So far, so good

What for should I ask more

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Afterglow: GK1World

Gawad Kalinga’s GK1World Expo proved to be a massive sensory overload: banners and tents of various shades and hues; a savory array of gustatory and olfactory delights; hugs, kisses, and handshakes from friends and partners- old and new; music and inspiration that fill the mind and satiate the heart. Thousands came to the Mall of Asia to celebrate the 4th year anniversary of the launch of GK 777- everyone awed or awe-inspiring in one way or another.

But one statement stood out, which I heard in our forum on child and youth development and health. It came from a former neighborhood bully in Bagong Silang who dabbled in petty crimes when he was younger. As of late, thanks to the renewed spirit of hope and sense of dignity that resides within him, he is on his way to becoming, arguably, the first Gawad Kalinga resident to become a lawyer.

He pretty much summarized what Gawad Kalinga residents, partners, friends, and workers learn and live by everyday:

Dahil sa Gawad Kalinga, natuto akong maglingkod sa bayan, mangarap para sa aking sarili, at mahalin ang Diyos.

Because of Gawad Kalinga, I learned how to serve my country, dream for myself, and love God.

It excites me immensely how great our country will be if we espouse the same ideals, a day at a time, one Filipino at a time. When we all band together with


Against Poverty.

Thanks Grace for the photos!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Gawad Kalinga 1World Expo 2007 - October 26-28 SM Mall of Asia

I can't believe it's GK Expo time again! Last year was a fantastic experience! This year, amidst our turmoil- and challenge-strewn path, GK is continuing to help restore the dignity of the poor, one home and community at a time. Photo above from GK Expo 2006. Text and schedule that follow come from the Gawad Kalinga official website where you can get more information about the expo and how you, too, can be a hero for the country.

This month, Gawad Kalinga celebrates its 4th year anniversary particularly the birthing of its vision to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in 7 years or GK777 officially launched on October 4, 2003.

Armed only with great faith in its infancy, GK now finds itself in the middle of its journey towards 2010. We look forward to the fulfillment of the vision along with the growing number of volunteers (GK1MB) who will press on to its realization as the systems and the science are being put in place through the GK Builders Institute.

After a difficult time of growth and transition, it is time for us to celebrate God's faithfulness to our community and country as we hold the GK777 anniversary on October 26 to 28 at the SM Mall of Asia. (South Parking area, just across the Church of Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life and SMX.)

With the theme "GK1World: One Hope. One Vision. One Global Army against Poverty," the GK expo is a gathering of all GK volunteers, partners and workers - real-life heroes who continue to press on despite the challenges that the work entails.

Our beloved kapitbahayan, the residents of GK villages, will take center stage as they participate in the Kapitbahayan Olympics on October 27 at the MOA grounds. To see their joy is already a great reward for GK heroes who have made a difference in their lives.

GK1World is expected to become a point of convergence as the young and old, rich and poor, Christians and Muslims, Filipinos here and abroad come together to celebrate the vision of a country free from poverty and hunger. Even foreigners who have joined the GK Builders Corps have learned that despite our many differences, we are all one in dignity, and we all hope for a better world.

GK has given the tangible hope that such a dream is not impossible. As of the latest GK statistics reported in August 2007, over one thousand communities and more than 24,000 GK homes have been built around the Philippines. That's thousands of poor families whose lives have been transformed.

The good news is that we have only just begun and there is so much more to be done. Together with our GK partners from the public and private sector, the local and international community, our kapitbahayan and caretaker teams, come and share in the miracle as we all push forward towards GK777.

Come and celebrate our mission and mandate as we push forward in hope and anticipation for greater miracles ahead.

