By RAMON JASON M. JAVIER, MD

The MEDICAL CENTER HOSTED A TESTIMONIAL DINNER in honor of Dr. Fernando S. Sanchez, Jr., who turned 75 years old on February 18, 2011. The dinner was held at Bella Ibarra in Quezon Avenue on March 10, 2011, with Drs. Grace E. Brizuela and Ramon Jason M. Javier, from the Department of Preventive and Community Medicine, as the emcee-hosts for the night.

Dr. Fernando S. Sanchez Jr. is truly a beloved adopted son of the UERMMMCI. Although he is a proud alumnus of the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines (Class 1959), Dr. Sanchez devoted much of his time and energy helping UERMMMCI achieve its present status as one of the best universities for health professionals in the entire Philippines.

Dr. Sanchez assumed several key positions in the Medical Center, including Dean of the College of Medicine (1979-1987), Dean of the Graduate School (2001-2003), Vice President for Academic Affairs (1998-2005) and Director of the Research Institute for Health Sciences (2004-2011). Dr. Sanchez, fondly referred to as FSS by some of his colleagues, is one of the few faculty members who was given a testimonial dinner by the Administration and Faculty of the Medical center.

The mood of the night was truly euphoric, and the entire family of Dr. Sanchez joined the celebration. His wife, Mrs. Aurora O. Olfato-Sanchez, warmly greeted the guests, including former colleagues and peers of FSS during his younger years in the Medical center.

The guest list consisted of renowned physicians in the country, such as Drs. Presentacion Peralta, former Head of UERM's Department of Preventive and Community Medicine; Clarita Zaballero, former Professor of the Department of Physiology; Patria Rivera, former Professor of the Department of Biochemistry; Angelina Tantengco, former Professor of the Department of Pathology; Esperanza Lansang, former Dean of the College of Medicine and Head of the Department of Anatomy; Erlinda Valdellon, former Dean of the College of Medicine and Professor of the Department of Medicine; Gloria Habalo, former faculty-consultant of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Marita Reyes, former faculty member of the Department of Biochemistry; and Rene-Edgar Mendoza, former faculty member- Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and Department of Otorhinolaryngology. Other family members who graced the occasion were FSS's sons, Roberto Fernando and Raphael, and only daughter, Cecilienne, who arrived with her husband Emil.

Several people were invited to share with the audience their personal and unforgettable experiences and encounters with FSS. The first was Ms. Fria Rose R. Santos, faculty member of the College of Physical Therapy and a former student and research advisee of FSS at the Graduate School. Ms. Santos recalled how she looked up to Dr. Sanchez, who incidentally was a schoolmate of her father in Pasig, and how FSS proved to be a significant driving force who encouraged her to complete her post-graduate masteral program.

The second testimony was offered by Dr. Ma. Cristina E. Zulueta, College Secretary of the College of Medicine and also one of the mentees of Dr. Sanchez at the Graduate School. Dr. Zulueta's animated stories on Dr. Sanchez helping her complete her thesis for the degree of Master of Science in Public Health truly proved how FSS unselfishly shared his expertise in public health and medical research to members of the academe.

The third speaker was Dr. Georgina T. Paredes, former Dean of the College of Medicine. Dr. Paredes' nostalgic stories dated back to several decades of a harmonious working relationship at the Department of Preventive and Community Medicine, at the Graduate School, at the Department of Dealth, and at the Philippine Heart Center. Dr. Paredes, considered the sole protégé of Dr. Sanchez in the Medical Center, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to fss who is considered a dear mentor in the eyes of many UERMMMCI alumni.

The last speaker was Dr. Reynaldo Lesaca, former Head of the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Lesaca and FSS shared the same ideals and love for country. Hence, they spent most of their time during their younger years fighting for what they felt was right when it came to political and social issues. This burning desire to uplift the status of health in the country led to a deep and lasting friendship between these two valiant physicians.

Dean Carmelita C. Divinagracia of the College of Nursing also gave kind words to the honoree of the night. Other academic officers and Hospital Administrators in attendance were President Romeo A. Divinagracia, Dean Alfaretta Luisa T. Reyes, Dean Raquel Cabazor, Dean Teresa L. Yap, Dr. Carmina Ann J. Cortez, Dr. Jesson V. Butcon, Dr. Andres D. Borromeo, Dr. Maribeth T. Delos Santos, Dr. Henry Yañez and Dr. Geoffrey R. Battad.

During the dinner program, several surprise productions were also presented.

Mr. Alexis R. Bitanghol, faculty member of the College of Nursing, together with some of his students, serenaded Dr. Sanchez with an original Pilipino music classic. A simple video presentation was also prepared by the faculty members of the Department of Preventive and Community Medicine.

Colleagues from the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Foundation, Inc. also joined the celebration. Dr. Maria Graciela Gonzaga, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Santo Tomas, also cheered FSS, who is the executive Director of the AMPCFI.

The Medical Center will never be the same again, now that Dr. Fernando S. Sanchez Jr. has officially resigned. FSS, with his visionary dreams, will truly be missed and will never be forgotten. And just like what the background music of the video presentation said, "To Sir Nanding With Love," maraming salamat po!

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