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Beginnings of Davao Medical School

In the 1960’s, Ateneo de Davao’s President, Fr. Miguel Varela, had numerous meetings with Siliman University to form a consortium to build a medical school in Mindanao. Nothing came out of these discussions. But in 1976, Sister Manzano of San Pedro hospital approached me at the Ateneo de Davao to build a medical school. She asked the Dept. of Education for permission to do it alone but was refused since she did not have an educations institution but a hospital. The local doctors of Davao were enthusiastic about a medical school. We formed five teams to ask fifty Davao residents for a thousand pesos each.

About half of them readily wrote check for a thousand pesos. The others gave us merienda and ushered us out the door. One prospect after the merienda said we were insulting him and bid us good bye. The next day we received his check of ten thousand pesos. We also agreed that each member of the consortium which now included, San Pedro Hospital, Ateneo de Davao, Brokenshire Hospital, and Davao Development Foundation will pitch in ten thousand pesos each. Davao Medical SchoolSomeone also suggested a walk to raise funds. It was a happy walk around the city and as far I remember we raised something like ten thousand from the walk. The contribution of Brokenshire did not appear for later we found out that Brokenshire was having trouble with its union. I remember Dr. Jess de la Paz and myself going through the medical schools of Manila and the unanimous advice was not to open a hospital of our own. I remember the dean of Far Eastern University quite vehement about it for he said it sucked up all their funds. At that time there was price control for hospital and schools, that caused hospitals and schools to operate on the brink of bankruptcy.) Fr. Among Bustos of the SVD negotiated for purchase of the land. Then Marie Aboitiz of the Davao Development Foundation was able to get a grant from the Aboitiz Foundation in Cebu a grant primarily for the promotion of the Katiwala which we used for the construction of the first building.

During those early years we had no money so the doctors who taught received no salary for seven years. The result was only the top-class doctors of Davao could afford to teach without a salary. The first dean was Dr. Panuncialman. The other teachers I remember were Dr. Dela Cruz, Dr. Durban, Dr. Gantioaqui, Dr. Trining dela Paz, (during this time we lost Dr. Jess dela Paz through cancer and Fr. Among Bustos by bursting of an aneurism) and many others whose names I can not remember. My apologies. We also started a dental school under Dr. De Jesus. We received a bunch of dental chairs and X-rays which a young genius mechanic rehabilitated. In those early years, we had no student who failed the medical board exams.

We had a handful of foreign students but at present I understand that Davao Medical School has over 300 Indian students and has students placing in the top ten of the medical board exams. Some of our graduates now are the top doctors of Davao and even of Manila. But more remarkable is that our graduates take care of the medical needs of many towns of Mindanao. This is to a great part through the help of Nellie Kellogg Van Schaick Foundation who gave generous grants for scholarships. Atty. Barassi its regent in charge in Arizona met Dr. Jess de la Paz in the airport and they found they needed each other. Miss Nelly Kellogg van Schaick left all her money for the education of Filipino youth to become medical doctors. She had arrived a young lady as the daughter of chief medical officer of Gen. Arthur MacArthur and married Lt. van Schaick who later became commanding officer of Fort Stotsenberg which later became part of Clark Field in Central Luzon. She was interned here in Sto. Tomas and was grateful for the efforts of her Filipino friends to help them during concentration camp.


source: MB
by Emeterio Barcelon
March 13, 2014


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