Archive for the ‘Ray Rayel’ Category

More Holiday Photos of UP Ibalon & Friends

January 8, 2009

Dr. Fems Espinas-Paladin in Manila

UP Ibalon’s virologist extraordinaire Dr. Fems E. Paladin goes back to Manila from her cave in the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland to take time with Ibalon pals Don A. Salvosa, Dr. Arnel V. Malaya, Sabu Sabularse and wife Mary. Sorely missed are all Ibalonians including Middle East-based Dr. Nestor RA Valenciano and Dr. Ramon Ray G. Rayel who is the United States.

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`
AdeN-CSI HS’73 in Los Angeles, CA and Naga City

Photos of a merry get-together of spritely CSI HS’73 ladies Gene, Ellen, and Emee in some beautiful places in the West Coast. With them are their supportive spouses and children.

Back home in Naga City are the Golden Boys of Quiborak (GBQs)with Marive Roco (CSI HS’73)and Fr. Antonio de los Santos, a classmate and spiritual adviser, based in Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

In a rarely seen food grab—taking precious moments of unity, affection, and fun, bubbly CSI girls show pure happiness in being together.

Iggi Camacho in USA

GBQ Iggi Camacho breezes through California with fellow AdenHS’73 classmate Walter Mendez of Baao, Camarines Sur. Iggi comes to the Northeast to meet with other GBQs—Ely Mabeza, Tong and Chi Pilar of New Jersey and Totie Mesia of New York on January 13, 2008.

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

Dr. and Mrs. Lino & Josefa Mercurio

From Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Lino, and Jo send this exciting wintry holiday greeting and photo of their recent outdoor skiing trip with their children. Former residents of Buhi, Camarines Sur and Naga City, the UP Ibalon friends plan to attend the Bicol National Association convention slated in July 2009 in New York.

Dr. and Mrs. Renato & Megs Oracion

Happy holiday cheers from Rene and Megs in Odessa, Texas. Originally from Manila, the affable dermatologist and his Ilonga wife send their interesting photo taken during a much-needed vacation in Egypt.

=============================================================

The MDs Of UP Ibalon Of Earlier Years

November 15, 2008


In my four years in UP Diliman covering 1974-77, the UP Ibalon produced 19 Doctors of Medicine or an average of nearly five per year. I can only offer two explanations for this. One, the best and brightest of Bicolano students were then in Ibalon. And second, since it was martial law the students were not keen to take up Law (In fact only one of the 110 or so members of the organization in that period took up Law but he happened to become an abogado de campanilla: Atty. Joel Cadiz).

The Charter Batch produced 5 M.D.s. They are:
1. Delen Padilla-de la Paz, our nominee for the Diamonds in the Rough award, who specializes in Community Medicine. She is connected to the Social Medicine Unit of the PGH. She is active in many NGOs and causes and you can sometimes see her on TV as a street parliamentarian. A Manila native, Delen lived in Legazpi City for six years, enabling her to learn Bicol. Her husband Boying is a surgeon at the PGH.
2. Totie Mesia, a now-retired pathologist based in New York City, debilitated by a chronic illness. Currently, he is specializing in Journalism. But you can still easily ask him about health matters. Bako lang an mga gadan an aram niya. Totie is a native of Naga City and it is obvious in his writings that he loves Naga more than New York.
3. Ray Rayel, a cardiologist based in Wisconsin, noted for his rollicky humor and friendly manner. He can easily make his tense patient relax by spinning joke after joke until the BP drops to normal. Ray is the proud son of Polangui, Albay.
4. Eden Lao, our long-lost surgeon who reputedly married the Olivia Hussey of Naga, beating many Atenistas to their dream girl. Eden hailed from Iriga City.
5. Joey Jaucian, who soon left for the US after his studies at UP-PGH. Joey is a native of Ligao City.

