Special Edition July 2004 Vol. 4 Issue 6
An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.
Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.
Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
Ray Castillejo, M.D.
The Philadelphia CIM Alumni Reunion 2004
Clem Estrera, Jr., CIM Class 1972
Humor on the City of Brotherly Love
But what could be better and more challenging than love? Sex is easy. Itís like breathing, what could be more natural? But love is hard. Love makes sense out of the unexplainable. It does things to you and changes you even when you have no intention of being changed. It forms a web that crosses time to repair damaged lives and relationships that you never thought could be repaired. Given only one choice between love and sex, I myself would choose love.
So unless youíre vapid and horny like the Anchorman in the movie, The Anchorman, you donít have to bring your Cialis or Viagra with you to Philadelphia. Bring your running or walking shoes instead. Itís nice to walk around the city for exercise. You need a good physical exercise to keep your weight because there are many great restaurants of different kinds in Philly. The food and wine are hard to resist particularly when youíre on vacation or youíre just spending the weekend. Incidentally, the Westin Hotel where we had the reunion has a health club open for guests 24 hours and has a bowl of fruits that is regularly filled.
Philadelphia is the city where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed and thus, the city where America was born. One of the prominent historic touristsí attractions Philadelphia has is the Liberty Bell. It attracts 1.6 million visitors per year. Some of the visitors mistakenly go there to hear the bell rings. But the last time the bell was rung in the middle of the 1800, it ruptured so many eardrums on a five-mile radius. Since then the city never rings it anymore.
The Liberty Bell was ordered from England in 1751 by the Pennsylvania Legislature. Shortly after arriving, the bell cracked. There went the bloody English workmanship. So the Liberty Bell had to be melted down and recast by two local partisans. But according to one of our fellow alumni, the Legislature sent for a Filipino from Danao, Cebu to help recast the bell. Apparently, this Filipino was an expert in melting and recasting metals and was already making pistols in Danao.
Perhaps my good friend Pompei Jubay who is from Danao knows the name of this Filipino. Pompei used to carry a Danao-made 45 caliber revolver in his medical bag when we were in the Philippines. He said that it was mainly to have a sense of security because he often came home late at night from doing house calls in some night clubs in Cebu. And you know what else is odd in that bag? Ė Penadur. Oohmm! It hurts. Because of those frequent house calls, when we came to the U.S. in 1975, I was almost sure that Pompei was going into Gyne specialty instead of Internal Medicine.
The last time the Liberty Bell cracked was when Sylvester Stallone was making the movie Rocky. The city made the mistake of allowing Stallone to use the Liberty Bell as his punching ball. Oh, brother. I guess itís how he defeated the heavy weight Russian monster, Dolph Lungren.
Philadelphia is the place where, for the first time in my life and probably in my good friend too, Eppie Aranas, we were introduced by Doming Ong and Maida Antigua to the world of sophistication in arts like the paintings of Picasso, Pinocchio, and Pistachio. Seriously, Philadelphia is a great city with great arts and cultures, offering you the best of everything. Itís a city that is both revolutionary and evolutionary. It was occupied by the British during the Revolutionary War, and the people hid the Liberty Bell in Allentown, Pennsylvania so as not to be melted down and used for British ammunition.
Philadelphia has been evolving and expanding into modern world every day. Taller and bigger buildings with different architectural designs are sprouting, and as the buildings get bigger and taller, the roads are getting narrower and the traffic is always busy making driving not easy. But my friend Jun Vitualla who drove the car I rode to the Chinese restaurant for the alumni luncheon, seemed used to such kind of traffic. He drove through it as smooth as driving a motorcycle on a paved country road. He knew the directions of the city like he is the founder of Mapquest.
Apparently, Jun was in New York City for ten years when he first came to the U.S. in 1976. It has always been said that if you can drive in New York City, you can drive anywhere else in the U.S. After ten years in New York City, Jun moved and settled in Tennessee. Pssst!Ö Jun has found Elvis. He plans to invite him to our reunion in Chicago next year. So once you know what hotel the reunion will be, make your reservation at once. Elvis is coming.
Once again, Rise Faith Dajao had done a great job in coordinating the CME program. Although the attendance was not quite stellar, the speakers were all terrific, professional in every way, knowledgeable in their corresponding subject, and passionate in sharing their knowledge and expertise.
