What are your new year’s resolutions and/or hopes for 2021?
It amazes me just how fast time flies. It seems like only yesterday, I was aiming for the stars, a bright-eyed applicant taking her shot at what was reportedly one of the best medical schools in the Philippines, eager to chase after her dream of becoming a doctor. The past four and a half years of my life hold testament to the continued pursuit of this dream. Graduation, boards, and beyond are just within reach, but at what cost?
Medicine is unarguably a difficult vocation. Perhaps, ‘difficult’ is an understatement. The first few years of medicine proper consist of a grueling program of seemingly endless lectures and examinations, of stacks upon stacks of books and transcriptions, of what were once pristine white uniforms now stained with highlighter ink and day-old coffee. And yet, all these pale in comparison to the actual hospital experience in clerkship and internship, where a single 36-hour duty can feel like a lifetime. At this point, you straddle the line between a medical student and an actual healthcare professional. You’re expected to learn as much as you can while fulfilling your role as part of the healthcare team. This is all done while navigating through the toxicities of what is admittedly a problematic healthcare system.
I can’t recall the number of times I’ve wondered if all this is worth it. At times, the stress can get the better of me. More often than not, I miss important milestones in my family and friends’ lives, or celebrate mine alone. Looking back, I realize that life became saturated with studying and extra-curriculars that I hardly had any time for myself. It’s a bit ironic, considering how we’re putting so much on the line to take care of others.
I’m the type of person who takes comfort in a routine, and this time last year, that routine was your typical pre-duty, duty, post-duty schedule. Unsurprisingly, when the world came to a standstill last March 2020, so did I. As a clerk that was pulled out of the hospital, I felt like a fish out of water. During the first few weeks of quarantine, I probably spent a significant amount of time just staring at the ceiling, wondering how we were all going to get through a pandemic. Social media was incredibly overwhelming, and news from our seniors at the hospital weren’t very promising either. I had so much time to think, but not enough headspace for all the information. It felt like years-worth of pent-up stress were finally taking their toll on me. The pandemic was just the cherry on top.
After some time, this stress started to manifest itself in actual signs and symptoms. My body clock was already in disarray pre-COVID, and it only seemed to worsen during the quarantine. I started to have breakouts and irregular menstrual cycles. An old tooth filling cracked, leading to constant pain and multiple appointments for a root canal. I even noticed a suspicious lump in a place where it shouldn’t have been, and underwent a minor operation (thankfully, it’s benign).
That I was able to seek treatment during these unprecedented times is a privilege. This experience serves as a wake-up call for me. As an aspiring physician, I have to walk the talk on health and start taking better care of myself, if only to gain the capacity to take care of others.
I guess that’s the point that I’m trying to drive at here. For many of us, the year 2021 holds a promise of hope, that things will get better eventually. I don’t exactly have any grand new year’s resolutions, just this one goal – to be kind, to myself and to others.
As of writing, I’m nearly halfway through clinical internship, and the pressure of passing the board exam is higher than ever. Between hospital duties, I have this strict and rather ambitious study schedule with which I’m still struggling to comply. In addition, I also have responsibilities outside the hospital. As the SSE, I have to look after my sisses and lead by example – be it in academics or in Phi, and even beyond. Admittedly, it’s all a work in progress. I realize that it’s completely okay to take pause at any point in time and reassess where I’m at.
While I’m still trying to find the best work-life balance for the new year, I find myself falling into a routine that incorporates a lot of self-care activities. For example, I look to fitness simply because it gives me an extra boost of endorphins for the day. Running has always been a favorite pastime of mine, and picking it back up again during the quarantine has done wonders for my mental health. There’s just something about my feet hitting the pavement and my mind zoning onto the stretch of road before me that gets me going. Having recently reached my dream of running a half marathon has only motivated me to take things farther, both literally and figuratively. I’ve also been doing a lot of strength training through weight lifting, and mobility and mindfulness through yoga. Moreover, it’s important for me to get adequate nutrition and sleep, which, as a medical student, I think would have been unheard of before the pandemic changed my mindset on how I treat my body.
