OLONGAPO CITY: It was his childhood dream to become a doctor and fulfill his mother’s wishes. But Arturo Mendoza Jr. had no idea that decades after pursuing and completing Medicine, he would see that dream and those wishes come true again and again with his own brood following his footsteps.
Today, not only are the Mendozas known for being outstanding physicians in their hometown of Olongapo, but they are also revered as a family who cares for the community—a father, his wife and children, selflessly serving them with their noble profession.
“It was my dream to be a doctor since childhood. Two of my elder siblings tried to be doctors but one had an eye problem, while the other eventually shifted to another course,” recalled Dr. Mendoza who is currently the director of the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital (JLGMH) in Olongapo City and president of the Philippine College of Surgeons (PCS).
“[The situation] only pushed me further to finish Medicine to please my mother who was then quite disappointed with what happened,” he added with a chuckle.
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind, however, that the young Arturo would become an M.D. one day. After all, he had been an academic achiever all through grade school and high school, finishing both levels with honors.
In fact, he completed his degree in BS General as a scholar and was a Dean’s Lister upon completing his post-graduate studies at the College of Medicine in University of Santo Tomas (UST).
As he moved forward in choosing his specialty, the new doctor decided against his first choices in Cardiology and ENT (Eye, Nose and Throat), and settled on filling a void in the medical services back home in Olongapo City.
“It was a requirement then to fulfill a three-month rural service before you graduate in Medicine, so I went to Olongapo General Hospital, where I saw the state of medical practice in the province at that time. I realized the lack of specialists back home so from there, I decided to specialize in General Surgery,” Dr. Mendoza continued.
He completed his Residency at the UST Hospital, and when he can, performing public service at the Olongapo General Hospital. To be sure, his advocacy to uplift the state of medical practice in Olongapo began in those early days, and his consecutive postings are proof that Dr. Mendoza is a true son of this well-known city in Zambales.
To date, he has served as visiting consultant at Unihealth Baypointe Hospital and Medical Center in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), at Our Lady of Lourdes International Hospital and Medical Center and in Ridon’s St. Jude Hospital, Olongapo City; and again a visiting consultant and eventually chief of hospital at the Olongapo General Hospital. The latter institution was renamed James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital (JLGMH) in 1997.
“While training at the UST Hospital, I also served in a number of hospitals here in Olongapo, and eventually decided to serve full time in the province,” said the JLGMH medical director. “I’ve been a doctor [in this particular hospital]for the past 27 years now.”
Indeed, Dr. Mendoza is instrumental in the development of medical practices and services in the region, especially with continuing efforts to be the best doctor and manager he can be. For example, in 1999, he took up a Masteral Course in Public Administration at the University of the Philippines in 1999 in order to run the JLGMH according to top standards. (See related sidebar).
Asked how he juggles his practice with his executive responsibilities for the hospital, Dr. Mendoza replied, “I manage my time wisely with good scheduling and discipline. I also try be good at coordination and delegation of tasks. I use a systematic approach in managing my hospital staff making them self-sufficient and reliable.
“And of course, I have a supportive wife and children who understand me and are able to adjust to my tight schedule when it comes to family affairs and activities,” the equally devoted family man added. “I also work with them in the hospital and I’m very happy and proud that our professional lives intertwine as well.”
All in the family
Dr. Mendoza’s undeniable passion for medicine and his dedication to both his profession and community are what naturally inspired his children to become doctors themselves.
With the constant support of their mom Mari Ann Cristine, who also happens to be a school nurse at Brent International School, three out of the five Mendoza siblings are now practicing doctors, with the youngest currently planning to shift to Medicine.
“My eldest daughter Arl Ann is a gastroenterologist, and is married to a surgeon, Raymund Joseph Manzo. The second, Arturo Mendoza 3rd, is a general surgeon who also married a doctor, Roxanne, who is an anesthesiologist,” began the Mendoza patriarch as if doing a roll call.
“Our third child, Avianne Krystle is a second year resident physician of Internal Medicine at the UST Hospital; while our youngest, Adrienne Kristine is a second year college student at the Ateneo School of Humanities who is now preparing her papers to shift to Medicine in UST.
“My fourth child, Armand Kevin, decided to take a different path but I’m hopeful he will be of help to all of us if we encounter legal problems in the future,” the proud father—as he should be—rounded off. “He is a third year student at the Ateneo School of Management, and eventually plans to be a lawyer.”
The supportive wife
Mari Ann Cristine Sumugat met Dr. Mendoza, then an intern, in an operating room at the UST Hospital. She had just graduated from nursing and was completing her training.
“That’s where our love story began,” giggled Mari Ann, who later revealed she actually gave up a nursing career in the US to join her doctor husband in his advocacy to help the community of Olongapo.
“I practiced nursing in an operating room at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston for two years together with my two elder children, but I eventually came home when my husband asked me to join him here—and I never regretted it,” she declared.
In fact, to be sure she had everyone she loves nearby, she even asked her parents to move to Olongapo and live with them.
“I’m an only child and it was so hard for me to leave my parents in Manila, so they eventually joined us here. When we bought our house, we made sure that we had a room for them,” continued the dutiful wife, mother and daughter, who further shared that one of the traits that endeared her husband to her from the very start is his drive to serve his country, particularly the people of Olongapo.
Nevertheless, she stated for the record that they never pressured their children to take up her husband’s vocation.
“We just guide them, and we’re lucky they opted to be like their father. Maybe because he has always been a good example to them.”
The eldest MD
“When I was still in high school, my dad was admitted at UST Hospital, and when I heard the doctor explaining what happened to him, and I felt so helpless and frustrated I couldn’t understand what he was saying,” recalled Dr. Arl Ann Manzo, the eldest of the Mendoza siblings.
