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HISTORY: The Philippine Orthopaedic Association, Inc. (POA) was formerly known as the Philippine Society for Trauma and Orthopaedics. The first set of officers was inducted into office on December 11, 1949 at the Conference Room of the Philippine General Hospital. The officers were Drs. Jose V. Delos Santos as President, Ambrosio F. Tangco as Vice President, Augusto S. Besa as Secretary-Treasurer and Rodolfo Gonzales, Trustee. They were elected by a small group of practicing orthopaedic surgeons at that time. Dr. Janauario Estrada, Sr., then the President of the Philippine College of Surgeons (PCS), inducted them into office. Likewise, Drs. Basilio J. Valdes, Buenaventura J. Canto, Jr. and Benjamin V. Tamesis were inducted as fellows and members.


        This group of doctors thought of banding together as early as a year before when they all started to come back to the country after undergoing further training mostly in the United States and England. They got their interest in the specialty when they worked together towards the end of the Second World War when the US Army organized the PCAU (Philippine Civilian Affairs Unit) to take care of the civilian casualties of war, many of whom had traumatic injuries. Dr. Francisco Roman, a young Filipino army colonel headed the unit and Dr. Jose V. Delos Santos who already had training in Orthopaedics from Johns Hopkins Hospital and Germany even before the war joined Col. Roman. Others who also joined the PCAU were Drs. Benjamin V. Tamesis, Abelardo Inocentes and Antonio Gisbert. Because of the devastation of the Philippine General Hospital, Drs. Ambrosio Tangco, Augusto S. Besa, Buenaventura Canto, Jr., and Francisco Aguilar also joined in and helped in the treatment of patients. Soon, not only trauma patients were treated in the unit but also those with other musculo-skeletal afflictions like bone and joint tuberculosis and infections.


        After the pull out of the US Army, the PCAU I was disbanded and the civilian doctors continued their work despite meager resources. Some of the doctors returned to PGH and other hospitals. Still others sought further training in orthopaedics as government scholars and “ pensionados ”. Upon his return to the country in 1948, Dr. Tangco conceived the idea of banding together as a society. He, together with Drs. Delos Santos and Dr Gonzalez, prepared the constitution and by-laws of the emerging society. They also designed a logo for the society consisting of a triangle with a narra sapling tied to a stick to keep it straight. They saw this concept in front of the Manila City Hall . The triangle was to represent the three main islands of the country namely Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao . Dr. Tangco was not aware at that time that a tree tied to a splint was later to be widely used by other orthopedic associations as well as a universal symbol for orthopaedics.


        In the early years of the society, the association accepted radiologists, pathologists, plastic and trauma surgeons as members and they were classified as Associate Fellows. Later on as many trained orthopedic surgeons became fellows later on, the society was renamed the Philippine Orthopaedic Association in 1952 and the membership was restricted only to orthopedic surgeons. Two decades later in 1972, the Association sought formal and legal recognition when it was incorporated and was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Amongst its original incorporators were Drs. Rodolfo C. Dimayuga, the newly elected President of the Association, Manuel T. Rivera, Jose M. Pujalte, Benjamin V. Tamesis and Angel N. Poblete. According to its articles of Incorporation, the POA was formed to promote and maintain the high standards of the practice of orthopaedic surgery in the Philippines . It required applicants to the Association to have done at least 100 operations and 50 of which should be of varied cases. The Association also administered written, oral and practical examinations that the applicant has to pass.


