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Healer, teacher, entrepreneur

Posted on October 04, 2012

Ronald P. Guzman
CEO, President and Founder
Medical Colleges of Northern Philippines


AS A YOUNG BOY growing up in rural Cagayan, Dr. Ronald P. Guzman, 67, saw firsthand the poverty and hardship that afflicted the people of Region 2. He dreamed of becoming a doctor to aid the poor in his community. In time, he became a healer, teacher and entrepreneur when he founded the Medical City Colleges of Northern Philippines.

Mr. Guzman earned his medical degree from the Far Eastern University in 1970 and placed 6th in the 1971 medical board examination. “Had we chosen to, my wife Wilma and I could have migrated to the United States. There was a world of opportunity waiting for us there. But knowing of the degree of suffering in my community here made me think twice. I realized I could better serve our people by staying. And to this day, I can never thank my wife enough for sharing my vision,� he shares.

Mr. Guzman believes in investing in solutions that benefit the people. With the assistance of a local Chinese businessman, he established the Holy Infant Clinic in Tuao, Cagayan in 1971. As community doctor, he relates how he would trek through fields and hills to make house calls when people were too sick to come to the clinic. Medical facilities in Cagayan were limited. He claims that he has never turned people away, even if they had no money to pay for treatment or if they happened to show up early in the morning.

To help patients manage their expenses, he built a very large kitchen for the clinic. Relatives of patients had the option of to cook their own food, bring their own linens and keep their own areas clean to down on hospital bills. All he charged was his professional fee of P2.50.

He eventually founded Holy Infant Hospital in 1980 and the Dr. Ronald P. Guzman Medical Center in 1981, both in Tuguegarao City. His focus on providing medical assistance shifted somewhat, however, when he perceived that there was an increasing demand for physical therapy around the world. Since no schools in the area could offer this course, he and his wife decided to put up the Medical Colleges of Northern Philippines (MCNP) in 1994, with an initial enrolment of 450 students. He knew that education was the true key to alleviating poverty and enabling social transformation.

To increase enrolment and attract students, he offered discounted fees for the children of teachers, health workers, soldiers and government personnel. To encourage students to excel, he also gave free tuition and refunds for honor students. Most significantly perhaps, the school gave free education to orphans, including school fees, room and board, uniforms, allowances and even assistance with the board exams. He claims that 33% of the student population are orphans, and that the school has graduated 1,337 orphans since it opened.

MCNP is a non-stock, non-profit school with all revenues used to improve the institution. This ensures that MCNP has the equipment, educators and facilities to provide quality education and care for the students. Mr. Guzman relates that he invests in property, which he registers under MCNP. One example is a 50-hectare farmland used to grow rice which is then served for free in the school canteens. Another is a dormitory in Manila for the use of students who are undergoing on-the-job training. “Margins are low for operations, but, as an organization dedicated to serving the poor, small profits are enough so long as MCNP and our hospitals can help the underprivileged,� Mr. Guzman says.

Currently, Mr. Guzman is working on gaining university status for MCNP and his second school, the International School of Asia and the Pacific (ISAP). He is planning to offer courses on BS Radiologic Technology and Midwifery, as well as establish campuses and medical facilities in other parts of the country.

As a survivor of stage 4 cancer, Mr. Guzman wanted to share his blessings and invested in an Oncologic Ambulatory Care Center, as well as a Dialysis Center to provide affordable treatments for nearby patients. Both are slated to open by the end of 2012.

Mr. Guzman works actively to help uplift the poor, by driving various initiatives such as a community-organizing program that transfers health-related knowledge and technology to depressed, deprived and underserved communities. Through this program, MCNP has established two self-reliant communities, with three more underway. He also hosts the Health, Education, Legal Assistance and Poverty Alleviation (H.E.L.P.) Program which airs three times a week on local radio.

For his efforts to alleviate poverty, Mr. Guzman has won the Ozanam award from the Ateneo de Manila University and awards and citations from organizations such as the Philippine Hospital Association and Rotary clubs. MCNP and ISAP are also accredited with the Commission on Higher Education’s Institutional Quality Assurance Monitoring and Evaluation. PhilHealth also recognizes the Holy Infant Hospital as a Center of Excellence for secondary hospitals, and DRPGMC as a Center for Excellence for tertiary hospitals.

The sprightly doctor seems to have no plans of stopping. “It is said that God must love the poor so much that he created so many of them. Well, as long as there are people in need I will continue to do what I am doing,� he avows. He also advises aspiring entrepreneurs, “Never be threatened by the sheer number of entrepreneurs out there. Be thankful that there are people who share your passion and use this to your advantage by learning as much as you can from those you meet. After all, the more, the merrier!�

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc. with the De La Salle University, Department of Trade and Industry, Development Bank of the Philippines, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Philippine Stock Exchange and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship as co-presenters this year. BusinessWorld is featuring each of this year’s finalists.

The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2012 will be announced on Oct. 18, 2012 in an awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in June 2013. The Entrepreneur Of The Year is produced globally by Ernst & Young.