An Outstanding Doctor with a Heart for the Capiz

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Dr. Abundio Balgos, known as “Toto” to Capiceños,  is the child of former Capiz Governor Atila Acevedo Balgos and Teodorica Roxas Asis of Roxas City, Capiz.  He comes from a distinguished lineage of outstanding public servants.  In his family is a governor (father Atila), public health doctor (sister Milagros), and many more prominent family members among its roster.

Dr. Balgos is the youngest of 6 children of Gov. Atila and Mrs. Teodorica.  His siblings are Dr. Milagros Balgos (deceased), Mrs. Lourdes San Agustin, Mrs. Corazon Tiangco, Dr. Fe Mejia, and Mr. Antonio Santos.

“Toto” is married to the former Jean Dagudag Diapo of Pontevedra, Capiz and Banga, Aklan.  They have 3 children, namely:  Marie Joan Therese, Andrew John Atlas, and Jamie Marie.

His Elementary and High School Days

Dr. Balgos obtained his elementary education from Banica Elementary School.  He studied high school at Capiz Institute of Technology, both in Roxas City, Capiz.  As a student, he was consistently at the top of his class.  At a science class in his first year, his “Study on the Effect of Addition of  Salt on Chicken Feed, on the Growth of Chicken” won first place in the Biology category of the provincial and regional science fairs, and he represented Western Visayas in the National Science Fair. In high school, Dr. Balgos was also in a special class for Physics, and eventually won second place in the Regional Science Quiz (Physics category).  He won the provincial oratorical contest, was Editor-in-Chief of his school paper for two years (3rd and 4th year), and was President of the student council.  He graduated valedictorian of his class from the Capiz Institute of Technology, where his vocational shop was Industrial Electricity.

A Study that Led to Medicine

He subsequently went on to continue his studies at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Iloilo, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences.  He was also the editor-in chief of the BS Bio Journal, the official publication of the Biology Department of UP at Iloilo.  He graduated third place in his class at the University of the Philippines – Visayas.  He then studied at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM) in Manila.  He graduated from the UPCM as one of the outstanding clinical clerks of the departments of medicine, pediatrics, and surgery, as well as one of the over-all top ten outstanding Clinical Clerks.  He went on to be one of the six interns who became the first batch in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH, the teaching hospital of the U.P. College of Medicine) who went into straight internship in Internal Medicine.  Dr. Balgos then took up  residency in internal medicine and fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine.  He was the first awardee of the Clemente Gatmaitan Award, given to residents with outstanding performance in research, during his senior year in residency, during which time he also became Chief Resident of the Department of Internal Medicine at PGH.  After his training in PGH, he subsequently went to University of California -San Diego for a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pulmonary Physiology. He had further further post-doctoral training later on ultrasound-guided lung biopsy at the National Taiwan University, and a visiting fellowship in critical care medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Mission to Teach

Dr. Balgos joined the faculty of the UPCM at the Department of Physiology,  concurrently appointed  Clinical Assitant Professor of the Pulmonary Section of the Department of Medicine and attending physician at the Philippine General Hospital.. Dr. Balgos was involved in teaching students not only in basic physiology, but also in clinical Internal Medicine. He was Chief of the Pulmonary Section for 3 years, and then became Assistant Chairman for Training for 6 years at the Department of Medicine of the UP-PGH Medical Center. He currently has the academic rank of Professor 5.

A Love for Research

Dr. Balgos has done research diverse areas such as effects of cigarette smoke in mucociliary clearance in mice, effect of various antidotes to red tide poisoning in the mouse model, mucus plug model in gas exchange study in a dog model, effect of inhalation of Mt. Pinatubo ash in mice, and pulmonary function effect of chronic exposure of rice mill workers to rice grain dust.

In the clinics, he has done studies on myocardial infarction scoring, bronchial asthma, COPD (or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), community-acquired pneumonia, septic shock, and ventilator weaning.

