By Abdelaziz Maldisa (2022) and Mark Teo (2023)
Ever resolute, the UP College of Medicine (UPCM) Class of 2020 reaffirmed their commitment to serving the people in Hiraya, the 111th Commencement Exercises of UPCM. On the 26th of July at 12 noon, the Commencement Exercises were, for the first time ever, streamed online on Youtube due to the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With Master of Ceremonies Dr. Anthony Cordero, Hiraya started with the National Anthem and Invocation. Afterwards, Dean Charlotte Chiong, MD, graced Class 2020 with her Welcome Remarks, thanking members of the class who volunteered to stay despite the fact that the National Internship Program was suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, and telling them that UPCM-PGH will always be their home. Dr. Gap Legaspi followed with his Opening Remarks, once more commending Class 2020 for their passion to serve, saying that this year will go down in history as the special year for the interns who stayed despite the COVID crisis, and hoped to see Class 2020 return to PGH to work as residents. To introduce the speaker of the Commencement Address, UPM Chancellor Carmencita Padilla, MD, presented to viewers the many, many achievements of keynote speaker Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno. Atty. Diokno, also the founding dean of the De La Salle University (DLSU) College of Law and Chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), told Class 2020 that, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they graduated at a point in history where it is so much clearer how much people need them and all the work they do. Atty. Diokno urged Class 2020 to not just be great doctors, but to be GOOD doctors. To be doctors in the service of the Filipino people and to give people the voice of conscience needed to change this country.
Afterwards, Dr. Cordero presented the 153 graduates of UPCM Class 2020, along with the 191 PGIs that completed their internship. 5 Graduates of the MD-PhD program were recognized alongside 8 in the MD-PhD program who received their certificate of internship. 30 of Class 2020’s graduate went above and beyond to graduate with honors, 29 cum laudes and 1 magna cum laude. The top 3 of Class 2020 received the Dr. Gregorio T. Alvior, Jr. Award for Academic Excellence, receiving a gold, silver, and bronze medal, for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, in rank respectively. Dr. Hannah Chito was named the first honorable mention of Class 2020, Dr. Kristian Orante was named the class salutatorian, and Dr. Tiffany Uy the class valedictorian.
Other awardees included Dr. Rafael C. Bundoc, who was given the UPMASA Missouri-Southern Illinois Chapter Outstanding Medical Teacher Award in the Basic Science Department. Dr. Salvacion R. Gatchalian was posthumously awarded the UPMASA Missouri-Southern Illinois Chapter Outstanding Medical Teacher Award in the Clinical Science Department. Dr. Michelle Ann B. Eala received the UPMAS Leadership Award, while Dr. Christopher John Jericho A. Balicanta received the ES Garcia Leadership Award. Dr. Miguel Sandino O. Aljibe was given the Hugh Greenwood Community Service Award. The award for Most Outstanding Medical Graduate was given to Dr. Joyce Gillian A. Tiam-Lee, and Dr. John Carlo B. Reyes was given not only the Dr. Perla Oreta-Dizon Santos Ocampo Award for Medical Research, but also the Dr. Adolfo B. Bellosillo Academic Excellence Award for the Most Outstanding MD-PhD Graduate.
After the presentation of special awards, Dr. Uriel Cachero, on behalf of Class 2020, delivered a message that urged doctors to be advocates for true and lasting change. What was once considered normal should not be acceptable, Dr. Cachero stressed, and to be a doctor is to join in the people’s struggle. Dr. Johanna Patricia Cañal then led Class 2020 in their Induction to the UP Medical Alumni Society (UPMAS), followed by Dean Chiong, who led Class 2020 in reciting the Hippocratic Oath. With this promise to serve the underserved as people of medicine, Class 2020 presented their song that won Tao Rin Pala (TRP) 43’s Chorale Competition, “Ang Ating Pangako, Kanila’y Habilin.” Facing tomorrow with a promise renewed, UPCM Class 2020 forges ahead amidst an uncertain future. Padayon, graduates!