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President: Dr Janis Ann F. Espino-de Vera 
VP: Dr Anne Kathleen B. Ganal-Antonio
Secretary: Dr Marie Jeanne L. Bertol 
Treasurer: Dr Pamela Ann C. Ah 
Ex-officio: Dr Emilia H. Tanchuling


Agdeppa, Lynn Sarah A.
Aguilar, Julyn A.
Akol, Judith Valerie M.
Apalisoc, Angeli Charmeinn P.
Belen, Ma. Adelwisa G.
Cabling, Virginia C.
De Peralta, Maria Josephine B.
De Vera, Consuelo Amparo G.
Decenteceo-Ricardo, Ana Cristina D.
Detoyato, Lucille D.
Evangelista, Rowena Helena A.
Flores, Rosalyn P.
Gabriel, Giselle Marie Noelle  T.
Gamboa, Ai E.
Ganal-Antonio, Anne Kathleen B.
Garcia, Joyce G.
Handog, Precious Grace B.
Jose, Ma. Lilia Monina P.
Lim, Candice Elaine C.
Lopez-Oliva, Clarissa Linda L.
Mendoza-Torres, Romina V.
Miranda, Joyce Franseca C.
Pangilinan-Docena, Dyan F.
Reyes, Ma. Ramona B.
Saligumba, Yehlen Francis R.
Santos, Ameena Tara X.
Sta. Ana-Famador, Ana Rosario Merceditas P.
Tacata, Ida S.


Ever wondered how and why the Philippine Society of Women Orthopedic Surgeons Inc. (PSoWOSI – pronounced as “so-wo-si” with a silent “P” like psoas) came about? Did it just happen after a group of Filipina Orthopods (who had nothing better to do on a Friday evening) went for a night out and thought of forming a sisterhood of some sort? Or was it something that had been brewing for a while, just waiting for the perfect time to happen? Have you also ever wondered how many Filipina Orthopods there have been, who they are, and especially who these women behind PSoWOSI were? Read on to find out...

The Philippine Orthopaedic Association inducted the first female orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Teresita Altre, as Fellow in 1976. She was also the first Female Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist in the Philippines. Ten years later, she became the first Lady President of the POA, making her the First Female Orthopaedic President of a National Society in the World. Dr. Altre was also the first Lady Member and Chairman of the Philippine Board of Orthopedics (PBO) in 1994 and 1998, Past President of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of the Philippines (2000-2010), and Past President of PSoWOSI (2014-2018). Aside from these, she has also become either Chief of the Section of Pediatric Orthopedics or the Department of Orthopedics of the following institutions: Philippine Orthopedic Center (1980-2007), Dr. Fe Del Mundo Medical Center (1982-2005), the Philippine Band of Mercy (2015-present) and the University of Santo Tomas Hospital (1999-2002, 2016-present). She also retired as an Associate Professor of the University of Santo Tomas-Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (UST-FMS). Just recently, she received the Philippine College of Surgeons’ distinction as a “Legend of the Knife”, in recognition of her outstanding achievements and significant contributions to the College, the community, and Philippine Surgery.

The second female orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ida Tacata, a hand specialist, was inducted in 1983. For 5 years during the 1990’s she was the Hand Section Chief of the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) Department of Orthopedics. She was also Past President of the Association of Hand Surgeons of the Philippines (2004-2006) and is an International Member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (1996-present). 

The first female spine surgeon is Dr. Leah Carreon. She is now the Clinical Research Director at the Spine Institute PSC in Louisville, Kentucky.

Dr. Julyn Aguilar, also a Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon, was inducted in 1993 and became the POA President in 2016. She was a PBO Board of Trustee (2019-2022) and Chief of the Section of Pediatric Orthopedics in St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Dr. Emilia Tanchuling, also inducted in 1993, was the first female Bone and Joint and Shoulder Surgery specialist, who became the Past President of the Philippine Shoulder Society and Past President of PSoWOSI (2018-2020).

Dr. Virginia Cabling, who was inducted in 1994, became Past President of the POA North Luzon Chapter (2004), Past POA Board of Trustee (2009-2015), POA President in 2015, Board of Trustee of PSoWOSI (2014-2018), and member of the Asia Pacific Orthopedic Association (APOA) Philippine Council (2010-2013).

