Eighty-five young men and women, full of apprehension, were admitted to the UP College of Medicine at Herran, Manila in June 1947. These graduates of preparatory course in Medicine, as history would prove, were deemed with determination to meet head-on the challenge to become physicians and join the noble profession in the art of healing.
We have memories of blood and sweat, with accompanying tears, during our initial year. It was the time when we had to decide whether to continue or change our course. To our relief, only three were not able to continue for various reasons. During our second year, one of our classmates died, filling us with sorrow. Unknown to us, he had been quite seriously ill for some time. But this incident brought us closer together, and we shared our frustrations and aspirations in gatherings.
Our change of venue from the pockmarked building in Herran to the hospital premises and dispensary marked the difference in our third year. After two years of basic knowledge, we encountered clinical professors who were stricter when we made our reports and recitation in class. We also began to meet patients and cultivate bedside manners. Clinical clerkship in our fourth year rotated us to different departments, with the residents and interns guiding us. This also introduced us to social life, monthly meetings and parties at the “medical common”. Friendship united us in developing partners in life after graduation. Internship showed us the way which specialty department attracted us most. We got acquainted with prominent clinicians such as Dr. A.B.M. Sison, Dr. Antonio Sison, Dr. Luis Torres, and others. In April 1952, all 80 of us graduated, with three magna cum laudes: doctors at last but facing “the great unknown”.
Our 25th anniversary celebration was a success due to the hard work of our president, Dr. Ernie Cruz. This also marked the members of the class attaining high status, winning awards, making the chairmanship and chief of various departments and hospitals. In our fourth decade, the class decided to join UPMAS reunions every five years, especially those in Metro Manila. However, those in the U.S. and the Philippines enjoyed our 35th anniversary parading in white and blue colors. Ten years ago, in December 2002, we reached the compulsory retirement age of 65 in government positions, but many still continued their practice, although devoting less time and at a slower pace. The torch had been passed down to the younger generations.
The members of batch’52 from the States, Canada and the Philippines gathered together for our Golden Jubilee celebration. The joy of being reunited, embracing each other with the thought that for some, it may be the last meeting. There were 51 still living although grey haired, wrinkled and with scars all over, reminiscent of the toil and brain work we had undergone, but still young at heart and able to serve without any reservation.
Now, 60 years later, on our Diamond Jubilee, we have remained steadfast in our friendships. We reflect and thank the Lord, and reaffirm our loyalty to our Alma Mater, UP College of Medicine, which has guided and inspired us to give our best in healing the sick and alleviating the suffering of our fellowmen. Whenever one of us who is based abroad visits the Philippines, we make it an occasion for a get-together and relive the past. Of the 80 members of our class, 36 are up and about, enjoying the company of their children and grandchildren. Fourteen are here in the Philippines and the other 22 members are scattered all over the United States and Canada. The other 44 members have already left us for the Great Beyond.
• Calling all 1952, 1962, 1972 and 1987 graduates of the University of the Philippines! You are this year’s Jubilarian honorees at the UP General Alumni-Faculty Homecoming and Reunion, which will be held on June 23, 2012, 3:00pm at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni, UP Diliman Campus, Quezon City. For more details: contact the UPAA Secretariat at landline numbers 9206871, 9206868, 9206875, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or cellphone number 09178372098. You may also visit the UPAA website at http://www.upalumni.ph.