People of My Year 2013.

What is this list all about? The belief that what matters most in life is not how many people you can affect and influence, but how deeply you affect and influence even one person. You need not be famous to make a difference in someone’s life. Being a positive influence on even just one person you know, that is what counts! -Bianca Gonzales

As 2013 has just ended, allow me to share with you the top ten people who have made the greatest impact in my life during the past year.

1. Lolo Koko


Lolo Koko (my mom’s father) is already turning 82 years old this June, but is still an active member of Bacolod Tay Tung Hugh School’s Board of Trustees, and still holds office as the Comptroller of the school for almost 55 years already! Talk about dedication and commitment! Whenever I get the chance to go home to Bacolod, I always make it a point to have lunch / dinner at their house -aside from the superb meals that Lola Daling (his wife) cooks, Lolo Koko randomly blurts out nuggets of wisdom during meals! #Priceless

2. Dr. Carmelo Canto


Dr. Canto is a hot-shot neurologist / neurosurgeon in Bacolod City. I first met him when I was working as an ICU nurse at Riverside Hospital and our friendship blossomed when I entered med school. Having trained at Philippine General Hospital (for both Neurology and Neurosurgery), he’s one bad-ass consultant you don’t want to mess around with. But despite his elite and intimidating facade, he is one of the most kind-hearted philanthropists I know. Despite the very lucrative life his practice offers, at the peak of his career he decided to sacrifice a part of his time and offered it to medical students by serving as the Dean of the College of Medicine of the University of St. La Salle. He recently became Dean Emeritus, and concentrates his time teaching surgical residents, medical interns, and clerks at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital -of course, along side his neurosurgeries left and right. Dr. Canto will always remind me, and I guess all the students he has taught, of the most important thing that will get us through life in general -“common sense.” He still visits me here at PGH every now and then, and would constantly remind me “Fred, what’s important in this life is that we make a difference. It doesn’t have to be something big. It can be as little as the daily habits that we do… how we talk to patients.. teaching our juniors.. and being responsible for the things we do.”

3. Dr. Bien Nillos


A friend, a teacher, a fellow writer, a mentor, a father, a youth icon, a stand-up comedian, a medical doctor, a social change initiator, a professor, and the list goes on.. you name it, he is it. Dr. Bien works as a program manager at the Zuellig Family Foundation. Despite his work requiring him to spend most of his days travelling around the country, he makes it a point to fly to Bacolod almost every week to teach medical students in La Salle and of course, spend time with his family. Dr. Bien has been a constant mentor of mine since med school days, and by some kind of divine intervention, he constantly pops up at Robinson’s Manila (which is like my backyard being a medical intern at PGH) when I am in need of his mentorship the most. Kudos, Doc Bien!

He blogs at

4. University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital Medical Interns Class of 2014 BLOCK W

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 Block W is composed of Dr. Sittie Pundogar, Dr. Hope Sagayaga, Dr. Edge Remonte, Dr. Lennie Teodosio, Dr. Kay Rivera, Dr. Mindy Santiago, Dr. Julie Reyes, and myself. And oh, Trix din pala (emeritus).

Our block has everything.. as in EVERYTHING! May mabait, may masungit / mataray o suplado / suplada; may malaki, may maliit; may nawalan ng iPad; may tumigil, may pumasok; may chill lang palagi, may agit agit agit palagi palagi palagi; may pumapasok, may umaabsent.

We may have many differences, and we may have been through lot of difficult times, but mahal na mahal ko ang block na ‘to. As I posted in my Facebook account during Day 1 of internship, I STILL feel lucky and blessed to be part of Block W.

Block W, da best. Different from the rest. =)

5. My IM RICs (Residents).

Dr. Ariston Bautista aka Sir A Bau
Dr. Madelaine Amurao
Dr. Trish Remalante
Dr. Sheena Sy
Dr. Dane Sacdalan
Dr. Bryan Lim

These 5 doctors are Internal Medicine Residents at UP-PGH. Sir A Bau was my service senior and Maam Mady, Maam Trish, and Maam Sheena were my RICs -with the intense RIC – SIC interactions that happen in the IM wards at PGH, surely they have taught me priceless lessons not only in clinical medicine but more importantly values such as humility, perseverance, and love among others.

I never had the chance to be the SICs for Sir Dane and Sir Bryan, but both of them are well known for the principles they live by and their unique characteristics.

Sir Dane = ubod ng kabaitan, nagtuturo, at well, gwapo.

Sir Bryan = enthusiasm and passion for learning! And of course the infamous line “Saan si Denor? Nakita niyo ba si Denor?”

6. Mikee Retirado


Kat’s sister -pretty, smart, simply sophisticated, chic, witty… a girl any guy would ask for. She recently gave up her lucrative job in a multi-national company to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer. Currently, she’s taking up Juris Doctor at the Ateneo de Manila University Law School. Thank you, Mikeebee, for being a model and inspiration for me and Kat.

7. Dr. Jonas Bico


Jonas is the president of UP College of Medicine Class of 2014. A good friend, he is my partner in food trips, jogging, and my go-to buddy at PGH. A friend of many, Jonas personifies humble leadership.

8. Friends for Life

Corazon Fos

Coree has been my bestfriend for almost 10 years now, and although we only meet thrice or 4x a year, our friendship never fades. Despite her busy schedule, she is always (and I mean ALWAYS) there to the rescue whenever I need her -both in Bacolod and in Manila.

Bryan Camado

Bryan has been my fellow-acolyte since college days. A soon-to-be priest then bishop then Pope, he constantly inspires me with his ways of prayerful living and love for solemnity.

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My Pakner, Tina Robles, and friends

My classmates -people whom I’ve been with for 4 years in medschool, has always been a constant source of comfort and inspiration through text messages and calls. And recently, Tina visited me in Manila! See you all soon guys!

9. My Parents


Needless to say, I am who I am today because of you both. Because you raised me up well. Thank you, Mom and Dad. I love you both to pieces.

10. Ma. Katrina Domenica G. Retirado


 A soon-to-be dermatologist, the wind beneath my wings, my stronghold. Hon, I know we have been through a lot this past year, but konti nalang. Malapit na. And soon, we’ll finally be together.

Thank you for everything. I love you. =)

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