Developing healthy habits and actually enjoying them is one form of self-love, and I think we all could use a little more self-love these days. It really helps that I have batchmates and sisses who share in my enthusiasm for health. Despite the distance, my sisses have become a constant source of love and positive reinforcement, for which I am forever grateful.
My experiences in 2020 remind me that I’m only human, and that I have my fair share of faults and limitations. This 2021, I simply hope to be kind to myself in spite of these limitations, and to keep moving forward.
A lot of us are also experiencing burnout from the calamities, political climate, the pandemic, etc. Did you ever experience burnout and if yes, could you tell us more about it and how did you arise from it? How did it change you?
A few months of the COVID 19 quarantine had passed. Early on, life had taken routine all within the confines of the home. We were able to go with the flow of doing our business online -- classes, meetings, shopping, deliveries, parties, even drinking sessions. It was our fortune to have the means to adjust to the situation.
When the restrictions eased up a little and permitted, I brought our 15 year old to see her cousins (precautions implemented) and clocked it to last for only for 15 minutes. After the visit, she couldn’t help it when the tears started to well up in her eyes. In between sobs, she said it just really hit her how much it means to be able to talk to another person face to face, that the connection is way different. She went on about terribly missing her friends even though they see each other online everyday. I hugged her tight and felt her grief over the loss of her experiences. No goofing around. No chit-chat in whispers. No volleyball. No after school milk tea and fries. And on and on…..
“No labels, Ma.” We’d always thought that the quarantine would be the idea of heaven to our Gen Z child. After all, she’s part of the techie generation. But she schooled us and our misguided empathy -- that technology is for playing games, for entertainment; sure, to communicate but for them, it is a poor substitute for authentic in-person connections.
That night, Jun and I talked about it and knew we had to take action. I messaged the parents of her closest friends for quick “at their house gate” visits. They all agreed, their own kids pining to see friends. Her smile when I told her was everything.
COVID 19 effectively restricted or even put a halt to our “normal” day to day activities. I talk with our children daily and I palpably sense, at times, how trapped they feel given that now more than ever, the uncertainty of life has been thrown right smack into our faces.
Nine years ago, I felt more than trapped. I felt doomed. I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer (BCA). I believe it was because I was HER2 (+), the first oncologist I consulted (whom I knew was one of the best at the time) said that I was likely going to have metastatic disease..’typically to the lungs, to the brain”. She then rattled on about the five year prognosis. My desperately confused brain drowned out her words along with a flood of tears that wouldn’t stop overflowing. All I could think of were my kids and what insurance policies were under my name. I was asking Jun about that, who then was trying his best to calm me down but ended up crying with me.
My Ate, also a doctor, snapped us back to rational mode. Though she lives Stateside, she was my on call 24/7. In the early goings, when I’d become erratic, she would right me back in. It was also through her that I was introduced to an online support group for women with HER2 (+) BCA. There, I found kinship, courage and hope. As much as it matters to have the reputed best doctors, it is even more important to have an ever supportive home team. I had an awesome foundation in my family and relatives. For the rest, I chose my people well and it was through them that I found my best team of doctors. I love them all. Bawal ang nega.
Like a queen, I mass sent via text and email groups the announcement that I was diagnosed with BCA. Why? Well, there was a sense of altruism to it. I wanted to give a wake up call for the many like myself who have been hell bent on establishing careers or going on with their daily grind to just check on themselves, too. But truth to tell, I also needed to expand my home team. I connected with friends, sisses whom I have not touched base with in years. During the days I was down and until now, I only have to close my eyes and feel the collective warmth and love I was given. This is my ultimate Care Bear Stare.
I had my surgery five days after my 38th birthday. That morning, I was unhappy and a bit cranky. You see, I was moved from being first case to third case. Hungry!! But all that was water under the bridge as soon as my anesthesiologist started counting down 5-4-3….and I was out. Propofol rocks!
The night before surgery, I clung onto Jun as I cried my last tears (ever about the whole BCA business). He promised to always have my back. Family and friends sent messages of love and support non-stop. I remember then falling asleep somewhere in the middle of our Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I knocked, I sought and I asked. I believed. From then on, there was only one way for us...to look and go forward. Because I believe. This was my mantra then til now.
