The Surgeon's Logbook

surgery + medicine + photography + food + travel




Back to studying after Bad to the Bone! Thank you brods & sisses! We needed this break! Im so happy to feel human again, haha. 8 days!!!


The New Secretary of Health

Dr. Enrique "Ike" Ona

A new Secretary of Health has been recently appointed by P-NOY, Dr. Enrique “Ike” T. Ona, former director of the renovated and refurbished National Kidney & Transplant Institute in Quezon City, a tertiary specialty PUBLIC hospital known as one of the leading kidney transplant centers in Asia.

Dr. Ona is quite unknown for the common people which probably explains the raising of eye brows of some when he was appointed by the adminsitration. Unlike the popular choice Dr. Jimmy Galvez-Tan (my own favorite, I really gladly thought it was him that P-NOY will choose), who’s really known for his uncanny ability to lead people (doctors, health care workers, and government officials) through his NGO and WHO work; connect with the masses through his various media appearances; and of course his previous achievements as past secretary of health, Dr. Ona’s own achievements have been unknown to most people.

Unfortunately, including me. I didn’t even know that he was one of the choices for the position until the news broke out this afternoon that he was already appointed. Dr. Ike is my brod in the Phi Kappa Mu, and I’ve met him only about twice during my undergrad years, so I didn’t get the chance to really get to know him. I only knew him as the topnotch Transplant Surgeon brod who headed the NKTI and brought it up from the ashes (literally and figuratively!).

That’s all about him that I knew until I saw this write-up from the graduation souvernir programme of UPCM Class 2008. He was their graduation speaker.

I’d like to share this with you so you could also get a glimpse of who Dr. Ike is. Remember that this was NOT written by me (but by Dr. Chay Sanchez of UPCM 2008). Also, it is not my intention to justify his being chosen through this write-up.

The post of the DOH secretary plays a vital role in the transformation that P-Noy wants to happen (or that all Filipinos want to feel, for that matter). The Secretary should be able to lead and implement projects, programs and laws concerning health which, for the past administrations, has not been given much emphasis or support. Who wants to run a country with an unhealthy population? I guess no one. We’re taught in the UPCM that health is a basic human right, not a commodity that only those who can afford avail. The DOH secretary should, at least, be able to uphold this assertion, as we say it in the hospital, WITHOUT FAIL!

I know Dr. Ike did an awesome job at NKTI, transforming it into the best transplant hub in the Philippines and in SEA, but no one can really tell if he can do an equally awesome job in transforming the DOH or the Philippine health care delivery system, or health education, or the national health insurance program.

But here are some points that, in my opinion, can justify why he can do great things in DOH:

  1. Leadership skills-wise, he’s been part of the government system as Director of NKTI for many years, and NKTI is under the system of DOH. He knows the ins and outs of government service. He even transformed the way NKTI procures/manages their funds such that it now becomes a self-sustaining government hospital (wonders when can PGH do this also…)
  2. He graduated from UPCM. ‘Nuff said. Takot na lang niya sa mga alumni kung may gawin siyang kalokohan.
  3. He’s Phi, and definitely a man of integrity, honor and justice.

So with that I offer my unwavering support for the NEW Secretary of Health, Dr. Enrique T. Ona, Φ ’57, UPCM ’62! Please steer the health care system of the Philippines to greater heights!

Dr. Enrique T. Ona
by Dr. Chay Sanchez, UPCM Class 2008

It has been a tradition to ask one accomplished personality in the field of medicine to inspire each year’s graduates as they start their journey. This year, the UP College of Medicine Class 2008 chose Dr. Enrique Ona, undoubtedly one of the Philippines’ best in the field of vascular and organ transplantation surgery, to share his experiences and thoughts about learning, living and loving the life of a physician.

A native of Sagay City, Negros Occidental, Dr. Ona graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1962. After passing the licensure exam for physicians, he decided not to join the clamor for the very limited residency slots in the Department of Surgery of Philippine General hospital, which were then seemingly reserved only for the top graduates and the “anak ng Diyos.”

