(This is the introduction of the guest speaker, Dr. Robert Peter Alojipan, at the Pagtatap USA Night on July 28, 2001, at the Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, which was delivered by Thelma Mantac Ramos.)
In my 32 years of teaching which started at Pandan Bay Institue in Pandan, Antique, Philippines, and ended at Bremerton High School in the state of Washington, USA, our guest speaker tonight was one of my students who had influenced me the most.
Fresh from college with a degree in social work from the University of the Philippines, I accepted the offer to teach English at Pandan Bay Institute. One of my first students was our honored guest. He put so much heart and vitality to the study of English literature that he made teaching fun and rewarding. His love of learning was so contagious that the following summer I went back to the UP campus and enrolled in its Master of Education program. Because of him, I switched careers… from social work to teaching. Now I'm a retired teacher and, thanks to him, I have no regrets.
He graduated from high school at the top of his class and finished his bachelor's degree from the University of Santo Tomas at age 17. He proceeded to medical school, specializing in plastic surgery. Currently practicing at the Makati Medical Center in the Philippines, he is among the best in his field, recognized at home and abroad as a fellow of the Philippine and the American College of Surgeons. He heads the hospital's Out-patient, Charity, and Social Services Department and is also the Overall Administrative Officer of the Makati Health Program.
But what makes him truly exceptional is his commitment to share his gifts and talents with others. Devoted to a cause greater than himself, he has transformed what he has learned into understanding, sympathy, humor, and wisdom.
When Metro Manila wanted to dump its garbage on Semirara Island, he took a stand, mobilized the members of Pagtatap Philippines as its president and valiantly took the front lines to head the opposition. He spurred Pagtatap USA, Pandan Antique Foundation, and the United Antiqueños into active participation. His unwavering commitment and determination against formidable odds successfully put an end to the proposed dumpsite.
Compassionate to the core and faithful to Pandan and its traditions, he brings his medical missions there every year, and every year he emcees the Urihing Tubo night during the town's fiesta. In the Pagtatap email network, his "gift of gab" in Binisayang Pandan rekindles our appreciation for our unique language and reawakens our pride in our cultural heritage. Above all, he heightens love for our hometown.
In essence, he displays his most remarkable self by not only living in his own time but by participating in the riches of the past and the promises of the future. Friends and kasimanwas, I present our very own… Dr. ROBERT PETER ALOJIPAN.