February 5, 2022
We’ve ushered out 2021, welcomed in 2022, and have smoothly slipped into February and the third year of our global pandemic like feet breaking into a new pair of shoes. The interesting times and circumstances that have blown through and around us have forced jarring periods of introspection that have led to unbidden, unexpected, possibly unwanted, but nevertheless enlightening, changes to our paradigms, perspectives, and daily routines, significantly impacting our personal and professional lives.
At the cusp of graduating from my psychiatry residency program 16 years ago, I was asked to write an op-ed article for our website reflecting on my experiences as a Filipino international medical graduate (IMG) in psychiatric residency training. The article was entitled “Baptism by Fire.” This title also feels relevant to the context in which I have entered into my current responsibilities as president of the PPA, for which I am gratefully humbled and honored. I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of giants as 47 years of our group’s vision, goals, achievements, challenges, and collective spirit weigh in on every decision, plan, and project aimed for the year, as well as groundwork laid for the distant future.
My debut article’s title also reflects the environment into which our organization enters the new year. We certainly would not be approaching our golden jubilee in 2025 without the invaluable and selfless time, effort, and bayanihan spirit of our members, mentors, colleagues and friends. We continue to make history as the only unifying organization of Filipino and Filipino American psychiatrists in the North American continent, striving to not only foster each other’s professional growth, but also help advance cultural psychoeducation, advocacy and representation efforts toward the elimination of mental healthcare disparities in the American and Canadian Filipino diaspora. The PPA has also made contributions to educational and clinical mental health programs in the Philippines. Our most recent achievements include successfully launching our first virtual Annual Meeting last year and the promotion of our immediate past president, Dr. Loida Reyes, M.D., to a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Several of our past officers continue to serve as Assembly members for the APA as well.
We have updated our website and now have an active Facebook group and page. Please feel free to join us in those virtual spaces to get to know our organization better, participate in discussions about our cause and its current status, as well as to air out your ideas on ongoing and future projects, collaborations, educational opportunities, and featured writing. Our current Secretary-Treasurer, Dr. Jean Salcedo-McDonald, our Board of Advisors, and I are all focusing our efforts on tightening and improving our organizational identity, vision, and mission, as well as expanding our online presence, resources, internal structure, and avenues of communication. I would like to encourage all Members to update your contact information through our Contact page and to renew your membership.
We look forward to meeting and getting to know all of you better at our Annual Meeting on May 22, 2022 (Sunday), from 1 to 3 PM at the APA’s Annual Meeting in jazzy New Orleans. It will be our first ever hybrid (in person and virtual) Annual Meeting. Our highly-esteemed keynote speaker, Dr. Francis Sanchez, MD, will be discussing the current status of Filipino-American mental health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will also be welcoming delegates from the Philippine Psychiatric Association, as well as new members.
I cannot express my gratitude enough for all of your support, hard work, and commitment to our vocation and organization. May the fires that feed our passion, motivation, enthusiasm, courage and dedication never wane and continue to spread and grow. May we always be a source of strength and inspiration for each other. Please do not hesitate to contact me, Dr. Salcedo-McDonald, or any of our Advisors for any questions, concerns or suggestions.
Katherine M. Napalinga, MD