Six weeks after my surgery, I had the first dose of chemotherapy. Beforehand, I had listened to the experiences of my BCA sisters and so I braced for the worst. Thankfully, with my oncologist’s “cocktail”, I didn’t even get nauseated. I did feel tired most times and would recharge by cocooning myself in the hammock that hung from the large low branches of the venerable but benevolent mango tree in the front yard. I could tell that tree anything and the best part, it just listened...it never talked back (proof that I stayed sane the entire time). Tree paid attention when I recounted the most mundane or ridiculous things like my happiness over seeing my red colored pee because, you know, Thank God. Kidneys -- check!
One morning, I saw clumps of hair on my pillow and wondered about it. Oh yeah...I had chemo two weeks ago. And so, it’s happening now. Even before I had the red stuff etc. infused, I made the decision that once I saw hair fall, I would have it shaved off completely. I didn’t want to be at the mercy of this condition, I wanted to have control over it in whatever way I could manage. That afternoon, Jun and I sat side by side at the barbershop. It was an effortless shave. I looked at my perfectly shaped bald head in the mirror. I looked at me and I smiled. Damn, I really rock this look!
I went bald openly. But I must admit, it got cold up there pretty quick so I always had a bonnet handy. Goodness though, the number of hats I got. I really appreciated these but I still ended up just using my one bonnet. I accepted and loved my bald head. People should have gotten me large hooped earrings instead. Or some brow pencils and lippies!
Of course, I also have not so good memories. There was the time when our car window was smashed in while parked outside our daughter’s school who was getting fetched. The target: an insulated cooler, also then just picked up, that contained all of my chemo for cycle 6 and cost a hefty six digit price tag. There were other unfortunate occurrences -- my ANC dropped a number of times causing treatment delays, painful mouth sores, cardiomyopathy, febrile episodes, Enterobacter cloacae in my portacath. Like anyone who had misfortunes, we felt bad, started to question why. But that process just breeds more ill feelings so I’d be the first to say stop and let go. We faced them all but we didn’t dwell over them once we had a handle on it.
Past is past. I have learned not to hold on to the bad. Instead, I choose to look and move forward to better things. It’s cliche but life really is short and because it is, better to create and hold happy memories. Here’s one -- my typically uneasy around needles husband intently watching a YouTube™ tutorial on subcutaneous injections and giving me my G-CSF shot in one steady go. That was a proud moment.
After Jun and I had grappled with and started to settle down about my diagnosis, we took our kids for a day out to tell them about cancer and what that meant for me and our family. At the time, they were 14, 12 and 5 years old. Middle child was actually freaked and blurted out, “Are you pregnant again, mom?” Once we got that sorted out, questions ranged from what is cancer to are you going to die? This was another record breaking day in tears. As we hugged and held on to each other, I came full circle in my resolve. Through whatever we were going to deal with, I will make certain at least one act or gesture so that each day, I will see them smile. No more tears. Also, no way they’re going to cash in those insurance policies soon, ‘no.
And because assembling a supportive home team is a must, in the days before I had to undergo surgery, we talked to my children’s homeroom advisers and school guidance counsellors. We continued to stay in touch.
Our eldest has autism. There was no saying how he would react to seeing my grenades (JP drains), portacath, bald head etc. No doubt he was curious when all these were happening. But he understood Ma was sick and “going to hospital”. He was a great source of comfort, always rubbing my bald head and insisting to go bald himself (which he did).
As for the girls, the youngest knew I was sick but that of course, I only had to get better especially after getting a lot of hugs and kisses apart from my treatments at the hospital. Our then 12 year old wasn’t as naive. But I found that she needed to understand what was going on with me in clear and simple terms and what the plan was -- in the face of uncertainties, she hung on to what was certain.
“Ma, will we ever get rid of COVID 19?” “When do you think I would be freely able to hang out with my friends again?” These questions are a constant in our family chats. And, I am stumped
when it comes to these. However, we have agreed on what we continue to be certain from even 2020 BC (Before COVID-19). Our main are:
1. You can never say I love you too much. (same goes for Please and Thank you) 2. Hugs and kisses are unlimited. Snuggles, too, at whatever age.
