The gift of family is truly so precious that parents end up spending their lifetime working on a legacy to leave their children. For besides ideally raising them with sound values and good health, mothers and fathers especially are compelled to provide their children with the means to succeed in life.
Money, property, a running business, and of course, quality education generally increases the odds of one’s success. And when parents are asked why doing so is so important to them, they will almost always often say they never want their children to endure the hardships they had in life.
Building a legacy, however, as parents know as well, is far from easy; neither is passing it on with the certainty that the next generation will indeed make the best out of it. But with love, sacrifice, determination, selflessness, as well as the benevolence to help others beyond one’s family along the way, a life changing legacy can indeed withstand the test of time.
One inspiring example comes from the story of Don Gregorio Andaman Sr. As a young boy, Don Gregorio had always dreamed that one day, he would build a medical institution to cater to the health and medical needs of the underprivileged. The impetus of this desire was born out of a tragic experience when he lost his father and grandfather to what would have been curable diseases, if only they had access and means to medical attention.
To those who knew the young Gregorio, however, there was no way he could realize his ambition, especially since his father’s death forced him to drop out of elementary school because of financial difficulty.
Nonetheless, the boy surged through his life with relentless determination despite the odds, and was blessed to find a partner who shared his noble intention in wife Dominga, who worked with him every step of the way.
From the mouth of babes
It is from Don Gregorio and Doña Dominga’s children that The Sunday Times Magazine learns of the Andamans truly inspirational story.
The youngest of six siblings, Gregorio Jr. shares, “Everything we now have comes from our parents’ dreams.
They belonged to the marginalized sector of the society back then and were deprived of education because of poverty. Neither of them reached high school.”
The proud son continues, “So they promised themselves that they will never allow what happened to their parents to happen again, whether to themselves, their children and if they could, to as many others who had to endure poverty like them.
“Living in the rural area of Maragondon, Cavite, my father soon tried his luck in Manila, where he was able to buy abaca and resell them back in Maragondon. With hard work, he was able to monopolize the market back in his hometown.
“Eventually, my parents were able to save enough money and built a rice mill. This became our breakthrough for our future.”
Strong believers in the power of education, the Adaman couple made sure they set aside part of their earnings to pay for whatever courses their children eventually decide to pursue.
Their eldest son, Potenciano became a surgeon, and with him, Don Gregorio finally took the first courageous step into his goal of building a hospital in what was then far-flung areas so that more people can have access to medical care.
Eventually what started as one hospital, St. Anne in Lucena City, Quezon, became a chain of medical institutions, via Greg Hospital in Sariaya and Jane County Hospital in Pagbilao, both in the province of Quezon.
Taking his dream a step further, Don Gregorio decided to make education accessible to these communities as well, and established a Nursing and Medical Sciences School in Quezon. The hospitals and the school became the testament not just of their family’s better life, but the Andamans’ enduring commitment to community in both sectors of health and education.
When the couple’s second child, Marita, became an obstetrician, Don Gregorio felt that his family was ready to pursue much bigger goals.
In 1983, he built Hillside General Hospital in Alabang, Muntinlupa, much closer to his home in Cavite. The rest of his children, Emeteria, Monte and Lina, like the three, gave their 100-percent support to their father, and used their non-medical expertise in the management side of running the hospitals.
Emeteria was in charge of finances. Monte, who became an engineer, took an active involvement in the construction and development of their multiple facilities. Lina headed human resources, and Gregorio Jr., who also became a doctor, took charge of hospital administration.
“To share a bit of trivia, my parents’ success story landed them a cover on The Sunday Times Magazine back in 1988,” Gregorio Jr. says with a smile.
Fittingly titled, “How to make a million without going to school,” the proud son said of the cover, “Everyone who knew us treasured the fact that our family was featured in a newspaper to serve as an inspiration to others. My mother even had a copy of the issue laminated to preserve the memory, especially since my father never thought he would ever find himself talked about in a newspaper.
“Moreover, that story served as very first piece of good news about people in Maragondon in a paper, because before then, those who were featured from our hometown were infamous gangsters like Nardong Putik,” Gregorio Jr. adds with laughter.
Tribute to Dominga
Unable to fulfill his dreams without the help of his beloved wife, Don Gregorio’s continuing purpose of building the family legacy in health and education eventually built another hospital in Bacoor, Cavite in July 1991. Sentimentally, he named it St. Dominic Medical Center, Inc. in honor of Dominga.
Calling it his “dream hospital” what with the most advanced services and facilities among the rest of his medical institutions, Don Gregorio and the family made sure St. Dominic stayed in step with developments in the field, thereby allowing them to build an educational institution side by side in 2003. This marked the birth of St. Dominic College of Arts and Sciences.
“My father is a one-woman man. He adored his wife so much and named this institution after my mother. And the school, he built it because it was actually a dream of my mother’s to become a teacher. She even tutored her classmates when she was still able to study in elementary, Gregorio Jr. reveals.
Taking care of a legacy
With the Andaman couple’s success in building a legacy on a scale they never imagined to happen, their children all the more value the remarkable life’s work they managed to achieve despite their more than humble beginnings.
Admiration and a tremendous sense of gratitude is all they have for their parents, which they know they can only show by taking care of the legacy they built.
“They vowed to ensure a better future for us, with none of the hardships they experienced in their lives. They insisted that we all finish our education and become professionals no matter how long it took. That’s how much they valued education, because they always knew it was the key to better life, even if they hardly had the opportunity to study themselves. They also knew it was the key in being able to help others eventually,” Gregorio Jr. continues.
In sharing a little bit of how they were brought up, Marita relates, “We were raised with discipline and propriety of action. Values like, ‘The more you rise up, the more you should stoop down’ were instilled to us from the very beginning.
“We were never raised lavishly even though our parents made good money, so we were taught to do our share of work at home, even if we also had the good fortune of having household help.
“As siblings, we were also taught to help one another and work hand in hand—that’s the legacy we are passing on to our children in return.”
Looking into the future the Andaman siblings vow to continue their parents’ legacy by ensuring the continued operations of all their health and educational institutions, with plans to put up more campuses in Cavite.
“We have succession planning on how we are going to maintain and keep the business going. We are now encouraging the third generation to join us in preserving what our parents left us. Hopefully in five-to 10-years’ time, we will build more campuses around Cavite. And in addition to more than 3,200 students who enrolled with us—that now includes high school and elementary students here in St. Dominic College of Asia—we plan to put up the new St. Dominic Medical Center,” Gregory Jr. imparts.
Acknowledging that their plans are indeed of an immense scale, naturally requiring work of similar proportions, the Andaman siblings were only too happy to say that they will face the challenges head on. For while they know they can never achieve what their parents had done in their lifetime, preserving their legacy deserves nothing less than this.