Inaugural Address of APO President Diana Dorothy Lim

Good evening everyone! I would like to acknowledge the presence of our special guests: PDA President Dr. Corazon Flores. Our hardworking president just came back from her outreach mission in Mindanao. She had to cut short her trip to be able to join us for tonight’s induction ceremony. Thank you so much, we really appreciate it.

She’s accompanied by PDA Executive Vice President Dr. Balvino Villanueva and PDA Junior Protocol Officer Dr. Rico Calingasan. We also have the Chairman of the Board of Dentistry Dr. Dominador Santos, Jr., Fellow Presidents, Dr. Robert Quiambao of PCOMS, Dr. Liza Aguilar-Dazo of Phil. Association of Hospital dentists, Fil-Chi President and APO member Dr. Alex Uy, fellow APO members, new inductees, my dear family and friends, Good evening…

It has been 2 years since that fateful election day when the lot fell on me. For those who are not familiar with APO-style election, pre election does not consist of elaborate campaigns to convince people to vote for you. On the contrary, it’s a desperate attempt to stop them from doing so. You can imagine how helpless I felt when my vehement objection was deemed unacceptable. But don’t worry, your reluctant leader has learned to accept this burden as a response to the free choice of the majority and what cannot be avoided must be the will of God. It is in this spirit of trusting abandonment, with a pure and unconditional commitment to service that I take on this responsibility of steering APO forward for the next 2 years. I sincerely thank my immediate predecessor Dr. Laarni Serraon for patiently orienting me for the impending task that awaits me.. I have also experienced the great support of all the officers, members and the entire APO family when we had the National congress last August. I can truly say that we are indeed a great association, bound by common ideals and a grand vision. I am extremely humbled and at the same time honored to stand before you today and I will definitely be counting on the support of every single member of APO as well as our ever loyal sponsors and work partners to make great waves in the next 2 years.

By next year, we will already be celebrating our 35th year as an association; it’s our Coral Anniversary. And we have undeniably gone a long way. Our long struggle to get our accreditation as the one and only orthodontic specialty organization was finally granted during the term of Dr. Robert Tan. Thanks to the Board of Dentistry. That was indeed a great milestone for APO. We have also gained a lot of recognition and good favor not only in the local scene but also in the Asia Pacific Region as a result of our active participation in APOS and worldwide being part of the most illustrious World Federation of Orthodontists. We have a Philippine Board of Orthodontics which fully complies with international standards that puts our members at par with the entire orthodontic circle. All these have been a result of the relentless work of all our predecessors, the founders and those we respectfully call elders, godfathers and fairy godmothers of APO. For the past week, I had been going through the objectives of APO as a specialty organization, in this part of the world, with a general membership of 135, in a total population of almost 100M and a general dentist population of 25,000 who more or less do some form of orthodontic work. We are also entering a new phase with the onset of the ASEAN Integration come 2015. We need to be ready for the challenges and take advantage of the new prospects and opportunities these changes bring with it.
What is my vision for APO?

Firstly, I envision APO to be a premiere venue for the members’ life long education and to be a catalyst of learning for others, both in the Philippines and in the ASEAN region.
Secondly, I envision a more active and visible APO in the local, regional and global scene through more research output, publications and lectures.

Regarding the first point: APO can aim to be a premiere venue for continuing education locally and for the ASEAN region. We have enjoyed the fame of being the experts and leaders of our field of specialty. We are known to organize high quality meetings and congresses. We are acclaimed by our foreign counterparts to be good hosts and organizers. We shall continue this tradition which is already a trademark of APO. If it’s APO-organized, it must be good! This has won us the bid for the 2018 Asia Pacific Orthodontic Congress. This will be the 1st in our history and we need to prepare well for it. We shall also have the President of WFO, Dr. Roberto Justus for our 1st general meeting next year. This is quite an honor and a privilege for APO too. The success of all these will have to be a result of our concerted effort.
We should seek to invite more to participate in our high quality meetings. This is APO’s way of contributing to the development and upgrade of the dental profession in our country to meet the new challenges posed to us by the ASEAN integration.

For this to happen, we need to start with ourselves. I enjoin everyone including myself to take care of our own professional development and be a catalyst of learning for others. Each APO member has to be stimulated, well-motivated to keep on improving and learning more. Each member will attend all the meetings and congresses not because we have to earn the points but because we are convinced that these are well thought out for our benefit. We should also take advantage of congresses abroad that will open new horizons and keep us updated. We hope to have a good delegation for the WIOC next year in London. We should always desire to learn more then we will serve as catalysts of learning.

