About Kita-Kita 2020.

 By:  John Sy, MD

The University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society homecoming is an enduring tradition anticipated with great fondness and excitement by the graduates. For a whole year, the Silver jubilarians host activities that bring honor and recognition to the UP College of Medicine and the culmination is the grand homecoming ball in December. 2020, a year that will perhaps go down in infamy, is Class 1995’s year. Our year. The year for kita-kita. 

If one was to describe the homecoming class, more than a few words would come to mind: creative, resolute, resilient, diverse…and blessed with an inherent, uncanny ability to have FUN regardless of how physically draining or emotionally sapping the situation is. Class 1995 was simply born to face challenges. Our first year was marked by two major happenings:

1. The walkout for academic freedom staged by UPCM faculty, staff and students: this almost derailed our schedule for the entire year.

2. The horrific, maximal intensity earthquake that levelled Baguio City and claimed more than a thousand lives throughout Luzon.

Our second year was when we were labelled “rotten apples” by an irate professor. And so one of the symbols of Class 1995 was born (the other being the orchid, Aerides Turma). Following this, we with the rest of the nation witnessed the tumultuous Presidential elections faceoff between FVR and Miriam. (It was to have been the first time to vote for a President for most of us.) When we were Interns, Miss Universe came to town! We became escorts cum medical watchdogs to these stunning international beauties. And then a few months later, there was another special guest: our beloved Pope John Paul II for the World Youth Day, the first hosted by an Asian country.

Class 1995 had the tremendous responsibility of practicing our craft while welcoming the rest of the world to see what the Philippines was all about. We were smiling while still doing our duties. Grace under pressure? Beauty with a conscience? Class 1995 was and is all that…and so much more.

These colorful, memorable events punctuating our years in medical school constantly reminded us that there was a whole existence outside BSLR and PGH just waiting for us when we were ready. The disasters, upheavals and toxicity would all have a role in making us not only better Doctors but more well-rounded human beings. We worked one by one and as one. Rising to the occasion came naturally. And hope springs eternal, for Class 1995-despite the tragedies from within and without-has always been about hope.

25 years later…after specialization, sub-specialization, creating a life of bold steps and details and finding our niche all over the planet…we were poised to reunite for the homecoming. But then, we were almost destined to have one more BIG problem. As though the Fates could not resist throwing yet another curveball at our class…CoVid-19 happened. Health and safety were compromised, traveling and get togethers became dangerous and downright impossible and we recognized that being about 50 years old sadly put us at higher risk.

However…IMPOSSIBLE was never really in Class 1995’s vocabulary. True to its resourcefulness, determination and indomitable spirit, Class 1995 refused to back down. True to the character of Class 1995, which comes together and brings the very best when things are at their very worst, we declared we will still have a homecoming. Truly…it’s going to take a whole lot more than an earthquake, a Presidential election, Miss Universe or even a renegade virus to stop the rotten apples.

On with the kita kita…


Your Organizing Committee


We’re hard at work to bring you the best ever Homecoming Event during this historical moment. We hope to give you the best and warmest experience while you stay home in your respective homes.

Click here to view


Dear Fellow Alumni,


The year 2020 has brought many life-altering changes to our lives but tradition is tradition, and this year’s homecoming is no different. It is tradition and will push through.

Yes, there was disappointment and yes, there was grief. But that was soon replaced with nostalgia and excitement.

We are proud to announce that the UP College of Medicine Class of 1995 is still holding the following homecoming activities:

Annual CME – 18 and 19 December 2020, 8 – 11:30 am, Manila time
Homecoming mass – 20 December 2020, 8 am, Manila time, live and virtual
Homecoming breakfast – 20 December 2020, 9 am, Manila time, PGH atrium
Virtual homecoming – 20 December 2020, 9 pm, Manila time

We promise a different kind of homecoming which, while not face-to-face, will certainly be different. It will certainly be memorable.

