The Passing of an Icon
Carmela Agustin-Kasala, MD FPPS FPSAAI
Dr. Fe del Mundo, the mother of Philippine Pediatrics, author of the pediatric “bible” Textbook of Pediatrics, 1st Woman President of the Philippine Pediatric Society, educator, scientist and researcher, passed away on August 6 2011, just a few months short of her 100th birthday.
Her career spanned 8 decades, starting with a medical degree at UP College of Medicine where she graduated class valedictorian in 1933. Through a scholarship from President Manuel L. Quezon, she then moved on to training in Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School in 1936, the 1st woman and Asian ever to have been admitted into the once all-male institution. She returned to the Philippines in 1941, just at the brink of World War II, and helped out with the International Red Cross with children internees at a hospice thereby earning the name “the Angel of Sto Tomas”. After the war, she was asked to head the North General Hospital until 1948. By 1957, in her desire to establish her own private hospital for children, she sold her own home and personal effects, to build the Children’s Medical Center in Banawe where she also established her living quarters on the 2nd floor of the hospital. Written on one of the walls of her hospital: “AS MANKIND OWES TO CHILDREN THE BEST IT HAS TO GIVE, THIS CENTER IS A MODEST LEGACY TO THE CHILDREN OF OUR LAND.”
Because of her sincere dedication to the practice of pediatrics, she is the most revered pediatrician of all times, having received numerous awards and accolades including the Ramon Magsayay Award in Public Service in 1977, the National Scientist Award in 1980, the 1st woman to ever receive that distinction and last year, the Order of Lakandula with the title of Bayani.
With much passion and dedication, Dr. del Mundo has always been in the forefront of childcare, education, training and research. With much thoughtfulness and kind considerate ways, her trainees are all genuinely devoted and grateful for all the she was to them.
Truly, with her demise, an icon… an era has passed on. But her legend and her legacy will live on and continue on to benefit the Filipino child.