University of Philippines Manila

Paglaom: The UP College of Medicine 114th Commencement Exercises and UP-PGH Internship Program closing ceremonies

Paglaom, a Cebuano term which means hope, a belief or desire for a possibility of positive change and success was the theme of the UP College of Medicine 114th Commencement Exercises and UP-PGH Internship Program Closing Ceremonies held at the University Theater in UP Diliman, Quezon City on Aug. 6, 2023.

In the Philippines, one of the most neglected basic human rights is access to equitable and quality medical healthcare services. Hence, the new UPCM graduates reflect hope and aspirations for many underserved communities in  the Philippines deprived of healthcare assistance – the hope found amidst the uncertainties. 

At the ceremony, UPCM Dean Charlotte M. Chiong emphasized the relevance of the instilled core values to the medical graduates during their stay in the College – to always prioritize the patients’ well-being and dignity in their medical practice. She shared with the graduating class the relevance of embracing the diversity of patients, providing each with equal treatment and service with respect and empathy irrespective of social standing or background. Lastly, Dean Chiong urged the graduates to remain grounded in the reality of Philippine society and use one’s education to be a catalyst of change.

As highlighted by UP President, Atty. Angelo A. Jimenez, every peso that goes to a UP education is one peso less from Filipinos struggling financially, homeless families, sick Filipinos who cannot afford hospital dues and medicine, from farmers who’s paradoxically suffering from hunger, and a peso less to a drop-out student who cannot afford one’s education. Pres. Jimenez urged the graduates to dedicate their loyalty to the Filipinos and to the poorest of the poor.

The UPCM conferred medical degrees to 179 graduates this year with 97 awarded with Latin honors. Meanwhile, the College declared one diploma graduate, 19 Master of Science graduate, one Doctor of Philosophy, and 11 graduates from the MD-PhD program. 

In her commencement speech, former Vice President Atty. Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo, expressed admiration and a very high regard for the excellence and grit of the graduating class for finishing their respective degree programs and becoming the new Doktor ng Bayan. She characterized the graduates as a representation and symbol of Paglaom (hope), the hope of countless indigent Filipino families and communities who cannot afford medical healthcare services. 

“Beyond your intellect, we count on you to be unfazed, to have a heart that is filled with compassion and is always ready to embrace others, to be sturdy and steady, to always give the best of yourselves. […] But, we also keep faith, that in reaching your aspirations, you will never forget what it means to receive a UP education. To live with honor and excellence, with your heart for the Filipino every single day. Ang tanawin ang utang na loob sa sambayanan.” Furthermore, she encouraged the graduates to stay and stand firm amidst the many temptations, one of being detached to the social realities and inequalities. 

Jose Emmanuel C. Mariano, cum laude graduate of Doctor of Medicine and batch representative of Class 2023, lauded his fellow graduates in the culmination of their medical school journey for being persistently hopeful despite the uncertainties, describing them as “bruised but beaming” – the embodiment of Paglaom

In his speech, he recalled their individual condition and struggles during the pandemic as medical students and also saw the good in the bad as they were able to come home to their families. These experiences reminded them to continue hoping and striving for the future, for themselves, and for the community they aspire to serve. 

The UP College of Medicine 114th Commencement Exercises and UP-PGH Internship Program was capped off with the closing message from Dr. Gerardo D. Legaspi,  Philippine General Hospital Director

“Doctors are known as agents of change and purveyors of hope,” an advantage of being a doctor – the proficiency to make healthcare equitable and accessible to every Filipino in dire need of universal health care.

Angelou C. Mendoza

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