3. Dad and I are available to talk about anything and everything. No judgements. (This rule goes both ways)
4. Family car rides are great.
5. Between my daughters and I, Day6 is best. Oh, and TXT.
6. Our three dogs -- Tasha, Loki and Pepper -- are the goodest doggoes ever. 7. We can only move forward, infallibly with faith.
8. Chores. Without question.
There are days though that more support is needed than usual. Have you heard the song Zombie by Day6? It strikes a chord especially now. Daughter was so caught in this, played it over and over. I listened. I gave her the time and space to grieve. Yes, grieve. These past few months, our young have lost much in terms of life experiences out and about. And, who knows for how much longer. She was typically the friend who was relied on but now just feels so helpless and useless. The empty feeling was taking a toll. When she was ready, we talked, shared a bottle of soju, talked more, had another bottle and another....
In the years 2020 BC, my daughters and I often have chats about life stages and goals. That whatever the life stage goal, the most important thing is meaning. No accolade is worthy if the work you do only sincerely serves yourself. In the COVID-19 context though, we revisited these chats and “resized” to daily goals. We also established that perspective matters. It may not be much of a big deal for you, but it is to the other person. See, in that way, life is never empty. It depends a lot on what you choose to accept as reality. No act of kindness, no act of love is too small.
When the opportunity to go big happens though, go for it. For us, twice a year, our family does a clean out of every room in the house. We’ve done this for years even before Marie Kondo became mainstream. Whatever you feel you don’t need anymore (read: you’ve barely used it or forgotten it even existed) but another person could still use, let’s donate or give it away. Over the years, I have often been told to hold garage sales instead. That’s too much work though. And I just need to get stuff moved quickly, out of sight for my sense of inner peace. It has never been my nature to hold on to material things but I do nurture people.
If something is meant for the trash bin, it goes in there. I don’t believe that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. It has to be that what is good for me should also be what another person deserves to receive. In this way, I feel pride and joy in sharing what I have because I am sure it will make the recipient feel happy and cherished. My daughters and I dwelled on this fact a bit more. You can’t expect to feel any fulfillment in giving when you aren’t in the right place, when you aren’t in your right mind. It is crucial to feel good about yourself first. And there is no shame at all in asking for help to get to that state. No one deserves to be a Zombie. One good thing I guess from this whole crazy shuttered situation is that we’ve really come to terms with the need to accommodate and support each other. The home team is important, remember?
Recounting our experience as a family and those of my own nine years ago has helped us to frame what’s going on into something we can manage. These lessons are keepers. Choose to exclude the negativity. Be bold. Reach out. Listen. Believe. Have faith. Keep moving forward. Repeat.
What advice would you give to younger medical students/people starting their medical journey and to people who may be considering medical school?
Medicine is arguably one of the more popular professions to pursue. Those who aspire to become a doctor have various economic, social, and personal reasons which have to be carefully examined. First, be honest with yourself. Are you really interested in becoming a doctor, or are your parents or relatives just pushing it on you? Do you feel that it is the path to becoming financially well-off? Some reasons may be valid, but being a doctor isn’t as glamorous and probably not as financially rewarding as you may think. The most important reason for applying to medical school should be an interest in medicine itself. Halfhearted applicants may get into the program, but many end up quitting because of the grueling load they encounter. Your passion for the field will be what carries you through 48 to 72-hour calls, seemingly endless exams, and what is almost literally a lifetime of learning. Once you have made your decision, focus on preparing for it. Joining your local pre-medical society can help you meet people with similar interests and provide you with various opportunities such as attending healthcare lectures and doing medical volunteer work. You can also consider applying as a research assistant or conducting your thesis on a biomedical interest. These will help prepare you for medical school in addition to enhancing your application.
For those who are already in medical school, congratulations! It is not an easy road but the journey itself can be enjoyable with the proper mindset. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Making it through medical school may be the hardest thing you will ever do, but there are even times when consultants miss and reflect fondly on student years when life was simpler. Enjoy your journey and good luck!
If you have any questions, feel free to message me at email@example.com.
