15 October 2012

Up Close with Giovanni Manguiat Jr., M.D. Part I

I will deviate from the usual format for the MyStudents series by presenting the story of Dr. Giovanni Manguiat, Jr. of the high school class of 1986 in something of a Q&A. Giovanni is himself an editor of a medical journal and responded to my questions so eloquently that I felt that I would do him an injustice by filtering out all the fascinating itty-bits of information that he so generously disclosed for this site.

Readers who have the patience and stamina will find his quite a fascinating and compelling story.

On His Family
I was born the second of three children of Giovanni ‘Giovan’ Kalaw Manguiat, Sr. (deceased) and the former Roberita ‘Ruby’ Vito Cabrera (now Mrs Bunquin). My father was born and raised in Lipa as the youngest of five siblings of Judge Jose Mayo Manguiat and School Supervisor Rosario Katigbak Kalaw. This makes me related to both Teodoro Manguiat (TM) Kalaw and Claro Mayo (CM) Recto – grandfather of Ralph Recto, on my father’s side.

My dad used to say that their family had Irish-Portuguese blood. My mother, on the other hand, is the third of four siblings and was born and raised in Taal (she was Miss Taal in her youth). She has Spanish-Chinese blood from her parents Roberto V. Goco-Cabrera and Paciencia Magsino-Vito, also both Taaleños. This makes me pure 100% Batangueño but with quite an interesting mix of races.

My older brother is Attorney Anthony ‘Tony’ Manguiat, married to Jennifer Joan Ortega of La Union. He is a lawyer-cum-entrepreneur. My younger brother Joselito Roberto ‘JR’ is with Pfizer and is married to the former Fatima Evaristo from Parañaque. I have been Lipa-based since 2006.

On His Career Choice
It was a childhood dream to become a doctor and I have always felt that my calling was in Medicine. My late father was extremely supportive and encouraging. I also seemed to excel in Science and was awarded the Mercury Drug Medals for Science for both elementary and high school at De La Salle Lipa (DLSL).

DLSL stalwarts Sir Cris Zarate, Ma’am Millet Sarmiento and Miss Baby Rosales definitely were influential mentors who inspired and encouraged me in this direction, so taking up a pre-Med course was a no-brainer.


We were expected to properly and completely endorse the most problematic and most potentially problematic patients to the next duty team; had to take written and oral exams; attended and sometimes made presentations in conferences and lectures while trying not to appear like half awake zombies; and went with the ambulances and conducted patients for transfer to other hospitals.
I also had a predilection for English, languages and writing and was moulded by the likes of Brother Matthew Buckley, Mrs. Elsie Rabago and the late great Miss Alice Rivera who mentored me in English since grade school. But at that time – on the verge of college – coming as I was from a family mostly of lawyers and businessmen, I wanted to be a trailblazer and felt that BS Biology at UP Diliman, which was a very competitive quota course, increased my chances of entering the top medical school UP College of Medicine which I wanted to be the stepping stone to my dream career path.

On College Life
College life at UP Diliman was a ‘small fish in such a big pond’ experience; but how I loved it so! UP Diliman was such a great and enormous place to discover new things; thrive and learn independence, self-sufficiency and self-reliance; and pursue excellence and academic freedom.

It was highly competitive with everyone in my course being either valedictorian, salutatorian or a Philippine Science genius! One learned humility as well and made friends with these amazingly brilliant and wonderful people who beneath their nerdy and sometimes quirky exteriors were such fun to be with and had varied personalities that made college life so much more interesting!

In my third and fourth years, I was finally ‘blooming’ and getting the hang of it, balancing academics and a life outside school. Consequently, I was getting semestral GPA’s worthy of college and university scholar standing (the Dean’s list).

Although ours was definitely a batch of overachievers with a summa, several magnas and lots of cum laudes, I couldn’t care less that I was just one of the latter or what percentile I belonged to. I was just so happy that my grades were good enough to get invited to the Greek-named honour societies and was absolutely ecstatic when I got accepted at the UP College of Medicine. Only 110 lucky lateral entry applicants out of thousands from all over the Philippines made it!

On Medical School
Medical School was dead serious and even more cutthroat competitive! I was in the number one school after all and expectations were sky-high. It was also very physically and emotionally demanding and challenging since my hospital base – the Philippine General Hospital or PGH – was the largest tertiary government and referral hospital in the country. I started as a clinical clerk and ended up a bona fide battle-scarred intern.

In exchange for the prestige, the best exposure and medical training in this country, PGH would rightfully demand its ‘pound of flesh’ – the most gruelling and taxing forms of service you could ever imagine. One had to be not only a doctor but also part nurse, med-tech, psychiatrist, messenger, orderly and maintenance man, among others. Those who were assigned to be such by themselves just could not handle the volume of PGH patients.

Going on those 24-hour duties – ER, Wards, ICU’s – every three days for months for OB-Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Internal Medicine and Surgery, having very little actual quality sleep and rest, a non-existent social and sometimes love life, work that did not respect Sundays and holidays – it was clearly not a walk in the park or a bed of roses.

We tried not to get caught taking mini-catnaps while standing – we were like horses sleeping while standing – while we went on ‘edema’ and ‘varicose vein’ rounds. This included being grilled on the finer points of the theoretical aspects of our patients’ diseases, the proper bedside manners and the practical aspects of patient care.

We were expected to properly and completely endorse the most problematic and most potentially problematic patients to the next duty team; had to take written and oral exams; attended and sometimes made presentations in conferences and lectures while trying not to appear like half-awake zombies; and went with the ambulances and conducted patients for transfer to other hospitals.

The list could go on and on! And the day before we were to go on duty? We would see the consulting multitudes of outpatients – literally the teeming masses from all over the country who were in need of health care in the general and specialty clinics.

On top of all these, we had to work on research papers and group projects and presentations. Despite the unbelievable work load, we somehow survived and managed to bring comfort and care and sometimes truly played small but significant parts in the healing process that made our patients better.


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