WHO would have thought that a simple couple who did not even reach high school because of poverty will be able to raise three doctors, two engineers and one financial manager?
What is more inspiring is that these six children are continuously realizing the dream of their parents by establishing a hospital and a school in Bacoor, Cavite.
Indeed, the dream of hardworking Gregorio and Dominga Andaman was realized 25 years ago when St. Dominic Medical Center (SDMC) was established in July 1991 followed by St. Dominic College of Asia (SDCA) in 2003.
Their children—Dr. Gregorio “Jojo” Andaman Jr., the youngest, became the president of the hospital and the school, while the eldest daughter, Dr. Marita Andaman-Rillo acts as the chairperson of the board.
Dr. Potenciano Andaman, the eldest; Emeteria Andaman-Sagala, finance management graduate; Monte Andaman, a mechanical engineer; and Lina Andaman-Pelia, a chemical engineer, became board members.
The big dream
“Our grandfather died because of lack of medical treatment when my father Gregorio was only three months old. Our grandmother remarried so our father grew up with his maternal grandparents who raised him in the value of hard work, fortitude and passion,” shares Andaman-Rillo in her book The Mustard Seed to be launched on July 30 during the hospital’s 25th anniversary celebration.
The same fate was experienced by Gregorio’s maternal grandparents who died without getting medical attention due to financial difficulty, so the young boy grew up with a big dream—a better future for his family and the next generation so they will have more than what he had.
The couple was not able to finish their studies because of poverty so when they got married, Gregorio continued being a farmer and Dominga became a weaver.
“Since Maragondon, Cavite, the hometown of our parents, was an agricultural town where most men are farmers and women are weavers, my father realized that he can’t send his children to good schools if he will stay as a simple farmer. He ventured into “buy and sell” business,” shares Dr. Jojo during an exclusive interview with The Manila Times.
He continues, “Since my mother was an abaca weaver, my father taught of buying abaca in Divisoria where merchants from Maragondon source their supply. Then he studied where those stores in Divisoria got their supplies. He was able to locate it in Bicol and from then on, he became one of the biggest abaca suppliers of Maragondon.”
Rice mill, the breakthrough business
The couple was able to save money and eventually built their own rice mill.
“My father was a visionary. He promised himself that he should have his own rice mill when his third child starts Grade 1 and it was realized,” says SDMC and SDCA President Jojo.
The rice mill became a breakthrough for the Andaman family.
Andaman-Rillo agrees and confidently says that her father was a genius when it comes to business.
“If all Filipinos are like my father, then may be the Philippines will be more prosperous,” says the proud daughter.
She continues, “He started with a miniature rice mill. He catered to those who had palay to be milled as he pushed their cart toward the client’s doorstep. It was a mobile rice mill, an ingenious idea, and they would have rice as their milling fee. This became the forerunner of their business venture later on.”
Dreams do come true
By the time the Andaman children were already in college, the couple have saved for whatever course their children would take but it was the partriarch’s wish to have three or more doctors in the family.
The eldest son set the benchmark. Potenciano Andaman finished Doctor of Medicine and became a surgeon. From his stint at the Veterans Memorial Hospital, he worked in Lucena Memorial Hospital where he was able to establish his name and built his own hospital and school with the help of his parents.
The father advised and helped his son to venture into putting up his own hospital in Lucena City. Now, St. Anne College of the Pacific has two sister hospitals through Greg Hospital in Sariaya and Jane County Hospital in Pagbilao, both in Quezon province.
With the support of the parents, Potenciano was able to put up a Nursing and Medical Sciences School also in Quezon. With these two developments, Gregorio Sr. reminded his eldest son that when the time comes, he should help his other siblings in putting up their own hospital and school as well.
When the eldest daughter Marita, became an obstetrician, they put up the Hillside General Hospital in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and they all worked in that hospital with the guidance of their eldest brother Potenciano.
“Hillside was transformed into St. Dominic College branch but was closed due to NLEX rehabilitation,” explains Dr. Jojo.
One of the secrets of the couple in raising their children is their unwavering support to their brood.
“I was about to take an engineering course in La Salle where I passed the entrance exams but a day before the enrollment, I talked to my father and asked him what course he wants me to take. His answer changed my decision. ‘You know what I want and since you’re the one who was named after me, I wish you’ll be a doctor.’ And the rest is history,” Dr. Jojo recalls.
So he became a doctor and took up Hospital Administration at the Ateneo University School of Business. That attainment got his siblling’s confidence to be chosen as the president of the hospital and the school.
