2017 PAO Midyear Meeting in Iloilo City

By Dr. Karen Francia

"Seeing Eye to Eye: Ideas to Innovations"

The 2017 Midyear Meeting of the Philippine Academy of  Ophthalmology, held on April 19, 20 and 21 at Diversion 21 Hotel in Iloilo City, was attended by nearly 400 delegates from all over the country. Thirteen long years have passed since the Western Visayas Chapter hosted a PAO Midyear Meeting, doing “rural Western Visayas” in Boracay in 2004.  This year, with the vibrant city of Iloilo as the setting, it was time for “urbanized Western Visayas” to shine!  The Chapter members all pitched in to showcase how beautifully Iloilo has grown, welcoming our guests with the best of Visayan hospitality and cuisine.

On Day 0, April 19, there were over 100 attendees at the very first Ophthalmic Support Staff Course held outside Metro Manila.  Originally envisioned as a simple gathering for local Ophthalmologists’ clinic staff, it eventually turned out to be a well-attended whole-day course with all slots filled!  Attendees ranged from clinic secretaries to nurses from the district hospitals, as well as OR nurses from private hospitals (there were even attendees from Surigao!)

Also on Day 0, the Philippine Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PSOPRS) kicked off their 25th foundation anniversary by performing orbit and plastic cases on indigent patients at the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC). The WVMC Department of Ophthalmology is deeply grateful to the PSOPRS for sharing their time and expertise with the Residents and the patients who needed their care.
That evening saw our delegates at the Welcome Dinner held at the Casa Real de Iloilo, formerly the provincial capitol building.  Established in 1901 and declared a National Historic Site in 2010, the Casa Real gave guests a glimpse of  Iloilo in its early Spanish colonial period.  Fittingly, the dinner menu included Paella, Gambas al ajillo and Beef Salpicao.  

On April 20, Thursday, Day 1 of the Midyear Meeting began at 9:30 am with the Opening Ceremonies in Ann Margaret Ballroom of Diversion 21 Hotel.  This was immediately followed by the Ribbon-Cutting and Opening of the Exhibits.  

After a morning snack of warm Pancit Molo, the PSOPRS hosted the Orbit-Oculoplasty session, entitled “Oculoplasty 101”; The lectures were geared for the Comprehensive Ophthalmologist who may not have a PSOPRS fellow to refer to in his area of practice. This was held in the ballroom while a satellite meeting on Progressive Lenses was held in a smaller Function Room.  In the afternoon, the local favorite that was featured during Merienda Break was  “Roberto’s” Queen Siopao.  The last session of the day was organized by the Vitreo-Retina Society of the Philippines; the session echoed the popular Retina Imaging Course that was first held at the 2016 Annual Meeting.

By 5:30pm, delegates boarded several buses to the much-awaited Fellowship Night at the beachfront of Breakthrough Restaurant.  Guests were greeted by Dinagyang warriors, tables on the sand, and a view of Guimaras island and the sunset.  In true Ilonggo tradition, the buffet tables were loaded with oysters, scallops, shrimp and blue marlin, aside from the lechon and roast beef.  Entertainment was provided by performances of Dinagyang dancers, topped off by fireworks.  Guests were then free to dance the night away to live music provided by Ritmo Tambores.  With flowing food and beer for over 400 guests,  it was an evening to remember for the EyeMD’s, industry sponsors, and family and friends.

On Day 2, April 21, Friday morning, the interactive Phaco and MSICS Video Conferences, as well as the Cataract and IOL sessions, were well-attended inspite of the hangover from the Fellowship Night.  Some delegates even requested the speakers to share additional videos over the Merienda break of  Netong’s LaPaz Batchoy.  For the convenience of our guests, a “Pasalubong Center” was set up at one of the hotel Function Rooms. This gathered popular Ilonggo delicacies and souvenirs like Hablon and Sinamay, Guimaras mangoes (which  sold like hotcakes), Biscocho Haus, and Panaderia de Molo.
The afternoon saw the Pediatric Ophthalmology and Neuro-Ophthalmology sessions.  

In keeping with theme of “Ideas to Innovations”, the final session for the Midyear Meeting was appropriately entitled “Looking to the Future”.  It started with an interesting talk on how to get started with Electronic Medical Records, and ended with a lively panel discussion entitled “Ophthalmology 2020AD:  What’s in Store for our Practice”.  The session gathered key-opinion-leaders in a talk-show format where they discussed which IOLs and Phaco technology might be the norm in the next 5-10 years.
It was a fitting “Finale” to a great meeting!!   

About The Author

Dr. Karen Francia is a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas College of Medicine and the Santo Tomas University Hospital residency training program. She is passionate about teaching Phacoemulsification surgery, and enjoys creating flower arrangements on weekends. She would love to go back to painting in the near future.