Victoria Grace C. Dimacali, MD, DPBO
1. How is your local community doing amidst the pandemic? Are you involved in some locally grown initiatives?
My community- the US Territory of Guam- is currently battling a surge in COVID 19 cases. We have one of the higher incidence rates among US States and Territories.
Back in March, when Guam had its first cases, I volunteered at the Dept. of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS). I served as an adviser to the Director, and helped to establish Guam's designated Isolation Center. It reminded me of the days leading up to the People Power 1 revolution in the Philippines - it was like a guerrilla campaign against an unknown enemy. I was briefing staff from the back of a pick-up truck!
In April, I suffered a setback, when I was diagnosed with skin cancer, and had to scale back my involvement with DPHSS. When the DPHSS Director retired in June, our Governor and Lt. Governor asked me to take over as Department Director (the Director is like the Philippine Secretary of Health), but because of my health issues, I had to decline. Then in August, my husband fell and fractured his right arm! So it has been a challenging period for us, but we've managed to be resourceful and steadfast.
2. What public health measure for you think should be adapted to best mitigate the increase in the number of cases in the country?
It's important for everyone to realize that right now, all we have to protect against this virus is distance. This is challenging because of our essentially gregarious nature, but it is critical to acknowledge that every individual's actions affect everyone else's risk for infection. We are trying to echo the message to "Stay home so everyone can stay safe."
The government can issue policies and mandates, but at the end of the day, it is up to every one of its citizens to ensure implementation. The measures are simple: physical distancing, consistent mask-wearing, and good hand hygiene. Ultimately, our success or failure in containing this pandemic rests on a citizenry that has at its heart civic-mindedness and
collaboration for the common good.
3. What is the first thing you want to do once the pandemic is over?
That's simple - head to our Boston home to visit our grandson, "Sisig Boy" Shane, and our kids! Family is our priority. This pandemic teaches us to re-examine what is valuable in our lives. It also challenges us to be resilient and to build up our patience and fortitude. We can live our lives very simply, and still manage to survive. It's all about a mindset that sees the pandemic as an opportunity to re-align our values and priorities.
Being a doctor in the middle of the pandemic can be a herculean feat. We asked one of our sisses, Eileen Mabul Malapaya-Manalo MD, MSc, to share with us her experience for the first feature of Humans Of Phi.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝗮 𝗱𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗰?
In the beginning of the pandemic, I was really scared; scared of dying, scared of bringing the virus home to my family. But I had so many patients to take care of, especially my IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and high risk- pregnancy patients who needed to be monitored and subsequently delivered. In March, we didn't even have the proper protective gear. Masks, especially N95's were scarce. I was lucky to have patients who gave donations of masks, alcohol and goggles, which I shared with other OB-Gyns in Asian Hospital & Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, St. Lukes Global and PGH. Together with my patient contacts, and OB-Gyn colleagues, we outsourced and bought our own PPE's. Large PPE donations (over a thousand), I coursed through PGH, which had been converted into a COVID hospital, and other secondary hospitals. Soon, doctors I didn't even know started contacting me for donations - and I became a conduit for these donations coming from donors. Face shields, goggles, gloves, masks, hazmats, rubbing alcohol, aerosols. You name it, the donations came pouring in, and were sent to government and private doctors and hospitals. The more donations I sent to hospitals, the more requests came, and my waking hours were spent coursing the donations to the corresponding doctors and hospitals, and watching Netflix (which I never watched pre-COVID).
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗱𝗮𝘆?
With the lockdown, I asked permission from the Medical Director of Asian Hospital who happens to be a brod, Dr. Lito Acuin, to see my high-risk & problematic patients. So, weekly I held clinic seeing 20-25 patients each clinic day. Gynecologic surgeries and IVF cases were put on hold limiting my practice to OPD and deliveries, which I looked forward to, I was the only person in Asian Hospital holding clinics. We reveled in our new look: the hazmats, the goggles, the face masks, but surgeries became extremely challenging - the hazmats were too hot, the goggles and face shields caused too much fogging making surgical visibility next to impossible. How I was able to do over 20 surgeries without complications was nothing short of a miracle. Truly God's divine intervention. The PAPR ( Powered Air Purifying Respirators) that I ordered in April, came in June and was truly heaven sent. Surgeries became a breeze after that.
