By: John Vincent G. Pastores, MD, Member, MakatiMed Advisory Committee Consultant, Department of Surgery
In his clinic, the wealthy mingled with the impoverished. Business suits and signature dresses touched tattered “sayas” and torn “sandos”. Bare feet and worn-out sandals tripped over Ferragamo shoes. And nobody complained. There was no discrimination in his office. Everyone awaited his turn. The beggar at the street corner received the same attention as the president of the Philippines. Dr. RG, as he is fondly called, had a remarkable brand of charity. He never charged priests, nuns, pastors, missionaries, medical colleagues, government officials, relatives of MakatiMed employees, friends of his friends, relatives of his friends, even neighbors of his acquaintance! I have often wondered how he earned a living! He would even spend his own money to buy things for the hospital, from mirrors to shoe cleaners to small medical equipment. In all of these, he stuck to the biblical principle “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”.
Indeed, aside from being humble about his personal deeds, he practiced his brand of modesty with the hospital that he loved so much. While other hospitals were beginning to advertise, he believed that the best way to let people know the good things MakatiMed was doing was through word of mouth. Nothing compares to a genuine testimony of a happy, satisfied, and grateful patient. Our hospital pioneered so many medical breakthroughs, rare and formidable surgical operations, promptly adopted modern technologies, and kept abreast with world standards of knowledge and expertise in healthcare. As the country’s premier hospital and as its leader, he chose to consider all these excellent services and achievements as things we owed our patients and not something to brag about to the media.
Dr. RG showed his charitable heart among his colleagues as well. He opened MakatiMed to the young doctors and selflessly offered them the opportunity to join the medical staff without asking for anything in return, except for their steadfast commitment to best medical practices and adherence to moral and ethical standards. Most of all, he demanded fierce loyalty to the hospital. The doctors who were fortunate enough to know him, work for him and work with him, and felt the genuine respect and trust that he had for them. They, along with the hospital employees, were what we affectionately called the “MMC Family”. These are the people who would be eternally grateful to him and to MakatiMed.
Dr. Fores is still very much with us. Though he has retired, he is always lovingly remembered as the gentle and kind doctor impeccable in his favorite attire—barong and light-colored slacks—or in his spotless smock gown over an immaculate white scrub suit. His compassion, sincerity and generosity reflected in his legendary bedside manners, qualities worth emulating.
St Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa during her life on earth, was known as the Living Saint. Her nuns continue her legacy. In the office of Dr RG Fores, and now exhibited in the Chaplaincy, is a framed personal handwritten letter of Mother Teresa expressing gratitude with the words, “The Lord holds you in the palm of His hand”.
Come to think of it, the one who coined the tagline “Makati Medical Center, the Hospital with a Heart” must have been thinking of Dr. Raul G. Fores.