By Iya de Claro (Class 2024)
On August 8, 2021, the UP College of Medicine Class of 2021 took flight and celebrated their shared fulfillment in their accomplishments at Salimbay: UP College of Medicine 112th Commencement Exercises. The event was livestreamed on YouTube.
The event started with the Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Anthony H. Cordero, introducing the commencement exercises, giving a brief overview of the meaning behind Salimbay, and praising how Class 2021 soared high to face the many obstacles that came their way, including the COVID-19 pandemic. This was followed by the invocation and national anthem, both performed by the UP Medicine Choir.
Dean Charlotte M. Chiong then gave her Welcoming Remarks, speaking about PGH becoming a COVID Referral Center, and how the College worked hard to make sure no student got left behind despite the changes and hardships that came along the way. She mentioned how she was hopeful for the future, because of the healthcare laws that were recently passed, as well as hopeful that the graduates would become good doctors, aiming for health for all. After this, Director Gerardo D. Legaspi gave his Opening Remarks, starting with the saying, “you can never put a good man down.” He went on to explain that with the threat of the unseen enemy, the COVID-19 virus, this ceremony in itself is a testament to the fortitude and resolve of the graduates. They may have been baffled by the crisis, but they surely were not bested.
The commencement exercises continued with the petition for the conferment of the degree of Doctor of Medicine and MD-PhD degrees, followed by the presentation of medical graduates, clinical interns, and MD-PhD graduates to the UP Manila Chancellor.
Chancellor Carmencita David-Padilla then introduced the Commencement Speaker, Dr. Paul Gideon D. Lasco, citing his numerous achievements and noting that he is a prime example of what they hope the graduates today to be– five-star physicians. Dr. Lasco’s address touched on many topics, including how we should make the most that we have now, even without face-to-face interactions and opportunities, because learning and healing must go on. He also talked about how we need to, now more than ever, go beyond the clinics and integrate public service into our practice, healing and speaking for the underserved. Even though medicine is a big part of our lives, it does not define us. Dr. Lasco also spoke of life in medicine as a journey, and emphasized how the journey itself is more important than the destination. It is important that we learn to live in the moment and pursue things out of medicine, because we can never be too busy for the things and people we love. We must also be open to the possibilities of detours, Dr. Lasco said, and there is certainly a risk of stopping and turning back, but it is always up to us to decide what comes next.
The program continued with the much awaited awarding of diplomas and certificates of internship to the UPCM 2021 graduates. 6 graduates of the MD-PhD program were also recognized, alongside 6 in the MD-PhD program who received their certificate of internship. Out of all of Class 2021’s graduates, 33 soared high above and beyond to graduate with honors, 32 cum laudes and 1 magna cum laude. The top 3 graduates of Class 2021 received the Dr. Gregorio T. Alvior, Jr. Award for Academic Excellence. Dr. Bradley Ong was named the Top 3 of Class 2021, receiving a bronze medal. Dr. Shaira Tagadan was named Salutatorian of the class, receiving the silver medal, as well as the award for Most Outstanding Medical Graduate. Dr. Linnaeus Cruz was named Class Valedictorian, receiving the gold medal.
Other awardees included Dr. Paolo Victor N. Medina, who was given the UPMASA Missouri-Southern Illinois Chapter Outstanding Teacher Award. Dr. Marie Dione A. Parreno-Sacdalan was awarded the UPMASA Missouri-Southern Illinois Chapter Outstanding Medical Teacher Award. Dr. Julienne Bautista received the Sir Hugh Greenwood Community Service award, while Dr. Louie Dy received the Oreta-Dizon & Santos Ocampo Award for Medical Research. For leadership, Dr. Ethan Maslog was given the UPMAS Leadership Award, while Dr. Mayo Viray was given the ES Garcia Leadership Award. The Dr. Adolfo B. Bellosillo Academic Excellence Award for the Most Outstanding MD-PhD Graduate and the MD-PhD Academic Distinction Award were given to Dr. Ian Tabios. The Most Outstanding MD-PhD Dissertation Award was given to Dr. Maria Llaine Callanta.
After the presentation of special awards, Dr. Omid Siahmard gave a message on behalf of Class 2021. He mentioned how medical students should recognize that medicine goes beyond the classrooms and hospitals, and that we should learn from other disciplines as well. He also urged the graduating class to be reminded that as medical students they aced their OSCEs and exams, but were also ready to take to the streets when needed, ready to act out of social accountability and responsibility. It is in these actions that we become true doctors, because when we do not help the underserved when they need it, the white coat loses its meaning. Dr. Siahmard mentioned that as members of the medical community, we need “not only have clinical eyes that see signs of diseases, but critical eyes that see the signs of violence and injustices in the conditions of the people we meet.”
Afterwards, Dr. Lara Theresa A. Aleta led Class 2021 in their induction to the UP Medical Alumni Society (UPMAS) and Dr. Leopoldo M. Abad, III led Class 2021 in their induction to the UP Medical Alumni Society (PGH-AMA). Then, Dean Chiong led Class 2021 in reciting the Hippocratic Oath.
With a renewed sense of purpose and a promise to serve the underserved, Class 2021 presented their song which won Best in Original Piece during Tao Rin Pala 44’s Chorale Competition, “Isang Taon Isang Segundo.” With the end of the commencement exercises, UPCM 2021 goes on to face this uncertain world as new doctors with an invigorated passion to soar high in all of their endeavors.
SOAR HIGH, XXI!