What is peculiar in these CME speakers is that, four out of the seven of them were of the Class 1972 Ė Mary Blanche Lim, M.D. who talked about Renal Benefits of ARBís (Ako Ray Bahala Ė Just kidding); Jerry Murillo, M.D. who talked about Emerging Pathogens In Infectious Disease; Camilo Gabiana, M.D. who talked about Colorectal Cancer Screening in 2004 and Beyond; and Paul Beltran, M.D. who talked about Sudden Cardiac Death. Paul is a SWU Alumni Class 1972, but he was just baptized to become CIM - to be one of us. Mike Espiritu, Lando Pasignajen and I are the godfathers while Leni Espiritu, Rise Faith Dajao and Tanny Aranas are the godmothers. Sorry, SWU, to break your heart. Weíve got your best.
The rest of the speakers were Ė Nelson Bernardo, M.D. who talked about Percutaneous Endovascular Intervention, The Current State of the Art. Dr. Bernardo made it look like such procedure is nothing more than threading a sewing needle through a button hole; Bryan LaBuda, D.O. who was supposed to talk about Osteoporosis Treatment in 2004 that many of the alumni need the knowledge and information not just for their patients but also for themselves, being senior citizens did not get the sponsorship and so his talk was cancelled. C. Stephen Foster, M.D. talked about The Dry Eye Syndrome and Ocular Allergies the knowledge and information of which are very valuable in primary care although I was more interested in having them for possible personal application. There are times when my eyes are dry, blurry and things would look a lot bigger than they actually are. I thought it would be good if my wife has the same problem so that when her onset of symptoms starts, I would walk in front of her naked. Poor thing.
The Grand Ball
Since the association started almost 20 years ago, the Grand Ball has always been the pinnacle of the alumni reunion activities. As a matter of fact, itís what most if not all of the alumni would come for. The Grand Ball started as a tradition, has continued to be a tradition, and will continue to be a tradition. And like any other tradition, there is a sense of obligation, honor, respect and reverence. You are drawn to it like youíre being pulled and guided by the hand of destiny. Moments like it, caught in your hand, stored in your heart, is all you need for another year to keep the memory of friendship and camaraderie alive, fresh and fulfilling. Thus without tradition, the association will be as shaky as the Fiddler on the Roof.
The Grand Ball is the night full of anticipation, excitement, enchantment and extravagance. Some of the alumni in the past have called it vanity, but I have called it sanity. It doesnít take a critical eye to notice that during this night, many of the ladies in their beautiful and elegant evening dresses would look as if they have succeeded in resisting and stopping age from stealing away the handsome features of their weathered faces. They seem to bloom like roses after an April shower. Their million-kilowatt smile, killer dimples, and their thunderous and tantalizing laughter are captivating. They would radiate charm, grace, style, sophistication and elegance. Itís entrancing to watch them dancing, for some of them are so ecstatic that they sometimes become acrobatic.
The gentlemen, on the other hand, would look so cool in their tuxedos and elegant barongs. As they walk, you could feel their confidence as though they dare anyone question their testicular prowess.
But when it comes to the dance floor, Tony Mac and Odo Auditor are the leaders of the pack. Itís hard to imagine a Grand Ball without at least one of them. These two alumni inspire ease, grace, harmony, rhythm and order in dancing. With any of them on the lead even in a limited space, no one would ever feel like being stuck in an awfully tight crack. For these gentlemen would provide clarity of direction and thus avoid confusion, economy in complicated movements and thus prevent crowding in, sophistication in style and simplicity in its execution and thus maintain order on the dance floor.
The Class 1964 gave a surprise presentation. With their Spanish or Mexican costumes, they turned the dance floor into a bullfight arena. They called their dance Caballero and they moved, tapped and sway like theyíre only halfway to senior citizenry. It makes you wonder where they get their energy from. Ginko Biloba? Ginseng? Cialis? Viagra? Fajida? Enchilada? Taco? Burrito? But whatever the sources of their energy, I would not be surprised if a couple of them still enter the Yearly Running with the Bulls in Pamplona.†
The two star dancers of the Class 1964 were magnificent. El Caballero, although calm, looked like someone you try not to look in the eye. Behind the calmness there is a menace so that if he doesnít like you, he would not hesitate to say: ďYou know, Amigo, in me country, I kill sombody for moony. Pero para te, Amigo, I kill you for nooting.Ē†The senora looked like she could charm the toughest and the meanest Gringo in town and turn him into the sweetest puppy.
As the melody of Latin beats and tempo showered around them like silver rain, they became so carried away with their own writhing movements as though they were possessed and consumed by only one strong emotion Ė elation Ė that swept away every other emotion. With the way they danced, they could make you readily assume that theyíre regular dancers in a Cantina. It was their 40th or Ruby Anniversary. I have the feeling that we can expect them actively dancing again in their Golden Anniversary. Olee!
