Saturday, October 18, 2014

AMSEP Philippines for Malaysia 2014

By: Jane Astorga, Nicole Bautista, John Parangat, Ida Tan, Jose Paolo Aguilar, John Benjamin Gochoco, Lark Flauta, Ronacyn de Guzman, Mariane Loe Bringuelo, and Racine Reinoso

 Ten student delegates from the Universiti Putra Malaysia were set to arrive in Manila on August 2014 for the AMSEP Philippines for Malaysia hosted by the Asian Medical Students’ Association – University of Santo Tomas. The student delegates were Looi Jie Shen (chief delegate), Yong Shao Wei, Yap Ming Teck, Ong Yun Jin, Su Jia Ning, Gan Wan Sin, Maizura Binti Mardi, Hing Wee Ven, Asma Huda Binti Hatim, and Syakirah Binti Abdul Rahman.

Day 1, August 11 (Monday)

The delegates’ flight was scheduled to arrive in Manila at 3:15 in afternoon of August 10. As they were waiting for their flight at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, they were informed that their flight to Manila was delayed and they were due to arrive at 1:00 am on Monday. That first day of the week long adventure of our Malaysian delegates was such a sensation! Groggy but excited, dedicated AMSA-UST members welcomed them in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 2:00 am. They were then dropped off at their respective host’s place to have a few hours of sleep before the program for that day officially started. 
Welcoming the delegates upon their arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4

Beaming with excitement, our friends from Malaysia spent their first few activities in the University of Santo Tomas – St. Martin de Porres Building, where the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery is located. While having breakfast, they got the chance to meet more members of AMSA-UST, who welcomed them to the Philippines and to the university. Then they dropped by the Faculty office the Secretary, Dr. Edwin Rodriguez for a courtesy call. Dr. Rodriguez gave them a brief background of the university and of the faculty.  

Afterwards, Dr. Patrick Moral engaged them in a lecture on History Taking. This lecture was very appropriate since the Malaysian delegates are new to the topic. They learned the basics of history taking, from the chief complaint to the review of systems. It was evident from their laughs that they enjoyed the lecture. After the awe-inspiring and chockfull lecture, they were treated to a sumptuous lunch at The White Thumb at the UST Hospital. The delegates enjoyed Filipino food. One of them even said, “I haven’t tasted a dish that I don’t like yet.” Indeed, they became fans of our cuisine even on their very first day. After a little break, Dr. Roy Cuison treated them to another lecture on Vital Signs. It was all the more interesting for the delegates and they felt privileged to learn about something they had yet to discuss back in their own university.

The next activity really got our friends going. The UST Amazing Race bubbled up a lot of excitement from the participants. This activity was geared towards allowing them to see the university in a different way and at the same time allow them to learn the history of UST. The race consisted of nine (9) stations, each station tested their critical thinking skills and physical prowess. They were tired from the journey of the previous day but they really appreciated the race. They were grateful that they got a chance to experience this kind of race because they had a different view of UST and they enjoyed every bit of it.

 Posing for shots the Plaza Mayor in UST after the tiring but super fun Amazing Race

Tired but fulfilled, the delegates went back to their hosts’ place to freshen up for the last activity of the day—dinner. Dinner was held at Barbara’s in Intramuros. Here, they got a taste of Filipino culture. The cultural show amazed them and they were entertained by the dances. The food also sent their taste buds ablaze. It was something different for them, since our culture has a lot of Spanish influence. The place also enamored them; they found our architecture classy and beautiful. They commended how the Filipinos managed to retain much of our culture. Day one ended when everyone was safely returned to their respective host’s place.

Day 2, August 12 (Tuesday)

Tuesday started with a tour of Philippine General Hospital (PGH). The delegates were warmly welcomed by members of the Medical Students for Social Responsibility – International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (MSSR-IPPNW) from the University of the Philippines Manila College of Medicine (UP-CM) and were toured by a physician from the Department of Pediatrics in PGH. Upon seeing the departments in PGH like the Pediatrics Ward and the Out-Patient Department (OPD), the delegates were surprised on how big and busy a public hospital in the Philippines is. They said it was very different from the UST hospital they saw the day before and it was unlike their government hospitals in Malaysia. 
 Campus tour at the University of the Philippines Manila College of Medicine with members of MSSR-IPPNW

After the tour of the UP campus grounds the delegates had lunch in Max's Restaurant in Robinsons Manila, where they were very excited to try new Filipino dishes like kare kare, sinigang, and tinapa rice. Since there was still time available before the next activity, the delegates were able to have a short stroll around the mall as well.