Instead, he took his residency training in surgery at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, earning himself the position of chief resident and later obtaining fellowship degrees in surgery and experimental surgery in Boston and New York.

Training with other doctors from prestigious medical schools such as harvard, Dr. Ona realized that he was actually at par with them. “Kaya ko rin pala ang mga ginagawa nila,” he humbly thought to himself. It was then that he decided to train further as a Colombo Scholar in Organ transplantation at Cambridge University in England.

Realizing his social responsibility as a UP graduate, Dr. Ona came back to the Philippines to pioneer in what was then lacking in the country – organ transplantation.

Thus began his enviable record as a leader in his profession. He organized medical congresses and symposia, became an active member of international medical organizations and even had time for research. In 1979, he was recognized as the Outstanding Filipino Physician for Medicine.

One of the highlights of his career was his revolutionary work as the executive Director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. Believing that quality training, service and research are all possible if done systematically and with passion, Dr. Ona transformed the NKTI from being a fire-ravaged hospital into a modern, state-of-art health institution in just nine months. He established the most modern hemodialysis center in Southeast Asia and a word-class laboratory for hematology and oncology. Under Dr. Ona’s leadership, NKTI developed strategic planning processes for procuring funds to be used in the institution’s advancement. Indeed, much of what the NKTI is at present can be credited to his genius.

Despite his hectic schedule, Dr. Ona has not forgotten his alma mater. He is president of UPCM Class 1962, who have recently donated to the college a Students Lounge, where students may conduct meetings and practices, or simply, study. He is also a member of the Most Venerable Fraternity of the UP College of Medicine, the Phi Kappa Mu.

Dr. Enrique Ona is the husband of associate professor and hematologist Dr. Norma Ona. They have four children.

*taken from the Souvenir Programme of the 99th Commencement Exercises of the UP College of Medicine, May 18, 2008.

Saw this article from Yahoo news. It has snippets of PNoy justifying his choices for his cabinet members. Here’s what he said about Dr. Ona:

Health: Director of NKTI, Enrique T. Ona.

“In our interview we saw in him the potential to become a complete alter-ego, especially given the fact that health agenda is No. 3 on our platform. And he has been given instructions specifically with regard to expediting universal coverage of PhilHealth, one of our campaign promises,” said Aquino.

No. 3 pala ha. Tignan natin. 🙂

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Phi 2010 goes to Tagaytay!

June 15, 2010

Pink Sisters

It all started when Gera eagerly wanted to have a small holiday – a break from board review. Sa Tagaytay daw, para maiba naman. Tutal nandun naman ang Pink Sisters, we could go on a PILGRIMAGE to pray for our intentions, primarily for our passing the boards! Turns out, the image of Our Lady of Manaoag was also there! Plus, a side trip to Calaruega would be a nice opportunity for muni-muni a.k.a. “reflection”. Hence, the small holiday became a HUMONGOUS holiday, and an EARLY MORNING holiday at that. Hahaha!

Met up at around 5am sa Pagkalma, waited for Alvin Chu (never fails…haha) until 6am, breezed through SLEX and finally arriving at Tagaytay around 8am. No traffic! The BEST! Hehe.

We went through our itinerary, prayed hard, wrote our intentions, photo-ops here and there, tsimis time all the time (haha!), climbed the steps towards the Caleruega Church, felt real ANGINA while doing so haha (paging Alvin Chu!), stopped over at Mushroom Burger for Maan’s mushrooms, just in time for LUNCH at Carlos Pizza @ 1045AM! Haha, ang bilis namin. We’re not used to going out of town in the MORNING, haha. Went back to Manila at 1pm arrived a little past 3, in time for our “short-time” with our beds and afternoon nap. Hehehe!

Carlos Pizza, Tagaytay
Lunch @ 1045AM!

