Outgoing President’s Address
Good afternoon everyone. Before I start, allow me to acknowledge the presence in our convention of two previous APA presidents, we are honored by your presence. Thank you for taking time to be with us.
My journey as President of the Philippine Psychiatric Association is about to end. It was indeed a wonderful opportunity given to me to serve each and everyone of you. I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone who helped me perform my task to the best of my ability. Thank you. . . Thank you everyone especially the Board of Directors, my friends and the rest of you for the trust, confidence, support and respect that you have given me.
In all honesty, it took me a while to prepare this, as my mind was kinda empty, i did not know what to say. It could be – anticipation, that i have one load off my shoulder or maybe, I am just too excited to start a new endeavor with my new task of organizing the UST Grand Alumni Gala Dinner on 2018. . . Some people might think that i am about to rest from the pressure of taking on multiple tasks, but I guess that is not in my nature. Incidentally, there are many more tasks to attend to at Metro Psych which has taken a back seat for some time now; most specially that we have launched Bahay Tambayan – a clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation.
Being PPA president taught me lessons that no other opportunity would have. I learned to be patient and non reactive. I have come to realize that things are better done with a calm mind and a non reactive stance. I am sometimes surprised by my own non reaction…”Ikaw ba yan Fa?” One disadvantage of being on a euthymic mood is that ironically, so many activities were going on with PPA. I know that the Board of Directors especially Minda kept calling my attention to this. Allow me to explain how this is possible – my mind is calm including my thoughts, but my actions were manic, it did not stop me from taking action, gets nyo? I hope the board of directors did not feel like it was a struggle working with me. I believe I always made sure that all BOD meetings were conducted with fun but with output.
Being PPA president improved my leadership skills. I think I have been able to work well with others, hopefully. It gave me the opportunity to know other members personally and professionally. Leading PPA for a year was fulfilling but sometimes frustrating especially during those times when certain intentions were not in line with the vision and mission of the the organization. I realized that we all need to be vigilant about this, specially those of us who assume or will assume leadership positions. I now realize what the past leaders of our organization had to endure and having said that, I am grateful to the past presidents for making me feel that they were always ready to respond anytime the BOD needs their opinion and assistance. We at the BOD gave our best to serve all the members. There may have been times when certain requests were not granted, i hope they were not taken as personal issues but always in consideration of what should and must be done. To those who were not happy with how we did things, Im sure Rene will be able to undo everything.
Being president also deepened my understanding of commitment, passion and sacrifice. One of the many things that prepared me for this job is my mindfulness practice, it made me look at things differently, more on a lighter perspective and therefore less complicated. At the same time it allowed me to take care of myself until the last few days before today when my body refused to cooperate with my mind. Mindfulness also did not change the fact that I am still unlocatable and my address is still Philippine Airlines, but it made me become more aware of things going on around me and made me more able to respond to them appropriately. I am more than ever grateful of every moment that has been allowed for me to experience.
Being president also deepened my practice of gratitude. It is gratitude that made realize the true meaning of happiness. Today it is gratefulness that is making me happy and not the other way around. I am grateful for all the people who helped me accomplished all the task that was waiting for me. I am grateful for all the committees who worked hard for the last 12 months. We have accomplished so much.
To the new Diplomates, welcome to the specialty of psychiatry and congratulations to everyone. This career achievement comes with pride for ourselves and our own families but it also comes with a big responsibility to the patients that we take care of. I am appealing to all of you to practice professionalism and be ethical at all times. Always be reminded that professionalism is expressed through ethical action. Noble ideals and abstract principles mean little if they do not guide our daily decisions and behavior. In our practice of psychiatry, the translation of humanistic ideals and principles of medicine is found through demonstrations of compassion, in activities that safeguard confidentiality, in the use of expertise to benefit patients, in truthful and fair conduct, and in the willingness to be publicly accountable for our work. Professionalism in Psychiatry cannot be expressed in mere words, but in the intentional, repeated demonstrations of integrity when work is dedicated to improving the health and circumstances of people with mental illness. If I may quote Prof. Glen Gabbard in his book Professionalism in Psychiatry, ” the heightened responsibilities of psychiatrist derive in part from the special nature of the kind of suffering that brings someone to seek psychiatric treatment. Mental illnesses are neuropsychiatric conditions that influence and may distort the thought, feelings, behaviors, relationships, and self-understanding of patients. The specific symptoms of many, although not all, mental illnesses may erode insight and disrupt behaviors. The chronic nature of many mental illnesses, furthermore, may over time lead to greater marginalization in society. This means that there will be an inherent asymmetry in the relationship between psychiatrist and patient, with one as a caregiver and the other as care seeker, with one as a provider and the other as recipient of care, with one as relatively empowered and the other relatively disempowered. Because the therapeutic relationship between psychiatrist and patient is the platform for understanding patient’s illness and bringing about healing, psychiatrist are entrusted with approaching this situation of asymmetry with special awareness and a greater commitment to non-exploitative behavior. ”
Our training in Psychiatry is unique among the medical specialties in that it formalize and supports rigorous self-reflection; we are required, by the character of our work, to self observe and understand our role in the therapeutic relationships. (Really a lot of mindfulness required).
To our dear new diplomates, continue to do your practice upholding the professional boundaries in dealing with our patients, their families and our pharmaceutical partners. Please continue to offer your gratitude to your mentors who in one way or another contributed to making you who you are today (whether positive or negative), and to your families who quietly supported and cheered for you in the background.
To those aspiring to be diplomates, continue pursuing your dreams. To those who missed the moratorium, there will still be opportunities that will come your way, and if ever there will be, grab it immediately.
As I am writing this final message in my hospital bed, without the assurance of being with you here today personally, I know without doubt that this annual convention will be a success. To Rene who has been working with the Org Com silently but meticulously, thank you. To the Org COm who are very efficient in their respective assignments, please do continue to help PPA. And for those who want to be part of the Org Com, please volunteer, PPA needs you, be proud of what you have to offer.
To all pharmaceutical companies who partnered with PPA’s for the longest time, please continue to support the association. To you we will be forever be grateful.
On a personal note, thank you very much Minda and to the PPA secretariat for all the help. I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to the people who helped made who I am today. For believing and supporting me always, especially during my manic powers…my mothers – Dra Ponio in Manila who has been there since my residency training and is now complaining of infecting her with my busyness and on the other island Dra Onate for always being there ready to listen and offer her her wisdom. Metro psych pasig and cebu, for supporting me not just financially but made all the resources available. To all my friends who cant say no to my requests for them to work and align with my manic powers, I owe you big time. To my family back in Cebu and Leyte who sometimes cant understand what I am doing but still continues to have an open mind. To my father who is now in heaven I know he is so proud of me and probably entertained the thought that someday I will follow in his footsteps of becoming the Mayor of our town, ( hmmm. . . well, it is still a possibility). To my mother who is now in an advanced stage of dementia, I am happy that she still recognize and remember me but I am not sure if she will still remember what I have achieved in my career. To my siblings and dear niece and nephews, I know in my heart that they are proud of me – I sincerely offer my love.
To all PPA members, thank you for the respect and trust.
I will end in the spirit of mindfulness by quoting a meditation teacher Pema Chondron: “We can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is… not to try to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”
Thank you… This is it pansit at your service now signing off…