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Fulfilling A Childhood Dream

By Eleonore B. Iguban, MD

"Dr. Eleanor Iguban was the topnotcher of the new PBO diplomates this year. The following was her inspirational speech during the induction dinner held on August 11, 2013 at the JYC Hall-B Bayanihan Center, United Laboratories."

To the officers and members of the Philippine Board of Ophthalmology, headed by its chairman Dr. Cosme Naval, the different chairmen of the various Ophthalmology departments in the Philippines, especially to the PGH-Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences immediate past chair, Dr Pearl M. Tamesis-Villalon and its current chair, Dr. Raul D. Cruz, our consultants, parents, guests, fellow inductees, good evening!

Three years ago, when I graduated from the college of medicine, I was at a crossroads… To pursue a childhood dream and be an ophthalmologist like my father, or take a leap of faith in something I have grown to love and be an internist? I chose the road relatively less traveled by my medical school batchmates at that time, and went into an ophthalmology residency, and the rest as they often say, is history.

A huge factor in my decision at that time was my early exposure to the field of ophthalmology. I would play around my father's clinic for hours and would often sit wide-eyed in a corner, while he thoroughly examined a patient in that amazing contraption that I have come to know as a slitlamp. One distinct memory I have of my love for the specialty was when I was asking my Lola to read me a bedtime story, and my Lola who was, I guess, tired at that time said, "Apo, malabo na mata ni lola, matulog na lang tayo"(My grandchild, grandma's eyes cannot read clearly anymore. Let us just go to sleep."). What I then did was I got up and stood at the end of the bed and started to hold up my fingers, determined to test my Lola's visual acuity at that time. I could not remember when my love for ophthalmology exactly started, but in my heart I knew deep down, that this is what I wanted to do… to help preserve and restore vision when needed. This is my calling…and everything I did from then on was towards the fulfilment of that childhood dream. I know each one of us here has his or her own life story why he or she chose to be in this specialty, but I am sure, that in one way or the other, like me, it all started with a dream.

Today, that childhood dream is in the palm of our hands. I know that most of you will agree that the journey towards being an ophthalmologist was truly a long and arduous one, filled with tall brick walls and deep potholes. The brick walls are placed there for a reason. They are not there to keep us out, but to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. The deep potholes, on the other hand, may cause us to stumble and fall at times, but they also make us learn how to get up and walk again. They are there to weed out the faint of heart and the individuals who lack the determination to make it to the finish line. I look at all the beaming faces of my fellow inductees and I could not help but feel a sense of pride and fulfilment. We have scaled the tallest brick walls and stood up everytime we stumbled from deep potholes. We have crossed the finish line and emerged triumphant, with wonderful memories and significant life lessons that have molded us into the kind of ophthalmologists that the country could be proud of.

Of course, we could not have survived this journey alone. According to Randy Pausch, in his book "The Last Lecture", he said that showing gratitude is one of the simplest, yet most powerful things, a human can do for each other. Tonight, therefore, on behalf of my fellow inductees, we would like to acknowledge the individuals who have been instrumental in getting us where we are now. May this night serve as a testament for all your selfless dedication, unparalleled guidance, and timeless camaraderie that have been our lifelines during our quest to become an ophthalmologist.

First and foremost, we would like to acknowledge our parents and families for their unwavering emotional and financial support in fueling our drive towards the realization of our dreams. For being understanding when we could not go home or attend family events because of hospital duties or emergency operations. Thank you for being the wind beneath our wings, for coaxing us to fly higher and gently calming us in times of stress.

To our consultants, who have continually served as our inspiration in becoming word-class ophthalmology practitioners, we could never thank you enough for the countless OR assists, endless referrals and consultations, and the mind-enriching exchange of ideas in the clinics and conferences. We know that we have extremely big shoes to fill, but rest assured, we will keep on improving our craft and being worthy of the honor to be called your colleague.

To our batchmates and co-residents, who have been almost our everything during these past 3 years—study or movie buddies, gym mates, ranting companions, OR assists, thank you for making our residency a walk to remember. We truly appreciate the freely given hugs after a difficult surgery, for being a listening ear after a challenging clinic day, and for frequent batch dinners and outings when we needed a temporary respite from the stress of life. For all these and more, thank you very much.

To our patients, the unsung heroes of our training, we would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to be God's instruments in preserving and restoring vision; for entrusting your sight in our hands and for enabling us to hone our skills in managing various diseases of the eye. Truly, without you, we could not have had the best ophthalmology training possible.

Last but most importantly, to our Lord almighty, for all the blessings that He has bestowed upon us and for being our infinite source of strength. May He continue to use us as His instruments of healing and may everything we do, serve as an opportunity to glorify His name.

Tonight, fellow inductees, we have fulfilled our childhood dreams. We are finally Diplomates of the Philippine Board of Ophthalmology. A distinction that holds great power but at the same time invokes a greater sense of responsibility. A responsibility to be well-rounded, knowledgeable and ethical ophthalmologists who provide quality eye care, especially to the underserved, and not to succumb to the temptations of immediate financial upliftment through unethical dealings between the private or government sectors. We must also strive to further enhance our craft and dedicate ourselves to a life of learning and self-advancement. Let this responsibility serve as our guiding light, no matter where life may lead us, be it in private practice or further training. Let us always remember to place the welfare of our patients foremost in our minds. May we continue to commit ourselves to a practice of Ophthalmology that is both competent and ethical, worthy of being a diplomate of the Philippine Board of Ophthalmology.

Truly, this is a momentous occasion. A milestone in our life where not only our dreams are realized but where we dream new dreams for a better and brighter Philippine Ophthalmology.

Thank you and congratulations to all!

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