Andaman-Rillo has the same admiration for her father with regards to encouraging them in taking up Medicine instead of other courses.
“My father and mother never imposed on what course we should take but they always talk to us on the implications of our decisions. My father told me that since our eldest is a doctor, it would be a big help to them if I can still use all the books that my Kuya Pat used. I obediently followed their advise and I never regretted my decision specially when they asked me to manage our first hospital,” says Andaman-Rillo.
Hospital in his own province
The Andaman couple never stopped dreaming for their family and their community. After their children finished their studies, they pursued their dream to help the community.
“They dreamt of providing medical care and education to people so there will be fewer individuals who will be deprived of medical treatment and education,” says Andaman-Rillo.
In July 1991, St. Dominic Medical Center (SMDC) was established in Bacoor, Cavite.
“The name of St. Dominic Medical Center was a fitting tribute to our Nanay,” says Andaman-Rillo who says she never met a man like his father who loved her mother dearly.
St. Dominic Medical Center continuously developed from a tertiary to a state-of-the-art hospital that provides medical demands of the community with its modern facilities and excellent service.
Envisioned to be one of the country’s premier healthcare systems in partnership with the best people, SMDC is committed to excellence in healthcare, education and research.
It had been under Dominga’s stewardship, from the start of its operation until 2001, during which time she devotedly saw through the institution’s operations.
According to Andaman-Rillo, “Nanay was endeared by everyone as their ‘Nanay Inggay’ as she had been a “mother” to all the hospital staff.
According to Dr. Jojo, “We started with 50 beds in this hospital, then it became 100 after a year. We’re putting up a new building for the hospital and we envision it to have all the state-of-the-art equipments.”
Related story on the Inside Back Cover.
Realizing the mother’s dream
Chairperson Andaman-Rillo recalls, “Our mother dreamt of becoming a teacher and provider of education so we realized her dream by putting up St. Dominic College College of Arts and Sciences.
“The school named after her is the essence of her dream actualized. Her ideals have been encapsulated into a vision for the school to be the best in the field of education, research and community service.”
In her book, Andaman-Rillo recalls, “In January 2002, a generous grant from the World Bank under Japan Social Development Fund through the Consuelo Foundation paved the way for the implementation of the NFE A&E program in Bacoor and Maragondon, Cavite in collaboration with Dominga Ramirez Anico Foundation (DRAFI) and Philippine NGO Council (PNGOC).
“A total of 831 out of school youth in Maragondon and Bacoor completed the session and received a Certificate of Recognition. Those who completed the sessions successfully went through 300 contract hours with the Instructional Managers and finished their diaries and 50 modules.”
In 2003, the St. Dominic College of Arts and Sciences (SCAS) was founded. Initial offering programs were Caregiving and BS Nursing in collaboration with the SDMC.
It has evolved into a full-fledged collegiate institution with four schools: School of Health Science Professions, School of Arts, Sciences, and Education, School of International Hospitality and Tourism Management and School of Business and Computer Studies.
‘March Toward Excellence’
In 2007, the college embarked on an ambitious long-term goal that aims to achieve university status within the the next 20 years.
The plan for “The March Toward Excellence” was presented to the academic community and became the blueprint for development.
Accreditation of the academic programs was pursued and rebranding strategies were explored.
In 2009, St. Dominic College of Arts and Sciences was officially renamed St. Dominic College of Asia.
When Dr. Jojo assumed the presidency of SDMC in 2011, continuous change and improvement took place. He launched the institution’s battlecry “Revolutionizing Education,” a campaign reflective of the Caviteno’s aggresiveness and fighting spirit.
Some of the the highlights of this academic transformation include the launch of the Basic Education Unit (Preschool, Elementary and High School) and accreditation of Business Administration, Information Technology, Education, Psychology, Hospitality Management and Nursing programs by the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA), both in 2012.
Related story at the Back Cover.
Vow to continue the legacy
According to Dr. Jojo, third generation Andamans are encouraged to continue the dream of their parents.
“All my siblings have sons or daughters who finished Medicine. Since I’m the youngest, my children are still studying but my eldest is taking up pre-med (medicine) and maybe three of my children will be doctors also.”
To prepare their children to continue and preserve the legacy, the Andaman siblings have succession planning. They are also planning to put more campuses around Cavite and other parts of the country or in other countries.
“I don’t regret following the advice of my father to take up Medicine and I’m sure my other siblings are also very grateful with what we have become. One thing that we’re looking forward to is the establishment of the College of Medicine in the next five years which is beyond what our parents have dreamed about,” says Dr. Jojo.