Schedule of activities:
October 26, 2007

Forum : Environment
1:30-4:30pm, GK1World Grounds

Forum : Productivity
1:30-4:30 pm, GK1World Grounds

Salo-salo ng mga Bayani
Cocktails & Entertainment
5:30-830pm, GK1World Mainstage

October 27, 2007

GK1World Bayani Marathon & Morning Aerobics (6am, MOA Grounds)

Kultura “Diwa” Workshop (9am-12nn, GK1World Mainstage)

Healthcare Volunteers Assembly (9am-12nn, GK1World Grounds

KB Olympics & Paraisong Pambata (8am-4pm, GK1World Grounds)

Grand Pinakbet Pakain (12nn-130pm, BayanAnihan Farms)

Forums: Shelter & Environment (1pm-4pm, MOA Cinema)

Forums : Health & Education (1-4pm, MOA Cinema)

Martsa ng mga Bayani (4pm, MOA Grounds)

Gabi ng Parangal (530pm, GK1World Mainstage)

GK1MB Concert (730pm, GK1World Mainstage)

Mass (10pm, GK1World Mainstage)

Breaking of Bread (11pm, GK1World Mainstage)

GK1World Village, MOA Grounds

Bayan Anihan Farms: Model Farms on Display (8am-10pm)
Productivity Fair: GK Home, GKoncepts * Teenpreneur & Bayanihan Challenge (Friday Only) * Ecovillage model * Lakaran sa GK1World Village 9am/3pm (Open to All)* Kalye Kainan (Regional Food Fair) 24 hours

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Living in the land of the lost

I first encountered Sumilao when I went to Bukidnon last April. The bus made a five-minute stop in the town’s central market to pick up some passengers. The whole stretch of the highway- from Cagayan De Oro to Malaybalay (where I eventually rendezvous-ed with one of my closest friends from medical school, Dr Lester Geroy) –was flanked by a seamless array of plantations, hills, and, sparingly, by forests. It exceeded the vision I created in my head, of how nature and agriculture has fused perfectly in this bountiful place to provide for all who live off of it.. This is the reason why the place seemed as peace… Or so I thought.

I was fortunate enough to work two weekends with the secretariat of a training for doctors who will be tasked to render psychosocial response in times of disasters. There I met Jean Llorin, a community organizer from Albay who shared with the attendees some of the basics of social mobilization. She related how they dealt with the double burden of Mayon and Reming in 2006, plus some insights on how doctors can enmesh themselves/ourselves in disaster response. After her talk, I learned that she just flew in from Bukidnon where she saw off the Sumilao farmers who are making a two-month trek, walking from Mindanao to Malacanan, to air their grievance to the President on World Human Rights Day, December 10. Hmmm It seems that all is not well at the homefront.

I gave my word that I’ll do my own bit in making their cause more known. A tad belated, here’s me walking with them, albeit via the Information and not the Maharlika Highway.

I’m reposting below the position paper posted on the Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development site.

Please sign the online petition in support of the Sumilao farmers which I think is equally important to the Desperate Housewives issue.

There are updates available online like this article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, just Google “Sumilao farmers”.

Also, to follow the progress of their 1000++-kilometer walk, updates are available from the Sumilao March Multiply page. Continue to read please-

Position Paper on the Sumilao Farmers' Struggle for Access to Their Land

Revoke the Conversion Order! Redistribute the Land under CARP!
Reform and Extend the Agrarian Reform Program! Rationalize Land Use!

The Higaonon Indigenous Cultural Communities were the early settlers of a piece of ancestral land in Sumilao, Bukidnon. A portion thereof, 243.885 hectare area of the ancestral land served as the Seat of Government of the Higaonons where the traditional paghusay and pamuhat were conducted by the Higaonon tribal council lead by Apo Manuagay Anlicao and Apo Mangganiahon Anlicao. The ancestral land is a flat agricultural terrain situated in the midst of Mt. Sayawan and Mt. Palaopao, and where Mt. Kitanglad can be seen from afar. It was once termed as pinetreehon by the visitors due to the abundance of pine trees all over the place and its cold temperature. Magbabaya gave this balaang yuta to the Higaonon communities. It was their forefathers’.

Then the Angeles came in 1930s forcibly evicting the Higaonons from their ancestral land and converted the land into a cattle ranch. Later, the land was transferred to the Ilagans. In 1970s, the ancestral land was divided between 2 landowners: 99.885 hectares to Salvador Carlos while the 144 hectares was transferred to Norberto Quisumbing. The ancestral land was eventually leased to Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) for 10 years. At this time, the Higaonons became farmworkers of the land they once owned.

