USTMAA: UmaALALAY sa Panahon ng Pandemya

The UST Medical Alumni Association  launched its USTMAAalalay program on May 2019. This is an accompanying program of the Alumni which aims to bring together the alumni and  USTFMS’ medical students  through various programs.  ALALAY  is an  acronym  for “Alay, Lingap, Aruga, Lingkod, Akbay , Yakap”.  Various activities have been identified to foster camaraderie,  and a sense of belongingness. Apart from the yearly homecomings the alumni look forward to, USTMAA has initiated activities to let its alumni  and the medical students feel the love of the Tomasinong Manggagagamot. The freshmen are welcomed with a ceremonial pinning of the nameplates during their orientation day.  The Alumni Association has supported the  medical students’ advocacies  and  Welcome walk and baccalaureate activities. Along with the UST FMS Administration, USTMAA has been part of the send-off mass and activities  as the Thomasians take the  Physician Licensure Examinations. Part of the  PLE kit   are  rosaries, pencils, sharpeners and small notes of encouragement dubbed as NAKS ( Notes from  Ates and Kuyas)  from the medical  alumni. Initiated by Class 1986, the El Fuego Tomasino, a  festive bonfire ceremony is held  to welcome  the new Thomasian doctors  and board topnotchers, a week after the PLE result is out.  USTMAA likewise forms a network of referrals for  the doctors as they pursue their medical careers here or in different parts of the world. As part pf providing medical service to the alumni, home visits are also  done  to those  who are  physically incapacitated because of their illness.

To serve or “magLIngkod”, has been one of the foremost objectives of USTMAA. Numerous medical missions and outreach programs are conducted  every year. Under the leadership of Dr. George Co,  portable  sinks have been distributed to partner communities of USTFMS in Navotas.  There is  no stopping to respond to the call. Even the lingering and hovering pandemic and disastrous events as typhoons and floods did not deter the alumni  from extending their helping hand to those in need.  The  COVID 19 Pandemic  has tested the solidarity of the  Thomasian medical alumni. As protective personal equipment were scarce  at the onset of the pandemic,, the TOMASINONG MD LABAN SA COVID 19  (USTMAA TLC)  was conceived. A call to raise funds to purchase PPEs was made on March 15, 2020. The USTMAAA, through Dr. Gerry Flores, immediately organized meetings to heed to the call. Soon enough, donations from Thomasian medical  alumni from different parts of the country and the US, Australia, Guam started pouring in. Students from the different colleges, people from nowhere  called and shared.  Even the different alumni associations, such as the UST Nursing Alumni,  and Engineering Alumni   contributed to the cause. PPEs were purchased  and sent to  healthcare  personnel  in 151 institutions  as far north in Cagayan Valley and down South  in Zamboanga, and Marawi City. Tomasinong manggagamot everywhere donated goggles, face shields, hazmats, gloves, gallons of alcohol. Food packs  and PPEs were  given to the healthcare workers of the UST Hospital. Getting through checkpoints, the USTMAA Board of Directors, and volunteer alumni  distributed   goods to the different hospitals in Luzon. Our Tomasinong MDs could not be more grateful  for the thoughtfulness  and the care.  Boxes of PPEs  were sent to Visayas and Mindanao through the different USTMAA chapters  with the help of Armed Forces of the Philippines. During the pandemic,  several  USTMAA chapters were organized – Palawan  and Quezon Province. At the moment, these  are  the  four  USTMAA chapters: Cebu, Western Visayas, Central Luzon, Olongapo-Zambales-Bataan. It is hoped that other chapters in Baguio and Batangas be reactivated, and other groups launched such as SOCCKSARGEN, Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Ilocos  Region  and Isabela-Cagayan valley, Davao and Zamboanga.


Recognizing the vital role of protecting the anesthesiologists during intubation at the height of the pandemic, Class 1970  donated a video laryngoscope to the USTH Department of Anesthesia.


Paglingap -  to care. Together with 2020 UST Medical Student Council President, John Knight Gulla, USTMAA President Jocelyn Z. Mariano, M.D., and president-elect Jocelyn Myra Caja, M.D. went to the dormitories around UST distributing health care kits to ninety-three medical students, clerks and interns who were stranded and could not go home at the start of the pandemic. To help the Thomasian MDs resume limited face-to-face consultations, the “Balik Klinika, Balik Kalinga “ Project was launched. A starter kit with  face masks, face shield and isolation gown was distributed to the doctors’ clinics. Families of  fallen alumni due to COVID19 were  given  some financial assistance as well.


The last quarter of 2020 had USTMAA  gathering its members  through webinars which talked about Loving Thyself  During  the Pandemic The newly installed CEO of the UST Hospital opened the webinar  . Alumni  who recovered from COVId 19 shared their stories. Dr. Fareda Flores, a neuro-psychiatrist based in Cebu, taught the audience how to love oneself.  The November webinar had alumni from different areas of practice  give light on which fields Thomasian medical graduates can get into.  Dr. Patrick Moral talked of getting into residency training in the Philippines while  Dr. Ma. Isabelita Maligaya Estrella shared her  thoughts on government service.  Drs.Lucio Margallo , Ed Cabigao  and Bryan Lo talked on how to get to the US Residency Training program, with highlights of their experience during residency. Dr. Kat Mendoza  delved on her  UK experience in her pediatric residency training journey. Dr. Dina Jose enthused the alumni to go into Research. Dr. Juan Garchitorena shared his experience with the Doctor to the Barrio Program. The December Virtual Concert Original Thomasian Physician Music showed the musicality of the Thomasian doctors. Original compositions sang by  different batches raised funds  for the USTMAAalalay program.

The University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and  Surgery has  indeed nurtured this breed of  committed, competent, and compassionate Thomasian doctors  responding to whatever challenge it faces. The pandemic has not stopped the USTMAA  to give, to share, to love, and to care .

Ang USTMAA: Handang USTMAAalalay sa bawat Tomasinong Manggagamot.


Jocelyn  Zamora Mariano, M.D. , Class 1989
President, USTMAA 2020-2021