Dr. Fe del Mundo died at 99, received Grand Collar Presidential Award

The country’s distinguished Pediatrician and National Scientist Dr. Fe del Mundo passed away on August 06, 2011 at the age of 99.

President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino conferred the Grand Collar (Maringal Na Kuwintas) of the Order of the Golden Heart” on Dr. Fe del Mundo at the State Necrological Service held at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Bicutan on Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 9:00 -11:00 a.m.

The Presidential Award is given to individuals who have rendered distinguished service in the amelioration and improvement of the moral, social and economic conditions of the marginalized sectors of our countryman.

Dr. del Mundo was a woman of many first, she was the first female and first Asian to be enrolled in Pediatrics at the prestigious all-male Harvard Medical School (1935-1940) as a Philippine Commonwealth scholar.

She was also the first woman to head a government general hospital in the Philippines when she was appointed as director of the Manila Children’s hospital (later renamed Dr. Jose R. Reyes Memorial Hospital) in 1943.

She was also the first Filipino diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics (1947), which introduced the Filipino women and physicians to the world.

She was also the first Asian president of the Medical Women’s International Association, holding this post from 1962 to 1966. In 1967, she became an Emeritus Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

She was a pioneering force in child health care. She was the founder and first woman president of the Philippine Pedriatic Society, wherein she served from 1952 to1955. She likewise founded the Philippine Medical Women’s Association and became its first president.

She became the first woman president of the Philippine Medical Association, a first in the association’s decade-long history.

After more than a decade, she became the first Philippine delegate to the World Academy of Science in Trieste, Italy (1993).

In 1957, Dr. del Mundo established the Children’s Memorial Hospital (later renamed Dr. Fe del Mundo Medical Center). To do this, she sold her own home and personal effects.

The hospital was expanded in 1960 with the establishment of an Institute of Maternal and Child Health, the first of its kind in Asia. The said hospital continues to admit thousands of children requiring quality medical help.

Dr. Fe del Mundo, in addition should also have been the first person or a woman alive who received the “Grand Collar” (Maringal na Kuwintas) of the order of the Golden Heart” Presidential Award, which could have been possible considering her life span of 99 years.

Could the Grand Collar be not awarded by any president of the country when she was 90 years old or so while she is still breathing?

If so, why wait till she is dead? Is the Grand Collar (Maringal na Kuwintas) of the Order of the Golden Heart” Presidential Award meant to be a posthumous award?

If it is a posthumous award, something must be done to it, someone has to receive it alive for as long as that someone has satisfied its criteria, most especially when the accomplishments are all superlatives, beyond comparison, one of its kind in intelligence, dedication and perseverance on the pursuit of selfless health service to mankind, especially in remote rural areas.

It is very regrettable that she spent half of her life serving the Filipino mankind (as she lived for 99 years) with her deeds or accomplishments unmatch by anyone, yet did not have a chance even for a awhile to savor  and enjoy her glory.

It is very lamentable that given that life span (99 years) and knowing that she is the only one who had the best capabilities, unsurpassed up to this time and knowing too, that she, at the age of 99 is waiting for nothing except death, the award should have been conferred to her while she can feel, while she can know, that her eyes and thousands of eyes could have been filled with tears of joy.

Indeed, what had happened to Dr. Fe del Mundo was very regretting and very lamenting!

Dr. del Mundo joined the faculty of the University of Santo Tomas as an associate professor of pediatrics from 1943 to 1954. She then transferred to Far Eastern University (FEU) as professor of pediatrics and chairman of pediatrics department from 1954 to 1974.

She eventually became Professor Emeritus of FEU in 1974. The Philippine Women’s University, the Medical Women’s College of Pennsylvania, Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the University of the Philippines (1996) conferred on her Honoris Causa degrees.

Part of her commitment to quality medical education was her acceptance of students from different schools to be trained at her hospital, an idea she adapted from the Harvard Medical School.

She was admitted to the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST Phil) in 1979, in recognition of her important contributions to science and community as pediatrician, teacher, researcher, humanitarian and grand dame of Philippine Pediatrics and medicine.

In 1980, Dr. del Mundo became the first woman National Scientist when she was conferred the Rank and Title of National Scientist, the highest honor that the Philippine Government can bestow on a Filipino scientist for her outstanding contributions to science and technology.

Her undeniable devotion to child care earned her numerous prestigious national and international awards, including the Elizabeth Blackwell award for outstanding service to mankind in 1966.

After some years, the distinguished Ramon Magsaysay award for public service by a private citizen in 1977, the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Award in 1980, and recently, the 2010 Order of Lakandula with the rank of Bayani by the Philippine Government.

Dr. del Mundo was a valedictorian of the University of the Philippines, College of Medicine (1933). She placed 3rd in the national medical board exams, thereafter and was named Most Outstanding Scholar in Medicine in the Philippine in 1933.

In 1936, she was granted a scholarship by then President Manuel Quezon and obtained post-graduate training in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School for five years.

In 1940, she received her M.A. in Bacteriology from Boston University in Massachusetts.

Her most significant researches dealt mainly with viral diseases, particularly those on polio-myelitis, rubeola, rubella, and varicella. These clinical researches served as reference in the use of vaccine and immunizations in the country.

The absence of well-equipped laboratories for analysis did not restrain her from determining the nature of the sickness. Dr. del Mundo would send specimens or blood samples for polio to New York, measles to London, rubella to Switzerland, and chicken pox to Japan.

In 1954, she helped characterize dengue fever at the clinical and laboratory levels, which contributed to a better understanding of the disease.

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo and National Scientist Mercedes B. Concepcion, Vice President of National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) delivered their eulogy messages.

The NAST, Philippines, the nation’s highest recognition and advisory body on issues concerning science and technology, joins the scientific community in mourning the demise of National Scientist del Mundo. Ester Gallardo, PSciJourn MegaManila


Author: tuklasinnatin

A Journalist and served government for 20 years. A community organizer who rose from a clan of artists and novelists.

One thought on “Dr. Fe del Mundo died at 99, received Grand Collar Presidential Award”

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