Ibalon Batch 75-A produced three doctors. They are:
1. Arnel Malaya, the current Dean of College of Physical Therapy and the Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine at UERM. Kun makulog an kasu-kasuan nindo ay he can straighten it out. Also see him if ever your son or daughter enrols in UERM. Arnel hailed from Iriga City
2. Julius Lecciones, once connected to the company that markets Depo-Provera (because he has many children daw), he is now the Medical Director of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. A TOYM awardee, he is a pediatric oncologist publishing so many papers. A living proof that someone born at the end of the world can rise to the top. Marhay ta natukduan nin Bicol ninda Ray and Totie kaya nakalaog sa Ibalon (ta palibhasa nag-abot sa Molave na an taramon Cebuano ta taga-Pio V. Corpus,Masbate).
3. Nips Valenciano, who practices medicine in the Middle East and going by a linked article it seems he is active in the Filipino community there. Nips is a native of Buhi, Camarines Sur.

Ibalon Batch 75-B produced four doctors:
1. Andy Gimpaya, a former government doctor in Samar, he is now specializing in Computer Programming and Net enterpreneurship. He is our beloved website administrator. Lani Palencia told me that when Andy came back to Naga bako man daa medical practice an binakal ni Andy kundi tennis practice. You can also go to him if you need construction materials or if you need some Web or Net services.
2. Amy Goleta-Dy, a pediatric oncologist based in St. Luke’s, you can also come to her if you need wellness products and you will even be helping indigent cancer patients who are beneficiaries of the products she helps market. Her husband is a surgical oncologist at St. Luke’s. Amy’s hometown is Bula, Camarines Sur.
3. Boy Remo, an internist who practices in Missouri, and who is a frequent visitor to his hometown of Goa (and a townmate of Andy). It seems Caramoan Peninsula is his favorite destination nowadays.
4. Eden Borja-Fernando, our very gracious host and sponsor who is a renowned obstetrician-gynecologist in Naga City. Her base is the Plaza Medica. I was advised that she wants no higher praise than this. A resident successively of Siruma, Tinambac and Canaman, Camarines Sur. She is the one to see kun mangangaki an an agom nindo.

Ibalon Batch 76-A produced a lone doctor in Susan Princesa-Mallonga who is based in Vancouver, Canada but who shuttles and works here now and then so that their family won’t lose their Philippine roots.

Ibalon Batch 76-B produced four doctors:
1. Annelee Badiola-Lojo, an obstetrician-gynecologist connected with Las Pinas Medical Center and a Department Chair. An eternal Ibalon supporter whose Naga house is always open to Ibalonians, she is well-liked by everyone. A frequent visitor to Naga, it seems her recent haunt is New York City. Her husband Rommel, an Ibalon friend, is a surgeon.
2. Abet Guballa, an opthalmologist in Medical City and the Section Chief for Comprehensive Opthalmology in that institution. A sometime Naga visitor we hope he can set up a clinic in his hometown in the near future so that those with eye problems need not go to Manila anymore.
3. Ningning Joson-Villanueva, a practicing pediatric cardiologist at the Davao Doctors Medical Center. Her husband, Dr. Noel Villanueva is my nephrologist. Siyempre may istoryang Bikol pag nasa clinic ninda ako kaya napapanganga su ibang pasyente. She hails from Naga City
4. Pat Litam, a hematologist practicing in Ohio. He is a native of Naga City.
(Puro daw taga-Naga ining apat. Garo nag-orolay.)

The two batches of Ibalon in 1977 produced two doctors:
1. Ed Lim, an allergologist-immunologist based at the PGH and a section chief in that renowned institution.
2. Godo Garcia, a graduate of the UP College of Medicine, he now practices in the US.

Ten of the 19 are members of our e-group.

Additionally, there are two other Ibalonians who are familiar to us who are also doctors and just junior by a few years to them. Dai ko sinda inabutan sa UP but I know the first:
1. Penny Robredo-Bundoc, the Department Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine in PGH. A native of Naga, she is the sister of Butch and Mayor Jesse Robredo, two figures familiar to us. Her husband Pipo is a spine surgeon at the PGH and a TOYM awardee. Penny is also a member of our e-group.
2. Imelda Torres-Reyes, a UP College of Medicine graduate is a practicing pediatric cardiologist in Naga City. She was the first to detect something wrong in Pitoy’s angel.

