PGH, an institution to be proud of


Has the campaign season officially started? Obviously it has for the PDP-Laban factions, the tandem of Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto, Manny Paquiao, Sarah Duterte, and the personal insults hurled by spokesperson of the President, Harry Roque.

Manila Mayor Isko was insulted by Roque on television for the purchase and distribution of two medicines to help alleviate the sufferings of the seriously infected COVID patients. Isko answered back through gritted teeth and added they would see each other in October because in the meantime he had to attend to the needs of his constituents. Touche'.

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This week we talk about an institution that has been around since 1907 and has helped countless citizens not only of Manila but the whole NCR and surrounding provinces. This is the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), housed in a two-story building complex on Taft Avenue.

PGH, a training hospital which teaches students of the University of the Philippines Medical School to be excellent and capable doctors and nurses is close to my heart (and close to where I live) as I have personally been helped there medically as well as members of my family. Unfortunately my dad died there after suffering a brain stroke more than three decades ago. Several of my nieces Antonia Esteban Habana and Raya Victorina, and nephews Dr. Jette Esteban and Dr. Luis Habana graduated there My brother-in-law, Dr. Jose Esteban, taught there for a long time.

Construction of the PGH began in 1907 with a budget of P780,000. Two years later, the

winning bidder, H. Thurber of the Manila Construction Company, finished the administration building, a surgical pavilion, two operating rooms, a building for the dispensary, out-clinic, and the wards with 60 beds each, a nurses' home, a kitchen, ambulance stable, and a morgue! The next year, PGH opened its doors to the public with 300 beds.

During the war, the hospital cared for everybody, Filipinos, Americans, Japanese. They did not discriminate.

Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, M.D., Director , PGH

Today PGH continues to serve the public but it is now undermanned and overcrowded. There has been an influx of COVID patients, although it is not supposed to be a COVID hospital, to the detriment of non-COVID patients. No one is turned away as much as possible, says the director Dr. Gerardo “Gap” Legaspi.

My interest in PGH focuses now on its very popular department, the Obstetrics and Gynecology section, which started as two separate departments. The Department of Obstetrics was established in 1907 with the Philippine Medical School, and later on became one of the 11 primary departments after the opening of the University of the Philippines (UP) – Manila, College of Medicine in 1910.

Gynecology was initially a section of the Department of Surgery, but subsequently became an independent department in 1922. It was in 1963 that the two departments were merged with the approval of the UP Board of Regents. Since then, the Department has grown into one of the most structured departments of UP-Manila, College of Medicine, and PGH.

Dr. Efren Domingo, director, PGH OB-Gyn department

The first director of the department was Dr. Fernando Calderon, MD. The present director is Dr. Efren Domingo, who told me the department delivers some 6, 500 babies, mostly charity patients, a year. That's a lot, which is probably why graduates from PGH School of Medicine graduates are so well trained!

Again, on a personal note, I was delivered several decades ago by one of the directors of the department (but in a private hospital), the late, Dr. Baldomero Roxas. My two older babies were delivered by former directors Dr. Jose Villanueva and two later babies by Dr. Genara Limson, and I was once a GYN patient of Dr. Constantino Manahan.

The faculty of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UP-Manila College of Medicine, and PGH believe in the joint responsibility of the state, the community, and the individual in the promotion and maintenance of health and common welfare. The kind of care rendered to the Filipino mother is a major determinant of the quality of the future breed of Filipinos. Its annual budget come from the Office of the President of the Philippines. (Please give them more funds, Mr. President, they badly need them!)

The PGH remains a national center of excellence in reproductive health science and professions, a globally recognized leader in training and education, research, and service in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology, socially relevant, and contributing to the national health policy development in reproductive health.

The community of empowered scholars in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology are imbued with spiritual vigor and zeal for life-long learning; under exemplary mentorship, total commitment and support, able to perpetuate our kind and discover new knowledge about the specialty, nurture strong values and the finest of character, arouse a deep sense of nationalism, and ensure the best possible healthcare for the Filipino people.

We are proud of this iconic institution, PGH and its team of unselfish experts, doctors, nurses, medical personnel, all ready to serve! And thank you to the various non-governmental organizations like Ricky Reyes’ advocacy group, which have thrown much into worthwhile causes, such as the welfare and treatment of children with cancer!