Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Tadashi Hattori sat down with Filipino doctors for a dialogue “The Spirit of Volunteerism and Selfless Service: A Special Roundtable Dialogue with Dr. Tadashi Hattori” last June 6, 2023, at the Ramon Magsaysay Center, organized by the Ramon Magsaysay Transformative Leadership Institute (RMTLI).
The 2-hour dialogue between Hattori and Filipino healthcare professionals became an avenue where the parties shared ideas, resources, and best practices in order to ensure better patient outcomes and to draw hope and inspiration from like-minded people. Joining Dr. Hattori as discussants were Dr. Adel Samson of the University of Santo Tomas Hospital (USTH) and Dr. Lester Suntay of the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, Inc. (FOLPMI). The dialogue had a diverse audience ranging from seasoned physicians to aspiring medical students and interns from the medical field.
“We at the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation are dreaming big dreams. We envision the Ramon Magsaysay Center to be a place where people can draw insights and hope by connecting with Magsaysay Laureates and other thought leaders in Asia to inspire them to do greater action,” shared RMAF President Susan B. Afan.
Dr. Tadashi Hattori, often referred to as “the man with the golden hands,” received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2022 for “his simple humanity and extraordinary generosity as a person and a professional; his skill and compassion in restoring the gift of sight to tens of thousands of people not his own; and the inspiration he has given, by his shining example, that one person can make a difference in helping kindness flourish in the world.” Currently, Dr. Hattori is the Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Prevention of Blindness Association (APBA), an organization that helps train doctors, supports hospitals, and does free eye surgeries. To date, APBA has helped more than 20,000 people with cataracts and vitrectomy in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Laos.
When asked about the benefits of medical volunteerism on their personal lives, Dr. Hattori shared that “It’s when I see the people I’ve helped get their vision back. That gives me happiness. I never ask for money. The happiness of the patient, it’s the best.” While Dr. Samson says that every patient encounter is a different experience, he also agrees with Dr. Hattori. “It's a gift. It's really a gift from above,” Dr. Samson shared.
More than the fulfillment of experiencing a grateful patient, Dr. Suntay shared that gaining new friends as a doctor is what makes him happy during a medical mission. “Sad to say but the intentions of some people in the healthcare sector are just purely monetary. But joining medical missions with people who share your heart and mind of service creates friendships with all parties involved that last forever. That is the unexpected benefit of volunteer service.”
As the Ramon Magsaysay Award celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, the Foundation has a number of dialogues and workshops that will foster collaborations between the Magsaysay Laureates and leaders across Asia. In the pipeline are dialogues focusing on microfinance, faith-based lending, women empowerment, and youth leadership development. For more information on the Ramon Magsaysay Award and its programs, please visit www.rmaward.asia.