With the advent of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law in 1988, the 144 ancestral land was covered for distribution to 137 Mapadayonong Panaghiusa sa mga Lumad Alang sa Damlag (MAPALAD) farmers, all of Higaonon lineage. Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) was subsequently issued in their names making them the owners of the 144 ancestral land. For the first time in several years, the MAPALAD farmers regained their ancestral land. What followed next was a controversial legal battle which sparked national interest involving the sad state of agrarian reform in the country.

In an apparent move to circumvent agrarian reform, Quisumbing applied for conversion of the land from agricultural to agro-industrial before the DAR notwithstanding the fact that prime agricultural lands are non-negotiable for conversion. Quisumbing proudly proposed the establishment of a Development Academy of Mindanao, cultural center, Institute for Livelihood Science, museum, library, golf course, and Mindanao Sports Development Complex, Bukidnon Agro-Industrial Park, Forest Development and Support Facilities including the construction of a 360-room hotel, restaurant and housing projects, among others.

Further, Quisumbing connived with the LGUs of Sumilao and Province of Bukidnon where the latter illegally passed Resolution No. 24 and Resolution No. 94-95, respectively, allowing the conversion of the land despite the fact that LGUs have no power of conversion under the law as the same belongs to the DAR Secretary.

The DAR Secretary denied the application because of its patent invalidity. On appeal to the Office of the President, Executive Secretary Ruben Torres issued the infamous Torres Resolution approving the application for conversion despite its illegality.
Left of no more recourse, the MAPALAD farmers decided to do the only non-violent and peaceful means their forefathers taught them during unpeaceful times – a Hunger Strike. For 28 days, the MAPALAD farmers ate nothing but water in front of the DAR Office in the cities of Quezon and Cagayan de Oro. Their peaceful protest caught the interest of the public: Cardinal Sin, including presidential wannabees Erap, Renato De Villa, and several senatoriables, LGUs and the House of Representatives.

Due to huge public pressure, President Ramos issued the so-called “Win-win Resolution” wherein 100 hectares were to be given to the farmers while 44 hectares to Quisumbing. It was a pleasant victory for the MAPALAD farmers and the whole peasant sector. However, their victory was short-lived.

Quisumbing was infuriated with the decision and brought the same before the Supreme Court. MAPALAD, as farmer beneficiaries of the 144, intervened in the case and raised novel questions such as the validity of conversion of prime agricultural lands which are supposedly non-negotiable for conversion, the power of reclassification of LGUs vis-à-vis DAR’s authority to approve conversions, and the validity of the comprehensive agrarian reform law itself.

Unexpectedly, the Supreme Court evaded the resolution of the substantial issues of the case and found one perfect excuse: reglementary periods. The Supreme Court refused to answer the constitutional issues and asserted that the DAR failed to question the Torres Resolution on time. The Supreme Court skirted merits and yielded to technicalities. The questionable Torres Resolution was reinstated while the “Win-win Resolution” was invalidated. Worst, it denied MAPALAD’s intervention by equivocally saying they were merely “recommendee farmer beneficiaries”, hence, have no real interest over the land. MAPALAD’s dream of regaining their ancestral land vanished in seconds. They lost to numbers.

That was in 1999.

Several years have passed since then yet the 144 hectare land remains idle. Not one of those proposed by Quisumbing ever materialized. The “promises” of economic vitality, employment and increase in income, leaves much to be desired as everything was a “castle in the air”. Apparently, the Quisumbings have successfully fooled the MAPALAD farmers and the peasant sector, local government units, national government, Supreme Court, and the Filipino people in general, by such empty “promises” of development in order to circumvent the coverage of the 144 hectare ancestral land and evade the implementation of genuine agrarian reform in the country.

In 2002, the Quisumbings have once more fooled the MAPALAD farmers by selling the 144 hectare ancestral land to San Miguel Foods, Inc. (SMFI), the biggest conglomerate in the country owned by Danding Cojuangco. SMFI plans to put up a piggery farm on the 144 hectare ancestral land knowing fully that such transaction is a violation of the conversion order as it substantially changed its use.

Hence, the Sumilao farmers lead by 78 MAPALAD farmers together with 90 members of the San Vicente Landless Farmers Association (SALFA) filed a Petition for the Cancellation of the Conversion Order against Quisumbing and/or SMFI before the DAR. The Sumilao farmers maintain that more than 5 years have passed since the Conversion Order yet they failed to initiate any development work on the land. Further, SMFI has grossly violated the conditions of the Conversion Order by changing its use to hog farm. Both actions were made in violation of DAR Administrative Orders 1 and 2, Series of 1990 and other pertinent laws on conversion.