After Dr. Cabling, there were at least 5 female POA fellows inducted per year. The female Orthopods also started doing fellowship trainings abroad for the different Orthopedic subspecialties... 

Dr. Judith Valerie Akol and Dr. Marie Jeanne Bertol were the first two female Musculoskeletal Tumor specialists. Dr. Akol was also Past President of the POA-Central and Eastern Visayas Chapter (2010-2012), Past President of the Philippine Musculoskeletal Tumor Society (PMTS) (2013-2014), Past Trustee of the PBO (2013-2017), and Past Chairman of the PBO (2017). She is the current Training officer of the Department of Orthopedics of Chong Hua Hospital (2020-present).
Dr. Bertol is the incoming President and current Vice President of the PMTS, and Secretary of the San Juan Medical Society and Board of Trustee of PSoWOSI (2014 – present).

I finished my fellowship training in Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy in 2010 and was inducted as the first Female Philippine Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (POSSM) President in 2016. I became Board of Trustee of PSoWOSI (2014-2022), and subsequently became the third President of PSoWOSI (2020-2022). I am currently the Head of the Sports Section of the Department of Orthopaedics of Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center. I am a member of the panel of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Medical and Doping Control Officers since 2017, but in 2020, I joined the AFC history books by becoming one of the first women Medical Officers to be appointed in an AFC men’s club championship competition.

The first female AO Trained Pelvic Trauma Specialist is Dr. Maria Adelwisa Belen. She is currently the AOTrauma Philippines Community Development Officer and Research Officer, Board of Trustee of the PBO (2019-Present), an auditor of the Philippine Orthopedic Trauma Society, and the Trauma Section Head of St Luke’s Medical Center (Global City: 2014-present; Quezon City: 2021-present).

The first female Joint Arthroplasty Fellowship Trained specialist is Dr Joyce Garcia.

The first two female Foot and Ankle Specialists are Dr. Ana Cristina Decenteceo and Dr. Ai Gamboa.

It is also worth mentioning that there were 4 brave Filipinas who joined the Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders: Dr. Marie Jeanne Bertol joined MSF in 2010. She has been to Nigeria, Haiti, Kunduz in Afghanistan, and Masisi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr Lynn Sarah Agdeppa also joined MSF in 2010. She has gone to several missions in Haiti, Libya, Afghanistan, Guiuan in Eastern Samar, and the Gaza Strip. Dr. Rowena Helena Evangelista joined MSF in 2011 and has been deployed to Kunduz, Afghanistan and Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Dr. Maria Adelwisa Belen joined MSF in 2014 and was deployed to Kunduz, Afghanistan. Incidentally, Drs. Bertol, Evangelista and Belen are also volunteers for Remote Area Medical, where they go to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas to take part in medical missions.

Other notable Filipina Orthopedic surgeons are the following:

Dr. Anne Kathleen Ganal-Antonio is one of the Board of Trustees of the POA and the Philippine Spine Society. She has been BOT (since 2014), current VP (2020-2022), and the Incoming President (2022-2024) of PSoWOSI. She is also the Section Head of Orthopedic Spine Surgery at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, and an Assistant Professor of the Membership Subcommittee of APSS.

Dr. Geneva Khu was a PBO Board of Trustee (2022).

Dr. Lucille Detoyato was Past President of the POA Western Visayas Chapter (2014-2015), a past member of the PBO Board of Trustees (2015-2017), Past Head of Exam Committee of the PBO (2017-2018), Past Vice-Chairman of the PBO (2018), and is the current Training Officer of Western Visayas Medical Center (2021-present).

Dr. Romina Mendoza-Torres is the Hand Section Chief of the East Avenue Medical Center Department of Orthopaedics (2010’s-2022) and is also currently the Training Officer of the same institution (2018-present).