To date, Dr. Balgos has  22 published papers and abstracts, 9 completed but yet unpublished papers, and 3 ongoing studies.

Awards and Accolades

Dr. Balgos was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Scientists by the National Academy of Science and Technology in 1995.  He was awarded one of the Outstanding Achievers of Capiz Province in year 2000, and Huwarang Pilipino in 2001.  He has been awarded as Most Distinguished Teacher, Most Distinguished Fellow in Research, both in 1998, and Most Outstanding Fellow in 2005, by the Philippine College of Chest Physicians.  Dr. Balgos is an active consultant/attending physician at the Makati Medical Center, and the Manila Doctors Hospital. From PGH, he has moved on to become the training officer of the Department of  Medicine at the Manila Doctors’ Hospital.  

Outside of PGH and the UP College of Medicine, Dr. Balgos has been tapped as speaker and/or consultant in fora, conventions, and working groups related to Pulmonary Physiology and Pulmonary Medicine both in the Philippines and in other countries. He is a Life Fellow of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP), past member and later chairman for 1 year of the Specialty Board, and currently a member of the Executive Board of PCCP.  He is currently the Vice President of the PCCP. In his term as President of the PCCP starting March 2010 to Feb 2011, the PCCP will host the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology’s Regional Chest Physicians’ Convention (Nov. 22-25, 2010).

Dr. Balgos was formerly a member of the Editorial Board of Respirology, the scientific journal of the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR). He is also a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), Philippine Chapter, of which he is a past  president, and past International Governor. Dr. Balgos is also a member of the American Thoracic Society and the European Respirology Society.

He was once head of the medical unit of the Fr. Louis Chauvet Foundation in St. Paul’s College Pasig, serving the medical needs of indigent patients from 4 economically depressed areas in Pasig. He has also been past president of the Capiznon sa Manila, a socio-civic organization of natives of Capiz now residing in Manila, which has been supporting surgical-dental missions, a scholarship program, and livelihood programs for indigent patients in Capiz.

The involvement of Dr. Balgos in tuberculosis (TB) control started when he became a member of the study group that carried out the CDC[1] and USAID[2]-funded research on Public-Private Mix Models DOTS (PPMD).  He headed the study on PPMD in a private hospital setting, done at the Manila Doctors’ Hospital (MDH).  After the CDC support, the MDH DOTS[3] clinic received assistance from the USAID through the Philippine Tuberculosis Initiative for the Private Sector (PhilTIPS).

The MDH DOTS Clinic has been in existence for the past 6 years now, and has been incorporated in the services being offered by the Industrial Medicine Department of MDH, with its own clinic space and staff.

Dr. Balgos also played an active role in the formulation of the private component of the Comprehensive Unified Policy on TB of the Department of Health and the Philippine Coalition Against TB (PhilCAT). He is also currently a consultant of the Gerry Roxas Foundation for the TB aspect in the implementation of the USAID-funded LEAD project for improvement of health care services in the local government level.

The most recent significant and current national activity of Dr. Balgos is his chairmanship of the Health Education Reform Order (HERO) program of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) which, in coordination with the Philippine Medical Association, Philippine Dental Association, and the Department of Education. In this program, lectures on health education to public school teachers, as well as annual medical and dental check-ups of elementary and high school students nationwide.

A Noble and Grand Project to Watch Out

While he is busy in the academe, as Associate Dean for Planning and Research at the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines-Manila, he has taken time to complete his Masteral Degree in Hospital administration, to help plan and implement his proposed hospital-hotel (hospitel) project in Roxas City.  He envisions to start construction of this hospital, to be name “The Health Centrum” by the first quarter of 2010, to be completed hopefully in 36 months.  Soon to follow is the retirement village project adjacent to the hospitel, and to the College of St. John (a La Salle University- supervised school).

[1]    United States Center for Disease Control

[2]United States Agency for International Development

[3]Direct Observed Treatment Short Course

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