Petition pending before the Office of the President

The Sumilao farmers raised the petition for cancellation of the Conversion Order directly before the Office of the President since it is unable to obtain a favorable response from the DAR Secretary. The Sumilao farmers maintained that the DAR Secretary has exclusive jurisdiction over the petition, and that the DAR should have ordered the cancellation of the Conversion Order because of the violations.

Granting, however, that the Office of the President is the proper office to determine the petition, the more reason that it should immediately cancel the Conversion Order it previously approved since Quisumbing and/or SMFI has grossly violated the conditions thereof. Its willful defiance of the Conversion Order has already been affirmed by the DAR Secretary in its order, hence, the immediate cancellation thereof.

For certain, the cancellation of the Conversion Order will bring light and abundance not only to the present families of the Sumilao farmers but as well as their future generation who really deserved to have a piece of land of their own.
If the land was previously awarded to the Sumilao farmers, it would have been productive and earning income by now. Quisumbing in a sense was ironically right in his bias that distributing the land to the farmers does not guarantee such benefits because no benefits actually redounded to anyone. None to the farmers, none to the communities, none to the local government units, none to the government. All that was attained was the circumvention if not a sheer mockery of agrarian reform laws and agrarian law implementers to evade coverage from CARP.

Expiration of CARP in 2008

Notably, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is about to expire in 2008, yet, the fruits of agrarian reform remain to be seen, or to put it squarely, now belongs to Cojuangco and his hogs.

The government has reported an accomplishment of a seemingly impressive 6.4 million hectares – or 79.4% of the target CARP
scope of 8.1 million hectares from 1972 to 2005. However, the figures were computed in such a way as to deceive the true situation of agrarian reform in the country. The “accomplishments” include lands with registered CLOAs but these have not been turned over to tenants. There is double counting where collective CLOAs and the individual CLOAs are both tallied. In the most brazen cases, there are CLOA holders who still do not occupy the lands.

On top of that, the government’s original target scope of 10.3 million hectares in 1988 was severely reduced in 1996 to 8.1 million hectares to accommodate large-scale exemptions and massive land conversions. More than 5.3 million hectares of land were exempted outright from CARP in 1996. The reductions in the scope of public land in turn accommodated vast tracts of government land leased or otherwise controlled by big landlords as cattle ranches, export crop plantations and logging concessions. Taken as a whole, there are more than 10.2 million marginal farmers, tenants and farm workers, 70% of whom are still landless even at the
closing stages of CARP.

The recent moves of President Arroyo show that Congress may not likely give CARP another extension: CARP has been lumped with other asset reform programs of the government such as urban land and ancestral domain instead of the usual separate chapter in the recent Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP); the target for land acquisition and distribution (LAD) of private agricultural lands has been reduced to only 100,000 hectares per year; and the legal moves by Congress to stop CARP, to wit, exemptions of big prawn farms, fish ponds and aquaculture areas from CARP coverage, foreign investors’ leasing of private lands for up to 75 years, and the proposed 25-year moratorium on CARP implementation in the Mindanao region. This clearly indicates the Arroyo administration’s total abandonment of the Constitutional mandate on agrarian reform as provided in Section 4, Article XII of the Constitution.

The struggle of the Sumilao farmers will be brought to naught unless the agrarian reform program will be extended beyond 2008 and a genuine implementation of land acquisition and distribution (LAD) shall be had.

No Clear Land Use Policy

Corollary to the issue on the “expiration” of the CARP in 2008, the government seems to have no clear land use policy that ensures that agricultural lands are protected or exempted from conversion into other uses. The problem on massive land conversion is a serious problem for the government to deal with, especially with a growing population, perennial problem of food security and threat to the ecology.

As of the moment, the government has not come up with a national land use policy that it could effectively implement and consequently results in land disputes. Farmers are complaining that their lands are being converted to industrial plants and subdivisions while land developers and landowners insist that such lands are no longer fit for agricultural production. The weaknesses in land use policy, administration and management, inconsistent land policies, inefficient land administration infrastructure, a highly politicized land tax system, an inefficient agrarian reform and housing development programs are affecting the efficiency of land markets, and thus the country’s economic growth potential and equity.

