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The History of an Alumni Association
Rise Faith Espina-Dajao, M.D., Class '72

The Story

   The early '70s was a time of turmoil in the Philippines.  Who does not remember the institution of martial law and watching Armalite-toting soldiers patrolling the usually peaceful streets of Cebu?  So, it was not a surprise that as soon as the travel ban was lifted, there was an outflow of physicians to the US. 


Those early years were marked by the nose-to-the-grind scut work that interns and residents of that time had to do - every other day 24-hour shifts and every other weekend call.  As hard as we worked at our jobs, we partied just as hard!  We got together at every opportunity to do what Visayans love to do when they are together - eat, sing, dance, gossip, and make merry.  It was a taste of home, a way to assuage loneliness and a chance to form new friendships with people who had come before, a way to reach out to others and to provide and receive comfort and support.  Many of the CIM graduates were based in the East - a lot of them in Connecticut, New York,New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The Class of '70 headed by Asuncion Vasquez started an informal group with the following officers: Jose Leyson, Vicente Batiancila, Asuncion Vasquez, and Roberto Carvajal.  No one now remembers which person held which office but they formed the nidus for the subsequent organization. The weekend get-togethers were held at the homes of Rene (Class '65 )and Brenda (Sy) Sitoy (Class'65), Max (Class '68) and Suzette Napuli, and Camilo (Class '69) and Susan Cabañero.  At one of those parties, someone finally broached the subject of formalizing the group into an organization and reaching out to the graduates based in other states.  And the Cebu Institute of Medicine - USA was born. 


It was a very loose organization in the beginning.  The first set of officers were the following: Jose Leyson (Class '70) as President, Dominador Ong (Class '72) Vice-President; Justo Lozada, Jr. (Class) Secretary; Rosario Borromeo-Gonzaga (Class '72) Treasurer.  That initial foray into the world of organized medicine was characterized by an annual reunion usually in Atlantic City, New Jersey where, in addition to alumni renewing old friendships and making new ones, the beginnings of a really outstanding continuing medical education program was born.  Shortly after the organization was formed, Dominador Ong, Class '72, was elected President.  He has led the organization since then and has guided it through crises and glory. 


We were given special tax status and became a 501(c)(3) organization which allowed the alumni to tax deduct their expenses associated with membership.  The bylaws were strengthened through the efforts of Ramiro Cadag, (Class '69), and finally, we became a foundation which required a name change to our present name - the American Society of Cebu Institute of Medicine Alumni, Inc. or ASOCIMAI for short.


While we only made merry in the first years with a little bit of education thrown in, our community and charitable services were strengthened as members started to make their mark in their respective communities and became more financially stable. We gave to several charities in the US and the Philippines, including the American Red Cross, 911 Disaster Fund, the American Cancer Society, Mt. Pinatubo Disaster and many others. Several classes, groups of individuals, and the association itself, set up scholarships for deserving medical students at CIM.  Many of the alumni led groups of other physicians and medical personnel to the Philippines on medical missions. 


In the last three years, the association has matured.  It has focused on its charitable and educational objectives and has increased its donation to the Cebu Institute of Medicine - with the hope that the school continues to hold its own among the elite medical schools in the Philippines, strive for academic excellence, and keep true to its values as it trains "physicians with a heart".  Led by members of the Board, Miguel and Leni (del Fierro) Espiritu (both of Class '72), Lowell and Erlinda (Velasquez) Taclob (both of Class '67), the foundation and its alumni members have renovated the bathrooms at CIM, donated books and computers, and improved the classroom and amphitheater facilities to make life easier for students and faculty alike.  In preparation for the Golden Jubilee the next project will be the transformation of the old elevator shaft into the CIM Showcase Museum honoring the previous and present Deans of the Medical School and all the alumni of the last fifty years.


It is our fervent hope that this young organization, in the hands of dedicated leadership and committed members, will continue to grow and prosper and be a resource for all US-based alumni and for our alma mater.

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