The Mercedes Benz Raffle
It was initially thought that the raffle may have to be cancelled because not enough tickets were sold. But when the total tickets sold reached 150, the magic number to break even, the vote was unanimous to proceed with the raffle. Everyone understood that in business, if you just break even during the first year of running the business, youíve done great. Everyone also realized that if the raffle is cancelled, selling tickets next time would even be a lot harder. Lolit Lao and Lagrimas Sadorra were the top ticket sellers. These two alumni sold almost all of the 150 tickets. Theyíre amazing. They could probably sell ice to the Eskimos. Overall there were about 170 tickets sold as selling them was continued into the Grand Ball night.
Somehow there are always the blessed few whom Lady Luck smiles at. I donít know about you but to me, luck happens only to other people. Iíve never won anything in any game of chance. Although I play the lottery, buy raffle tickets, etc., but my main reason for playing games of chance especially the lottery is because itís a cheaper way to purchase fantasy. With the fantasy, I could jog more laps, bike more miles, exercise longer, kill time and break boredom rather easily during long distance driving. The time would pass by like itís afraid of being killed and thus itís the one that is in a hurry, not me.
Well, the lucky alumni couples are Drs. Lowell and Mermer Taclob. Congratulations to the Taclobs. Lowell promised that once they get home and get the car, theyíll take pictures of it with Mermer in the picture for our web sites. It would be a great advertisement for next yearís raffle.
The General Alumni Meeting
In quite a number of alumni meetings and elections of officers Iíve attended, this is the first time in a long time that I had noticed in which emotions were quite subdued and every one seemed more interested and eager to help improve the future status of the association. But then again there has never been a real election before. I hadnít detected any sign of cynicism from any of the members that attended the meeting, during and thereafter. Iíd like to think that the articles of Brain Waves that kept pounding on behavioral changes and positive attitudes have something to do with it. Regardless, itís comforting to see every one keeping their emotions in check. If there was any hostility, it was not noticeable. But a little bit of tension was palpable.
A standing ovation was given to Maida Antigua who has done a magnificent job that no other alumni had done in the history of the association, and to Rise Faith Dajao who, in her capacity as the CME coordinator, has been responsible for the series of successes in the associationís CME program. What used to cost the association more than a thousand dollars for CME certification, Rise Faith worked her charm to have the certification for only less than a hundred dollars. And you get the certificate immediately after the CME conference personally handed it to you by Rise Faith with a smile, but no kiss. Psst! ... this is between you and me and the sign post Ė Boy forbids the kiss. These two hardworking officers more than deserved it.
What was stimulating to me during this meeting was Dr. Horace Cabasaresí report presentation of the summary of events in the past three years. Horace called it a dirty job because he knows that honesty sometimes could easily be interpreted as confrontational, that truth hurts especially those who hide from it, and that the bearer of truth can create enemies he never intends to have. But Horace had possessed the tact needed to give his presentation without creating enemies. It is as if he was clearly aware that his sense of right has bounds, and he stayed within those bounds. If someone has gotten upset with his presentation and has become an enemy or resentful of him, then that someone ought to have his head examined. It would be good to realize that it actually takes something precious out of you to hate or resent someone who simply expresses his thoughts and what he believes that are never meant to hurt your feelings.
It was the most concise and comprehensive presentation, simple yet penetrating, with thoughts to ponder, and direct to the point. Its questions provide choices of prospects that challenge the leadership as to the way it conducts business in order to bring the association to a much better tomorrow. Those questions Horace laid out, if taken seriously, would lead to answers that could provide clearer vision, specific goals, plans, functions and purposes of the association that at present are still vague.
†As Horace reported, when we, the outgoing officers, had our first meeting in the fall of 2001, we started with 480 alumni names in the association list. Estimating that there are about 800-900 CIM alumni here in the U.S. and Canada, our focus was on recruiting more alumni for our directory list with the hope that one day, many of them would join and become participating and paying members. To make recruiting more effective, Maida took charge of the technical and fundamental aspects while I took charge of the political, psychological and behavioral components. Lolit Lao helped in getting the correct addresses of some of the alumni while Eppie and Horace provided the invaluable moral support and advices. Together, we have increased the number of alumni in our list to 624 at present. Thatís more than 40% increase in three yearsí time.
†Unfortunately, the number of alumni paying their yearly membership dues have dwindled from 30% in 2002, our first year in the job, to 15% in 2004, our last year in the job. Since there was no record given to us from the administration of the previous years, we can conclude that if the 30% was an improvement from the previous years, it was only temporary.