An masasabi ko puro totoo saka maboboot na tawo an mga doktor ta. Never be afraid to approach them. Iistoryahan pa kamo ki kadakol. Puwede man na online.

They are also Ibalon’s pride.

The Ibalonian Reunion in Culpeper, Virginia

September 23, 2008




Dr. Yasmin Paje-Banzon took time out from mentoring students in British Columbia, Canada and so did her sister Dr. Leida Paje who had to be away from her private dental practice in California. Dr. Vines Nolasco-Reis, a toxicologist from Indiana drove alone to Culpeper to meet Dr. Totie F. Mesia and Dr. Marietta F. Mesia from New York.

The Ibalonian doctors’ visit turned out to be off from what was originally thought by Min’s brother, warm-host Errol Paje with gregarious wife Coreen in their beautiful new home in 808 Persimmons St, Culpeper, Virginia on September 21 and 22, 2008. Dr. Ray Rayel of Wisconsin couldn’t leave his cardiology patients for a weekend getaway. Fems didn’t have the chance to separate from her WHO-Geneva group who were in CDC, Atlanta, GA for a conference.

For the love of her OB-Gyn patients in Naga City, Dr. Eden B. Fernando went home too soon from her visit in San Diego, CA without seeing us. Busy! Leida and Vines arrived earlier, but didn’t have the time to wait for Totie and Mariet who got stuck with the delays of air travel in JFK airport in NY. That was in addition to the irksome routine of security checks against terrorists and the malfunction of the GPS in that rented Hertz car.

The most endearing part of the visit however was being with Min’s mom Eusebia “Nanay” Paje whom I haven’t seen for more than 30 years. The last time I met her was in Naga Airport on my way to Manila. To give the mellowed but perky lady the big smiles before her vacation to Bicol, I had the piano too noisy with old favorites like Sarung Banggui, Born Free, Yesterday, South of the Border, Crazy, Londonderry Air, No Other Love, I Could Have Danced All Night and a few more which made me remember my own mom before we comfortably retired late in the night. I had the song-hits ready, but only Min, Mariet, and I remained.

The next morning, Coreen and daughter Megan was a delight as they prepared to go to school. Vines gifted me with something saccharin right from grandma’s kitchen. Just as the sun was up, Min, Nanay, Mariet, Errol & son Matthew and I happily drove together as a family to Dulles, Washington, DC to catch our respective flights for home. The experience was certainly perfect as the fond memories that went with it.

We thought it could have been better if other Ibalons were there. The chilly breeze of autumn’s onset was there. Under the pale sun, the cornfields of Virginia were fragrant with ripening bulbs from a distance. We certainly missed you all! =0=

Jokes louder than walnuts breaking, an “H” in a name, and an Ibalon child of tomorrow

September 14, 2008

Each time I look at the pictures of Dr. Ramon Ray G. Rayel and his wife Bessie , I can’t help recall our days in UP Ibalon and Molave Residence Hall in Diliman campus. Things are far better now for my cardiologist-buddy who travelled the world to go to Philadelphia, PA, Nova Scotia, CAN, Iron Mountain, Michigan and a bit later settle to a beautiful place called Clearwater, Wisconsin.

From the Philippines to Australia, to Canada, and the United States, Dr. Rayel has been hot in the business of taking care of the heart. A self-deprecating humorous guy from Polangui, Albay who knows by rigid training the workings of the fist-sized pulsatile organ in the chest, Ray throws jokes louder than the pop of champagne and the sound of cracking walnuts in a charcoal grill. When he plays sports, he shoots the basketball right at the goal to win.

With that stubborn curly hair on his head, Ray watches, listens, and patiently dispenses remedies at the heart’s murmurings. Like a one-man charitable institution, he helps all those who come to him with problems, including those who need treatments and those requiring some baring of the soul.