We thus, invite you all to register for the event. Kita kita sa December 20, 2020

Warmest regards,

Johanna Patricia A. Cañal, MD, MHA, MSc, FPCR
President, UP Medical Alumni Society 2020
UPCM Class ‘95

How We Became Rotten Apples

The Pathology department was like a cast of character actors. Dr. V was a charm with eyes popping out of his thick spectacles. He would drone on and on even in the blackness of the brown-outs, his voice and the scratching of the chalk punctuating the dark BSLR. His lectures were overflowed with jokes but his exams were not funny at all. Dr. B was always well groomed and well dressed in his suit. His lectures always packed the house. Classmates would cut cutting classes, sleepy heads would sit up with eyes wide open. Dr. B gave only a few lectures but they will always be remembered as brilliant logical and humorous. The class would always show its appreciation with a standing ovation. Dr. D had a very unpredictable temper. It was that one day; he found Desky and Eric at a chess game, Kristin playing the piano and the whole class in such a state noise that he gave us an ear-breaking lecture and christened the class… the rotten apples.

How We Became Rotten Apples

Before I discharge the duty imposed upon me by my scheming classmates, I would like to talk briefly about taxonomy and what it means for all of us.

Essentially taxonomy is the science of classifying organisms. Broadly, organisms are classified to six major groups or kingdoms: animaliae, plantae, fungi, protista, archeobacteria and bacteria. Taxonomy gives a particular organism its identity and placement in the order of living things. The scientific name of a particular organism is the one name that is used by scientists and citizens from whatever nationality to refer to it. Regardless of time and changing concepts, an organism’s scientific name is fairly constant.



Title One

A scientific name consists of two parts, the genus name and the specific epithet. An example is the scientific name of the Philippine Eagle, Pithecophaga jefferyi. Pithecophaga is the genus name and jefferyi is the specific epithet.

An organism is given a scientific name by its discoverer or the researchers studying it. It can be named after a place like, for example, the cobra from Samar whose scientific name is Naja samarensis. It can be named for a particular trait of the organism like Pseudomonas aeruginosa or it can be named after a person or persons. As for the Philippine eagle, its discoverer John Whitehead asked an ornithologist to name it in honor of his father Jeffrey, hence, the specific epithet jefferyi.

The Philippine Eagle was discovered in 1896. To this day, more than a century since, it still bears the name of its discoverer’s father.


An example closer to home is the bacteria genus Listeria which was named after Dr. Joseph Lister, a British surgeon who pioneered aseptic surgery in the late 1800’s.

The Philippines is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. We have many species of plants and animals that are endemic to the country. Despite having lost much of our forests, many new species continue to be discovered.

The orchid biodiversity of the Philippines reminds me of the delightfully diverse personalities of my classmates most of whom I have not seen for 25 years. And so, while geography and time have separated us, I thought of honoring my classmates with two special orchid species as I thought of the day I will be reunited with them.

Medical training is almost paradoxic, for how could the years be both demanding yet delightful, exhausting yet enriching? Perhaps the human spirit has a way of thriving and finding happiness in the direst of circumstances. But I suspect it is more that I have been blessed with a rare kind of classmates.

If I had been providentially given a class like no other, I am certain it is equally providential that I found two orchids not just to honor my class but to express my affection for my classmates as well.

Over time, the tale of the Philippine Eagle’s discovery in 1896 may have been forgotten. The revolutionary contribution of Sir Joseph Lister in 1867 and how he changed surgical outcomes forever may have been overshadowed by later developments; yet, the scientific names that bear the honorees’ names remain to this day.

And so it is with Class 1995. In time, the delightful personalities of my classmates, the memories and the achievements of my class will be forgotten or overshadowed when all of us in this room are long gone or have become history or a mere idea. But the orchids that bear the name of my class and the silver anniversary in the year 2020 will remain.

Well, we have come full circle, haven’t we?

A scientific name is forever.

I am honored to present to you Aerides turma and Aerides turma forma anniversarius. Thank you.