‘SOAP’ Opera

NEW BEGINNINGS - The Philippine Star

Music has its own kindness. And when the gift is given whole-heartedly, music generates generosity — enough to light thousands of dreams, ignite renewed camaraderie, and build structures that will modernize ambitions.

The SOAP Opera ng Buhay Ko, a project of the UP Medical Alumni Fund Inc. and UP College of Medicine Resource Generation Office, was an ambitious concert that did not just end on an ambitious note to mount a successful production. More than its creative and technical triumph, the concert started a bandwagon of benevolence. The fundraising project will help in the construction and operation of the new UP College of Medicine Academic Center.

Lea Salonga waived her talent fee and rendered a string of stirring songs including a number from Allegiance, her latest musical on Broadway. Ryan Cayabyab set his fingers on fire in the piano and did not charge for every key his fingers stroke. Musical director Gerard Salonga, with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, created world-class symphony that night for free.

Others who lent generosity to the fundraising project were Jed Madela, Vice Ganda (who can be funnier when he is tempered), Mark Bautista, Cris Villonco, Bituin Escalante (she shone gloriously that night with her incredible rendition of Limang Dipang Tao), Franco Laurel, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Pinky Marquez, Baihana, Caisa Borromeo, Timmy Pavino, Catherine Fisher (who flew all the way from Sydney just for the concert), MASS Appeal, the Ateneo Chamber Singers, the TUX (this a cappella group should be more visible on TV and performing stage for it provides real music) and UP Medicine Choir (whose every member proves that a doctor can be anything, much more a singer).     

The concert was entertaining, enlightening and moving (for where can you find a concert where the Lupang Hinirang was sung at the end of the program, prompting everyone to stand up and sing the National Anthem with might and pride). It was so successful I can say without reservation that it has eclipsed many of the good concerts — even musicals — I’ve seen before.

But it did not eclipse its purpose, which, according to Dr. Melfred Hernandez, the over-all chair of SOAP Opera ng Buhay Ko, is “to build an ultra-sleek, ultra-modern facility at the College of Medicine that would address the disconnect between the quality and achievements of the faculty and students, and the meager and outdated resources, facilities and equipment that we have had to put up with for so long, for far too long.”

“We are always invigorated by this goal to be the center of academic excellence. At the College of Medicine of UP Manila, we have fused our links with alumni and friends to fund projects dedicated to the modernization of our College. SOAP Opera ng Buhay Ko is the second leg in our fundraising caravan to build the new UPCM Academic Center. This seven-story building will provide a soothing atmosphere for student-faculty interaction and a skills laboratory on patient safety,” says UPCM dean, Dr. Agnes Mejia. 

Aside from Dean Mejia and Dr. Hernandez, who serves as special assistant to the dean for Resource Generation, others who unselfishly lead these fundraising efforts are associate dean for planning and research Armando Crisostomo and Resource Generation head Rody Sy.

Dr. Geraldine Mayor, a member of UPCM Class ‘94 and a psychiatrist in Philadelphia, explains to me what SOAP means in the medical parlance. She says, “SOAP is the code for the progress notes, what you see in the chart of the patient. S is for ‘subjective,’ which is all about what the patient feels. O is for ‘objective,’ what the doctor examines. A is for ‘assessment,’ which is the diagnosis. And P is for ‘plan,’ which is the treatment.”

In that case, SOAP Opera ng Buhay Ko soulfully assessed the problem of the UPCM: to give better and more quality education, both the teachers and the students should be equipped with state-of-the-art facility and instrumentation. And the treatment lies in people’s generosity. Kindness, like soothing voices, heals.

“We need to exhaust all measures to raise the money. We need P220 million just for the bare structure alone, and an equivalent amount to equip and operationalize it. We need all the help, and all the centavo and peso for it,” says Hernandez, the ENT of some of the brightest and biggest stars in the music and entertainment industry in the country today.

He adds that the generosity of the people at the SOAP Opera concert generated the amount “enough to pay for the architectural fees/demolition fees and other expenses” for the project.

Hernandez, who himself is a very good singer, notes, “With SOAP Opera, we aim to perpetuate the cycle of giving back. This project is also the initiative of the alumni, based here and abroad. It is very heartwarming to note that the spirit of giving back and paying it forward is alive and kicking in the College and the University.”

He adds that the project also aims to create more awareness about the Return Service Obligation Program of the UPCM.

Hernandez’s UP education taught him that all one needs is a mind that can conjure up brilliant, creative and out-of-the-box ideas, and a heart that just literally has to pump blood and get all the circulation going, and one can make all one’s dreams for oneself, one’s family, one’s alma mater and country come true.

 “My UP education has taught me that I should never forget, that I should always look back, and pay back, and pay forward. ‘Malayong lupain, amin mang marating, ‘di rin magbabago ang damdamin. ‘Di rin magbabago ang damdamin’,” he ends.




(For inquiries on the UP College of Medicine Academic Center, please call UP Medical Alumni Fund at 02-526425 or 0923-8568043.

You may also e-mail upmaf.secretariat@gmail.com.)

(For your new beginnings, e-mail me at bumbaki@yahoo.com.

I’m also on Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed Sunday!)

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