Intensifying Professionalism

10 April 2013

Philippine Dental Association 104th Annual Convention & Scientific Meeting Opening Ceremonies
SMX Convention Center, Seashell Lane
Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay city


Dr. Fernando M. Fernandez, President-elect & General chairman of the Philippine Dental Association

Dr. Ma. Corazon Martin-abing, Chairperson of the invitation committee of this year’s convention

Officers, past president, members of the Philippine Dental Association

Exhibitors and suppliers

Guests from here and those coming from different parts of the world

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening to you all!

Thank you very much for having me here as your speaker at this very auspicious event of the Philippine Dental Association or PDA, which boasts of a membership of some thousands-strong dentists all over the country.

From my simple research from the records of the PDA, it made me smile when I found out that your organization has it on record that Dr. Renato Sison, Sr. was the youngest to be elected as the president of the association in PDA’s history.
I made special mention of past president Dr. Renato Sison, Sr., because he happens to be the father of Dr. Renato Sison, Jr., who is an amiable and hardworking doctor in the senate. Kilala itong batang Dr. Sison bilang doktor na pinupuntahang madalas ng mga staff ko at ng aking security sa tuwing sila ay hina-high blood dahil sa mga problema nila doon sa senado at sa kanilang mga mahal sa buhay!

In the senate, it is said that while the younger Dr. Sison controls high blood pressure, the senior Dr. Sison, controls “high plaque measure”. If the younger Dr. Sison treats sinusitis, the father treats “gingivitis”. If the son takes care of yellowing of the eyes because of liver ailment, the father takes care of the yellowing of the teeth.


Anyway, levity aside, it is truly inspiring for me to see everyone here representing the field of dental practice–a testament that the profession has grown bigger and better organized through the years. From the ancient times when barbers used to dominate the field of tooth-pulling, to those days of the crude and unhygienic practice of using our hands and pliers, and from the years of the “sacamuelas” or tooth-pullers–we now have properly trained dentists in the country bonded together in a unified and formal organization such as the PDA to ably “brace” and “straighten” the local dental practice to the right angle and direction.

This is opportune time also for us to recognize and thank as well as commemorate the life of Capitan Jose Arevalo or “Capitan Cheng Cheng”, who, I am told, is considered as the father of dental practice in the Philippines. Hailing from Quiapo, manila, Capitan Cheng Cheng is known to have carved for his patients replacement teeth from ivory. Sosyal pala si Cheng Cheng! But that must have been the time when ivory was still very affordable and readily available!

Scientific developments

I certainly welcome the gracious invitation of the PDA for me to speak at the organization’s annual convention, which also doubles as a scientific meeting and exhibition. Please indulge me when I say that I do not come here just to be a speaker representing the public sector, particularly our legislative branch of the government, but also as a simple but avid fan of science and modern technology. When it comes to science and technological wonders, I metamorphose into this wide-eyed and awestruck little boy smitten by the magical miracles brought to life by science.

Truly, I find that more excitement is brought to this event as it also provides us an opportunity to showcase the latest technological advancements in the field of dental practice from all over the world. The equipment we see exhibited today would surely make the old Capitan Cheng Cheng drool with envy.

We are indeed encouraged that our local dental practice has benefited as well from all these technological advancements here and abroad. We all remember that our local dental practice even from its heydays had been benefiting from foreign technical assistance. If we may all recall, our very own Capitan Cheng Cheng from Quiapo, manila had partnered with a French dentist from Hongkong, Dr. Mertri. Together, they formed a partnership that was destined to become the first professional partnership in the field of dental practice in the Philippines. The scientific know-how of Dr. Mertri and the “pustiso-making” abilities of Capitan Cheng Cheng were seen to have combined perfectly to formally start the dental profession in the Philippines.

It does not mean, however, that Filipino dental practitioners cannot possibly be the source of technological advancements and inventions in the field of dental practice. Throughout Philippine history, many Filipinos have gained international recognition for their inventions in different fields.

This is the reason why we have enacted the intellectual property code: in order to spur creativity and inventiveness. By this act, and through this event, our fellow Filipinos will not only be awestruck but also awe-inspired to create products, processes and inventions that can be protected as intellectual property rights. I am sure that you are all aware that our intellectual property office under the department of trade and industry is open to accommodate applications and assistance with respect to claims for protection of intellectual property rights in our country.

Professionalism and Ethics

Ladies and Gentlemen, as we talk of technological improvements and advancement in the field of dentistry, let us not forget that on the other side of all these so-called technological advancements in science, we have the dental profession’s oath of office and code of ethics to live by, as a way of hemming in and humanizing the seemingly limitless potential of the world of science.

Thus, we are all reminded by this year’s theme, no less, which is focused precisely on “intensifying professionalism.” This points out to the fact that we all have to protect the dental profession, so that it may not go astray from what it was envisioned to be–that is, a profession.

As a profession, it should stay as one consisting of a group of men and women learned in a common art or skill, likewise bounded and bonded by ethical standards, in the service of the community they are committed to serve. As it is neither a trade nor business, monetary consideration should only be secondary. In short, service to the community should be its paramount calling!

In addition, all of us should remain faithful and true to our oath of profession as well as to our Code of Ethics. The dental profession’s very own code of ethics defines “ethics” as a system of moral principles or values; or the rules or standards governing the conduct of members of the profession; or the accepted principles of right or wrong, and establishes the means of doing what is right, fair, and honest.

Thus, in spite of all the technological developments and growth in your beloved field those make the job easier and bring its quality notches higher, our moral principles should remain steadfast and strong.

Dapat palagi nating “isa-ngala-ngala”, este, isaalang-alang, at “isa-ngipin” at isapuso rin ang ating mga sinumpaang mga pangako sa ating propesyon! Nawa’y hindi magkanda-bungi-bungi at magsungki-sungki ang ating mga gawa at ating mga kilos sa ating propesyon bilang mga dentista!

What does this mean? In a nutshell, it means that this following old dental joke should go away, which talks of the patient who before the operation sought the assurance and comfort of his dentist by saying, “Doc, please be gentle, this is my first time to get my tooth pulled”–only to be answered wryly by the dentist: “don’t worry; this is also my first time to do this.”
Again, kidding aside, this means that stark achievements in science should always be reined in by our unflinching morals and principles, which have been developed through generations by our traditions, culture, and religious beliefs. And as applied to your dental professions, these advancements in science should be used to further the interests of the community and the public, who are their main clients, or to use a political parlance, their constituents. As an American writer has so well put it: “technological advance without social advance ironically results to even more human misery.”


I do not wish to further delay you all from the celebrations and activities of your convention. So may I ask you all to join me in formally opening the Philippine Dental Association’s Annual Convention and Scientific Meeting for 2013. Allow me to wish you all a productive and meaningful convention. Do not forget the good time as well, as we all marvel and behold the new technological wonders that have been introduced to dental profession as they are beautifully displayed in exhibits at this year’s event.

Finally, allow me to conclude that should you have any concerns or suggestions on how to improve the Philippine Dental Act of 2007 or Republic Act No. 9484, or any other matter worthy of legislative attention, please feel free to bring them to my attention in our Philippine Senate. Ang inyong lingkod ay bukas sa publiko upang bigyang-pansin ang mga hinaing at mga mungkahi ng taumbayan.

With my pearly white teeth as shown from my ear-to-ear smile, I congratulate everyone of you for this very well- organized event. Thank you very much for inviting me over. Thank you very much and a good evening to one and all!

Maraming maraming salamat at mabuhay po ang mga dentista ng sambayanang pilipino, mabuhay ang philippine dental association. Mabuhay tayong lahat!

Maraming salamat po.