The next destination was the national museum and the first exhibit they saw was Juan Luna’s Spoliarium. The delegates were overwhelmed by the huge size and the magnificent history and meaning behind the painting. They had fun taking pictures with the busts Filipinos who had important roles in history like Emilio Aguinaldo, Lapu-Lapu, and Andres Bonifacio. With every exhibit they saw the culture and history of the Philippines and they learned about how religious our country is, the effect, influence and significance of the Spanish, Americans and Japanese to our country and also a little about our national heroes. They were impressed about how much history the Philippines has and how we as Filipinos are still very aware of that history.

After the national museum they visited Intramuros, where they were greeted by members of the Community Development and Research Society (ComDRS) of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. Here, they saw the Puerto Real Gardens, San Agustin church, The Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago and the Rizal exhibit. They found the whole Intramuros compound to be very beautiful because of the old Spanish architecture and the history that accompanied it, and they were also amazed by how the locals were able to keep it that way. They enjoyed the tour around Fort Santiago and they were impressed by the history of Jose Rizal, how multi-talented he was and what he went through for the country.

Going back to UST, the long traffic was actually beneficial because it gave them time to take a nap after the long and tiring tour. They went straight to Jollibee where everything was ready for their welcome party. The delegates were surprised because they thought it would be an ordinary dinner but they were greeted by balloons, party hats and friendly AMSA members that welcomed them. All the people who attended had so much fun since everyone was energetic, friendly and willing to join the games and dances, not to mention there was an overflow of food even if there were a lot of members who attended.

Welcome Party at Jollibee Lacson with members of AMSA-UST and outgoing delegates for AMSEP Malaysia for Philippines 2014

Day 3, August 13 (Wednesday)

The delegates started their day by a breakfast in Ate Eva’s located near UST Car park. After this, they travelled from Manila to Bonifacio Global City to visit one of the Philippines’ largest and world- class hospitals, the St. Luke’s Medical Center. They were accompanied by a tour guide and went to different areas inside the hospital. The delegates were so glad and ecstatic as they went inside the Presidential Suite, Heart Center, Aesthetic Division, and other places in the hotel-like hospital.

Hospital tour at St. Lukes Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

After almost half the day spent in the hospital, the delegates travelled to SM Aura where they had their lunch. Inside the mall, they spent most of their time shopping at Kultura Home and Fashion. Most of them bought souvenirs for their loved ones in Malaysia. Before leaving the mall, they made their own Magnum Bar ice cream.

            From SM Aura, they travelled to Makati to visit the Yuchengco Museum. Inside the museum, they were first briefed about the history of the museum and who the Yuchengcos were. They also went to a room intended for the memory of our National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Lastly, it was really an unforgettable experience to see how the paintings came to life by placing a Samsung tablet and waiting until a second layer of the painting appeared on the screen. The delegates were so amazed by this and of course, they took a lot of pictures inside.
At the Yuchengco Museum in Makati, where the delegates enjoyed the exhibit

The happy delegates ended their day by having dinner with their respective hosts. Eight of the delegates were met by their hosts at the Greenbelt mall in Makati where they had dinner and saw a movie afterwards, while the two others went back to UST to meet their hosts. One went to Mall of Asia while the other delegate went to Quezon City to have dinner and bond with their respective hosts. Indeed, Day 3 was an informative, extraordinary and most especially a fun day for all the delegates.

Day 4, August 14 (Thursday)
The Malaysian delegates, along with selected AMSA-UST members, attended a special ultrasound lecture and demonstration prepared by the Department of Rehabilitation Science of the UST-FMS. The program started with welcome remarks from the Dean of the Faculty, Dr. Jesus Valencia. He also presented to the participants the history of ultrasound education in the faculty, and said that UST is one of the pioneering universities in the Asia to begin the integration of ultrasound education in its medical curriculum.

