ALWAYS in demand, doctors from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery have been pioneers in their fields and accomplished leaders in their own right.

The Varsitarian does a profile check-up of five accomplished Thomasian doctors whose overachievement is a definite understatement.

Modesto Llamas: New PMA chief

A specialist in General and Peripheral Vascular Surgery, Modesto Llamas, a graduate of Medicine in 1965, was elected president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) last month.

Llamas is also one of only three Filipino fellows in the American Board of Surgery and he currently chairs the Philippine Board of Surgery. He completed his internship at the Rochester General Hospital and his residency at the Boston University Hospital.

Even with his hands full, Llamas finds time to teach in the University as a Surgery professor, and treats patients at the Chinese General Hospital and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center.

The exodus of physicians to nursing is the greatest challenge for Llamas as PMA president.

“We are trying to convince the government to improve the working conditions of doctors nationwide,” he told the Varsitarian.

Llamas also works for the right of Filipinos to quality health- care by campaigning for a comprehensive Magna Carta of Public Health Workers that will strengthen the rights of public health-care givers. He attributes his advocacy for underpaid and overworked health workers to his Thomasian education.

“Being in UST deepened my passion for helping the less fortunate,” he said.

Avenilo Aventura: The Royal doctor-writer

Once the physician of the late President Marcos’ family and former medical consultant of the Royal family of Brunei, Avenilo Aventura, graduated from Medicine in 1958. He originally wanted to become a teacher, an agriculturist, and a writer.

Freedom forever

“I love writing,” Aventura told the Varsitarian. He takes pride in his work, “Tauna,” one of his articles published in his native Ilonggo language.

Originally a pathologist, he specialized in Surgery at the Danbury Hospital. Although he loves the works of Ernest Hemingway, Aventura’s “heart” belongs to his specialty – Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

Aventura recalls performing one of the most complicated surgeries, Cholecystectomy, a procedure for removing gallstones or solid masses from the gall bladder.

“It was like being an architect tasked to do the Taj Mahal,” Aventura said.

Despite juggling positions as president of the Asian Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Society and the Philippine Asian Vascular Society, Aventura continues to serve the Thomasian community as UST Hospital (USTH) consultant and professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. In 1998, Aventura was recognized by the UST Medical Alumni Association for his remarkable accomplishments at home and abroad.

Together with Llamas, Aventura is also a member of the prestigious American Board of Surgery. His childhood wish, he still dreams of being an acclaimed writer someday.

Orestes Monzon: The “family” doctor

His love for photography led Orestes Monzon to his professional passion—pictures and specializing in Nuclear Medicine, a branch of medicine that deals with the use of unsealed radioactive substances in diagnosis and therapy.

The section chief of the USTH Department of Nuclear Medicine, Monzon is also the executive director of Human Life International-Asia, a pro-life association that holds conferences on family issues in Asian countries.

Graduating from Medicine in 1972, Monzon earned his post-graduate education at the University of Bonn in Germany and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Pharmacy rules board

A Radiology professor in the University, Monzon became attracted to the pro-life campaign during his second year in Medicine, after he saw a specimen of a 10-week-old baby with an intrauterine device (IUD) embedded on its neck. An IUD is a contraceptive that makes the uterus unfriendly for a fertilized egg to implant.

“We want to defend the integrity of the family, and at the same time, promote respect for life,” said Monzon, who authored several books on life and family issues such as Families Forever: Moving Families for Life and Love.

As a photographer-physician, Monzon edited The Filipino as a Radiologist, a coffee-table book that he contributed to the Philippine College of Radiologists’ 50th anniversary.

Emmanuel Almazan: Enteroclysis pioneer

He initially wanted to enter the military, but this jolly Radiology professor thought he could save more lives by medicines than by guns.

Together with colleague and fellow Thomasian Benigno Santi, Emmanuel Almazan pioneered in enteroclysis, a procedure for viewing the small intestines. In conventional X-rays, only the stomach and large intestines can be observed, but not the small intestines. The procedure to check small intestines is only available in USTH.

Almazan, who is the section chief of USTH Department of Diagnostic Radiology, also pioneered in “embolization of myoma,” where instead of removing a uterus with a tumor done in hysterectomy, the tumor’s nutrient source is simply cut.

Almazan is the current president of the ASEAN Association of Radiology and vice-president of the ASEAN Society of Interventional Radiology. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in 1983 and took his internship at the Baguio General Hospital and residency at the University Hospital, where he specialized in General Diagnostic Radiology. He received international fellowship grants to the Siriraj Hospital of Mahedol University in Thailand and the Stanford University Medical Center.

Skywalkers in politics

“I feel that I am very blessed,” Almazan told the Varsitarian.

Indeed, with his wonderful achievements and having a happy family, Almazan is definitely living the good life.

Ditas Decena: Queen of Medicine alumni

This doctor always feels at home in UST.

The president of the UST Medical Alumni Association (UST MAA), Decena graduated cum laude in B.S. Psychology at UST in 1976 and finished Medicine in 1980. She was the first president of UST’s Student Organization Coordinating Council (SOCC) during her senior year in college.

Together with her seven “sisters,” Decena was one of the founding members of the 26-year-old Alpha Delta Mu sorority of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.

The business manager of the Philippine Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Decena specialized in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the USTH. Asked why she chose to be an ob-gyne, she answered, “The surgical expertise needed to perform the clinical and operative measures matches my hyperactive and obsessive-compulsive character!”

True to her Thomasian training, Decena never fails to serve the needy. Together with the USTMAA and the Cardiology Department of USTH, she organizes the “Save-A-Heart” project, which aims to deliver heart surgery and other services to the less fortunate for a minimal cost.

To be a doctor is a great thing, but to be a doctor of doctors is greater. These five physicians are at the top of their profession because they have the three Cs of the true Thomasian—compassion, commitment and competence—which they use to save lives and to make lives a little better. Raychel Ria C Agramon


  1. Would it be possible for you to generate the list of Llamas family alumnus of ust as well as professors and employees in your Institution. Iam doing a book of Something Interesting about the Llamas family of the Philippines.I know it would be a valuable information if I could have that list .THank you for your support. My grandfather was a Spanish and law professor . He’s name is Jose Fernandez LLamas, hey was mayor of Dagupan city and was himself a writer and a aunt did work there as well as LIbrarian. Fanny Llamas Baldovino.i know two distinguished Llamas alumni in the person of Dr. Modesto Llamas as you have featured in this article and sec.Ronald Llamas. Hope i could get the list I am asking as a favor. Thanks and God bless and have a great and meaningful Christmas.


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