Dr. Evelyn Tantamco-Gusi
She found great joy in serving the people, especially the poor of society; and even in her weakened condition due to ovarian cancer, she continued to serve. She was laid to rest at the Philippine Heroes Cemetery (Libingan ng mga Bayani ), a fitting tribute to her life of dedication and service for the underprivileged sectors of society. She is truly a venerable Philippine heroine, admired nationally and internationally
By Lyka Mae P. Chiang
Not a few describe Dr. Evelyn Tantamco-Gusi as the Imelda Marcos of the Gusi Peace Prize Foundation (GPPF). There is a striking similarity of facial and other physical features, and they share the same sophisticated elegance whenever they don the Filipiniana gown.
Even when she was already undergoing chemotherapy for her ovarian cancer, she still helped organize the medical missions and other socio-civic projects of the foundation; and against medical advice, she made it a point to join these outreach missions for so long as her weakened body would allow her. Until the very end, when she breathed her last on August 31, 2017, she still had in mind and heart the foundation’s sociocivic projects, to ease the burden of the poorest of the poor in society.
She was laid to rest at the Libingan ng Bayani, alongside the country’s heroes. In all respect, she was indeed a heroine, who has shown remarkable courage and bravery, and strength of character, putting the people’s interests above hers, as she served them selflessly and with utmost devotion.
Community service over private practice
Despite the lure of a lucrative private clinical practice in prominent hospitals in Metro Manila, Dr. Gusi, a general pediatrician, chose to devote her career doing community service on behalf of the foundation. Together with her husband, Ambassador Barry Gusi, the founding chairman of the GPPF, she traveled to different areas of the Philippines—even in far-flung areas— to serve indigenous people and other marginalized sectors of society, and help them attain better and more comfortable lives.
Dr. Gusi organized and led medical missions that helped address the poor people’s health and basic needs. “These included medical and dental missions, minor surgeries, financial aid, provision of clothing, shoes, clothes, foods, and at the same time, counseling for children’s care, education, and medical issues, and caring for the preservation of the environment,” explains Amb. Gusi.
Her efforts also encouraged these people, especially the indigenous tribes, to preserve their culture while enjoying the basic niceties of modern civilization. It was her aim to maintain and even enhance the rich culture of the Philippines while promoting development and some degree of modernization to help improve the lives of the people in these underdeveloped communities.
In all these philanthropic projects of the foundation, no one can argue that Dr. Gusi gave her all sans fanfare and trumpet blasting to announce to one and all what they have done. She served selflessly out of her genuine desire to serve and help the people. The service was done with the purest of intentions, and not only out of pressure since she was the ‘First Lady’ of the GPPF.
“Her character really showcased her love for her fellow countrymen,” says her loving husband. In fact, she also extended her community service through another organization, not only the GPPF. For her, it didn’t matter which organization or which leader get the credit, for so long as what the people needed are delivered.
Aside from her community service rendered through the GPPF, she was also a commissioned officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Command (AFPRESCOM), and her duties involved disaster preparedness and response, and other humanitarian endeavors, be it medical, surgical, dental, feeding, and public health education.
“All the help she provided was solely for the welfare of the indigenous people, without her expecting or asking anything in return,” says Amb. Gusi. “But with God’s grace and will, everything that she worked for was paid back abundantly.”
In 2015, she was elected as the president of the Pasig Medical Society (PCMS), a component society of the Philippine Medical Association. She was the society’s first voted female president.
Being accorded the privilege to be laid to rest with the country’s heroes in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the “People Doctor” is truly one of our modern-day heroines worthy of emulation by her fellow physicians and colleagues in the healthcare profession.
Her memory in the hearts of the people she has selflessly served and saved will live on.
“For Dr. Evelyn Gusi, it didn’t matter which organization or which leader got the credit, for so long as what the people needed were delivered”