Touching lives, creating a legacy from one generation to the next
We've heard stories of people rising up to challenge, making a name for themselves, and finding their place – and purpose – in society. Success stories are a dime a dozen, but rarely do we come across stories involving key characters who uplift and save lives from one generation to the next.
In 1967, chemistry professor-turned-entrepreneur Jose Olivares and his son-in-law, Dr Vicente Santos, founded Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. The modest 25-bed medical facility along MacArthur Hi-Way soon became the primary medical and health care provider in Valenzuela.
Mr Olivares vision grew and 6 years later, Our Lady of Fatima College of Nursing was established.
For Mr Olivares, "Fatima" was his way of making a difference in the lives of others. The hospital was a sanctuary where his son-in-law could care for patients without reservations, while the school was an institution where the health care providers of tomorrow could be trained. The medical complex became a core component of their lives, as well as the rest of the family.
According to Dr Caroline Marian Enriquez, the involvement of her grandparents in the medical facility went beyond managing the hospital’s day-to-day operations. They weren’t afraid to assume simple tasks, such as doing the weekly groceries for the school and the hospital. It was a treat for the young Caroline, as this meant she could join them while shopping and she could buy a few snacks herself. Caroline also remembers visiting the hospital premises with her siblings when she was younger, as their house stood on the same property.
Having a doctor for a father had its drawbacks. “I remember my entire family dressing up so we could make pasyal (go on trips) on a weekend, rushing to the car, entering the car, closing the door, then opening it again to go out because my dad, Dr Vicente Santos Sr had a last-minute patient who was about to deliver. We could not complain; we accepted it as a part of our lives that the welfare of the patients always come first, the pasyal later,” Caroline shared.
“My parents worked hard, were always on-call, and did multi-tasking when that term wasn’t even popular then," she added.
The founders’ persistence and hard work have indeed paid off. The nursing school has evolved into an ISO-certified university catering to a wide range of specializations and has expanded to 4 other campuses. What used to be a 25-bed hospital with wooden floors is now a fully-equipped medical center with state-of-the-art facilities and the best possible care for patients. Dr Vicente Santos’ children, Vicente Jr, Enrico, Caroline, Yvonne, Mylene, and Robert have accepted the torch and continued the founders’ mission.
The story of how OLFU and FUMC became the mammoth institutions that they are today – as well as of the people who witnessed this incredible transformation – is captured in a coffee table book written by Robert "Robbie: Bjorn Santos, OLFU Director of Alumni Affairs and Board of Trustees member. It took Robbie, the youngest of the Santos siblings, at least a year and a half to put together the pieces of his family’s legacy and compile them into the 200-page hard-bound, special-edition coffee table book.
The legacy of OLFU and FUMC goes beyond providing first-class education and excellent healthcare, or even providing scholarships to the underprivileged and saving lives. Making a difference in people’s lives and touching their hearts happened even before the multiple-story architectural structures, high-tech equipment and academic recognition.
Making a difference started on the day Mr Olivares and Dr Santos decided that their family-owned, family-operated enterprise would be handled with a family-oriented, personal touch. Touching people’s hearts began when they chose to look after their own people in the same thoughtful manner they cared for their patients.
Putting the book together led to many discoveries. “You’d be surprised that the revelation came not only from the high-ranking employees, but also from the drivers of the family, everyone in the household, the staff. They were really taken care of by my parents.”
Robbie also discovered that more than looking after the interest of their staff, patients and business ventures, his parents had an even greater purpose.
"My parents have always been nationalistic. And whatever way they can, this time through education, they felt that they should help poor Filipinos gain education so that they can help their own families. We have a robust scholarship program. We have a tier system that enables people to apply for scholarship programs at varying levels," he said.
"I think that this is something have imbibed from our founders because for them, education is a Filipino’s way to uplift their lives. It’s something that we are proud of because truly, we have contributed – or maybe donated – millions of pesos' worth of scholarships to very deserving students. I thing annually we award 2,000 scholarships across the five campuses. This means a lot to us because it gives us the opportunity to help," Robbie added.
Part and parcel of OLFU’s commitment to uplift educational standards is SPARKS, or Synergizing Partnerships in Advancing Research Knowledge and Services. It is a conference that brings together global and local academicians and professionals and highlights academic diplomacy as part of the big leap towards world-class higher education not only for OLFU educators, but also for other members of the academe. The conference will take place from September 15 to 16, at the Novotel Hotel in Cubao, Quezon City.
SPARKS and 50 Years: A Glorious Journey to Greater Heights was formally launched on July 18 in commemoration of FUMC’s 50th founding anniversary. – Rappler.com
To register for SPARKS, visit www.sparksconference.com. 50 Years: A Glorious Journey to Greater Heights is available at OLFU campuses. For more info on Our Lady of Fatima University, visit www.fatima.edu.ph and www.fumc.com.ph for Fatima University Medical Center.
Jill Radovan is a lifestyle, culture and entertainment journalist with a flair for writing human interest stories and creating narratives using both words and images.