Dr. Joyce Francesca Miranda-Caparas is currently the Medical Director (2019-2022) and Chairman of the Emergency Department (2016-2017 and July 2022-present) of Metro Antipolo Hospital and Medical Center. She is also the Chairman of the  Disaster Committee of Antipolo City Medical Society (2021-present) and the President of Rizal Doctors Hospital and Medical Center, Inc. She is also the Chairman of the Emergency Department of Ortigas Hospital and Healthcare Center (OHCC) (2018-2021), Chairman of the Infection Prevention and Control Committee of OHCC (2022-present), and Chairman of the Hospital Information Management Section of the same institution (2022-present). She is also one of the Founders of Metro Antipolo Hospital and Medical Center, Binangonan Lakeview Hospital, Ortigas Hospital and Medical Center, and Rizal Doctors Hospital and Medical Center. Apart from these, she is also an Assistant Professor of the College of Medicine of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).

Dr. Candice Lim is the Secretary of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of the Philippines (2016-present), Training Officer of The Medical City (2022-present), and Chairman of the Department of Surgery and ORMAC Head of Pasig City Children's Hospital - Child’s Hope (2020-present).

Dr. Rosalyn Flores was an AAOS International Surgical Skills Scholarship Recipient in 2016. She is the Training and Support Supervision Head of the Philippine National Clubfoot Program (2018-present), Medical Adviser of the Philippine Clubfoot Resource Center (2016-present), and Training Consultant of Miracle Feet (2019-present). She served as PRO (2019-2021) and Treasurer (2021-present) of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of the Philippines, and PRO of the Association for the Study and Application of the Methods of Ilizarov-Philippines (2019-present). She is also an Assistant Professor in the University of Santo Tomas-Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (UST-FMS).

Dr. Gracia Cielo Balce is Chief of the Ilizarov Section of UP-PGH (2013-present) and current Resident Training officer of the same institution (2019-present) as well as the current Vice President of ASAMI (2019-present).

Dr. Ma. Lilia Monina Jose served as Secretary of the PMTS (2012-2014) and PRO of the POA-North Luzon Chapter (2017). She also headed the East Avenue Medical Center and The Medical City Clark-Orthopedic Oncology Section. Aside from these, she has also conquered 6 Full Marathons, 9 Half Ironman Distance Triathlons and 2 Full Ironman Distance Triathlons. She has had several podium finishes during her Triathlon career (Aboitiz Tri Pico De Loro 2015 - Age Group 3rd place; Bulacan Tourism Duathlon 2015 - Age Group 1st place; SBR series Triman Clark 2015 - Age Group 3rd place, 2017 - Age Group 2nd place; TeamBro Aquathlon 2018 - Age Group 1st place; and Pilipinas Duathlon series 2019 - Age Group 2nd place).

Now if these ladies have not yet amazed you, I don’t know what will....

In 2013, Ortho Women on the rise explained the reason behind PSoWOSI’s inception. As Dr. Altre saw the increase in number of female POA fellows being inducted, the younger generations subspecializing in all the other orthopedic subspecialties, plus having Drs. Aguilar and Cabling being elected POA Presidents, she began to think of a possible women Orthopedic Society. This thought was inspired by the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society. 

In 2014, since the number of female orthopedic surgeons reached almost 30, and the number of female Orthopaedic residents reached almost the same number as the female fellows, Dr. Altre said, “It was time...” We now have the number to form a society with the objectives of supporting the POA's mission and vision and addressing the concerns of women and women's musculoskeletal health concerns. We were met by raised eyebrows from our male colleagues. “Can these not be addressed by men as well?” is what they said when they learned we were forming this group. However, we have our own concerns – our goal is not to transform women into a replica of our male orthopedic surgeons. We have a different mindset and a different chemistry that needs to be developed. We have to think of our interpersonal relationships. We change depending on the situation... So, she started calling women Orthopods and we held our first Board Meeting in August 2014. The Officers were elected in October 2014 and the first set of Officers inducted in Cebu on November 28, 2014, were the following: Dr. Teresita Altre (President), Dr. Emilia Tanchuling (Vice President), Dr. Janis Ann Espino-de Vera (Secretary), Dr. Pamela Ah (Treasurer), and Board of Trustees Dr. Virginia Cabling, Dr. Anne Kathleen Ganal-Antonio, and Dr. Ma. Lilia Monina Jose.