As I was saying, I kept buying PPE's. I knew we were in this pandemic for the long haul and I together with my husband (Dr. Atoy Manalo, a brod, & daughter an incoming intern as well as my non- medical family members) might as well be well- equipped for it. Every so often, I give residents and fellows these PPE's / hazmat suit.
𝗖𝗮𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘂𝘀 𝗮 𝗴𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗽𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗱𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗶𝗱𝗱𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗮 𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗰?
I now have almost regular clinic days but am just seeing about a third or a half of my patient load compared to the pre-COVID era. I have been exposed to about 5 asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID patients and have undergone RT-PCR swabbing four times. I miss doing all the things I excel in- singing, lecturing (locally and abroad), and doing challenging gynecologic laparoscopic surgeries. Traveling too. So far, I've done one webinar lecture, with 2 more coming up. I've moderated in one webinar. I am literally sick and tired of webinars, zoom meetings, but I know I have to face them and accept them as the new normal.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗼 𝗸𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲𝘀?
You know what I think? Those of us left behind are given a chance to purify ourselves, to be of service to others, to repent, to be better human beings, to show more love, greater kindness, patience until our time comes. As doctors, we are given the best opportunity to do just that.
By: Katrina Diane B. Puguan, Class 2024, Φ2020
Staying true to their advocacy, the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority held their 6th annual Children Fair last February 29, 2020, entitled Children’s Fair: A Galactic Affair. In partnership with Alay Kapwa Kilusang Pangkalusugan (AKAP), around 70 children from the community of Brgy. La Paz Makati experienced an exciting, space-themed, learning activity combined with fun, games and delicious snacks.
The event kicked off with opening remarks from Sophia Amabelle Fajardo De Chavez, current Sister Caritas of Phi Lambda Delta Sorority. Children were then able to explore different booths put up by our partner organizations, pledgers, and volunteers: U! happy events, Little Hands UP, UPM-OMAKE, UP College of Public Health Student Council, Sibol PH and Phi Lambda Delta Sorority. There were various fun educational booths such as a dental hygiene booth where children learned the proper way of brushing their teeth, a coloring booth that gave opportunities for the kids to express their creativeness, and an Ano-to-my booth where children learned about basic body parts. Other game booths added to the excitement such as the Face Painting booth, Rocket Blast game booth, and the popcorn and cotton candy booths.
In the middle of the event, a theatrical performance of "Ang Paglalakbay ni Juanita: Leprosy, 'Di Mo Ako Kayang Talunin" also taught the kids social awareness and the value of acceptance, humility, and braveness. As the event came close to its end, a series of games were hosted: “Paalis na ang Rocket ship”, Calamansi Relay, and Jack and Poy war. The children were ecstatic as each winning team won a coloring book of their own. This enthusiasm was carried through a dancing session that highlighted the kids’ talents. Closing remarks were given by Ana Beatrice De Vera Constantino, current Superior Sister Exemplar. Later on, loot bags and food were distributed as the event ended with happy faces painted on the kids and volunteers alike.
By Pauline A. Alibin, Class 2023, Φ2019
Last November 20, 2019, the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority celebrated the Golden Foundation Ball – the Sorority’s 50th anniversary at the Rigodon Ballroom of The Peninsula Manila. Sisses from all over the world came and celebrated the Sorority’s momentous milestone.
The program was hosted by Eri Neeman and the Sorority’s very own Lalaine Samson Quinan, Φ2018B. Two of the eleven founders, Dr. Zenda Biano Garcia Lat, Φ1969 and Dr. Anita Tuason Velasco-Paves, Φ1969 together with the Sorority’s first adviser, Dr. Eva Poblete, graced the Ballroom with their presence and launched the program with their Founders’ and First Adviser’s Walk. This was followed by Dr. Zenda Biano Garcia Lat, Φ1969’s moving speech about how Phi has grown from a group of eleven courageous women to a premier sorority with more than 900 members.