                Dr. Svetlana Maris Aycardo led the lecturette on how to use the ultrasound paraphernalia and how to interpret the images produced by the ultrasound. Dr. Bee Giok Tan-Sales conducted a lecture on the physics of ultrasound, while Dr. Patrick Moral lectured on ultrasound of the lung. After the lecture, the participants were given a hands-on workshop on ultrasound. There were three stations available, with volunteer Thomasian students serving as subjects. Each station featured a different organ where the ultrasound could be done, such as the head and neck, chest and abdomen, and muscles. The participants were divided into smaller groups and each group’s workshop was facilitated by Dr. Buena Fe Apepe, Dr. Svetlana Maris Aycardo, and Dr. Bee Giok Tan-Sales. In addition, AMSA-UST faculty adviser, Dr. Patrick Moral, led the ultrasound workshop on the heart.
Time for learning through the hands-on ultrasound activity with Dr. Moral and Dr. Apepe

The program ended with the presenting of certificates of appreciation, and giving of tokens to the doctors. The Malaysian delegates and Thomasian medical students were able appreciate the use of ultrasound, and were very fortunate to have learned a lot from the hands-on workshop.

For the afternoon’s activity, the organizing team spearheaded a brief training session on Filipino Martial Arts for the delegates at the Dormus Student’s Dormitory roof deck. The event started with a brief lecture about the history of Filipino Martial Arts by Mr. Adrien Pierre Quidlat, a third year medical student from the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and an avid practitioner of the fighting art, who also served as the main instructor for the event. Filipino Martial Arts, otherwise known as “Arnis,” “Kali,” or “Eskrima” in local parlance, is a collective term for the native art of fighting that places emphasis on the use of sticks (baston) and bladed weapons such as bolo and knives as a means for self-defense and as a sport. The lecture also introduced the delegates to famous historical Filipino warriors in relation to the type of weapons / knives they used.

                An applications-based hands-on training session commenced following the lecture. The delegates, together with interested student participants from the organizing team, were then taught the fundamentals of the fighting art, which included stick fighting, knife fighting (using padded knives), hand-to-hand combat, disarming techniques, and basic self-defense, among others.

                The session ended with a message from Mr. Quidlat, who emphasized the exceptionality and adaptability of Filipino Martial Arts that even led to its recognition by the international mainstream. He also referred to the “warrior culture” of the Filipinos, as evidenced by the countless accounts of warfare and revolution across Philippine history, which gave birth to what we know as the Filipino Martial Arts of today. He further reiterated on the sheer brutal nature of the art, stating that while practically useful, it should only be utilized when the situation really calls for its use.

The delegates were supposed to leave for Maginhawa St. from the Filipino Martial Arts program at DORMUS at around 2:00pm, but it seemed that they enjoyed the activity too much that they extended for an hour more.

After the Filipino Martial Arts activity, the delegates and the respective afternoon and evening heads and members met up at Dapitan Street for the pick up by the van and went on their way to the scheduled food trip at Maginhawa Street. Arriving there after an hour or so of travel, the group found out that the restaurant Chocolate Kiss was jam packed and decided to just tour the campus of the University of the PhilippinesDiliman instead while waiting. Since the delegates already had a hospital tour of another campus of UP, which was in Manila, they were already familiar with the history and the different trivia regarding the said school and touring them was a light and fun experience for both parties.

Leaving the UP Diliman campus with smiling faces and more than enough pictures to cover the whole afternoon, the group made its way to Malingap Street and had dinner in Pipino restaurant, which is a vegetarian restaurant.

Dinner at Pipino Restaurant with AMSA-UST and AMSA Phil members

Once the group arrived, more photos were taken and stories were shared regarding the UP Diliman tour. After that, the group got to check the different vegetarian dishes being offered by the restaurant and had their orders taken. Since this was already around 8:00pm the group dug in immediately when their orders came, the reactions ranged from “Ok taste” to “It was really delicious”. I guess Pipinojust can’t satisfy everyone with their selection of food. At around 10:00pm, the delegates surprisingly still had more than enough energy to continue with the scheduled trip to a Karaoke bar. The group pushed through and went to Music Match, located in Tomas Morato where singing and more food followed. Different songs were exchanged by the group and everyone sang along, which was really the point of the event, to make everyone feel closer to each other. The genre of songs sung ranged from the 70’s to the very recent songs out there. Many hours passed and it went by unnoticed until itwas almost midnight. The saying is really true that time flies when people are having fun.

