Monday, February 2, 2009

*130. PAMPANGA'S MEDICO-CIRUJANOS

CURING THE ILLS OF A TOWN. Dr. Jose Garcia, as a fresh medical graduate of Sto. Tomas University, dated 1917. He was later elected mayor of Mabalacat town in the 1950s.

Medicine, despite its length, cost and degree of difficulty, was one course favored by Kapampangans, ranking alongside Law , Education and Pharmacy. At the University of the Philippines, 14 Kapampangans enrolled in Medicine during the 1918-19 schoolyear, with the enrollment tapering off to 11 in 1924. The popularity of Medicine may be attributed to the emphasis of Americans on public health and services. Pampanga medical personnel ran the public health services of the province, which, in 1912 was divided into 9 sanitary districts, each supervised by a doctor.

Kapampangan doctors were quick to take keen interest in public health and they would often go to Manila to study the latest techniques in health service. It is no wonder that a number of Kapampangan physicians excelled in the medical field.

First on this august list would be Dr. Gregorio T. Singian, regarded as the country’s foremost surgeon. His skills were so well known that he earned the monicker “Mago de los Cirujanos” (Magician Among the Surgeons) and is today known as the father of Philippine surgery. He was one of the original founders of the Pampanga Medical Association, established in the 1930s and is also recognized as the founder of the Philippine College of Surgeons, of which he was the very first president.

Dr. Emigdio C. Cruz of Arayat, director of the Arayat General Hospital, became a personal physician of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. Dr. Rufino Abriol, also of Arayat, was once the president of the Philippine Islands Medical Association and a chairman of the Board of Medical Examiners in the early 1930s. Dr. Galicano Coronel of Porac, a U.S.T. graduate, served as a president of the sanitary Division for Candaba and San Luis during the American regime.

Famous cardiologists include Dr. Mario Alimurung and Dr. Francisco Dizon. Noted Kapampangan pediatricians include Drs. Jesus Gonzalez, Manuel Panlilio and Rolando Songco. The latter founded the Hospital of the Infant Jesus, a children’s hospital, along Dimasalang St., In dentistry, Dr. Tomas L Yuzon was sought after as a dental surgeon, offering the latest in x-ray diagnostics and transillumination.

The honor of becoming the first female Kapampangan doctor belongs to Dra. Francisca Galang. Dr. Angelina Arcilla Latonio was named by Dra. Fe del Mundo as one of the fifteen diamond pediatricians of the country. The daughter of Constitutional Convention delegate Jose Gutierrez David, Perla Gutierrez-Del Rosario is also a physician of note. Today, the attending physician of the First Gentleman, Miguel Arroyo, Dra. Juliet Cervantes of St. Luke’s, is a Kapampangan.

Dr. Conrado Dayrit, besides being an all-around doctor, was also a pharmacologist. A firm believer in the health benefits of virgin coconut oil, he authored a book on the subject. His son, Dr. Manuel Dayrit, became a Secretary of Health. Also occupying an important position in the government is Dr. Regino P. Ragaza, who was the head of the first Tuberculosis Control Division in Manila.

Dr. Rafael Hizon, a pharmacist, established the Hizon Laboratories. In Angeles, the leading doctor in the 1930s was Dr. Clemente Dayrit. Doctors who were also successful sugar planters include Dr. Esteban Arroyo Sadie of Candaba (co-founder of the Arayat Central) and Dr. Salvador Gomez of Angeles. Two accomplished doctors became mayors of Mabalacat—Dr. Jose Garcia and Dr. Catalino Domingo. From Sta. Rita, Dr. Victorino P. Calilong offered his services in a 1933 ad: “manuluya qng sakit kilub ning Catawan, Sakit a lihim at caring anac.”

Today, the country continues to run out of medical doctors, what with new graduates opting to work abroad for the proverbial greener pastures, making one wonder if there is still a cure for this acute sickness called brain drain. Gone, too, are the days when doctors made house calls and regular follow-ups. No one takes payment in kind anymore—just fees in cash. But at one point in our history, our medical institutions were staffed by Kapampangan medical professionals—doctors, pediatricians, nurses, dentists, pathologists, obstetricians and specialists-- who put the health and healing of their countrymen first, before anything else.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The list of well known Pampango physicians is very long. Perhaps to be included in your list is Dr. Wenceslao Vitug, the first valedictorian of Pampanga High
school was a noted internist and professor of medicine. If my memory serves right he was the founder or one of the founders of the Philippine Diabetes Assoc. Drs. Castor Surla and Clemente Calma also deserve to be on that list. A pediatrician of note is the wife of Dr. Francisco Dizon, Dr. Fe Canlas Dizon who was very active in organized medicine.
Antonio C. Quiroz.

alex r. castro said...

Thanks for the addendum. How could I forget Dr. Surla? I think I even have one of his advertisement somewhere in my file. Also Dr. Ananias Laxamana was a noted radiologist-physician. Komusta nako pu?

Anonymous said...

The attending doctor of Presidents Bush (father) and Clinton is Dr. Connie Mariano-Stevens, whose parents are from Sta. Rita, Pampanga.

alex r. castro said...

Thanks you for adding on to this list of accomplished K. doctors!

docnoel said...

Dr. Ananias Laxamana is my grandfather's (Ingkung Peping) cousin in Sta Rita, Pampanga. He served as the President of the Philippine College of Radiology in 1960s. Described by my father as a kind and a compassionate physician, with his notable clinic near Espana, Manila. He too was an "institution" in UST. I too, have fallen in love with medicine, and currently serves as the Chief Resident of the Family Medicine Department of the Veterans Memorial Hospital here in Quezon City. I cannot wait to give back to my fellow kapampangans what I have gained through all these years...

alex r. castro said...

As a child, I had a heart condition which necessitated trips to Manila for medical consultations. My doctors were Kapampangans--Dr. Songco (pediatrics), Dr. Laxamana and Dr. Dayrit, a relative. My parents and I used to go to his small, nondescript clinic along Dapitan at the back of UST for my X-rays, and then hop over to Dimasalang to see my pedia. Then to Q.C. we would proceed to see Dr. Conrado Dayrit. There were no long lines the, we had our doctors' undivided attention, and most important of all--they made me well. For that, I am grateful. I managed to reconnect with Dr. Dayrit before he died, 3 years ago, and I told him, at age 49, I was a result of his medical expertise! I wish you success in your medical profession..

docnoel said...

Thank you very much Sir Alex! Actually when I was a Junior Intern, we had the rare opportune of listening to Dr Songco during his lectures/didactics/rounds at the Regional Memorial Hospital (now Jose B Lingad Memorial General Hospital) in San Fernando...

Kenneth said...

Dear Mr. Castro,

My late father-in-law, Dr. Regino P. Ragaza, was from Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur. He was indeed the first head of the Tuberculosis Control Division. His wife Francisca Pamintuan Ragaza (may she also rest in peace) was from Santa Ana, Pampanga. Thanks.

Kenneth and Eleanor Caldwell
Centreville, VA

Anonymous said...

Dr. Arciliana Latonia is an obstetrician but a well-loved pediatrician