HOLLYWOOD – The human splendor of medicine and its myriad of varied arenas call for a clear mind, a kind heart and a dedication not only to science but also to humanity.

What is it like to be sick, to be cured, to lose or to triumph? One wonders if the whole spectrum of human emotions could ever be eloquently recorded. It’s the written word that sometimes gives the doctor time and voice when questions arise. In an era of managed care, when medicine is becoming more institutionalized and impersonal, malpractice hangs over every physician’s head. It stirs and puts issues on their lives and treatment decision.

A surgeon’s fingers are more at home in the steaming gullies of the body than tripping the dry keys of a laptop. When a surgeon feels the slow side of intestines against the backside or when a cardiac surgeon palms the human heart as if it was some captive bird, is there enough glory from the search? Are all these but a search for some meaning in ritual of a scalpel? Surgery can be murderous, painful, healing and full of love.

Dr. Richard Selzer said: “Perhaps if one were to cut out a heart, a lobe of the liver, a single convolution of the brain, and paste it to a page, it would speak with more eloquence that all the words of Balzac. Such a piece would need no literary style, no mass erudition or history, but in its very shape and feel would tell all the frailty and strength, the despair and nobility of man. What? Publish a heart? A little piece of bone? Preposterous. Still I fear that is what it may require to reveal the truth that lies hidden in the body. Not all the undressings of Rabelais, Chekhov, or even William Carlos Williams have wrested it free.”

The University of Santo Thomas (UST) Medicine Class of ’67 is a beloved, brilliant bunch scattered throughout the world. They came for the reunion with the backdrop of a medical mission all over the archipelago. Of the less than a hundred who came, almost 90 percent were still married, especially among the high school sweethearts. They’ve reconnected and sort of looked after each other through the years. They remembered and recalled memories over laughter and mirth of the less serious ones. Those who watched movies during the board exams turned out to be the more intense doctors in their later years.

They had Operation Reach Out Surgical and Medical Mission where skilled dedicated, selfless surgeons gave their time and courage to share a common goal for humanity each year. They’ve built hospitals and dealt with health oriented endeavors that opened doors to their fellow Filipinos.

The Hollymont Castle and the Maestro

The castle is beautiful, peerless on its grace and splendor. To visit it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — sharing one moment in time with a man who represents another era; an aristocratic world of opulence and elegance set high on the hills, under the famed Hollywood sign in a “historic” castle that once belonged to the legendary actress Barbara Stanwyck. It is a veritable museum of century-old handcrafted furniture, antiques and priceless treasures that he has collected from his travels throughout the world — among them the bedroom of England’s King Edward the VII, which is a masterpiece by the esteemed Victorian craftsman, James Lamb.

On Thursday night, Oct. 1, there was a big celebration at the Hollymont Castle welcoming the UST Medicine Class of 1967, with Maestro Dexter and Dr. Erlinda Grey as their special guests.

The Maestro played the “Magic Piano,” which took a decade to be reunited with him. He performed richer and deeper musical interpretation of Revolutionary Etude, Raindrop Prelude, Minute Waltz, Funeral March, Ballades, Scherzos, Heroic A flat Polonaise. The piano was not an instrument in his hands, but joy, chagrin, death, romance — the feeble utterings of a man near his death; birth and life combined — mourning over the fate of his country in resignation. Love wept in his blessed fingers.

Elite guests grew admiration from every note he touched at the Parisian Music Saloon of the castle. He lifted his hands high and came crashing down the keys. As he swept up and down, the keys almost snapped—each time he played the Heroic Polanaise. No piano was safe in a stupor, that spoke of crescendo difficulties and embellishments as they flowed with galvanizing electricity.

The whole castle was filled with immeasurable  wax light, breathtaking phantasmagoria captured in the magical lens of Bobby Crisostomo.

The UST Reunion Party was an event that soared into heights of happiness among kindred spirits. From our hearts, thank you Maestro and Dr. Erlinda!

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