Even if we lost around 12 hours of “precious” studying time just to travel to Tagaytay, forgetting everything about the board review even just for a little while; spending time with and talking to REAL people (especially your batchmates!) and not with people whose names end with Katzung, Robbins or Snell; laughing or crying (with tears!) at REAL jokes and hirits, and not because you don’t understand how amino acids are broken down, made the trip all worth it!

Mel, Kathy, Reci, Nikki & Bjay, we all missed you! Hehe. Next time, complete uli! Hahaha.

So, san na tayo gigimik on August 15? Araw-araw na inuman na yan!

Let’s go for 100%! We can do this!

Regression at the City of Pines

All Hail Zola
All Hail Zola

What was supposed to be a 3-day Sagada adventure turned out to be my most unforgettable Baguio experience ever.

This is PHI Class 2010 at their finest, or should I say, most juvenile. 😀

Just before the start of internship, we planned an overnight get-away in Baguio right after our annual Dagupan trip with the brods and sisses in Dagupan. We were supposed to go to Sagada and do caving and trekking (to Siena’s delight, haha), but due to time constraints and the effect of the global recession (yeah yeah..haha) the greatest summer adventure that was supposed to be was reduced to a mere overnight stay in the summer capital.

Mile Hi Inn
Mile Hi Inn

Just the same, we planned to make the most out of our little time to enjoy our 3-week summer vacation just before hell breaks loose. Maan and I, while still in Palawan, haha, reserved three rooms in an old but one of the cheapest “inns” in Baguio, the Mile Hi Inn located inside Camp John Hay. We were supposed to get a big three-bedroom suite at the Bloomfield Hotel but it was fully booked so we ended up with our second choice. Most of us wanted to spend a little more for lodging since, “minsan lang naman kasi mangyari ‘to” – (Dayrit, 2009).

From Dagufun to Baguiowww!

Dagupan was a blast! We had a humongous slumber party of almost 60 brods and sisses staying and sleeping in one room! Soon after the sizzling heat of Dagupan, Miya and I, the designated drivers of the two-car convoy drove the rest of the batch (Gera, Mel, Alvin, Bjay, Maan, Reci, and Nikki G) straight to Baguio through Kenon Road. It was our very first time to drive up to Baguio, and we nearly got lost finding where the jump-off point to Kenon was.

Welcome to Baguio!
Welcome to Baguio!

We were all used to the unremarkable sights and scenery in Marcos Highway (save for the defunct Marcos bust) that we found Kenon Road so marvelous! Kenon was right smack in between two big mountains, which is the reason why it is so prone to landslides. We were in awe with the spectacular rock formations and deep gorge! Especially our resident tourist Gera whose last visit to Baguio was about 12 years ago! We were welcomed by the Lions Head (which actually don’t look like a lion at all, more like a gorilla, haha), and after smelling the fresh pine scent and feeling the winter (WINTER DAW?!) breeze, we soon found our way to Camp John Hay.

All Hail ZOLA!

Staying inside John Hay was a very good choice. One of our must-do in our trip was to relax and have a well-deserved rest from the hustle and bustle of Manila/PGH life. We would be negating our cause if we did stay in the city proper won’t we? In John Hay, you can really feel the serenity and freshness of Baguio, sans the smoke and noise! We found Siena and Pierre at the Mile High Inn and after checking in and settling in our rooms (and checking if the toilet is dirty c/o Miya and Maan haha), I bought a new pair of Havaianas replacing my almost 4 year old pair which got lost in Dagupan, hahahaha (kinuha ng boatman!). We then heard mass, wherelese? but in the Baguio Cathedral, and soon found Jo Thomas! Siena then suggested we grab dinner at ZOLA…which later on played a very central role in our trip! Hahaha. 🙂


