The following is the acceptance speech Dr. Garcia had prepared (but did not have the opportunity to deliver) for the UPCM Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony.
Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award Message
University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Association
Manila, December 20, 2011
Tierry F. Garcia, M.D.
Distinguished Honored Guests, and Friends:
On this very day, I celebrate my 92nd birthday. Although the honor you generously bestow upon me comes this late in my life, I am happy I finally made it. What a tremendous gift on my 92nd birthday! Wow! You bring me back, like jumping for joy in my childhood. I thank you so very very much, especially as many of you deserve the honor, and you will surely get it if you hang around long enough as I have, as living proof that the “good” do not die young!
After having been blessed with superior training in Otolaryngology at the prestigious Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, I felt a compelling responsibility and calling to return to my homeland in 1951 to serve the Filipino people, by imparting and sharing the knowledge, skills and the experience I was privileged to have gained. Two years later in 1953, our group of 14 multi-specialty professional colleagues incorporated one of the first modern tertiary care hospitals in the Philippines, the Manila Doctors Hospital, which opened its doors for patient care in 1956.
In the same year of 1956, our small group of 9 ENT physicians founded the Philippine Society of Otolaryngology. Our advocacy further led to the establishment in 1961 of the PGH Department of ENT where I was once Chairman until 1970. We had declared independence from the previously combined Department of EENT, celebrating our 50th year anniversary of our existence just last month. Thus I had the distinction, the honor and the good fortune to help bring modern Otolaryngology to the Philippines.
In February 2006, 36 years after moving to the United States with my family at the end of 1970, I was invited to return on the 50th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Society of Otolaryngology and Bronchoesophagology, to be honored as one of its founding fathers and its first president. It made my heart beam with pride and joy, to live to see the organization grow from our original 9 to a national membership of 434 by that time, carrying the torch of and with the vaunted goal of making the best Otolaryngological services available to all our citizens.
Upon sighting Philippine soil from the airplane on that trip in 2006, for the first time in my life, I was overcome with emotion and suddenly spontaneously broke into tears, feeling a deep love for the country of my birth, my growth and everything she has meant for me, wishing her the very best we can and could do for her ourselves. More than the honor bestowed upon me this night is the satisfaction for the opportunity to share my experiences and my thoughts with you. I am extremely honored to stand here before all of you leaders and movers in the medical field. You are the select few of the best and the brightest. Together with privilege, however, come obligations and a calling to serve. So well has it been said that wisdom consists of rubbing the stardust from your eyes to see the obvious. These are lessons applicable to all of us specialists and primary care providers.
When I am dismayed at the grand rounds of our department at the Philippine General Hospital noting the cases admitted that are far advanced, that gives the strong message that much more has to be done to make whatever services available be availed of by the people. Most important is how to enhance the knowledge and skills at all levels of medical care from medical students to practicing physicians, especially stressing the importance of first symptoms and signs of cancers and other diseases that can easily be ignored or forgotten.
The function of education, including all of us as educators, is to develop the passion to have the necessary things done; the compassion for our people that would ultimately only make us happiest; the knowledge and the wisdom that through our direct individual efforts we can become catalysts for other agencies government or private, or developers of new initiatives towards the goal of providing the services that all our people need and deserve. And this passion you can transmit to your children to carry on where you leave of. The ball is with all of us.
To you most worthy successors in the ever ascending progress in the healing art, is the challenge of spreading the fire, to be ever better exemplars so that the example of your professional and personal lives and concerns will spill over to everyone you come in contact with, for the greatest honor to yourselves, your parents, your families, your mentors, your country, and to glorify your God, the ultimate source of all wisdom, all power and all love. Thank you very much for listening, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great honor tonight. May God bless our beloved country and us all.