In the case of the 144 hectare land, the same was illegally reclassified by the LGU of Sumilao to an agro-industrial property contrary to policy issuances prohibiting reclassification of prime agricultural lands, and in contravention of the power of conversion of the DAR Secretary. Unless and until a proper land use policy shall be enacted by Congress, the problem on massive conversions of agricultural land will pursue.

At real issue of the case is the right of the Sumilao farmers to regain their long lost ancestral land. The Sumilao farmers have been robbed of their land by unscrupulous landlords and transformed their ancestral land into cattle ranches, pineapple plantations and now, piggery farms – the very same land which the Higaonons perform their sacred rituals and prayer offerings.

Notably, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law is about to end in 2008. Yet, the fruits thereof remain to be seen, or to put it squarely, now belongs to Cojuangco and his hogs.

The 144 hectare ancestral land remains fertile though. Its rich soil awaits cultivation. Mt. Sayawan and Mt. Palaopao still protects the land from unwanted weather conditions and Culaman River runs through the land giving it water from beneath. In the end, the Higaonon ancestors foresee the final “resting” of their ancestral land.

In summary, the Sumilao farmers call the attention of Bukidnon Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Julio Celestiano, DAR Regional Director John Maruhom, DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, and demand the following:

1. Restore the dignity of the Sumilao farmers!
2. Revoke the Conversion Order!
3. Reclaim the land!
4. Reform and extend CARP!
5. Recognize the need for a National Land Use Law!

The Sumilao Farmers

To follow their progress, updates are available from the Sumilao March Multiply page.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rest in pieces

Apart from the harrowing Asian Spirit flight from a year ago, the closest I have been to really coming face to face with my mortality is seeing my own name- nickname and surname- in the obituary section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer a couple of days back.

Her real name was miles away from my own but the contraction of syllables amounted to us having the same nickname. She was 49, the obituary notice said. Out of sheer curiosity, I did go to her wake. On the table just outside the chapel where her remains lie, there were photos of her. She seemed a very vibrant person, much younger-looking than most 49-year-olds I know. I came to within 30 feet of the glass door which led to where family and friends gathered. I contemplated for about 15 minutes whether I should go in or not. I didn’t. It felt too intrusive and insensitive, at that moment in time at least. The best I could do was ask the men in my prayer group to pray for her eternal rest.


That same day I read “my” obituary, I got an sms from one of the siblings of my recently departed friend. There’s a get together in their house on the 24th- it’s his first death anniversary already. How fast time flies. But still we miss him terribly.



I’m ok. Na bomb glorietta

A text message I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to ever receive, dreadful and yet… most welcome. I tried calling her up soon after I got the sms but I couldn’t get through. I still tried calling her despite knowing fully that she’d be busy dealing with the situation, part of management that she is. Hearing my sister’s voice hours later was utter, utter relief.


A reminder for all of us too busy with the pursuit of surviving rather than living: It can be lost just like *that*. Life is fragile- handle with prayer.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Desperate how's and why's

Early Monday morning, I got an email coursed through our med school class e-group, from a classmate currently undergoing residency training in the United States- at Johns Hopkins no less!- detailing what is now the infamous dialogue from an American tv series:

In the episode entitled. "Now You Know", Susan's character was questioning the credibility of a gynecologist and said, "Ok before we go any further, can I check those diplomas? Cause I would just like to make sure that they're not from some med school in the Philippines."

And the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

Truth be told, I haven’t had the chance to really mull over this piece of “news”. Honest to goodness, my first instinct after reading the email was- “Uhmm… Ok.” I proceeded to read subsequent emails, prepare the questions for the end-of-rotation examination of the third year medical students in our section, etc. The issue did not creep back into my consciousness until tv newscasts, and radio talk shows began taking to task health sector professionals and leaders on what the appropriate response was to the perceived slur. The issue was slowly dissected in the media, if you will.

All the while I still haven’t formed an opinion. I was even somehow put on the hotseat last night when a handful of us high school friends got together for dinner- a lawyer, a financial analyst, myself, and a pediatric resident doctor.