At the end of the day, the delegates were all brought home to their hosts by the evening heads. Although some slept in the van because of sheer exhaustion from the event filled day, all of them went home saying that they really had fun. Day 4 was a success no doubt, but the real success here was seeing the delegates with smiles on their faces at the end of the day, no matter how exhausted they were.

Day 5, August 15 (Friday)

                During the morning,the delegates went to a partner community of the UST-FMS in Navotas. Aside from having explored the commercialized and upscale areas in Manila, this experience otherwise showed how a small community puts their resources and programs into action, to improve and give benefit to its people.

With the aid of our junior interns and clinicalsupervisors, our delegates were given firsthand exposure on how rotations in community medicine usually take place. Aside from the towering containers, the travel to Navotas also showed the typical poverty-stricken areas in Manila. Upon arrival in the community clinic, a short orientation was given by the clinical supervisors. It was then followed by a tour of the area.

Meeting teachers and physicians at a community in Dagat-Dagatan, Navotas, a partner community of the UST-FMS

The majority of the first part of the tour was walking around three public schools situated close to each other. Despite the scorching heat, the delegates and our very own medical students interacted unhesitatingly with the students and teachers in these schools. Our delegates felt the innate Filipino hospitality when they were welcomed with lively greetings and genuine accommodation. They were also told on how public school education is usually run and funded. According to them, somehow, the system is also the same in Malaysia. Moreover, they had a preview on how JI's conduct their community service for these schools. Physical examinations are usually done and programs are being held to help the students not just in the physical aspect, but for their whole well-being as well.

The last part of the tour was at a newly-finished livelihood center which took a 15-minute drive from the partner community. The center was built and run in partnership with a Korean organization. Not only does it aim to offer different livelihood programs but it also aims to build strong partnerships among Filipinos and Koreans. Our delegates were also pleased on such programs that would definitely improve quality of life. Despite the problems the country has been facing, they appreciate how the Filipinos are able to seize the day and still think that there is always more to life.

After the community visit, the group went back to UST and had lunch at SR Thai in Dapitan, where they again enjoyed the food. After a hearty lunch, the delegates, together with the AMSA-UST members, were scheduled to visit the Bahay Nakpil in Quiapo. It was everyone's first time to go there so it really was a refreshing experience. On the way to destination, theypassed by the legendary Quiapo Church housing the Black Nazarene. The members briefly explained the history of the church and its relevance to the Filipino culture especially to the members of the Roman Catholic Church.

The group arrived at Bahay Nakpil at around 2:30pm. They were welcomed by the people from Bahay Nakpil and their head, one of Gregoria de Jesus' granddaughters, became their tour guide. The people from Bahay Nakpil prepared a short film about the history of the house and its previous owners. The group was toured around the house and they were all amazed by the amount of history the place has. They learned that it was the 'House of the Philippine Revolution'.

Getting a background of Philippine History from the fascinating tour guide at the BahayNakpil in Quiapo

Text Box: Getting a background of Philippine History from the fascinating tour guide at the BahayNakpil in QuiapoThe members as well as the tour guide explained the Philippine Revolution to the delegates so they could really appreciate the value of the house. The delegates were amazed at the ancient fixtures and designs of the house. They were shown lots of artworks containing the Alibata. They took some pictures inside and outside the house and at around 4pm, they left Bahay Nakpil after thanking the people who toured them around.

On their way back to UST, the delegates requested for one last merienda. They told the members that while they enjoyed the Filipino food served to them during their stay here, there was one Filipino delicacy they were all dying to try which was the famous halo-halo. They ordered takeout halo-halo from Chowking and fortunately, all of them enjoyed it.