ZOLA was the place to be in Baguio (well, probably next to Nevada Square, ahahahaha!). It’s a resto-bar ala-Mister Kebab type with lots of food, drinks and _______ waiters! Hahaha. Kayo na bahala to fill the blank. 😀 One waiter actually said when asked “Sir, anong pasta meron kayo?” (pertaining to the type of noodles they serve). He said, “Uhm, ma’am, we have istapeggi, petuchene, angel hair and …..” If you know me really well, you’ll know that it took me a whole lot of WILL POWER and 10,000 kJ of energy to stop smirking and laughing out loud! Hehe. Anyway, despite their ______ waiters, ZOLA really got our attention when Bjay and Reci’s sandwiches came up! They were unbelievably HUMONGOUS! Apparently, everyone’s orders were all hugely parted, and with the not so hefty price tag….IT WAS A STEAL!

Siena and Pierre actually got to Baguio way earlier than us and apparently already went around town by themselves. They arrived in Baguio early morning and it was in Zola where they had their breakfast. They went around the city, and from, I guess, walking from Wright Park to Mines View, got hungry and ate at Zola for lunch. When we met them in the afternoon, we then had dinner at Zola…THREE MEALS of Siena Ona, she ate in Zola! Haha. That is why we call her the Face of Zola. Hahaha. 😀

Sexy Ladies in the House

Sexy Ladies
Sexy Ladies

After dinner , I dragged everybody to Nevada Square which, according to my online research, is THE-PLACE-TO-BE in Baguio. Being a night person that I am, of course nothing would be greater than to party in Baguio right? So we invaded a newly opened bar, 4 U 2 C. When we went in, we were the only ones there, save for two people! Haha! The-place-to-be indeed! But their offer was irresistible. A bucket of San Mig Light or Cocktail Pitcher + Fries for only P250! I think we were in a roll! 🙂 Music was KOI-ish, but the sisses were mesmerized by the changing colors of the tables. Hehe. Sana magka-ganyan din sa Koi. haha. The manager even gave them a plate of ketchup and mayo which says “Sexy Ladies in the House!” It wouldn’t be a Phi night without the ceremonial batch toasts. 😀

Because we were tired of traveling from Dagupan to Baguio, and really wanted to rest, and yes…sadly, because ageing is inevitable, haha, we went home BEFORE 12mn. :[ The plan was to drink the wine Richmond bought in Dagupan, but I think after watching a Filipino horror flick in Cinema One, everyone grew really tired and wanted to SLEEP. So…zzzz…it was.

It’s All About Regression

The following morning, we were greeted by Jo! She volunteered to tour us around HER city, naks. 🙂

Regression to childhood was the theme of the whole trip, doing the things we loved when we were still kids: eating lots of food (at Zola! haha, ALL HAIL ZOLA!), riding boats (and racing with the other team!) and bikes (and nearly hitting a child!), blowing plastic balloons (and deciding who can blow the biggest one! apparently it was Miya, hahaha), going on a street-food foodtrip (especially ICE CREAM ni SIENA!), kwentuhan, tawanan, takutan, kodakan, people watching and capping the whole experience with a sumptuous dinner (no, not at Zola, haha) c/o Jo’s hospitable mom and dad! Thanks Jo!

Alvin Chu and his copycat! Haha
Alvin Chu and his copycat! Haha
When was the last time you blew one?
When was the last time you blew one?
Food Trip
Food Trip
Z for Zola
Z for Zola

One Foggy Night

After dinner with Jo, it was time for us to leave (so that SOMEONE could catch her plane to PALAWAN the following day! haha). The initial plan was to go down thru Marcos Highway since it was safer and more well lit. But a tip from Jo’s dad made us go down thru Kenon. It was really foggy then, and since Kenon was a road built in between two mountains, WALANG FOG dun. Marcos runs on the side of the mountain = ZERO visibility. True enough, when we *tried* to pass by Marcos Hway, we couldn’t see a thing. So we back-tracked, and went down thru Kenon.

They say Kenon is alot dangerous when driving in the dark. I say, it’s all in the driver. *hint hint* Hehe.

