A Thomasian anesthesiologist and medicine professor will take her oath as president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) in its 120th year, with plans to bring her 5Ps advocacy into fruition as she embarks on her fourth term in office.

First elected in 2014, Dr. Maria Minerva Calimag of the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery sees her reelection as an opportunity to continue pushing for changes in the healthcare system, an advocacy ingrained in her since she was a medical student in the late 70s in the University.

“I do not say ‘no’ because I look forward to challenging myself, and also because if I say ‘no,’ then I might miss [these] opportunities,” Calimag told the Varsitarian.

Part of Calimag’s 5Ps is the profession of medicine, PMA, physicians, patients, and the planet, in which the final P goes beyond her role in the health sector. “I wear many hats, actually,” she said.

As an environmentalist, Calimag sees implementing earth-friendly practices such as solid waste management and “plant-a-tree” activities in PMA to push for “all-green facilities” nationwide.

“During my term, we started retrofitting sa PMA ng LED lights. Actually, from P120,000 na monthly namin, naging P58,000 na lang ang aming konsumo ng kuryente,” Calimag said, adding that they are looking into using solar power in the future.

“So, I am pushing for ‘all-green facilities,’ where we have more walkways. We are also pushing for alternative transports […] to minimize ‘yung mga air pollutants.”

Calimag is encouraging medical professionals to champion public health that is preventive and promotive rather than just curative.

This would include “reaching the unreached” via the promotion of health literacy, especially in far-flung places such as in indigenous areas, with Calimag underscoring the PMA’s current partnership with the National Commission for Indigenous People, in which they plan to release a coffee table book titled “Paghihilom.”

Calimag, who earned a doctorate in Educational Management from the UST Graduate School, also plans to hold discussions with senators to halt the alarming brain drain among healthcare workers, exacerbated by the three-year-old Covid-19 pandemic, and address manpower issues besetting hospitals.

Sa ibang bansa kasi, ‘nung nagka-Covid, maraming may ayaw maging nurse, ayaw nilang maging doktor. Tapos tayo dito, ‘yung mga doctor at tsaka nurses natin sobrang capable and competent tapos compassionate pa,” she said.

“Of course, kailangan [din] natin ‘yung sa salary scales natin, ‘yung mga wage distortions kasi mas malaki kita sa abroad eh.”

And then there are her lobbying efforts to integrate the medical profession to ensure uniformity in its plans of action, especially during crucial times such as the onslaught of a deadly pandemic.

“We think that the best thing that we should [do] is to have everybody on board para ‘yung alam ng isa [ay] alam ng lahat, and then we march together as one,” Calimag said.

The PMA was established in 1903 under the name Philippine Islands Medical Association (PIMA) after civilian governor general Major John Rich Mc Dill merged two existing health groups at the time, the Colegio Medico-Farmaceutico de Filipinas and Manila Medical Society. The name was amended to PMA during the Japanese occupation in 1943.

Calimag was PMA’s 93rd president from 2014 to 2016 and was brought back to the helm in 2020. 

She has been an instructor at UST since 1986 and had all her eight children study and finish there as doctors, with the youngest a candidate for graduation this year.

Anchored on their family motto, “The Calimags fly together, soaring high,” Calimag’s children were trained to be focused as they established their careers in medicine.

All of Calimag’s eight children pursued medicine at UST, with the youngest (left) a candidate for graduation this year. (Photo from Calimag)

“It became a mantra for them, so lahat sila, nasa leadership roles din – chief residents, president ng interns organization, dalawa sila, [and] dalawang board topnotchers,” she touted.

Calimag encourages aspiring doctors to keep moving forward and to be keen on learning new things.

“Being a doctor is a lifetime commitment […] hindi puwedeng stagnant siya. Dapat aral nang aral. Look for role models na tingin niyo ay kagaya-gaya,” she said.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.