I encourage all APO members to be an APO ambassador, each one actively drawing in non-members to get interested and start attending our meetings and activities. If we are to aim for at least 500 local participants in the 2018 congress we have to start getting them now. I will try to seek the approval of the board to open many if not all of our upcoming meetings to non-members who have much to learn from us. If we are to inspire more dentists to aim to become qualified specialists, to take the long but sure way, we have to do it in a compelling way, we have to make them experience the difference. The only way they can experience this is if we open up participation in our meetings for them to learn with us. But they have to feel welcome and that’s where our individual effort has to come in. Each APO member has to be an ambassador, bringing with them friends, colleagues who are non-members so that they don’t feel estranged. They have a friend and they will meet more friends in APO. In this way, we increase our base of non-members who frequent our activities and from this base of eager and serious dental professionals more will hopefully decide to further their studies here or abroad, take the board exams, and finally join our ranks.

We also have to realize that we enjoy a very strategic position among our ASEAN counterparts. We already enjoy the friendship and willing help of many of the leaders in the orthodontic world. We have many friends from Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the United States who are more than willing to be our speakers for our congresses. On the other hand, our ASEAN neighbors are actually looking for good international congresses to attend and we are a very good and inexpensive venue for this. Just a week ago, I received an email from the Saigon Orthodontic Study Club from Ho Chi Min, Vietnam inquiring if they could participate in our Special symposium this Feb. As a group, they had been attending international congresses twice a year and they have come across our symposium and is considering to join. Let’s pray that they decide to. I believe we have the capacity to attract our ASEAN neighbors to join our congresses. Our pub pro committee chair will have a lot of work to do.

We also want to constantly enrich our upcoming meetings. We can find more interactive ways of learning. We’ve received very favourable feedback from our members regarding the case discussions we had last June in Metroclub and the panel discussion of difficult cases we had in our recent national congress. I encourage the cellgroup leaders to take the initiative to hold case discussions among themselves to share interesting and challenging cases or do journal reviews. Then we can have plenary sessions during our general meeting where each group can present a case or share interesting journal articles of clinical significance. There’s power in learning together.

Moving on to the 2nd point – We have to aim to make more active contribution to the field of orthodontics here and abroad. We need to make ourselves felt more in the area of research and development. We have to increase the base of lecturers who can be fielded globally. We, APO members have the capacity to do this but it takes deliberate preparation, planning and joint collaboration to do this. It was an eye-opener for me during our recent trip to Korea when we were invited to visit the Catholic University of Korea. On our stop in the chairman’s office, he had to excuse himself to make a quick check of his email and there was a whole string of mails coming from a fellow Korean in the University of Arizona. Lo and behold, this Korean who is the department chair in Arizona and is actively involved in JCO is their ‘one-man editorial team’ for research papers. He asks all Korean universities to send him research proposals, edits it, makes suggestions, feeds information and helps them chunk out loads of published research work. In his heart this person knows that he is working for his country and everyone collaborates to make what Korean ortho is now in the research field. We are quite far from that but we have to begin now. We have graduate schools doing research works. We have seasoned academicians who might not be actively teaching anymore but could be a powerhouse of ideas given their wisdom and experience. You are capable of suggesting good topics and serve as mentors. We need your help to uplift the quality of our research works which we should aim to submit to international journals. We also have to make a deliberate effort to document interesting cases. We can aim to have case reports, a lot of it for publications and for lectures. Those who can give lectures should work on it and those who may not be inclined to it can collaborate in a personal way. There are many great clinicians among us who could document their cases and feed them to our pool of lecturers. The worldwide trends now are on product development, new wires, re-defined appliances, TAD’s is still very much in, methods of hastening the treatment process using surgical methods, mechanical vibrators, lasers, injectables, etc. We have to be updated and we can do some tests here. With these research and lecture outputs we can make a deeper dent in our field. We will have more materials to share with local dental chapters, offer more contribution in the PDA conventions and field in more entries in the international congresses. Perhaps I can suggest that the awards committee offer incentives to encourage these contributions. By the next induction ceremony we could present awards for the best research paper, best case report, best presentation.

These are the 2 goals I am presenting to all of you. I believe they are workable and feasible, if we all work together with a common vision. We will be better professionals ready to face our contemporaries not only in the ASEAN but also globally. Let us not be daunted by all the easy fix and sad realities presently happening in real orthodontic practice, we are all aware of it. Let’s just keep on moving forward by taking steps to be each time better and seek to be world-class professionals with a genuine openness to share our knowledge with others.