Elpi Valencia, 96, achiever/ French award for Harper
SUNDRY STROKES - Rosalinda L. Orosa () - September 2, 2009 - 12:00am

Friends and admirers of Dr. Elpidio “Elpi” I. Valencia will be greeting him today as he marks his 96th year. His eventful life is filled with honors and achievements, but before I recount these, I must mention his biggest triumph: Elpi was the junior aide-de-camp of President Sergio Osmena and it took tremendous courage to ask for Rosie’s hand from Don Sergio and Dona Titay whom Elpi initially thought to be “a tough hurdle”. The marriage of Elpi and Rosie continues to be a most happy and blessed one to this day.

 Now for some of the distinctions Elpi has reaped.

After he became a Knight of St. Gregory the Great, his rank was elevated to that of Commander by the Vatican. Elpi is the recipient of two papal awards, and the highest Portuguese award for hospital and medical services.

 Elpi was Secretary of Health from 1958 to 1961 under President Garcia, traveling as such throughout the Philippines to improve and extend health care and services to the people.

 Early in life, Elpi already showed qualities of leadership. A graduate of the 1938 UST College of Medicine, recipient of a UP master’s degree in Public Administration, and a Fulbright Scholar Leader’s grant, Elpi earlier became president of the UST Central Board of Students and fraternity head of Alpha Sigma Tau — a distinct honor as these two positions were usually held by two different individuals from separate colleges.

The civic-oriented Elpi is co-founder of the Sagip Kabataan Center for street children, and co-founder likewise of St. Mary’s House of Abused Girls, the former run by the Sisters of Charity; the latter, by the Oblate Sisters.

Elpi’s book In Search of Meaning for Others has these chapters: On the Frontline of Public Health, In the service of Freedom Fighters, The Great and Venerable Don Sergio, Palace Romance, Rosie and Three Blessings, Echoes from Malolos, Education for Values and Growth, The World in a Glimpse, Devotion to St. Jude Thaddeus and Sunset Years. The book recounts the fire that razed the Valencias’ ancestral, nearly hundred-year old house in Malolos, along with its treasured mementoes.

The reader also learns Elpi’s brushes with world personalities including Pope John Paul II, Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr., Hollywood icon Gregory Peck.

Elpi has served, either as chairman or president, several medical organizations; also as SSS commissioner and three-time president of the Philippine Fulbright Scholars Alumni Association. He further served in various capacities many international agencies, e.g., WHO, NY Academy of Sciences, US Public Health Service, US Medical Corps, Annual Congress of the Royal Society of Public Health in England.

In Elpi’s leisure moments, rare in so busy a life, he paints and sculpts. Rosie, like Elpi, is deeply involved in civic, charitable and religious activities. For instance, she is currently president of the Mother Butler Guild which helps seminarians. Dame of the Grand Cross of Magisterial Grace, Rosie is a papal awardee.

On Elpi’s 96th birthday today, Rosie, the children and their spouses — Serge and Cristina Valencia, Mariza and Carlos del Rosario and Lia Valencia — will inaugurate in his honor a Professorial Chair in Oncology at the UST College of Medicine.

* * *

Anna Maria “Bambi” Harper, Intramuros Administration head, was recently conferred the French Order of Arts and Letters, rank of Chevalier, one of the highest, for her outstanding promotion of Europe, particularly of France, and thus of more cultural diversity. French Ambassador Thierry Borja de Mazota cited her contributions to the cultural sector, and Filipino culture.

As IA head, Mrs. Harper has succeeded in reviving the historical district of Intramuros. She has been part of UNESCO, the Manila Historical Commission, the Heritage Conservation Society and the Filipino Heritage Festival.

In keeping Filipinos proud of their heritage, Mrs. Harper conforms to the French conviction that a nation must have a strong hold on its culture and image.

ACADEMY OF SCIENCES ALPHA SIGMA TAU ANNA MARIA ANNUAL CONGRESS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF PUBLIC HEALTH CENTRAL BOARD OF STUDENTS COLLEGE OF MEDICINE DAME OF THE GRAND CROSS OF MAGISTERIAL GRACE ELPI MRS. HARPER ROSIE
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