Our pediatric resident MD friend still haven’t formed an opinion about the matter; she was too busy saving lives at the emergency room of the university hospital the past few days.

Our financial analyst friend was very upset but still level-headed. She narrowed down the choice of reactions to just two: be mature about the issue so let it slide OR be mature about the issue so stand up for your rights and dignity. She is very much for the latter.

Our lawyer friend, well, she was for the first option, that we Filipinos ought to bear it and grin. The fact of the matter is, it’s a tough world and it’s not in our best interest to be onion-skinned. C’est la vie.

And as for me… I… still don’t know.

I know I am expected to express irritation, dismay, anger, displeasure over this entire brouhaha. As part of the Filipino medical profession, I should resent being disparaged in one fell swoop by that 29-word dialogue. As part of the premiere medical education institution in the Philippines, I ought to be outraged by that remark insinuating that doctors who graduate from Philippine medical schools are “substandard” and unworthy of a patient’s trust.

And to a large extent I do resent being at the butt of that disparaging tongue-in-cheek line. I am outraged about the statement that looks down on the quality of instruction in medical schools in the Philippines.

I laud the immediate, thunderous retort of the Filipino-American community: pickets and petitions at a moment’s notice.

I am in awe of the Philippine government’s fast-paced action and tough talk: protests from various U.S.-based consular offices, statements of displeasure unleashed through various forms of media, the House of Representatives’ posturing that may lead to the banning of showing the Show-That-Should-Not-Be-Shown in- egad!- Asia.

I am amazed at the speedy crafting of protest letters and statements of the Philippine Medical Association decrying the demeaning dialogue disparaging doctors. And as luck would have it- the president of the PMA is in the World Medical Association meeting in Copenhagen, a very opportune time to raise this matter of how a Sunday night tv series can precipitate the crumbling of the Philippine medical community.

Everybody, altogether now, wake up and smell the rotten condition of Philippine medical training.

(For those not in the best of moods, ranting is about to commence. Since misery loves company- feel free to swim in my random thoughts of disgust at the hypocrisy of the people in this brewing controversy. Else, feel free to browse my other feel-good entries. You have been warned... Do read on.)

Haay... Fussing over this darn tv show! When one Filipino dies of TB every 20 minutes- is ANYONE writing a petition for government to act more swiftly on this issue?! Or the fact that 100 municipalities in the Philippines are DOCTOR-LESS, including areas as close to Manila as Batangas- is ANYONE frantically picketing government institutions for this problem's prompt resolution? Or the fact that more than half of all deaths in the country have not been attended to by a health professional, meaning you have NO WAY of knowing if the disease that brought about the patient's demise is familial, infectious, genetic, or environment-related- have you seen this occupy the frontpage of dailies or the top news item among tv news programs?!

For the life of me, I cannot understand how this furor can benefit the Philippine physician and the Filipino patient living as an informal settler (read: SQUATTER) in a piece of land abandoned by its owners who have now migrated to the United States and give nary a care to that inherited piece of property.

I wonder where is the expression of OUTRAGE AND DISGUST when we talk about the state of Philippine medical education? When students and residents still have to undergo 24-hour duties in almost all training hospitals in the Philippines even in the light of various international studies already showing that working long hours in high-stress environments like the hospital can lead to reduced quality of care for patients as evidenced by an increase in errors committed? Why is the Philippine Medical Association not actively advocating for better working conditions in hospitals and training centers?

I wonder where is the government’s FAST-PACED ACTION with regard to really combating the real enemies of the state: infectious diseases like tuberculosis and diarrhea plus emerging lifestyle-related illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease?


I still wonder where government is when medical education in some schools is arguably so poor that a very low percentage- if any one at all- among their graduates pass the PRC licensure examination. I still wonder where government is when a certain medical school is allowed to trumpet the fact that one of its medical graduates would top the medical board exams every so often- while deceptively leaving out the fact that less than a third of its graduates would pass the medical board exams each time the licensure examination is given.

