A DIFFERENT DRUM
DR. MALAYA SANTOS
Dr. Malaya Pimentel-Santos is a long-time community health advocate, having worked with several non-government health organizations. She is a fellow of the Philippine Dermatological Society and a professor of microbiology at the St. Luke’s College of Medicine.
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As part of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM) alumni homecoming celebrations and to mark our 20th year, the UPCM Class of 1996 recently hosted Pabidahan 2016: Melon Melon Sinta, a Lip-sync Challenge.
For aspiring future physicians, the only way to attain the dream (and affix the letters MD to their names) is to undertake the arduous journey through medical school. While obviously mandatory, med school is recalled by many as a grueling time filled with long hours and sleepless nights spent poring over books and lecture transcriptions. It was a time when our younger selves learned from teachers and mentors; a time when we made a few mistakes and stumbled once or twice, and ultimately gained valuable experience and collectively earned an education we could all be proud of. Having endured it once, I can safely say it is a voyage that no one in his or her right mind would wish to do over again.
Nevertheless, I will always think fondly of the UPCM as a place where countless personal milestones were achieved – some remembered, while others forgotten. It was a place where bonds were forged and lifelong friendships were made. As such, homecoming season never fails to bring a twinge of nostalgia at revisiting familiar places from a cherished and remarkable time, not so long ago.
As in previous years, the day started with a Thanksgiving Mass at the Philippine General Hospital chapel, which I must say hasn’t changed a whole lot in the past two decades. This was followed by breakfast at the Social Hall of the PGH Nurses’ Home, in a recently renovated area of an older structure built way back in 1909. After breakfast, we had the traditional parade and tour of the school and hospital grounds. All the alumni then trooped back to the Social Hall for lunch, and finally, Pabidahan.
Doctors need to relax and have fun too, for they are, after all, only human. The better-known annual UPCM ‘Tao Rin Pala’ showcases the talents of students and young doctors-in-training (residents and fellows). Pabidahan on the other hand loosely translates to ‘a battle of talents’, and is a variety show for celebrating classes of UPCM alumni. As we have witnessed over the years, a good number of doctors are also exceptionally talented performers and artists.
During this year’s Pabidahan, competing alumni classes each prepared a lip sync number using songs that were popular during their respective years in medical school. The entire show was extremely entertaining, to say the least, but what is particularly notable about Pabidahan is that many performers are, in fact, greatly influential leaders in their respective fields, both in the Philippines and abroad; ranging from deans and professors of medical schools to hospital administrators, as well as heads and officers of various professional medical societies. They are, so to speak, the ‘rock stars’ of the medical profession.
During Pabidahan 2016, these same doctors gave us a glimpse of their lighter side, becoming ‘rock stars’ all over again, but in an entirely new and frankly, quite unexpected way. The over-all winners from the Class of 1976 gamely dressed up, danced and lip-synced to the tune of Beyoncé’s Love on Top. The Class of 1966, this year’s Golden Jubilarians (septuagenarians all – do the math!) – calling themselves the ‘Golden Supremes’ – rendered an unforgettable and intricately costumed performance to the song Stop! In the Name of Love by the Supremes.
While the life of a physician is tremendously fulfilling, it can also at times be very stressful. Many doctors work long hours, and are regularly involved in decision-making regarding critical matters affecting the lives, health and wellbeing of their patients. An esteemed Harvard neurology professor recently told me that having a creative outlet is essential to avoiding physician burnout and achieving that elusive work-life balance in their medical careers.
With this in mind, I was truly delighted to see our distinguished doctors don sparkling dresses and high heels and let their hair down (literally and figuratively), proving once and for all that one can never be too (ahem) old or too famous to be a little silly and take part in a bit of good, clean fun and festivity.