Sunday, July 21, 2013

*337. His College Yearbook: DR. MARIO M. ALIMURUNG

HANDS SALUTE! The future cardiologist, Mario de Mesina Alimurung of Bacolor, as the No. 1 cadet of UST. An artist, a teacher, a writer and a medical researcher, this world-class doctor co-founded the Makati Medical Center together with Dr. Manahan and Dr. Fores in 1969.

The Alimurungs are one of the oldest families of Pampanga, with many members settling in Bacolor. From this family with ancient Muslim roots, comes one of the greatest doctors this country has ever known, a world-class cardiologist and a compassionate healer who went on to become one of the founders of Makati Medical Center: Dr. Mariano de Mesina Alimurung.


 Born on 4 August 1916 in Bacolor, the young Mariano went to St. Mary’s Academy for his early schooling. He next went to Letran for his high school education where he graduated at the top of his class in 1936. He chose to take up Medicine at the University of Santo Tomas and there, too, he became an outstanding student and a scholar. In Manila, the Alimurungs kept house on Dapitan St., just a walk away from the pontifical university where Mariano pursued his medical course, even as he also took up military science.

From being Letran’s Corps Commander, he assumed the same top post at the UST, handling a whole brigade and leading other fellow officers including Carlos Arguelles (future architect), Antonio Delgado (future ambassador) and kabalen Carlos Vergara.


Just 23 years old in this picture, Alimurung was quite a campus figure, be-medalled and brilliant, highly regarded by his peers--both in the military and in the medical field.

After earning his medical degree, Dr. Alimurung specialized in Cardiology and became renowned in his field. On the side, he was also a sports enthusiast (he revived interest in the NCAA during the Japanese Occupation by forming a league composed of former Ateneo, Letran and San Beda players) , a teacher and an ardent Kapampangan writer and cultural activist (in 1977, he resurrected the Circulo Escenico, a zarzuela group of long standing, founded in 1930 by Francisco Liongson).

Dr. Alimurung was one of the founders (along with Dr. Constantino Manahan and Dr. Jose Fores, ) of Makati’s premier hospital--the Makati Medical Center in 1969. He sat as the Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Director of the Coronary Care Unit, and Head of the Cardiology Section. He was also the first and only director of the Office of Medical Education, borne by his interest in medical research and education.

 Though at the start, the reason for building a hospital was driven by enterprise, the deeply spiritual Dr. Alimurung recalled: “Divine Providence works His way in the midst of human decisions and human motivations. He writes straight even with crooked lines and works His will into the mazes of human struggles.”

 The founders’ shared mission, thus was refocused on how to deliver the best healthcare to people-- young and old, rich or poor alike, of whatever economic rank--a lifework that was not lost on the leaders of the Catholic Church.

For his selfless contributions to the Philippine community, Dr. Alimurung was given one of the highest Papal Orders of Chivalry—the Knight Commander with the Star of Gregory the Great and Knight Commander of St. Sylvester I. Recipient of many distinguished awards in his time--Cunning’s Humanitarian Award and Distinguished Fellow Award (from the American College of Cardiology), Distinguished Physician Award (Philippine College of Physicians), Distinguished Service Award (Philippine Medical Association)—Dr. Alimurung’s  dedication to serve humanity never wavered..

Accolades continue to pour even after his death: the Catholic Physicians Guild of the Philippines gave him a Distinguished Service Award while the Philippine Heart Association named him recipient of its Distinguished Teacher Award.

In his memory, the Makati Medical Center Library was renamed the Dr. Mariano M. Alimurung Library. Dr. Alimurung was married to Dr. Natividad Narciso, also a Kapampangan. Their son, Benjie Alimurung, also a medical doctor, recalls his father’s words that he lived by: “At every stage of your career, take stock of where you are and where you have been and these will give you invaluable direction on what you should do and where you should go next.”

Dr. Mariano M. Alimurung certainly lived up to this way of thinking, as evidenced by his singleminded pursuit of finding ways  to give Filipinos a better, healthier life, regardless of their place in society till the very end of his life. This benevolent Kapampangan healer died in 1989.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of Dr. Alimurung's dream was a heart center that would not only deliver the best health care to heart patients but also to do high quality research and teaching - along the same lines as the National Heart Institute (US) and the Instituto Nacional de Cardiologia (Mexico). The Philippine Heart Foundation spearheaded that dream. His many friends and students supported that dream - only to be disappointed to see a beautiful building rise with no soul to guide it. I miss Dr. Alimurung, my mentor and my role model. His spirit lives in those he mentored and touched. Antonio Castro Quiroz