Highlights from PAO 2016 Congress

by Vince Cabahug, MD


PASAY CITY- The Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology, Inc. (PAO) held the 2016 Annual Congress last November 24-26 at the Marriot Grand Ballroom. This yearly activity proves essential to every ophthalmologist, whether young or old, as new ideas are exchanged to maintain the standards of one’s general practice.

A day before the convention started, preparations were already made by various companies for their exhibits concerning the latest ophthalmic products and services, medical and operating room equipment and supplies, pharmaceuticals, and publications related to Ophthalmology. The highlights of “Day 0” however were the 30th Residents’ Research Paper Contest (RRPC) and the very 1st PAO-PSOPRS- Dr. Jorge G. Camara Memorial Clinicopathological Conference (CPC) Inter-hospital Competition. An Ocular Imaging Workshop was also hosted by the Vitreo-Retinal Society of the Philippines.

In the RRPC, entries were classified into technical, clinical and basic categories. In the technical paper category, Camille Elaine Zabala, MD (East Avenue Medical Center) won 1st place followed by Jaesser T. Tan, MD (University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center) at 2nd place and Kathleen Faye buyucan, MD (University of Santo Tomas Hospital) at 3rd place. In the clinical paper category, Michelle Marie S. Quinto, MD (Cardinal Santos Medical Center) won 1st place followed by Marianne Cena, MD (Philippine General Hospital) at 2nd place and Antonio Niccolo Agustin, MD (Philippine General Hospital) at 3rd place. Finally in the basic paper category, 1st place goes to Ronald Y. Tiu, MD (Rizal Medical Center) followed by Marie Rachel T. Macapagal, MD (St. Lukes Medical Center)​ for 2nd place and Leandro Gatchalian, MD (St. Lukes Medical Center)​ at 3rd place.

For the CPC Inter-hospital Competition, 14 hospitals battled it out during the elimination rounds. Only 3 hospitals made it to the Championship round namely, Makati Medical Center, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, and St Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC). SLMC representatives Drs. Jess Paningasan, Maynard Lazo and Jayjumhar Precia bagged the 1st place. Makati Medical Center came in 2nd and Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center at 3rd place.

The first day commenced with an opening ceremony where walls among three ballrooms lifted to merge as one grand venue. Dr. Sherman Valero, president of the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology (PAO), welcomed the delegates, looking back at the remarkable year of 2016 and looking forward to the undertakings ahead in 2017. Dr. Jessica Marie Abaño, PAO vice president and overall chair of the Committee on Continuing Education in Ophthalmology, formally opened the convention. Her foreword in the welcome video highlighted the spirit of coming together in the congress – “that our common interests as Filipinos are more important than our differences as individuals.”

Symposia were held featuring different subspecialties in Ophthalmology. Updates on knowledge and surgical skills were shared through lectures from international and local faculty. Prof Tin Aung from the Singapore National Eye Center gave the newest on Glaucoma – genetics and updates on clinical practice guidelines. Dr. Dan Milea from the Singapore National Eye Center, Dr. Carmen Chan from the Hong Kong Eye Hospital, and Dr. An-Gour Wang from Taipei Veterans General Hospital shared their clinical experience in Neuro-ophthalmology. Drs. Santosh Hanovar from India and Dr. David Verity from Moorfields Eye Hospital, UK, gave addresses in the orbit and oculoplasty symposia. The road to perfection in cataract and refractive surgery was paved by Dr. Han bor Fam from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore, Dr. Erik Mertens from Medipolis Eye Center, Belgium, and Dr. Ronal Yeoh from Singapore. Novel treatments on ocular surface disease were discussed by Prof Shigeru Kinoshita of Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine and Dr. Rajesh Folga of Apollo Hospitals India. Dr. Miho Sato extensively shared her life’s work studying and treating superior oblique palsy. Dr. Justine Smith of Finders University, Australia, gave practical tips on Uveitis. Dr. Ian Wong from the University of Hong Kong, Dr. Nikille Tan from Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Singapore, Dr. Paisan Ruamviboonsuk from Rajivthi Hospital, Thailand, Dr. Kenneth Fong from Sunway Medical Center, Malaysia, Dr. Iwan Sovani from Cicendo Eye Hospital, Indonesia and Dr. Stephen Teoh from Eagle Eye Center in Singapore all contributed to the exciting conversations in medical and surgical retina.

On the other side of the coin, the venue was like a holiday bazaar as prices for most ophthalmic equipment were lower than its standard cost. For the first time, the SLMC Eye Institute, headed by Ruben Lim Bon Siong, established their own booth for the early bird registration to the 4th International Eye Symposium, to be held at St. Luke’s Global City on August 26-27, 2017. The booth served as a venue where everyone can purchase the handbooks published by the St. Luke’s Eye Institute at a special convention price. The Handbooks on External Disease and Cornea, Glaucoma, and Optical Coherence Tomography are authored by Filipino consultants from the St. Luke’s Eye Institute to cater to the local EyeMDs and their patients.

The final day of the annual PAO convention culminated with a fellowship night with the theme “EYE MD’s GOT TALENT”. After two years of hiatus, training institutions such as the University of Santo Tomas Hospital (UST), East Avenue Medical Center DOH Eye Center, Philippine General Hospital (PGH), and SLMC showcased their talents in 5-minute presentations that were later critiqued by three judges, in true TV-show format. It was not surprising how the audience went wild, as there were a lot of cool dance moves, lively magic shows and colorful costumes displayed. East Avenue finally emerged victorious over 1 point from 2nd placer, PGH. SLMC came in close at 3rd place and finally, UST at 4th place. All the teams dedicated months of practice to these 5 minutes of fame. While certainly everyone was a winner by their own right, it was more than just a talent show but it was an opportunity for each of the participants to develop a much deeper aspect of teamwork and forging the bond burning within them proving to everyone that these EYE MD’s indeed got talent.

As what Dr. Jessica Marie R. Abano has mentioned, bridging gaps between research and clinical practice as well as government regulations and policies is essential in furthering progress in medicine. Moreover, strengthening our connections to both local and international organizations will promote further cooperation and collaboration. The PAO Annual Meeting is yet another success as these gaps continue to be addressed every year. New problems will continue to surface but solutions to such will just be a step ahead for every ophthalmologist.


Book signing of External Disease and Cornea Handbook with Dr. Ruben Lim Bon Siong

3rd place in RRPC Basic Category Dr. Leandro Gatchalian with Dr. Ruben Lim Bon Siong

2nd place in RRPC Basic Category. “Chee” Macapagal (center) with Dr. Kristine Corpus (left) and Dr. Pauline Santiago (right)


SLMC Eye Institute bagging 1st place in the very first CPC Inter-hospital Competition

Lunch symposium


Wide hallways of the Marriot Grand Ballroom offer a refreshing new venue for the PAO delegates



Clockwise from left: UST, EAMC, PGH and SLMC joined in the Eye MDs Got Talent during the Fellowship Night
Dr Rey Santos, chairman of the DOH Eye Center at East Avenue Medical Center and Dr. Ruben Lim Bon Siong, Head of the St. Luke’s Eye Institute were all game for the friendly competition

SLMC Eye Institute Booth




DOH Eye Center at the East Avenue Medical Center bagged the 1st Place with their Michael Jackson- inspired performance.
Photos courtesy of : Dr. Glenn Vincent Carandang

About The Author

Dr. Vince Cabahug is 1st year ophthalmology resident of St Luke’s Medical Center. He is a graduate of Cebu Doctors’ University. His parents, Dr. Vicente M. Cabahug and Dr. Jessica O. Cabahug are also practicing doctors.