His best contribution to the world however is nothing less than the cute and cuddly little Bea, Ray’s youngest kid in the brood of three who delights us with her big smile, fashionista sunglasses, and that kiddie backpack (see photo.) It is something we like to see the pixie angel do for her doting parents. By a stretch of imagination, I thought she may look like her loving grandma, the late Lourdes G. Rayel.

Coming to New York a year ago, little Bea proves to be a child of today and tomorrow. Nimble, smart, and delightfully inquisitive the girl with big round eyes and a budding sense of humor is a joy to watch. As I relish looking at her sit comfortably with her parents in their warm and cozy living room, I have to thank God for taking good care of the family who makes me and all Ibalonians happy and proud.

A true friend who taught many to rein over their personal devils, conquer health difficulties, look ahead, and appreciate life’s unexpected complexities, Ray gifted me with a name which to this day I respond to like a poodle. His generous counsel before I took trainings in UP-PGH, SUNY Downstate & NYU Medical Center became part of my decision to be a pathologist—for which I am very thankful.

The only wise advise Ray gave me which I rejected (I’m sorry Ray!) was to put an “H” on the spelling of my nickname. Shown to me in a crumpled paper, I thought it was “elegant” with the concurrence of Drs. Arnel V. Malaya, Mario B. Genio, and Julius A. Lecciones who excitedly insisted it would make the eyes of other Bicolanos spin. They expected the “H” would make me popular and the Ibalon girls would swoon. But there was a hitch. The spelling couldn’t bear the persona of their buddy: the slow itinerant “promdi” (from the province) of Naga, Camarines Sur! =0=

A Hurried Comet Blazing In The Night Sky

July 6, 2008

Thirty years after the fatal shot which took his young life, UP Ibalon recalls Floro E. Balce. Those who know and love him ponder on the evanescence of his time, the greatness of his sacrifice and the humanity of his dream. They pay tribute to Ka Manding, one among the heroic braves who died in the pitch-blackness of the night— of yet to be won battle, before the sun comes up for a better day. The noble cause he embraced remains contentious—that which draws others to learn and admire his lofty path. –Totie Mesia

In an ill-descript spot along EDSA highway in Manila, there is Bantayog ng mga Bayani, a memorial of remarkable human beings whose lives are weightier than the heavy stone on which their names are engraved. Etched on a simple black slab of concrete is the name of UP Ibalon’s Floro E. Balce, a Bicolano hero who died from gunfire which blew an excruciating rugged hole on his belly, leading to his agonizing death. It happened in July 30, 1978, in Tigaon, Camarines Sur on his birthday.

A man of strong principles and unbridled dreams, Floro was my roommate at Molave Residence Hall in UP Diliman. He was a bright idealistic electrical engineering (EE) student, a National Science Development Board (NSDB) scholar from Daet, Camarines Norte—- my indulgent friend and math mentor in the dorm.

In the same room with us was Larry Ajel, our buddy from the Ilocos who dreamed to work in a hospital as a medical technologist. Larry shared our provincial plebeian background. He was our big brother who taught us the urbane ways of the campus. His stay however was cut short by a decision to migrate to America.

Rudival Cabading was another roommate. The rambunctious guy felt the state university wasn’t his piece of cake, so he moved to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA.) He became a military officer who never saw me stepped out of our dormitory to become a physician.

Bakit dito sa UP, ang mga estudyante, nagsasalita ng Espanyol?” I recalled Floro asking me on our first day of school inside the Arts and Science (AS) building. Feeling my way on the unfamiliar ground, I was as naïve and perplexed as he was.

“Why? What did you hear?” I asked.

Que hora es,” he said with a spark in his eyes.

Having survived his early years in UP, my soft-spoken buddy transformed into an assertive, knowledgeable, and brave gentleman. But he kept a low profile, humbly sharing his private thoughts with the people he knew and trusted.