        Also in 1972, the officers of the POA created an independent board to be named the Philippine Board of Orthopaedics (PBO) to accredit training institutions and individual applicants into the specialty. According to Dr. Dimayuga, this setup will put up the Association in its proper perspective. The PBO will take charge of the academic aspect while the POA will attend to other responsibilities pertaining to the operations of the Association and the welfare of the Fellows. Thus, the Philippine Board of Orthopaedics was incorporated and registered with the SEC on February 29, 1972 . The founding chairman was Rodolfo C. Dimayuga with Drs. Benjamin V. Tamesis, Antonio C. Acosta, Jose M. Pujalte and Manuel Rivera as trustees. At that time, there were only two institutions with orthopedic training programs, the National Orthopedic Hospital (NOH) and the Philippine General Hospital. Dr. Tamesis established the first residency training program in orthopedics at the NOH in August 1956. In June 1971, by virtue of a resolution of the UP Board of Regents, introduced by then UP Regent Dr. Ambrosio Tangco, the Department of Orthopedics was formally created at the UP-PGH and thus, opening another orthopedic residency training program.


        The POA officers and members, in keeping with the objective of the association, that is, to keep its members abreast with new trends in the specialty, held scientific meetings on a monthly basis and annual conventions in December of each year. Postgraduate courses were held every two years. The members of the POA lectured to general surgeons and held joint conferences with other specialties and even went to the provinces to give talks on musculo-skeletal conditions. Researches were made and the papers were published at the Acta Medica of the UP-PGH, The Proceedings of the NOH and The Philippine Journal of Surgical Specialties of the PCS.


        The Philippine Orthopaedic Association played important roles in the establishment of regional orthopedic associations in this part of the world. In 1962, a group of local and international orthopedic surgeons who were attending the 2nd Pan Pacific Rehabilitation Congress in Manila had a side meeting with the Association as host. These surgeons, realizing similarities and the need to share experiences, knowledge and problems, thought of organizing a regional association composed of orthopedic surgeons bordering the Pacific and Asia . Thus, the Western Pacific Orthopaedic Association (WPOA) was born. Two officers of the POA, namely Drs. Basilio J. Valdes and Catalino Jocson took an active role in the formation of the WPOA.


        Dr. Jocson's residence served as the venue for the organizational meetings. They elected Dr. Isaharu Miki as the first President and Dr. Jocson as Honorary Secretary General and Treasurer. The WPOA was renamed as the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association (APOA) in 2000 during the incumbency of Prof. Robert G. Bauze of Australia .


        In 1979, Dr. Jose M. Pujalte was invited to attend the annual congress of the Indonesian Orthopaedic Association. During the Congress, the idea of forming an ASEAN Orthopaedic Association composed of five national orthopedic associations of the Philippines , Indonesia , Malaysia , Singapore and Thailand was conceived. Dr. Pujalte was elected founding President and the by-laws was drafted a year later and the Inaugural Congress was held in Manila hosted by the POA in December of 1981.


        The period of the 80s brought forth a steady increase in the number of fellows in the association. The need therefore for additional fora of intellectual exchange was deemed necessary. Answering this call was the birth of the Philippine Journal of Orthopaedics, the maiden issue of which was published in December 1982. It served to inform, educate, and instill a sense of camaraderie amongst the fellows and friends of the Association. Its first editor-in-chief is Dr. Antonio A. Montalban. This growth in number was not limited to the fellows as a parallel increase of training residents was also noted. There was therefore a need to establish a forum of research presentations, thus giving rise to the First Residents' Research Forum on July 27, 1984 at the NOH. This activity is an annual event which the training residents look forward to in a friendly but competitive arena of research presentations.


        The POA Fellows started to look beyond Philippine shores and that of the regional associations. They started attending and representing the country in more international meetings. Beginning in the 1990's, the POA established formal ties with orthopedic associations abroad. Dr. Norberto Agcaoili as incoming president was invited and attended the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) meeting and soon Filipino surgeons found their way attending other meetings and becoming members of international organizations such as SICOT (Societe International de Chirurgae Orthopedic et Traumatologie), and EFORT (European Federation of Orthopedic Associations). Through the ASEAN, traveling fellowships were established that linked up the ASEAN to North America and Europe and this culminated in a joint meeting of the AOA-AOA or the American Orthopaedic Association and the ASEAN Orthopaedic Association in the spring of 1995 at Greenbrier, West Virginia.