Despite the intense downpour of the rain, they were all able to make it to Dormus safe. The delegates practiced their presentation for the Cultural Night until before 6pm. After their practice, they were brought to their hosts’ dorms to prepare and get dressed for the Cultural Night.

Following the tradition in every student exchange program, AMSA-UST prepared the Cultural Night for the delegates on their last night in Manila at the Jade Vine Restaurant, Ermita, Manila. Around 70 people participated in the said event, which included members and officers of AMSA-UST and AMSA Philippines, visiting members of AMSA Japan and the exchange students under the Philippine Professional Exchange Program.

The event started at around 8:00 pm with an opening message from the AMSA-UST Local Exchange Officer, Racine Reinoso. This was followed by a halal dinner and sharing of local delicacies. As everyone was busy exchanging stories and catching up, short videos were presented on screen to show the memorable moments and fun experiences of the delegates that happened during the week. 

After dinner, the cultural performances commenced. The participants from AMSA-UST prepared a “Harana” for the female delegates. In the Filipino culture, this is a way of wooing ladies through singing and playing instruments; InigoAtienza played Runaway and All of Me on Violin, then JaroldRobino and Andrea Candelaria serenaded the girls with local love songs.

The cultural performance from our Malaysian delegates followed. They prepared dance numbers to the tune of both traditional and modern music from their country. The audience greatly enjoyed watching them, especially Ong Yun Jin and LooiJieShien’s dance. Everyone was even more entertained when they pulled in people from the audience to join them in front. They concluded their performance with a Chinese song about great friendship which was truly fitting as everyone had formed new friendships and bonded over a lot of activities during week-long program.

The third and last segment of the program was the Choice Awards. It consisted of two parts: the Thomasians’ Choice Awards, in wherein students from AMSA-UST voted for the Malaysian delegates in various categories, and the Delegates’ Choice Awards, in which it was the Malaysian delegates who voted. All ten Malaysian delegates were given awards that fit their personality, some of which included the Leadership Award for JieShien, Ms. Snow White for Syakirah and Karaoke Queen for Wee Ven. For the AMSA UST participants, awards such as Most Organized and Complete Attendance were given to recognize their efforts during the week.

 Cultural Night: A night of bonding and sharing cultures via an exchange of food, dance, and songs

The cultural night is truly one of the highlights of every AMSEP week and everyone put a lot of effort to create a show that will showcase the culture and wonders of both countries.  The night of August 15, 2014 was also more than just an event for exchange of culture. It was a celebration of the new friendship forged through a short period of time but one that will last a lifetime.

Day 7, August 16 (Saturday)

                After the cultural night, 4 Malaysian delegates together with a few members of AMSA-UST drove to Tagaytay to spend time together during their last hours in the Philippines and see the Taal Volcano and Lake upon sunrise. They arrived in Tagaytay at about 3 am and ordered Bulalofor a midnight snack. Some people slept in the car while the others mustered the energy to stay awake for the entire night. After catching a glimpse of the Taal Lake in the morning, the group headed back to the city. On the way back, they stopped for breakfast at Nuvali.

Upon arriving in Manila, they first went to Quiapo for the delegates to buy even more souvenirs for their friends and family. The other delegates who stayed met up with them there. After an hour, they headed back to the dorms to pack their things and bid farewell so some of the hosts.

Sharing a last meal at Shakey’s with the Malaysian delegates before their departure

Before heading to the airport, the delegates shared their last meal with some members of AMSA-UST. At about 3 pm, it was time for the group to head to the airportand bid a final farewell to each other. There were a lot of pictures taken, a lot of hugs and kisses shared, and a lot of goodbyes. Everyone felt sad that the delegates were already leaving and that after a week of shared experiences and memories made together, it was time to part ways. These goodbyes are everyone’s least favorite part during the AMSEP. After the delegates left, we were once again caught up in the Post AMSEP Syndrome. The one-week event seemed to go by so fast and what’s worse is that when all the people are closest with one another, the time to part ways follows immediately. Although the delegates flew back to Kuala Lumpur and the AMSA-UST members stayed in Manila, the events that happened and friendships formed during that week would forever be etched in the minds and hearts of all those who participated.

Time to bid farewell to the delegates after a week of adventure, fun, and friendship.

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