As the sisses enjoyed the sumptuous dinner, Ana Beatrice de Vera Constantino Φ 2016, SSE 2019-2020, introduced the 50th Executive Council and showcased how the Sorority continued to uphold its core values of Excellence, Leadership, Service, and Sisterhood during the golden year. Each member of the 50th Executive Council also shared their past projects and current plans with the sisses to keep them updated about each office. The presentation was followed by a number of performances by talented sisses across various batches. The Phi Band and the Phi Choir serenaded the sisses with lovely songs while the Phi Tao Rin Pala Core (TRP Core) stunned the audience with their electric dance number.
The Sorority also recognized sisses who exemplified its core values of Excellence, Leadership, and Service. Sisses who went above and beyond their call of duty were awarded the Excellence award. Among those awarded this prestigious honor were Dr. Jennifer Co-Vu, Φ1996B, Dr. Marie Paz Anette David-Rubio, Φ1982A, Dr. Maria Antonia Esteban-Habana, Φ1984, Dr. Iris Thiele Isip-Tan, Φ1991, Dr. Eileen Malapaya-Manalo, Φ1985, and Dr. Geraldine Tong Zamora, Φ2005. The Leadership award was awarded to pioneers, founders, and catalysts of change who paved the way onto greater things. This award was given to Dr. Maria Luz Casimiro-Querubin, Φ1984, Dr. Charlotte Chiong, Φ1981A, Dr. Maria Angela Medina-Lavadia, Φ1978, Ma. Corazon Wilhelmina Kasilag Ochoa-Strattan, Φ1972, Dr. Lisa Prodigalidad-Jabson, Φ1989B, and Dr. Zenda Garcia-Lat, Founder of the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority. Next, the Service award was given to those who continue to selflessly provide sustainable service to the Filipino people. This award was given to Dr. Rhodora del Rosario Ocampo, Φ1983, Dr. Lourdes Inciong Publico, Φ1973, Dr. Josephine M. Carnate, Φ1985, Dr. Josefina Isidro-Lapeña, Φ1977, and Dr. Belen Lardizabal-Dofitas, Φ1983B. Lastly, sisses from the UPCM Class of 1994 were called on stage and were recognized as the Silver Jubilarians, having celebrated 25 years as alumnae from UPCM.
At the end of the program, Ana Beatrice de Vera Constantino Φ 2016, SSE 2019-2020’s gave her closing remarks, which was followed by the sisses' renewal of rites. To conclude the night's festivities, the sisses sang the Phi Lambda Delta song in unison to honor the sisterhood that will always be deemed timeless and boundless in our hearts.
By Leslie T. Lim, Ф2019, Class 2023
Last October 11, 2019, the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority had a career talk on surgery and anaesthesiology entitled “Phi in the OR”. The event was held in PGH’s RCB OR Conference Room and was graced with four speakers from the Department of Surgery and Anesthesiology namely: Dr. Esther Alinsunurin Saguil (Ф1986, Class 1991), Dr. Jeryl Anne Silvia Roxas Reyes (Ф2000A, Class 2005), Dr. Maria Teresa Sabas Flores-Paelmo (Ф1990, Class 1995) and Dr. Arlene Dejera Jimeno-Hernandez (Ф1990, Class 1995). Apart from these, resident sisses from these two departments also shared their stories.
The speakers talked about their life as medical students, interns, residents, and as successful doctors. Tips and advice were given as well. Moreover, how to have a love live and how to build a family despite the toxicity of becoming a doctor was also tackled.
The career talk also began with snacks from Amber’s and Sushi Nori sponsored by the alum sisses. Truly, the event was a success as more sisses in the resident body were inspired to take surgery, and even anaesthesiology as their specialty in the future!
This event was headed by Aurora Nakpil (Ф2017), and co-headed by Leslie Lim (Ф2019).
By Maria Antoinette M. Valdez, Ф2019, Class 2023
Milk Matters, the flagship project of the Phi Lambda Sorority, holds milk drives concurrent with public health lectures (PHLs) in partner communities so as to educate mothers about the importance of breastfeeding, how to properly express milk, as well as give them the opportunity to donate their breastmilk to the babies of the Philippine General Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PGH NICU). For this year’s Service Month, another Milk Drive was held last October 5, 2019, at the Risen Christ Parish Church, Silang, Cavite, in the spirit of Phi’s commitment to this advocacy.