He also trusted me, but perhaps, he didn’t feel it was a good idea to let me know too much of his leftist leanings. His linkage with the New People’s Army (NPA.) was something I suspected, but I didn’t ask. The guy had this palpable intolerance against injustice which was nurtured in campus. I knew he was opposed to the corruption of the Marcos, drawing him to join protest marches and rallies.

Had I shown enough sympathy for his cause, he might have led me deep into the sanctum of his beliefs and the core of his convictions. Yet, he was considerate, respectful, and even protective of my own safety. He didn’t want me to be distracted, for he knew I was hell-bent to become a doctor.

We talked about poverty and inequity when we were supposed to be focused in our studies—if not fiery hot, pursuing girls in campus. Setting aside school work at night, we discussed social issues that otherwise wouldn’t have bothered the care-free college students we knew.

At semester’s end, there was silence that pervaded the dorm before the residents left for the school break. For us, nothing triggered so much adrenaline release and worry when the last days of class wore on. The teachers were sternly aloof and the final exams they gave were difficult. We were all preparing for the killer tests that would dictate which way we’d go in our studies.

“How was your exam?” I asked Floro after he took his test.

“I submitted my blue book empty,” he said wryly. “I didn’t answer any of the test questions. They were hard. I wrote my teacher to explain why,” he continued.

That worried me. In my mind, if he failed the test, that meant he’d lose his scholarship; at worst, he’d be kicked out from the college and be forced to return home to Bicol. I would not see him again just like some of my friends who drifted away from college.

Convinced by his honesty, the teacher gave him a chance to retake the test. It was hard for me to believe that there was such a teacher in UP who would be so kind to a troubled student. I knew I needed such kindness too. While Floro fought to keep his scholarship to earn an engineering degree, I was in rabid pursuit for higher grades to get me into medical school.

But life seemed to have taken a different turn. The social cause he pursued was eating up his time and he started acting as though finishing college wasn’t that important anymore. Although he returned to the dorm late from meetings with people I didn’t know, it never crossed my mind that he was mulling to go full-time as Ka Manding in the NPA movement.

I was with him for so long that I’d quickly recognize his low-toned voice if he called me from heaven. In ROTC, we bonded together in that green military uniform and combat boots during practice marches, lectures, and GT’s (graded tests.) We belonged to a jolly platoon of fellow-Ibalonians with Ray R.G. Rayel, Julius A. Lecciones, and Arnel V. Malaya. Our group’s tail-scout, Floro guarded our backs during a bivouac. He was our loyal sentinel when we took surreptitious rests under the cool shade of acacia trees.

I still kept the image of Floro as an active student catholic action member (UPSCA ) waiting at the dorm door for our Sunday mass to hear the socially-charged sermons of Fr. Unson in the campus chapel. Gratitude was on his face as I lent him cash sometimes when he didn’t have time to travel to far Bicutan to pick up his NSDB stipend. His steady gaze was transfixed on my face, as he pointed on social issues at Mrs. Rodrin’s cottage during our lunch together.

In a soiree, we had a good laugh donning our sartorial best at the alumni center, sipping cold beer to be with the most beautiful Bicolanas in campus. In a fond conversation, I naughtily poked on a pretty Ibalonian Rebecca Espeso wearing that orangey ethereal “kulambo” blouse which made Floro twinkle.

“Magayonon!” I whispered on his ear. He reacted with those jerky convulsions on his shoulder; his elated radiant eyes were as thin as the coin-hole of a lucky slot machine. He chuckled loud as though I heard Brad Pitt laughing somewhere.

A fine human being who truly cared for the poor and the disadvantaged, Floro was a hurried bright comet blazing in the night sky. He was fast on his trail to let the world know of his mission. Martyrdom he must do, for he couldn’t wait to hear more of the cries of the poor without doing something.

In Molave, my friend, the shining gem in the sky had this old alarm clock, a brother’s gift, he told me, which sounded like a time-bomb. He laughed in earnest when Mario Genio, another Bicolano and I kidded him of the noisy white clock.