But this dwindling participation is no mystery to some of us. We knew from the start that we had inherited a chronic deteriorating problem. We thought that we could at least improve the situation with our efforts even without directly confronting the problem. But it is apparent now that we could not. Thus it is incumbent upon the next administration to properly identify and confront the problem, and not continue to side-step it. It should not be done half-assed, but with great focus.†
Personal Observation and Comments
One of the discouraging routines that I have noticed in every general alumni meeting is that lower level officers like me are not given the courtesy of being asked whether they have anything to say. They are ignored like they are not part of the leadership team, or whatever they have in mind are unimportant. Then there is that constant reminder that time is running out. There seems to have an urge of always be in a hurry to get out of the room and thus out of the problem before any plan for resolution is agreed upon. Is there anything more important to the association than its future status that time has to be cut and its problems left without specific plans for resolution?
Officers, no matter how lower they are in the hierarchy ladder, are part of the leadership team and they deserve some preference to have their ideas or what they have in mind expressed if they have any. They should be asked and offered the podium with the microphone before the meeting is adjourned if they have something to say. Itís the best recognition, acknowledgement and encouragement they can ever have for their job. After all, they are nominated and elected like any other officers because the majority of the members at least think they can do the job. No matter what impression you have on them, youíll never know how effective and helpful they can be until you allow and encourage them to express whatís in their minds. If they are taken for granted, let alone treated shabbily, then they find no justification for being in their position.
Since I donít like to struggle or fight my way in to give my comments and opinions, or express my thoughts, I decided to simply write them for every one to read and make judgment.
In perhaps almost every organization, meetings are rarely if ever productive. For, if a problem exists in an organization, no one is interested to properly identify it, let alone confront it. I guess itís because problems are not desirable. They signify something is screwed up and someone did it. So, in a meeting, those who want to talk and make comment are interested only in pushing their own idea often directed toward something other than the main problem or its underlying cause. This would lead to so many ideas fighting their way for attention and agreement. No one is interested in listening to another personís idea. Every one is focused on their own idea and no one is focused on results.
As a result, there is a regrettable lack of clear-cut decision as to what idea to follow, what plans and procedures to implement, who would be responsible for implementing them and when would these plans be implemented so that results can be expected and not ignored or forgotten. In other words, there is reliance on hope and chance rather than work, responsibility and accountability, to produce results.
Worst of all, proper identification of the problems if there are any are not done. I say worst because itís the problem where one should direct his or her attention and action into. It is the focal point where ideas should be based upon, develop from, and then converge toward. Itís like if your enemy is not properly identified, you cannot properly plan an assault. You may only end up with many of your own men wounded or killed by friendly fire. †
A true leader of an organization forges a clear path through the wilderness of the murky missions and visions, goals and objectives, so that every one in the leadership team might see the way. He could gaze into the depths of things when others saw only the sparkle on the surface. In other words, he is able to see connections. He connects all the dots and comes up with a clear picture. In order to lead, he aims to listen, understand, guide, encourage, direct and delegate, not ignore, dictate, discriminate and dislocate. If something is agreed and voted upon by the majority no matter how heated the arguments have been in the process, and even if he doesn't agree with the majority's decision, he takes the responsibility to see to it that such decision is carried on and acted upon. He leaves his past favoritism where it belongs Ė in the past Ė to make others understand the real meaning of the word, future. †
The chronic deteriorating problem that the association has is the worsening lack of membersí participation. Why is it only few members pay their dues? Why is it that many of them have not shown themselves up anymore in our reunion? Could it be that the leadership is caught in a trap of doing things the same way because it believes itís the right way but members prefer another way? But even if itís an effective way, there is always a better way. And it is a mistake to say that something cannot be done simply because you do not know how to do it.
Have these members been disappointed because of something done to them or not done for them in the past that they are entitled to? If some of these members were neglected and their feelings were hurt by the association in the past because of something said or done that was deliberately rude or intentionally hurtful, or because of promises unfulfilled, why canít the one responsible for the leadership during those times reach out to them and apologize for the good of the association and for old time sake? There is no human heart out there so cold that it cannot be melted down and warmed by a sincere apology. If there is, then itís frozen by stark hatred and stubborn stupidity with not a single element of compassion. Otherwise, itís not human. No matter, itís worth a try.
But what was the solution on which the discussion was mainly focused? - Raising funds as if the real problem is the lack of funds. The lack of funds is the result of the lack of membersí participation, not the other way around. And the underlying cause of it all could be in the leadership. Is it that hard to look inward that one would rather keep his focus outward? Is it that hard to open the mind, be honest, and allow the conscience to move freely to decide the truth? Even if the association has all the funds in the world, what good would it do if only few members are cooperating and participating? Would it not contradict its social purpose of having fun? More participation means more fun.