Thanks to the new SCTEX and the apparent disappearance of cars in the wee hours in the morning, we traveled 250KM in just 5 hours! (10PM – 3AM) 🙂

We all have our own individual Baguio experiences when we were kids, but it was a whole lot funner eminiscing and reliving everything with the best and closests brods and sisses you could ever have. Thanks batchmates!

Phi Class 2010 + Jo Thomas
Phi Class 2010 + Jo Thomas

So, as we start the best year of our med school life, and become the kings and queens of PGH…good luck to us! See you all again in Boracay 2010! =D

Diamonds in the Rough – They’re Out There

Too often we have heard of the problem of health care in our country, phrased and rephrased in terms of the exodus of doctors and nurses, the substandard allocation of the national budget for health, and even legal matters concerning medical practitioners. It would seem that the Filipino doctor is enmeshed in troubled times, and nothing more.

Now more than ever, an uplifting message about the Filipino doctor is needed, one that shows he is also capable of heroism and selflessness for his countrymen.

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH is the Nationwide Search for Outstanding Young Doctors in the Community Setting. It is a search for unsung heroes in the medical field today: those who choose to serve the ones who need it most, by immersing themselves in the depressed, neglected, under-served communities in the country.

The Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity of the UP College of Medicine and the Rotary Club of Paco, along with our partners: Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), Philippine Medical Association (PMA), ABS-CBN, The Philippine Star, and Cebu Pacific Air, are now calling for nominations for this very momentous search.

If you know a doctor who:

  • Is a Filipino citizen 40 years old and below
  • Is a duly licensed medical practitioner under the Professional Regulatory Commission of the Philippines
  • Have actively served in the under-served community for which he or she is nominated for at least five (5) years
  • Is currently practicin

    g in the said community

  • Have not been recognized by any award-giving body with similar objectives
  • Have not been charged with any misconduct involving moral turpitude
  • And not be related to any members of the Phi Kappa Mu or its partner agencies up to the 2nd degree

Then NOMINATE him/her by going to to download the application form! (Or see attached file or click here)

The Diamonds in the Rough (DITR) has three Major Award Categories: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. One physician will win for each region, each receiving PhP 100,000 worth of total prizes. The community of each DITR winner will also receive PhP 100,000 worth of prizes, to go to any sustainable projects supported by the DITR winner. Awarding will be held on December of 2008.

Deadline for nominations is on November 15.

All nominations shall be addressed to the DITR Secretariat and can be submitted or mailed to the following addresses:

Diamonds in the Rough

P.O. Box 778

Manila, Philippines, 1099

Salamat Dok: Current Affairs and News Office

Ground Floor, ABS-CBN Sgt. Esguerra Corner,

Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City

Nominations can also be directly sent to or, with all pertinent documents scanned.

Again, all entries must be received by Phi Kappa Mu in the UP College of Medicine or any of our partner agencies on or before November 15, 2008.

Criteria for judging are available at the DITR Website

For more information, email or

Let us work hand-in-hand in finding these diamonds in the rough as finding them would be a feat truly worth celebrating!

They’re out there.


Photos from the Diamonds in the Rough Launching Program at the Century Park Hotel:

PHI KAPPA MU 75th Anniversary Mass

This coming August 23, we commemorate this momentous occasion that happened 75 years ago, the foundation of a strong and everlasting brotherhood, the Fraternity of the College of MedicinePhi Kappa Mu.

In the past years, we have commemorated this event with a mass celebrated at Pagkalma, and a lunch served for the brods. But as we celebrate our DIAMOND YEAR, we’d like it to be extra special.

We’re having our Anniversary Mass at Magallanes Village Clubhouse, Makati City. The mass will start at 6:00PM and we’re having dinner afterwards. Homilist for this mass is Br. Antonio Roberto G. Sian, SJ (PHI 1990a), and celebrant for this mass is his batchmate at the Jesuit novitiate, Fr. Xavier Olin, SJ. The UP MedChoir will also accompany us in this celebration.

Family and friends are invited!

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