June 23, 2024

Dear Doctor,
I was one of your former students at the Saint Louis University College of Medicine. You just came back from your training at the Philippine Heart Center and as second year students, we were eager to learn about the workings of the heart. I was a medical clerk when you helped set up the ICU of the hospital –ideal for patients and resident trainees.
As we bade farewell, I witnessed the outpouring of love and admiration for you. And it was surprising, because the display of affection was something I do not witness during medical conferences, rounds, and other medical interactions,
Looking back, should we have been more open in telling you that we loved and admired you as our teacher, while you could still feel it, while you could still feel the warmth in your heart? But maybe it had to be that way – professional distance had to be maintained. You were the strict teacher, and we were the students/trainees.
More often than not, we were afraid to approach you. Yet beneath that strict stance and the blunt corrective statements was a teacher who only had high expectations from his/her students, trainees, and colleagues. You expected us to read, to correlate, and even if you did not say it, you wanted your student or trainee to do his best.
You were nicknamed “Nasty” or “Nastie”, and you really seemed to live to it. Most students feared you, avoided interacting with you. You were quick to say what you wanted, quick to correct anyone. Could we have separated the stern teacher from the benevolent and generous person we came to know about as we listened to the tributes during your wake? Not so easily. It was surprising that your demise uncovered the love, respect, and admiration for you. I felt sad because you no longer could feel it.
I may have grown sentimental, as part of the aging process. But I am thankful that I reached this age to be a retired student myself, to have the chance to look back and see who among my teachers created an impact in my life. Thank you for the lessons on cardiac hemodynamics. Thank you for choosing to teach in Baguio City when, as an exemplary graduate of a major school in Manila, you could have had a successful practice in that big city or elsewhere.
I had a rare chance to work with you. When you were president of the Baguio-Benguet Medical Society, board meetings were held – rain or shine – as scheduled. I remember that rainy night when we had a meeting at the Red Cross office along Harrison Road from 7 to 9 p.m. – no food, no drinks were served (our austerity measure I guess) but we did have fruitful discussions especially on how to raise funds for the medical society and increase its meager funds. We had successful fun runs and other activities.
Once again let me tell you we love you, we respect you, and we will miss you. As one colleague said, the SLU Hospital of the Sacred Heart Department of Medicine will never be the same again without you. You were a very good teacher, an excellent one. You had an impact on your trainees’ lives, and lots of messages of love and admiration. The title of the song in the tribute was “Did you ever know you are my hero?”
Dear Sir, I wish you knew. For it could have lifted and cheered you up during those moments when the daily humdrums of a doctor and teacher’s weary life needed encouragement and upliftment. The powerful words of this lovely song could have warmed your heart immensely and could have made you happy.
Rest in peace, Dr. Anastacio Rimando Aquino, sir. You will surely be missed. Pray for us as we continue a battle against a pandemic we all never saw before. It is truly challenging.
P.S.: Thank you for the figurine of the Holy Family that you gave me one Christmas. I will set it up with its lighting system again this year.

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