†Only Maria Luna Tan-Navarroís comment made a lot of sense to me. But no one was interested to elaborate and pursue it if she was ever heard. The thrust of Lunaís comment is how to attract members to join and participate. It means shifting the focus on the quality of leadership, not on the unwillingness or inability of the members to participate. Has the association done something significant if not admirable in terms of charity or helping the needy and the less fortunate ones that the members are willing to help, eager to contribute their services, and more than happy to pay their membership dues as well as make donations, because what they see drives their sense of compassion into frenzy? It makes them a man with a heart.
But if the quality of the leadership is poor hampered by its inability to inspire trust, respect and confidence, it becomes vulnerable to doubts and suspicions. Character and credibility will suffer. Credibility is very essential in the leadership because itís the soil from where trust, respect and loyalty would grow. It has to be earned and maintained at its highest level, for losing even a little of it could be enough to ruin the leadership. When credibility is lost, character starts to erode. Nothing works a personís character better than his attraction to intelligence, integrity, honesty and fairness.†
Itís when members find something to justify their suspicion and suspiciousness when credibility becomes a history. Members would slowly withdraw from the association. Getting them back would be as tough as replacing a flat tire without a jack. It would take a lot of hard work, honesty, understanding, patience, persistence and perseverance, because humans, by nature, donít freely give a second chance.
The Election of Officers
Itís the first time in the history of the association that there was a real election for president. Dr. Ben Fajardo ran for president against the incumbent Dr. Dominador Ong. The association almost had a new president. The tally was 35 for Dr. Ong, 34 for Dr. Fajardo. It was closed and Dr. Fajardo conceded gracefully, went to Dr. Ong and shook hands with him and congratulated him with genuine sincerity.
It was an honest and fair election. Every one was game. Since Maida Antigua declined to stay as Vice-President, Dr. Ben Fajardo accepted the nomination and position. The new secretary is Dr. Marilyn Beltran of the class 1975. She will also be the new CME coordinator. Epi Aranas declined to stay as secretary. The new treasurer is Dr. Evangeline Ecarma and the new P.R.O. is Dr. Rise Faith Dajao. Dr. Lolit Lao declined to stay as the treasurer because she would be in the Philippines half of every year from now on. I declined to stay as the P.R.O. The new auditor is Dr. Heathcliff Quioco. Dr Anita Avila declined to stay as the auditor.
Because there is nobody yet who can run or is interested to run the ASOCIMAI web site, Maida will remain as the Webmaster. Iíll be helping Rise Faith in updating members of the prods and corns of the association.
The new appointed Members of the Board are the following: Dr. Jun Vitualla, Dr. Maria Raffinian, Dr. Camilo Gabiana, Dr. Vicente Batiancilla, Dr. Ramie Cadag, Dr. Diana Amores, Dr. Tanny Aranas, Dr. Leni Espiritu, and Dr. Melchor Aguilar.
I think itís a great team. The members of this team are already prominent in the association, they have more experience and I believe the association is in good hands. Letís give them our support.
Weíd like to thank Dr. Dolores Diez and her husband as well as Dr. Helen Yap for coming all the way from the Philippines to attend our reunion. Dr. Diez is one of the Ruby celebrants. It was a pleasure to meet both Dr. Diez and Dr. Yap and to see them in their elegant evening dresses during the Grand Ball. They fit right in like they are regular members of ASOCIMAI. Hope they enjoyed our reunion and hopefully also weíll see them more often in our future alumni reunions.
Iíve never met Dr. Yap before but I knew her as Helen, the Doctor, through our occasional e-mail communications. I had thought and assumed that she belongs to the older alumni. What an embarrassing thought when I met her. Sorry, Helen. You definitely did not deserve it. Helen is young, a way too young than I had thought. She is pretty, charming and friendly with the sweetest smile that makes you comfortable.
A good Italian friend, in his frustration and exasperation with the uncooperative scowling nursing staff in our clinic, once said to me: ďClem, one thing that many women have not been able to realize is that itís a smile that makes a woman.Ē Ladies, please, donít break the mirror.
I think it was my friend Beeboy Racoma and Rene Bondoc who whispered to me that Dr. Diez and her husband actually came to the U.S. on a baroto. Wow, it must have been a great adventure if itís true. I sometimes dream of myself doing just that. But let me ask Dr. Diez this Ė ďPila man gyud ka bugsay ang na nga bali, Doctora?Ē
Dr. Diez and Dr. Yap, have a safe and pleasant trip on your way back to the Philippines. By the way, Doctora Diez, I understand that you're flying on your way back. May I have the baroto? I plan to go home to Cebu in 2007 for the CIM Grand Reunion. I want to start paddling home at the end of 2006.