By Charie Albar*
Roxas City—Beginning this issue, we will be reading “Conversations with Capizeños,” a series of interviews with Capizeños who have made a difference in their community.
For this first feature, we meet Raymund ‘Munich’ Augustus Ortiz Conlu, M.D. Munich Conlu is the director of PET-CT Center at Centuria Medical Center in Makati and chairman of Nuclear Medicine at The Health Centrum in Roxas City and St. Paul’s Hospital in Iloilo City.
Conlu is also a Nuclear Medicine Consultant at the Lung Center of the Philippines, chairman of Radiology at Clinica Caritas in Makati and consultant of Nuclear Medicine and Radiology at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City.
He also serves as Nuclear Medicine consultant for St. Luke’s Medical Center’s PET Department in Global City and St. Luke’s Medical Center’s PET-CT Center in Quezon City. The former chair of the Board of Examiners for the Philippine Specialty Board of Nuclear Medicine, Conlu is one of the top nuclear medicine specialists in the Philippines.
Why did you choose to become a doctor?
I was inspired by my lolo (Jesus Ortiz) and uncle (Rustico Ortiz) who were both doctors. I thought then that if I didn’t become a doctor, there would be no doctor in the family from my generation.
When did you know you wanted to become a doctor?
Just right before graduation from high school. I was a senior high school student at the seminary and I felt I wasn’t called for priesthood. It was then that I realized I wanted to be a doctor.
Would you tell us about your specialization?
I am double-boarded, meaning I have two specializations—one is radiology and the other is nuclear medicine. But I practice nuclear medicine more than radiology. I’m focused on cancer imaging using the Positron Emission Tomography or PET scanning.
Where did you have your residency after graduation from the medical school?
I did my residency at the Philippine Heart Center, after which I had a post-graduate fellowship training in Perth, Australia sometime in the early 2000s. I also attended short course trainings in France, Germany, Singapore and the United States, among others.
What did you learn from these trainings abroad—any experience which made an impression?
While I got to acquire knowledge and skills in Nuclear Medicine abroad, having been in different countries allowed me not only to learn different cultures or soak in the local vibe but also talk to the locals and do as they do.
All these have enriched my cultural, intellectual and spiritual education. After all, there’s a saying in Latin—“Non scholae sed vitae discimus” which means that “we do not learn for school, but for life”.
What are your fond memories of growing up in Capiz?
Capiz will forever be home. That’s where a big part of my heart is. I actually haven’t left Capiz. I fly to Roxas as often as I can. So many fond memories—every person, every place, every structure, every event—all these have been part of my childhood. The beach is everything to me. Baybay is paradise. The frequent gatherings of friends, family and relatives in my younger years, I miss those moments. I mean now, we still get together—but not as often as in the past. The simple, sweet life in Capiz reminds me that life doesn’t have to be complicated to be beautiful.
You are now semi-retired. Why did you choose to retire at the peak of your career?
After many years of practice, I just decided to slow down, hence the term “semi-retired”. I’m still doing the work that I love, but in a more relaxed pace. I gave up my hospital work in Metro Manila and chose to run my own stand-alone Cancer Imaging (PET-CT Center) Center in Makati.
Because of this, I now have more time to practice here. I am currently the head of Nuclear Medicine at The Health Centrum Hospital in Roxas City and the head of the Nuclear Medicine Department of St. Paul’s Hospital in Iloilo City. So there—it is not really about retiring but rather only having chosen to devote more time for Capiz.
Any challenges as director of the Cancer Imaging Center?
All challenges and difficulties, to me, are a state of mind. I always keep these personal beliefs in mind: Live life to the full. Born free, live free. Don’t sweat the small stuff; everything is small stuff.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
This is where I see myself many years from now—more time in Roxas City, less in Manila.
You love to travel with your family. What’s on your bucket list?
Definitely, Hawaii for a month—and Roxas City for eternity.
*Charie Albar is a travel writer and lifestyle blogger. The founder of Balay ni Charie Foundation, a grassroots organization that gives school supplies to children in Capiz, she divides her time between Capiz and California.