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Fellows & Members of the SPSA, Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen:

Tonight brings to a close my presidential tenure of office. As I paused and pondered this coming event I am relieved that the responsibility is no longer mine. But tonight, I feel that deep in the inner recesses of my being there is that profound emotion that pulsates and says to me, “While your responsibility as President has ended; your responsibility to the SPSA does end.” From the founding of this society in seventy-two, surgeons have dedicated unselfishly of themselves so that this organization shall grow, flourish and become strong through the bridge of dreams of past generation of surgeons; dreams some of which became reality and now embedded into the core and the history of the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America.

I am fortunate and proud to be a part of this noble organization and doubly fortunate to have become one of its presidents. It is an organization where politics is not supreme; where ideas that will promote the common good of each member are discussed and promulgated; where discussions are free & personalities are not involved; where the right to descent, among reasonable men, is accepted and acceptable; and where energies are directed toward the alleviation of the health needs of the poor people in the home country. I found my home in this organization.

The SPSA is a pillar among medical organizations in this country. It was recognized by the American College of Surgeons because of its surgical missions of charity to the indigents of the Philippines. “Operation Giving Back” created by the American College of Surgeons was the seed that grew out of our surgical charity missions. I bow my head, in reverence, to the surgeons who dared to dream of establishing a surgical organization that embodied the ideals of continuing to educate our surgeons and our allied professionals .I stand in awe of these leaders who had the vision, the wisdom , the knowledge, the industry, the patience and perseverance to do what they have done so that this organization shall flourish. Tonight marks the thirty-fifth year of our CME with Category I credits through those thirty-five years.

Knowledge is dynamic. We never stop to learn unless Alzheimers catches up with us. One can still continue to learn in spite of ateriosclerosis and arthritis. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. Who would think that the Halstead Radical Mastectomy would be replaced by Modified Radical Mastectomy and it too would be replaced by Partial Mastectomy. Who would think that minimally invasive surgery would come about and still continue to evolve. Newer technology and the current knowledge of genomics and the discovery of newer drugs have made that possible. Surgery is like a computer. Its change is constant though not instantaneous. As I speak, I am reminded of an anecdote regarding Albert Einstein who was a guest speaker in a fund raiser given by a prominent organization in this country. As Mr. Einstein walked along the aisle he was confronted by a brash eighteen year old girl who asked him, “You seem to be important. What do you do?” Not exactly in those words but more like, “You seem to be a big shot. What the four-letter word do you do?” Mr. Einstein responded matter-of-factly, “I am a student of Physics.” To which the girl responded, “Ah! Physics, I had that last year.” We are students of Medicine and Medicine changes just like an elusive Divine Mistress. We must continue to chase this Divine Mistress. There is no end to it.

This week our continuing medical education topics refer to the standards of surgical practice in 2009 which posed and asked the question, “What are the practice gaps created by the current standards of surgical knowledge and practice?” It can only be answered by becoming and staying up-to-date in our specialty. I am proud to say that our CME program is accredited Category I until 2011.

Each year, it becomes more financially difficult to run a small organization, such as ours, in the matter in which it should be run. It probably would become much easier, though more complex, if all the surgeons and the physicians & their allied specialists whose specialty directly impacts on surgery as a specialty actively participate. Our charitable arm, the Philippine Surgeons Charity, has been giving us financial support. We are in deed fortunate and grateful for its yearly help; and were it not for an unavoidable circumstance we would have been honored by the presence of its founder, Dr. Sariel Ablaza. Our Convention Chairman & our CME Chairman as well as the Editor of our magazine, the Philippine Surgeons are frugal but without making our activities less enjoyable. “SPSA Today” is our web site. Those of you who are here for the first time may come to know more about the society by surfing through our web site. I strongly recommend it.

I salute, my friend ,Dr. Enrico Garcia, who is a pioneer in building a bridge of positive relationship with the Philippine College of Surgeons. We must continue to keep that bridge open keeping in mind that we represent the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America. In another vein and to borrow the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: We have a dream. A dream that one day we can provide surgical access to the disadvantage and the destitute people of the Philippines. This is a gigantic undertaking. It appears insurmountable. It is a dream with a capital D. But everything begins in a dream. You can make this dream come true. You can spread the news and preach the word and the necessity of make this dream become a reality. If everyone gives himself to this idea, then when we all wake from that deep slumber of a dream, the dream becomes no longer a dream.

I am told that I am still dreaming… but I can dream can’t I ? Thank you.


Valedictory Address of outgoing SPSA president Reynaldo Lee-Llacer, MD, , July 18, 2009, Sea Palms resort, St. Simon, Georgia.

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