The First Annual Members Meeting was held in Cebu in 2014. The Second Annual Members Meeting was held in Manila in 2015. The first Annual General Assembly entitled Ortho Women on the Rise was held on August 13, 2016. In this Assembly, we talked about Pain Management in the Orthopaedic Setting and Women Empowerment, both lectures given by women highly respected in their fields. This activity aimed to help the Society in achieving one of our goals which is to promote and advance musculoskeletal health and Orthopaedic surgery, including, but not limited to, female gender-related musculoskeletal issues and peculiarities; as well as enhance camaraderie among the members and promote the welfare of female Orthopaedic surgeons practicing in the country.

On July 1, 2017, PSoWOSI held its first outreach program: an Osteoporosis Bone Screening in San Isidro Labrador Parish in Las Piñas. Later that year, we held our first Instructional Course Lectures during the 68th Annual POA Congress. 

The following year, we held another outreach program in Quezon City. During the 69th POA Annual Congress, we were again given a session. Because of the success of our previous Osteoporosis Screening, we did it again in 2019, this time now including a Chair Yoga session for our participants, which was a huge hit! 

In 2020, the pandemic reached the country. We wanted to hold activities for the Society; however, restrictions were in place, so the society decided instead to gather funds and donate PPEs to our colleagues and hospitals in need. We were able to donate to our friends in Luzon and Mindanao. In keeping with the online nature of learning activities, we organized 2 webinars in 2020 and 2 more in 2021. For 2022, we had a session during the 73rd Annual POA Congress and showcased the “Giting at Galing” of our Female Orthopods. 

On a side note, in 2021, members of the Asia Pacific Orthopedic Association (APOA) founded a Women’s Advocacy Section. WAVES (Women of APOA AdVocate Educate Support) is a Section of the APOA formed in order to support and advocate for women in Orthopaedics as well as to increase the awareness and improve the management of Orthopaedic Conditions affecting women in the community. The Women Orthopods of WAVES aim to create a supportive network of female orthopaedic surgeons and male champions of change to advocate for and work with each other to improve diversity, inclusivity, and working conditions of female orthopaedic surgeons in Asia Pacific countries. APOA WAVES was then formally launched in January of 2022.

On November 24-26, 2022, the APOA 22nd Biennial Congress was hosted by the POA. Incidentally, APOA was conceptualized in 1962 in the Philippines as the Western Pacific Orthopedic Association, with its first President being a Filipino, Dr. Catalino Jocson. It was then renamed APOA in 2000, and this year marks APOA’s 60th Anniversary. It is fitting that the Philippines served as host for this year’s congress with the following theme: “60th APOA in Manila: Trailblazing Orthopedics Amidst Synergy and Diversity”, as it was also the first congress with the APOA WAVES Section. PSoWOSI was given the chance to help organize the first Scientific Session of WAVES during the APOA Congress. Of course, we chose pioneering ladies and trailblazers from the Asia Pacific Region as well as from the United States, to be our speakers and panelists for our session, and I can say that it was indeed an honor that PSoWOSI was given this privilege! 

To date, there are 73 Female Fellows inducted in the Philippine Orthopaedic Association. Presently, PSoWOSI is on its 8th year and now has 52 Fellows as members of the society...

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Philippine Society of Women Orthopedic Surgeons, Inc. Filipinas are not just firsts in achievements. We also have pursuits outside of orthopedics – we have numerous talents, engage in different sports, and have several hobbies. We are great mothers, wonderful sisters, amazing wives, and loyal friends. We are teachers and role models. We showcase excellence and leadership. The Filipina female Orthopods have indeed been making waves in and out of the field, here and abroad. I would like to say that I am one of the proud founders of the Society. As final words, I would like to repeat what Tanya Burgess, Past President of APOA WAVES said in her introduction to the APOA WAVES Talk, “We, as a section, as Orthopedic Surgeons, and as women, lift as we rise.”

Janis Ann F. Espino-de Vera, MD, FPOA
Rosalyn P. Flores, MD, FPOA, FPCS


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