The day started on an energetic note as a PHL for the mothers on breastfeeding and immunization was hosted by Marie Pauline Adame Abilin Ф2019 and Nicole Rose Inos Alberto Ф2019. Proper latching for breastfeeding was first taught to the mothers through the acronym “G.A.T.A.S.”, after which mothers were encouraged to actively participate in synthesizing their learnings through a fun-filled game of pictures of latching to which they shout “Tama” o “Mali” to indicate a proper or improper latch. Next was the demonstration of the different breastfeeding holds, namely the cradle hold, cross-cradle hold, football hold, and the side-lying position by Isabelle Rose Inos Alberto Ф2019.
It was also important to clear up any misconceptions the mothers may have regarding breastfeeding, which was achieved through active participation of the mothers in another round of ‘Tama o Mali’. Most of the statements centered on when or when not to breastfeed, as well as debunking traditionally held beliefs such as avoiding breastfeeding when tired or sick. Next up, the entirety of WildPHIre, Batch Ф2019, touched on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. Each member held up a poster as a visual aid as they expounded on each.
A segment on vaccination was then added to this year’s PHL. Given the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases nationwide, it was important that mothers vaccinate their babies early and that they be able to recognize that vaccines are in fact, safe and effective. Thus, an active Question and Answer-type discussion regarding the different vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis was conducted by the hosts, along with educating the mothers about the life-threatening manifestations that each may have. Stephanie Isabelle Cruz Paredes Ф2019, and Mary Grace Li Enriquez Ф2019, then stepped in to discuss to the mothers the multitude of benefits that come with vaccinating their babies. During their discussion, cards containing the DOH Immunization Schedule were distributed to the mothers which they could conveniently refer to in making sure that their babies have been given the shots needed at particular ages.
Finally, the hosts also mentioned that although breast milk has the capacity to protect babies from certain illnesses, vaccination remains superior in terms of effectivity in protecting their children from life-threatening illness that cannot be cured once acquired—only managed. Thus, the PHL was then closed by asking the mothers to repeat the hosts’ chant of “Basta kumpleto, protektado!”, in the goal of emphasizing to the participating mothers the importance of practicing timely and complete vaccination for their children as an endnote.
The breast milk expression station was then opened to the mothers, with the PGH NICU nurses facilitating the milk expression. All sisses present during the event were also given the opportunity to facilitate milk expression firsthand. As the morning came to a close, a total of 2 liters of breastmilk were collected; around more than 30 mothers, with some carrying their babies, left with smiles on their faces; and the whole resident body, ended the milk drive with an intensified desire to keep on holding more in the sorority’s years to come.
By Christina Hedriana Baroña, Ф2019, Class 2023
Last October 8, the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority held EmpoweRED: An HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign at the Gregorio Perfecto High School. Students from Grades 9 and 10 were given lectures on the different aspects surrounding the condition, namely, its medical and social aspect.
Dr. Winlove Mojica, a consultant of the Philippine General Hospital-Division of Dermatology, gave the lecture on the medical aspect of the condition—its prevalence, how one contracts it, how it is transmitted and how it can affect the body, as he clarified medical myths surrounding the disease. This part of the talk aims to dispel any misconception about the condition that could easily contribute to the stigma, thus effectively stopping it from forming in this particular set of young minds in the first place.
The speaker of the social aspect of HIV/AIDS, Mr. Manuel Labro, who himself is a Person Living with HIV (PLHIV), was introduced by first having Dr. Mojica show a video on the life of a PLHIV, which turns out to be him. Mr. Labro then emerged from the audience and continued his lecture. Through this unorthodox introduction and a moving speech, Mr. Labro was able to effectively demonstrate how people living with the condition look no different from those without it, whilst silently, but successfully fighting a fierce battle with one of the most devastating infectious diseases humanity has ever had to face.
This is but one of the many events in the EmpoweRED Talk Series that aims to break the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, by teaching correct information and raising awareness in the youth, the demographic most concerned by the subject given its rising sexual activity and thus, rising risk of exposure to the disease. With the help of the consultants who take part in educating the youth about it, and the PLHIV who share their experiences living with it, the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority urges everyone to be aware, be informed and be empoweRED.