“So as the eldest in the family, I realized that members of my family will get sick one day and I’d have to know what was happening to them medically . . . It was then I decided to be a doctor because I wanted to know how to take care of them,” explained Dr. Manzo who is now a gastroenterologist.
And just as her father’s illness at the time pushed her toward the Medical field, his career further inspired her to be just like him. In fact she also wanted to be a general surgeon but her father discouraged her from the specialty.
“He said it would be too demanding to go into surgery and I realized he was right,” the doting daughter continued. “One time, I assisted an operation and it took the surgical team six hours to operate on the patient.”
She soon decided to specialize in Gastroenterology, which Dr. Mendoza did not approve of at first.
“According to Dad, it’s a specialization for men but I insisted on what I wanted to do and he honored that. Now, we exchange ideas on how to treat our patients,” related Dr. Manzano who also serves as a consultant at JLGMH, and at the same hospitals where their father serves together with her husband Dr. Raymund Joseph Manzo.
“He’s the general surgeon like Dad,” she smiled. “My husband and I have started a multi-clinic here in Olongapo as well, and we hope this year to do a medical mission for the province with the help of the rest of the family, because Raymund will soon go on a fellowship abroad.”
Dr. Manzano is further grateful to her dad for convincing her from becoming a general surgeon herself for she likes to have more predictability with her time now that she and her husband are raising only son, Tristan Jacob.
The second doctor
Named after Dr. Arturo Mendoza, doctor No. 2 among the siblings is Dr. Arturo Mendoza 3rd, also a general surgeon who finished studying Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery in Korea.
He is also married to a doctor, Roxanne (nee Buzon), an anesthesiologist who trained in Ambulatory Anesthesia in Louisville, Kentucky.
“My dad and mom, who are both in the medical field, were my main influences in taking up Medicine—although it was also my dream to be a doctor since my elementary years,” said Dr. Mendoza 3rd who completed his Fellowship in March.
He is grateful to his father’s efforts to in paving the way for his generation of physicians to practice in a better hospital in Olongapo.
“We’re lucky that we now have hospital here that is equipped with modern facilities, he added.
Pausing for a moment, Dr. Mendoza 3rd continued, “Being in a family of doctors has its pros and cons. We have the same wavelengths but sometimes we also want to discuss other fields of profession. So it’s good that we have two other siblings who are taking up other courses, although our youngest is thinking of shifting to the same path.”
Besides practicing in Olongapo, the younger general surgeon also works at Baypointe Hospital and Medical Center in Subic, at St. Jude Hospital, at JLGMH, and at the UST Hospital. Husband and wife hold clinic in Manila two days a week and work in Olongapo for the rest.
In the near future, the couple hope to be part of a hospital’s training committee or a medical faculty where they can share their experiences. In the meantime, they diligently do the rounds of their clinics and regularly join medical missions for the less-privileged patients as far as Cagayan de Oro and Romblon.
Drs. Mendoza 3rd and Roxanne are also blessed with one son named Alonzo Rafael.
The future lawyer
The fourth child of Dr. Mendoza who opted to pursue a course outside of Medicine is Armand Kevin, a third year student at the College of Business Management of the Ateneo de Manila University. He will hopefully become the family’s one and only lawyer.
“Everyone in the family is a doctor so I figured, I want to do something different.
I realized I want to be a lawyer,” he related. “I’m challenged to take an unchartered ground. Growing up, it’s always been an option to be a doctor but I really feel that I should do something different, perhaps go into corporate law someday.”
Nevertheless, Armand is just as inspired and proud of his father as his doctor siblings.
“I admire him for his love of hometown, and I know even in a different way, I can also do the same and be of service to Olongapo in my own capacity.”
The resident physician
Avianne Krystle is the third doctor among the siblings who finished and undergraduate course of BS Psychology in UST. She is now a second year resident physician in Internal Medicine at the UST Hospital.
Unable to join The Sunday Times Magazine interview and pictorial, mom Mari Ann said of her daughter’s training, “After her third year residency, she will specialize in Cardiology,” shared her mother who explained that she can’t join the family during the pictorial and interview because she’s on duty at the UST Hospital.
The baby doctor
The youngest of the Mendoza siblings, Adrienne Kristine just finished her second year of Theater Arts at the Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Humanities. But she feels
“something isn’t right.”
“Just as I finished the school year, I told my mom that I wanted to shift to Medicine,” declared the baby of the family.
She explained to The Sunday Times Magazine that she grew up joining theater productions and thought at the end of high school that a course in Theater Arts suited her talent.
“I wanted to be an actress but then again I also excel in Biology,” she laughed. “I realized just before the summer that I don’t need to let go of theater all together but I believe that just like by parents and siblings I can help more people by becoming a doctor.”
Besides her dad, her eldest sister also influenced her change of heart.
“I saw how my sister talks with her patients, just as I was able to observe how my dad operates in the hospital. Those incidents helped me decide I want to be like them but I think want to be an OB Gynecologist. I also want to serve as a volunteer in Africa so I can gain a different experience,” enthused the college coed who also joins the family in their medical outreach activities.
As Adrienne looks forward to a whole new challenge, she is grateful for the support of her entire family, who no doubt can guide her every step of the way.
Grateful to his entire family—the budding lawyer included—for supporting and helping him pursue his career and passion in curing and caring for others, Dr. Mendoza told The Sunday Times Magazine that he simply hopes to be remembered as “one of those who advocated for change in the quality of medical care in our hospital and our community.”
“I worked hard to improve the quality of medical services in our hospital, particularly for the poor patients who can’t afford to pay. Good health must be enjoyed by everyone—rich or poor,” said the Mendoza patriarch. “And to have my family actively doing their part in making this a reality, I cannot ask for more.”