by Dr. Patrick Chua
On the 6th of August at 4pm, the Association of Philippine Orthodontists represented by its president Dr. Martin Reyes, Dr. Janet Pandan (APO Director), Dr. Roberto Tan (APOS Secretary General) and I APO’s humble servant, together with two orthodontic delegates from Cambodia, Dr. Daneth San and Dr. Veng Sonita ,the President of Cambodian Orthodontic Association (I mistakenly called her Dr. Sushmita Sen, former Miss Universe of India!) went on an educational historic tour of Intramuros.
I was tasked by our APO President to join the Intramuros tour and to brush up a bit on our Philippine History. Taking the task at heart, I dusted and read my history book in time for the tour. I could have recited the history of the Philippines during the Spanish Era that day.
We passed through Laguna de Bay, Mall of Asia Arena, SM Mall of Asia, Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the Luneta Park before reaching Fort Santiago. We hardly saw any tenements on our way to the fort. It was in my mind that time how impressed the delegates must have been with these well-built structures.
Notes were exchanged about cuisines from different parts of the world, various orthodontic practices, India’s Bollywood film and Cambodia’s political situation.
As our group reached the entrance of Fort Santiago, we were greeted by Dr. Johnson Hsiu (Current President of Taiwan Orthodontic Association), Dr. Sphinx Lu (President Elect of TAO) and Dr. William Choi (Past President of TAO). Everyone was excited as they listened to the tour guide as to how Fort Santiago was first built by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. They took interest on the Rizal Shrine Museum his-Memorabilia, his books and his life story. I gladly contributed to from the historical queries of our guests.
Our foreign colleagues asked us as to how long each of these colonizers, -the Spaniards, Japanese and Americans stayed in the Philippines. Historical discussions went on like how the Spaniards ruled us in comparison to the Americans, why the Chinese traders were in the Philippines as early as 14th Century among others. Needless to say it was an intellectual discussion and respite from our daily dental practices.
We took several photos of themselves inside the Fort Santiago and posed with several of its landmarks. As the sun started to set, we took a calesa to show them the sites around the Walled City of Intramuros. They were amazed at the beauty of San Agustin Church and the other- hundred-year-old buildings with timeless architectural design which now seat the different government offices.
After the calesa tour we had this wonderful Filipino buffet dinner in Barbaras Heritage Restaurant explained how our Filipino cuisine evolved with influences from Mexico, Spain and China. Cultural dances were performed and Dr. Veng Sonita commented that it was similar to what they have. We asked Dr. Johnson Hsiu and Dr. Sphinx Lu to try our cultural dances but the wine was not enough to make them lose their senses and to dance the night away!
We went back to the hotel exhausted but jubilant that the friendship among APO, TAO and COA has strengthened.