I borrowed this funny time piece to wake me up at midnight in order to study. When the alarm rang, I thought I saw Floro’s shadowy figure in that rickety chair fronting his table, deep in thought, as if something heavy was in his heart. I wondered if God was there speaking to him by his side. Maybe that moment was his epiphany. In the pitch blackness of midnight outside, it was his time to illumine the sky. =0=

Nostalgic Connections

June 11, 2008

April completed her pre-college schooling in Cardington, Ohio. It was in this quaint beautiful midwestern American town where the Rotary scholar, Dr. May Magdalene V. Yorobe’s daughter, started learning about the world away from home. Dr. Yorobe, a UP Ibalonian, came to visit her only girl right before graduation. She traveled the north central states to Ohio and went as far as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York to discover, learn, and answer a few questions.

What is the most helpful tool in your travel bag?
A cell phone.

Why did you come without George, your hubby?
George wanted to be with me, but he’s busy in Manila. With his tight schedule, he can’t even go home to Bicol as much as he wanted to.

What comes next for your daughter April now that she has finished school in Ohio?
She’ll proceed with nursing when she returns to Manila this June. She desires to help the sick and perhaps take care of me when I grow old (laughter.)

You’ve been in many places in America. Which was the most memorable?
Washington, DC. I loved the energy and message of the Memorial Day celebration. The historic pieces of Americana shown in the parade were stunning. I was elated by the sights and sounds of native Indians in their colorful feathered costumes, the contingent of old war veterans, and the beautiful song “God Bless America.”

Did you connect with Filipinos in your travel?
Definitely. I made many connections even with people I met for the first time. I couldn’t forget the petite Filipina sweetly wrapped around a burly black guy I saw in Maryland. In her tight-fitting tube blouse and matching miniskirt, the Pinay looked more American to me than most of the people around. Yet, she gave me a friendly, warm, and generous smile which I thought was lacking among other Filipinos I encountered elsewhere.

How did it feel to be in Broadway this summer?
The warm weather made my light clothes from Naga wearable in Manhattan. On sunny days, the tall buildings stood with ample shade to make sunblock unnecessary. New York City looked massively claustrophobic, but the spires and glass buildings were awesome. In that crowded strip of earth in Times Square the giant neon lights were ablaze even at noontime. The Phantom of the Opera still stalked viewers at the Majestic Theatre and to my surprise, a number of Filipinos lined up to watch the show after a very long run.

What were your thoughts when you stood at the site of 9/11?
The rugged huge hole in the ground where the Twin Towers once stood made me sad. I recalled the 4,000 innocent lives which were lost when the terrorists crashed the airplanes into the buildings. It’s good another edifice, a magnificent memorial for the fallen ones, is about to rise above ground zero and reaches out for the sky.

How did you react upon seeing Ibalonians you never saw for many years?
I couldn’t help, but yell on top of my voice during the reunion. I wanted to recapture the past that suddenly materialized in front of me. It seemed eternity that I waited so long to see them. No wonder loads of stories came flowing in— They brought back the wonderful past and the glowing present. The future, we talked about with hope, optimism, and great joy.

Who were the Ibalonians you met and those you missed?

In Wisconsin, I visited Dr. Ramon Ray G. Rayel and his family. Ray has still that gracious voice that tickles my funny bone. In Indiana, I found Dr. Divinia Nolasco-Reis brimming with hospitality. Her stories were plucked straight from the heart— red-hot and spicy. In New York, Dr. Totie Mesia got a trove of memories which made me feel good about how friendships evolve, mellow, and last through the years. We planned a huddle with fellow-Ibalonians Raniela Barbaza and Bingbing Badiola-Bretan somewhere in Queens. It didn’t happen. We simply lacked time. I wanted to see Dr. Yasmin Paje-Banzon and Gods A. Lanuza in Vancuover, BC, but they were off my itinerary.

When will you come back?
As soon as possible, preferably when George is ready to go with me in USA. =0=