The History of Makati Medical Center

The story of the Makati Medical Center is a story that must be told. It is not the story of a man or a group of men, who, driven by noble ambitions and lofty visions, banded themselves together, and decided that they should be able to give substance to their ideals and fire to their dreams.

It is a story woven in the mind of God, whose love is more real than any dream and whose Providence extends to all, regardless of color or creed. The story of Makati Medical Center must be told, because the glory of God must be served.

The Makati Medical Center was conceived to be one necessary and important feature in a developer's plan for a total self-contained community in a suburb slowly shaping up in the South of Manila, in the early and mid-sixties. Then, the price of real estate in the now plush Forbes Park subdivision hovered around the innocuous figure of Php 100.00 per square meter as compared to Tondo's Php 418.00 to 500.00 per square meter and Sampaloc's Php 320.00 to 400.00 per square meter.

The vast tract of land then that made up the sprawling community, that was being developed by the Ayalas, if not built on, was just covered with the tall "talahib" grass. During those years, one could lease a modest apartment for the price of Php 75.00 a month and wages averaged at Php 420.00 - 500.00 a month.

Young folks then danced to the rock music of the Beatles, while the whole country was electrified by the successful launching of Apollo 10 which put the first man on the moon. Then, the prestigious Asian Institute of Management was being put up by the joint effort of the Ateneo University, De La Salle University and the Harvard Business School. The favorite pizza joint (then the only one in the country) was the Plaza Restaurant at the Makati Shopping Center, owned by the owners of the Aristocrat chain.

It was about this time when Enrique Zobel, the top man of the Ayala conglomerate, asked three prominent figures in medical practice at that time, to compose the core group of what was to become the leading hospital in the country. Dr. Constantino P. Manahan, a famous OB-Gyne specialist and Dr. Jose Y. Fores , an equally well-known and distinguished surgeon and Dr. Mariano M. Alimurung, a world renowned cardiologist answered Zobel's call.

The motivation then was perhaps predominantly business. But Divine Providence works His way in the midst of human decisions and human motivations. He writes straight even with crooked lines and works His will in the mazes of human struggles. And so it came to pass that the three doctors accepted the challenge and the formation of the initial core group of incorporators was set into motion.

The following lines are from the recollections of Dr. Carlos L. Sevilla, a founding group member, who became the Vice-Chairman of the Board ad Treasurer and later on the hospital's Chairman of the Department of Opthalmology, of the years when the Makati Medical Center was just a dream in the minds of its founders.

"The dream took root years before its inauguration. Frustrated by the dearth of facilities and technology for modern medical procedures and advanced training in the country, a group of idealist medical professionals got together to pursue a common goal - the establishment of a hospital equipped with the best and the latest in medical facilities and technology, to be manned by the most competent and well-trained medical staff; a hospital which approximates those abroad so that Filipino medical graduates need not go out of the country for advanced training and specialization. That group of medical professional, composed of the country's more respected medical practitioners, formed MMC's founding group.

We met once or twice a week to brainstorm, to update one another on the progress of our project studies and negotiations for the purchase of the hospital lot - which we got from the Ayalas at the best possible price that time. We scored initial victory when Architect Luis Araneta agreed to design the building and join us in the venture.

To raise more funds for the building construction, we sought more doctors, even non-doctors, who shared our dream.

When our local prospects ran dry, we sent Atty. Artemio Delfino to the U.S. to scout for more investors.

We had rough times; lots of them, in fact. But finally, on that bright, sunny day in late May, 1969, the Makati Medical Center stood proud and tall before us - the hospital we had been dreaming of."

"On May 31, 1969, the Makati Medical Center formally opened its doors to the public. To us its founders, that day marked the fulfillment of a dream and the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifices.

Indeed through the years since the day it opened, MMC has earned the distinction of being one of the best-equipped hospitals with the most capable staff extending to our patients, rich and poor alike, the best quality of medical care.

Even before our tie-up with the Makati Municipal government for the Makati Health Program (MHP), we had our own charity program for the indigents of Makati as well as those form other cities, municipalities and provinces. Some of them pay a minimal amount for medicines, the more indigent ones do not pay anything at all. But definitely, there is no dividing line in the quality of our service; we treat our charity cases in the same manner accorded our pay patients.

We later took in residents and interns and grew to be a teaching hospital. True enough, hundreds of medical practitioners - doctors, nurses, medical technologists, radiologists, dietitians, etc. many of whom have made their mark here or abroad - passed through the portals of the MMC as residents, interns or trainees. We also put up a school of nursing so our patients can be assured of high quality care from well-trained professionals particularly oriented to MMC's goals, systems and procedures, and to continue providing the best medical services with the best equipment and professional staff. This was, still is and will remain to be MMC's commitment."

The group of idealist medical professionals alluded to by Dr. Carlos L. Sevilla are the following young men and woman at the time, known in the history of the Makati Medical Center as the Founders Circle:

Drs. Jose Y. Fores, Raul G. Fores, Constantino P. Manahan, Mariano M. Alimurung, Manuel C. Fernandez Sr., Romeo H. Gustilo, Carlos L.Sevilla, Architect Luis Ma. Araneta, Mr. Jorge L. Araneta, Ms. Julieta Ledesma and Mr. Daniel Go.

Together, they forged ahead into a very uncertain future. They were not only practitioners of medicine, the healers, so to speak; they were also the managers of the hospital they just built. It would have been easier if they were simply the doctors practicing the art of medicine. But to be managers as well, of an enterprise that could either rise or fall depending on their managerial skill or the utter lack of it, was an altogether disparate manner. They were certain they were not short of daring or courage.

But did they have the staying power to stay afloat. Perhaps, it was during this time, when these young men realized that they needed more than human daring to continue what they have begun or thought to have begun, and the time when the temper of their humanity became ready for the maker's hand. Together, they reached out. What they received in turn, filled their cups to overflowing.

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