it's a place where you and I belong.
By Isabella O. Orteza, Φ2021, Class 2025
On September 18, the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority successfully held EmpoweRED: An HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, which has been an annual event since its establishment in 2014. Similar to last year’s event, the series of talks were made available to high school students in Metro Manila via an online webinar using both Zoom and Facebook Live.
Ever since this event was transferred to an online platform due to the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sorority has fortunately been able to find a silver lining despite all circumstances. Specifically, for the past two online webinars, we have invited many more students and partners as compared to the previous events held in person at certain high schools, which notably increased the impact of this advocacy. This year alone, reaching over 400 live participants, the Sorority partnered up with 13 high schools and 22 organizations to bring EmpoweRED to life.
The Sorority invited 4 keynote speakers, namely: Dr. Winlove P. Mojica, Ma’am Elena Felix, Sir Ryan de Torres, and Ma’am Irene Quilantang. Dr. Mojica has been a consistent speaker for EmpoweRED for several years now, as he strongly advocates to normalize conversations about HIV/AIDS, which is still a taboo topic for many families in the Philippines. As always, he effectively educated the young audience by debunking common myths on HIV and by further elucidating on the science and reality behind the disease.
Ma’am Elena has also been a consistent speaker that we are so fortunate to have at EmpoweRED, especially since she sits at the frontlines for this cause as a vigorous activist for her community. Having HIV herself, she inspired the audience to really put words into actions by sharing about her arduous personal journey as she battled for her physical health while she also faced the cruel realities behind the stigma.
Sir Ryan, on the other hand, shared clear and excellent points on what steps one must take when he/she might have HIV, from getting tested all the way to following the schedule of treatment. Lastly, Ma’am Irene left the audience with important take-home messages as she further stressed on what the youth can do to help address this issue in their own homes and communities.
The Joy of Motherhood
It has now been twenty-two years since that memorable, life-changing night in August. Time seems to have come and gone in almost an instant. I cannot even see where it went. I blinked after I nourished her from my bosom, the seat of my most intimate feelings, and opened my eyes today to magically see her blossom into a fine young lady. But just as time has remained invisible, so is the love I have for my daughter. You cannot even count and measure the things I have given up for her, the purest love I can offer. Prestige, awards, recognition, wealth, or material possession; none of these can replace the joy of being a mother.
Medicine requires stamina and grit. Studying past midnight, being on duty during a holiday, missing family events or hangouts, are not uncommon in the field. As the summer approaches, some of us may be yearning for a break especially in these unprecedented times. With this, we asked one of our alumni, Dr. Patricia Asuncion, Phi 2011B, UPCM 2016, how one could keep things light and fun in med school.
“People have this idea that medicine (both studying for it and having it as a vocation) can be physically, mentally, and spiritually draining. How do you make med school fun? Do you have any fun med school stories that you would like to share?”
When I found out that I got accepted in UPCM 10 years ago, I remember feeling two things: first, excitement because I got into my dream medical school; second, fear. Fear that I was going to give up my social life and live away from my family.
My high school and college friends congratulated me with “We’re so proud of you! ‘Wag mo kami kakalimutan ah? Magpakita ka pa rin! Sumulat ka.” As if I was going to go abroad and phones weren’t invented yet.
They say med school will suck the life out of you. It will, if you let it. Looking back, did I regret my decision? Sometimes. If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d probably be married with 2 kids right now. But did I enjoy it? Yes!
9. This is your second chance of being a student. So be a student wisely.
You are now a 20-something year old student. You’re at the peak of your life, and yet you are still doing “student things”. Enjoy it. No, I don’t mean to get drunk everyday and flunk your subjects. Be a student wisely. Go where it is that you’ll have the most meaningful fun. Attend school events and traditions. For me, one of my most favorites was Lady Med. Now speaking as a Rupaul’s Drag Race fan, I can’t believe that back then I was somehow living my drag dream by transforming straight male students into queens and have them compete in a pageant. We were make up artists, backup dancers, video editors, and stage personnel. It was such a fun class production! Another med school tradition I was able to enjoy was SUNOG or PURI where interns cheer on their favorite people and shout at the people they despise. This seems disruptive, but trust me it is very therapeutic. Please thank our class for our sunog efforts and successfully abolishing PACU (Anesth post op) monitoring for it was such a pain.
10. Join Phi
This list wouldn’t have been possible if not because of my Phi sisses. If not for Phi, I will not be giving tips like this. I will just be saying tired phrases like “Study hard.”, “Don’t dull your sparkle”, “Be your best self”, etc. Because of Phi, I found new friends and family in my sisses and brods. It opened the door for me to gain lots of experiences in med school. We studied, we partied, we travelled, we contributed to society, we learned new hobbies together, you name it! I will be forever grateful to my sisses and brods for joining Phi was truly the best decision I made in med school.
You may think that me and my friends were delinquent students. Trust me, we’re not. We just found the best way of balancing studies and enjoying our youth. After all, we were 20-somethings looking to live the best life possible. A lot of the craziest people I know graduated with honors. A lot of those “party people” ended up topping our class, eventually becoming chief residents and fellows.
You will not remember med school in your room leafing through a 1000 page book. What you’ll remember are the drunken nights with friends, the hustle and bustle of pulling off a school event, and going to places with your most favorite people.
Once this pandemic is over, my wish for each and everyone is to get out and LIVE. ☺
"Do you have any med school love stories?"
When I first started my journey in UPCM, finding love was the least of my priorities. Like every single medical student out there, my main concerns revolved around nothing more than grades. And again, like every other medical student, I soon learned that this was my first official mistake.
Luckily, I was able to meet a lot of great people in UPCM who taught me how to stop and smell the roses. With these people, the load of medical school turned out to be much more manageable and enjoyable too. One of them includes my boyfriend, whom I met on the first day of classes in LU3.
Back then, our schedules were exactly the same. We would spend almost the whole day together - from attending classes in Buenafe Hall to studying out in nearby cafes like Esso or Mr. Park’s ‘til we called it a day. Our friendship evolved from all the highs and lows of med school. We had toxic dissection days, stressful lab exams, and nerve-wracking OSCEs. But we also had fun breaks wherein we would attend parties, play sports, or just watch movies all night with our friends.
After all the time we spent together, he became my go-to person whenever I needed to rant, joke around, or hear a pep talk. He made med school so much easier because in many ways, we complemented each other. Long story short, we just clicked.
From being best friends, we decided to give our relationship a shot. I still fondly recall how it all began with our first one-on-one “date.” He knew I was a huge sports fan and that I’ve always wanted to watch a live UAAP basketball game. Fortunately, at that time, UP had a semifinal game against Adamson during one of our intermodule weekends. This was an important game because after years of struggling, the UP basketball team finally had a chance of getting into the finals. I initially thought I was going to watch the game with him on TV, but he ended up surprising me with tickets! Proudly donning our UP gear, we headed to the game where he taught me all the school's cheers and gave me a crash course on UAAP basketball. After an intense two hours, UP ended up with the win and we left the colosseum with big smiles on our faces and butterflies in our stomachs. I mean, a rare UP basketball win had to be a good sign, right?
Fast forward to 2 years later, we’re both in LU5 now and we have completely different schedules. Because of all our online classes, I don’t get to see him as much as I used to. But even though we live in the opposite sides of Metro Manila, he still makes it a point to visit me at least once a week. We still try to keep that kilig factor alive by spontaneously sending each other small gifts, FaceTime-ing while studying, and finding new activities/hobbies we can do during our dates.
"Having time for studying, extra-curriculars, and personal life can be really challenging. Would you have any advice for balancing med life and love life? "