        More training centers were put up even in the provinces and the examining arm of the POA, the Philippine Board of Orthopaedics accredited these centers. Thus, with the rapid growth of the membership, the clamor for the setting up of regional chapters soon followed. The first to be organized was the South Luzon chapter and later on, North Luzon and Visayas chapters. Mindanao soon followed composed mainly of surgeons based in Davao City .


        In February 1990, the Philippine Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (POSSM) was established as the first subspecialty society under the wings of the POA, which on its own accord indirectly strengthened the POA's global position with its interlinkages in the international community of sports medicine.


        A growing association brought about also its growing pains and thus a need for changes in the association's structural framework was recognized. On April 27-28, 1991 , the POA convened a Constitutional Convention to review its by-laws and adopt it to its present needs. Present during the convention were early pioneers like Dr. Ambrosio Tangco together with the past POA Presidents.


        For the past 50 years, the Association has grown to 4 regional chapters, 17 accredited training institutions and a little more than a 300 certified fellows spread all over the country, servicing the needs of the Filipino people for quality care of their musculo-skeletal afflictions. The POA has undertaken programs geared towards research, realizing that this would be the foundation of an effective orthopedic learning center for local surgeons especially in areas that are indigenous to the people and country. A National Trauma Registry was envisioned to provide a vital database from which rational treatment regimens can be adopted to meet specific concerns. The Association plans to embark on an expanded research council and foundation, with the end in view of producing globally presentable output that can be shared with the international community and which will redound to benefit our people.


        Last November 1999, the POA entered the international orthopedic arena, proud, head-high, as it hosted its 50th Congress together with the Western Pacific Association and the ASEAN Orthopaedic Association, knowing it has contributed its share in the orthopedic concerns of the country and the region in the past decades, and now looking forward to the next millennium…


        Recognizing the need for a regular publication to inform the fellows of the POA's activities and projects, the ORTHO BALITA was launched in March, 1999. As the official quarterly newsletter of the POA, it helped chronicle the POA's history and activities. Its first editor-in-chief is Dr. Rodolfo L. Nitollama.


        Fifty-five years after its founding, thirty-two years after it was incorporated. During the fifty-second year foundation and ten years after its first four regional chapters were created, the POA gave birth to its new baby, its fifth chapter in its history – The POA-Western Visayas chapter, borne out of the mother POA Visayas chapter was formally installed in fitting ceremonies on March 27, 2001. Last 2003, the newest chapter was born – The South Mindanao chapter. It covers the southern part of Mindanao, which came from the mother chapter the Mindanao Chapter. The chapter is now known as the North Mindanao Chapter and was incorporated in 2004 and hosted the POA 16th Midyear convention in Davao City.


        The POA has recently (2005) hosted the Silver Anniversary of the ASEAN Orthopaedic Association(AOA) combining it with the 56th POA Annual Convention where past presidents, their families and the Junior and Senior travelling Fellows from all over the five ASEAN countries (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines) submitted themselves to the delegation of this momentuous event. The POA has once again proved itself ready for this kind of event while showcasing the Filipino hospitality to every participant. This event also marked the acceptance of the Vietnam Orthopaedic Association as a new member of the AOA.


        The six POA regional chapters have been given the opportunity to host the midyear conventions, of which seventeen have been officially held. Aside from the POSSM, other subspecialty associations were soon formed and affiliated with the POA. These are: The Philippine Hip and Knee Society (PHKS); Philippine Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (POFAS); The Philippine Shoulder Society (PShS); Philippine Spine Society (PSS); Philippine Society for the Surgery of the Hand (PSSH); Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of the Philippines (POSP); Association for the Study and Application of the Methods of Ilizarov (ASAMI); Philippine Orthopaedic Trauma Society (POTS); and the Philippine Musculoskeletal Tumor Society (PMTS). To date, the POA has more than 450 registered fellows, and is very confident of fulfilling its mission to the Filipino nation.