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‘Health champion’ as well

12:27 AM January 12, 2016

FEW PEOPLE know it, but Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc was an ardent supporter of the medical profession. She gave light to the health issues of our times. Behind the scenes, LJM quietly gave voice to the concerns of doctors and patients.

I should know. As a cardiologist and health advocate, I met with LJM several times. Each time, I asked for her advice and support on health issues, and each time she gave them.

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Many years ago, LJM featured me in a story titled “Heart doctor advises, inspires colleagues to stay home and serve” (Front Page, 9/25/05). This was published during a time when thousands of doctors were studying nursing to go abroad. That article got me started in my media advocacy—on TV, print and social media.

I knew LJM had a soft spot for the concerns of the medical profession. Her husband, Dr. Carlitos Magsanoc, is an accomplished colo-rectal surgeon. Her two sons, Nico and Marty, are both successful doctors. Her daughter, Kara, is passionately involved in I Can Serve, a breast cancer advocacy group.

For years, I have been acutely aware of the unique articles, published in the Inquirer, regarding the hardships of young doctors struggling through the weak healthcare system in the country. Just look at the dozens of “Youngblood” features written by medical students.

There was a time I showed her a lengthy compilation of my articles on public health issues. After a week, she told me that she read them all. But like the editor she was, she returned my articles with lots of red marks scribbled all over the pages.

I found them cute since I wasn’t a reporter.

As the editor in chief of the Inquirer, LJM had a keen eye on people. If she believed in your cause, she will help you without any agenda. She really served a higher cause, which is the good of the people.

If she were alive right now, I would have gone to her again, to bring my latest cause—the lack of emphasis on health issues in this presidential campaign. I would show her my proposed G.O.A.Ls for health—affordable medicines (Gamot in Filipino), free routine Operations, health Advisories that are timely and effective, and free Laboratory tests covered by PhilHealth.

I’m pretty sure she would look at my proposal, then look at me with those piercing eyes (checking if I were sincere or not) and say, “Okay, I’ll have somebody do a feature on this. Bye, and I’ve got a lot of work to do.” Our meetings were always short and sweet.

Needless to say, LJM left a big void to fill. She understood health issues, the medical profession, and how it fits in the general political picture.

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Because of this, I propose that the label “health champion” be added to her many accolades. Ma’am Letty was honesty, intelligence and integrity combined—a rare mix in any profession.

To Ma’am Letty: I will always remember your work ethic, your compassion and your heart for the people. And whatever I will accomplish in the future, an integral part of it I will owe to you.

—DR. WILLIE ONG, internist-cardiologist, resident doctor, ABS-CBN’s “Salamat Dok”

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TAGS: letter, Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, LJM, Magsanoc, Memories of Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, opinion
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