Not that the PRC examination IS a worthy gauge of a Philippine medical graduate’s know-how. Kindly enlighten me please of the relevance of this question from our own physician licensure examination in my practice of medicine:

Who is the first person in history to be recorded to have had small pox (or was it measles)?:
A. Catherine the Great
B. Rameses
C. Moses
D. somebody I already forgot


All of the ruckus created by

"Ok before we go any further, can I check those diplomas? Cause I would just like to make sure that they're not from some med school in the Philippines."

is GOOD. It brings back to the limelight the state of Philippine medical education and training.


To our dear Filipino-Americans:

If you can gather 30,000 signatures for an online petition with regard to a malevolent television show and if some of you feel SO strongly for Philippine pride and Filipino doctors that you would skip work to picket in front of ABC offices, I am sure there is no problem in mustering enough support and dollars to fund scholarships for Filipino medical students AND support non-government institutions that field doctors to far-flung underserved communities IN THE PHILIPPINES. Quality training can be implemented AND quality service can be rendered by these quality graduates who will likewise receive quality remuneration enough for them not to give in to the enticement of working abroad.

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO RESTORE AND MAINTAIN THE DIGNITY OF THE FILIPINO PHYSICIAN, please, kindly put your money where your mouth is. I am sure Filipino doctors appreciate your current display of support- but, really, what we need IN THE PHILIPPINES are more than petitions. We need your resources: subscription to medical journals; medical equipment and reference materials for hospitals; basic hospital supplies and medicines for our patients; doctors abroad- come home to train doctors HERE, serve patients HERE.

To the Philippine Medical Association:

PLEASE FIGHT FOR THE FILIPINO PHYSICIAN! FIGHT FOR BETTER PAY, BETTER BENEFITS, BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS FOR DOCTORS! Lest we doctors begin to think that the PMA is one big useless confraternity of practitioners who do nothing but compare practice toxicity, golf handicaps, and number of luxury vehicles in you garages.

To the government:


Implement the Magna Carta for Health Professionals NOW! Make the pay of health professionals from Batanes to Bicol to Bukidnon equal and just! DIPLOMATIC MANEUVERS like a note verbale or consular protests WILL NOT RESTORE THE DIGNITY OF THE FILIPINO HEALTH PROFESSIONAL that government has already so callously allowed to degenerate; IMPROVED PAY, BENEFITS, AND WORKING CONDITIONS WILL!

INCREASE THE BUDGET FOR HEALTH! Medicines not machine guns!

IMPROVE THE PRC and it conduct of the Physician Licensure Examination!

To Filipinos in general but particularly Filipino physicians:

We can always demand for RESPECT, but the reality is, WE MUST EARN IT. And I believe that what will make FILIPINOS RESPECT THEMSELVES and make the world turn towards us with the utmost respect is if we can pluck our country out of the muck we are in- the quagmire of poverty, corruption, disease, and hopelessness. By getting our act together, contributing to the welfare of our country wherever we maybe, remaining always on the lookout for our country’s best interest, placing the nation’s welfare before our own and converting all our good intentions into concrete action, we will move the nation forward and upward.

No snide remark from any personality- real or imaginary- can erode our dignity then.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

UP-PGH Post-Graduate Training Oct 11-13, 2007

We're inviting you to the UP-PGH Department of Family and Community Medicine's 22nd Annual Postgraduate Course entitled: "EXTENDING PRACTICE BOUNDARIES: FROM FAMILIES TO COMMUNITIES" to be held at Dining Hall Function Room of the Philippine General Hospital, Taft Avenue, Manila from October 11 to 13, 2007.

Topics include:
Stroke Spectrum: Prevention to Rehabilitation, Nutraceuticals: Evidence-based or not?, Diabesity, Education and Counseling for Improving Compliance, Rashes in Children, Notifiable and Newly-emerging Diseases, TB in Adults and Kids, Establishing Public-Private Mixed DOTS, Clinic Practice Management, Setting Up Hospice in the Community, BIR Special Issues, Handling Addictions and Co-dependence, Handling Cases of Violence against Women

Postgraduate Course Fees :
Pre - registration (UNTIL October 8, 2007)
Government MD - P 800.00 / Private MD -P 1,200.00

On Site Registration (AFTER October 8, 2007)
Government MD - P1,000.00 / Private MD - P1,500.00

CME units: PAFP: 30 units (Category I); PMA 100 units

TEL # : 521-84-50 loc 5303 / 5302 or 523-2358

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