MEDICINE and the arts may seem far apart, but not for Dante Lerma, M.D. who embodies the perfect union of the arts and sciences.

The award-winning artist’s works have been showcased in many art galleries for many years, with his most recent work, “Angelus Fidei” featured in the Kristo Manila exhibit last March in Malolos, Bulacan.

With a stylized mood on surrealism and realism, Dante mostly uses an oil-on-canvas technique to create sceneries displaying Filipino culture, self-awareness and nationalism.

Dante believes his two characteristics of being an artist and a doctor explain the two aspects that comprise him as an individual.

“After all, Medicine is also about art. In Medical school, we were taught the Science of Medicine but the Art of Medicine is something you learn from experience,” Dante said.

Serving to the needs of students, the family medicine specialist works as a practicing consultant at the UST Health Service.

A young dreamer

Dante was once confident that he would become a doctor in a time when many of youth, including himself, saw the importance of being in the profession.

“In our youth, we were made to see the nobility of this profession plus the privilege of being able to pursue it,” said Lerma, who received the Presidential Citation of the Arts in 2004.

Born and raised in Manila, Dante even considered pursuing a career in fine arts, but the medical profession was more appealing.

“I toyed with the idea of pursuing Fine Arts, but we were practically made to realize early that it would be better to be in the medical profession which is perceived to be the most stable pursuit and endeavor,” Dante said.

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Dante, who is an alumnus of the University from elementary to medical school, had no difficulty in choosing the course he will eventually take to be a doctor. He finished BS General from the College of Science in 1979 and took up Medicine in UST in the same year and graduated in 1983.

“It wasn’t that hard to pick it over other considerations in college. Having parents and relatives who are very supportive in every way certainly made the choice easier,” he said.

Though he was committed to become a doctor, Lerma’s right side brain never faded; throughout his life, he has been inclined into the arts—the field where he is more known of.

Dante believes art is a communication and that meaningful ideas are exchanged between two entities of the observer and the observed.

“The artist has to find a way where he would be able to connect with the viewer in the most effective way he can,” Dante said.

Balance for passions

Maintaining a balance of artistic passion, Dante, who is also a diplomat and fellow of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, said his painting never interferes with his work as a doctor.

“On the contrary, it has enhanced my medical practice. I would frequently resort to illustrations whenever I would need to explain certain medical or surgical conditions to patients,” said Dante, who also won third prize in the Artists’ Association of the Philippines Semi-Annual Painting Competition in 2010.

He added that Fine Arts is similar with Medicine and that people may learn the basics of tone and color, renderings and how certain media behave.

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“The art or the poetry of conveying your thoughts and yearnings on the canvas is not something which you learn in art school. It is something which you pick along the road as you journey through life,” said Dante, who was also an honorable mention in the 11th World Heritage Series Posatal Stamp Design in Tokyo, Japan in 2002.

Tiger grown

“Family always comes first. Everyone in the family is encouraged to pursue their hearts’ desires and is reassured of each other’s support all the way,” said the 54-year old father of three.

It wasn’t a surprise why Dante has a passion for the arts. He was raised from a family of artistically-inclined individuals like his father and his uncle who were both adept at drawing, and his grandfather, a goldsmith, whom he would acquire much his artistic passion.

“I would watch him intently and marvel as he fashioned intricate patterns on the jewelry he used to make in his little shop—a genius I would say in his own right,” Dante said.

“As an artist, I feel that I have this special connection with nature, a sense of freedom and the power to express my thoughts and ideas in a special kind of way,” Dante said.

“As a doctor, I feel so privileged that I am being entrusted with the two most precious gifts: health and life itself; and as a Thomasian, I am a proud heir to a noble and royal tradition,” he added. Alfredo N. Mendoza V

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