By Trish Fontanilla
Well it’s been almost 2 years of Filipinos in Boston profiles (I started this a few months after we started the organization), and we’re finally interviewing a doctor! I met Manny at the BOSFilipinos meetup at Parsnip in July (amazing food and crew over there!). He’s super new to Boston, so I figured why not introduce him to the BF community more formally? After all, we’re all about storytelling and community!
Thank you to Manny for taking time to chat with me, and I hope you all enjoy getting to know him!
Where are you and your family from? Also, feel free to share more about your family’s background and ties to the Philippines.
Manny: For Fil-Ams like ourselves, the story really began in the Motherland. My mom is originally from Bataan and grew up in Quezon City, and my dad in Candelaria in Quezon Province. My maternal grandparents were physicians; Lola (grandma) was a psychiatrist and med school professor and Lolo (grandpa), a pediatrician. On my dad’s side, my Lolo was the Vice Mayor of Candelaria, while my Lola stayed at home to support the kids. My parents are from huge families! My mom grew up with six sisters and two brothers, and my dad has two brothers and two sisters. Starting in the 70s, my parents, titas (aunts), and titos (uncles) on both sides of my family gradually came to the U.S. to pursue their professional careers and start their branches of our family. I have relatives on both coasts and in the Midwest. My dad settled in Iowa for his first job as an engineer for Case before moving to Indianapolis to work for General Motors. My mom finished high school in Ohio, studied nursing initially, but then moved to Indiana, where she switched her major to respiratory therapy and was later hired by one of the local hospitals in Indy. My parents met through mutual friends in the small Fil-Am community in Indianapolis, where I was born, raised, and educated. I have a younger brother who lives in Orlando and runs his own social media marketing firm called Vadela (check it out at www.vadela.co). After graduating from medical school at Indiana University in 2016, I moved to the D.C. area for internal medicine residency at Inova Fairfax Hospital. I finished residency this past June, and here I am now!
So tell us a little more about where you work and what you do.
Manny: I’ve worked as an internal medicine doc at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a part-time instructor at Harvard Medical School since July. My job at the Brigham is to admit patients to the various medical and oncology floors at night, whether they come in as transfers from another hospital or through the emergency room. At the same time, I am available for any overnight needs for about thirty to forty patients who are assigned to me for the shift. At Harvard, I teach med students how to interview and examine patients at the hospital, and I am one of the proctors for the clinical skills exam they take at the end of the course. I am a tough grader… muahahaha.
For most Filipino families, having someone working in the medical field feels like a pre-req, but when did you decide to get into medicine?
Manny: I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My mom kept many of her college textbooks around the house, and I remember browsing through many of the pictures and diagrams. I thought that the human body was the coolest thing in the universe! Particularly inspiring for me as a kid was how my own pediatrician listened and observed carefully to address my concerns. Every time I saw him, I was curious about why he was asking so many questions, and what he hearing with his stethoscope that helped him come up with a diagnosis to restore my health when I was sick and keep me well when I was healthy. Combined with the fact that I always naturally enjoyed my science classes, loved working in teams of all kinds, and engaged in philanthropy, I knew that medicine was the perfect career for me. Even though a handful of my relatives are physicians, nurses, and medical lab techs, I never experienced family pressure to pursue a career in healthcare. Now that I am a fully practicing physician after many years of school and on-the-job training in residency, I believe that the same things that drew me to the profession as a kid are why I still enjoy coming to work every day!
How long have you been in Boston?
Manny: I moved here at the end of June, and I live in JP.
What are your favorite Boston spots (food, parks, spaces, etc!)
Manny: My favorites are Fenway, Newbury Street, Seaport, the Boston Common, and Quincy Market. In terms of food and drink, James Hook & Company has the best lobster rolls I have ever had, but if you know of a better place, let me know! The Liberty Hotel is my go-to for upscale drinks and dining. Last, but not least, JP Licks in Brigham Circle is where you will frequently find me for a cup of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream before work!
This town is great for fitness too! I often take my bike out to Cambridge and ride along the Charles for the great views and fresh air. Before I moved to Boston, I took up powerlifting. I hired a coach based at Rx Strength Training in Somerville, but I now do most of my workouts at GymIt near BU since it’s in a more convenient location for me, while my coach works with me remotely.
What’s your community superpower?
Manny: Large-scale philanthropy! I was the Vice President External for the Midwest Association of Filipino Americans (www.wearemafa.org) from 2011 to 2012. As part of my role as VPE, I organized a school supply donation competition between the MAFA member organizations (all university-based Filipino clubs) called the Balikbayan Box Project. We sent a wide variety of items to the Philippines-- everything from pencils and books to old computers.
On Filipino Food...
What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Manny: I am thinking about this while my mouth waters… tinola!
What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Manny: Beef Kaldereta.
We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at email@example.com.