AMID the demands of the medical profession, two Thomasian doctors managed to give more than enough for charity.

It began earlier in medical school when Maria Luisa Ticzon and Ana Vida saw the need to extend some help to indigent patients.

Ticzon set up Lingkod ER Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization that raises funds through donation for poor patients in the emergency room.

The foundation started in 1997 when Ticzon, then 21, volunteered at the emergency room of the Philippine General Hospital and saw patients not getting sufficient care for lack of money.

In an article in People Magazine where Ticzon was featured as a modern-day heroine, she recalled seeing patients being transported in a cart (kariton) as a makeshift ambulance.

“Before, baon namin ang ginagamit namin. It really helped us to think of forming Lingkod ER because we thought that we may not be able do this forever, we needed a stable organization to continue this after we could graduate,” she said.

When she studied medicine at the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, she formally established LER Foundation, which is now located at the emergency room of the UST Hospital.

“Through the funds we got from different donors, we did not only help the poor but we also renovated the emergency room and acquired some new equipment,” said Ticzon, who was later named MTV Asia’s “Superhero of Asia.”

The award won her a $5,000 grant, which all went to the foundation.

Vida, a Microbiology graduate of UST who later took up medicine at De La Salle University, was immediately sold to the vision of Lingkod ER.

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“My friend is also a friend of Joy Belmonte, vice mayor of Quezon City, who also happened to be a good friend of Dr. Luisa,” she said. “Then, they have appointed a meeting with us regarding this very nice program for the emergency room of an organization, the Lingkod ER.”

Starting early

Even at a young age, Ticzon already saw herself working in the medical field. She said seeing the joys and comforts of her patients as they left the hospital was an inspiration.

“[Medicine] is like my sport, I love doing it. I like seeing other people happy because that alone gives me a sense of fulfillment,” said Ticzon, now a dermatologist.

Growing up in a family of philanthropists, Ticzon’s passion for charity work came out naturally. She said being a “good Samaritan” runs in their blood.

“My uncle is the founder of the trauma ward at the Philippine General Hospital. All the patients being brought there did not pay because he received funding from PAGCOR,” she said.

Vida said the interesting part of her profession came from no one in particular in the family. Like Ticzon, taking up medicine was a personal choice.

“Ever since, I really wanted to become a doctor, and even though my grandfather was a doctor, I never saw him practicing medicine. So basically, my family has no major influence with it,” said Vida, who is the executive director of Lingkod ER Foundation.

Vida now manages Prim Skin Care Derm Center, a dermatology clinic at the ABS-CBN owned by Gabby Lopez, together with Ticzon, who has gone way far from being a student volunteer to a big-hearted medical practitioner.

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Currently, Ticzon also gets to work at ABS-CBN DZMM Teleradyo where she has a regular appearance as a medical correspondent and is the head of its public service.

“My journey in helping people did not stop. Until now, I do help people by raising social and health awareness through media,” she said. “I still think prevention of being sick is much more important.”

All for the sake of charity

Working for the foundation as a fresh medicine graduate, Vida became so attached with the different people she met along the way and even said that she did not want to have her residency anymore.

“I never really thought of medicine na nawala sa sistema ko because the people I talk to were still patients and doctors. The only difference is that I did not do it for medicine, I do it for charity,” she said.

For Vida, helping other people is not just a simple happiness someone normally feels, “it goes beyond that,” she said.

Saving lives, keeping smiles

Ticzon and Vida share a common vision in life, which is to make other people happy by the most genuine help they could offer with the purest affection they could give.

“It’s really hard to explain how much happiness we feel when we make other people smile. Last December, we brought families living on the streets to Enchanted Kingdom for the program of DZMM, ‘Maligayang Paslit’,” said Vida. “And on our way, I asked the children about how they feel. Hearing them say, ‘sobrang saya po’ brought tears in my eyes.”

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With their eagerness to impart the less fortunate the beauty of life, the Thomasian doctors kept more fortunate people help them in raising funds with their donations.

“Imagine, there was a kasambahay who initially did not have enough money for her medical tests, Lingkod ER helped her,” said Vida. “And when her amo learned about this, they donated an amount and are still donating.”

Ticzon said “to use your life to save others’ lives will go on forever.” This is what she saw after graduating from medicine.

“With the time given to you, you have to use it well. When I get to help people and make them smile, I always tell myself, ‘I could die tomorrow’,” she said.

The two benevolent heroines believe in being selfless. Doing these things, for them, is not for the fame or fortune, but for the grace and benefit of other people, as seen in their life-giving, life-saving, and life-caring assistance.

“We won’t live forever, so make the most out of it,” Ticzon said. “The young people are idealistic, that’s why I want to become young forever. When you are young, there is nothing that stops you from what you’re doing, you keep on going.” JUAN CARLOS D. MORENO

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