IN MOVIES, superheroes are garbed in capes, can fly at incredible speeds and sometimes employ technology to help save the day. As entertaining as they are to watch, they are also unrealistic.

In real life, everyday heroes are not always recognizable. Dressed in white coats with a stethoscope around their necks, they exist among us and move not at lightning speed but as quickly as possible to make a difference in people’s lives. One group in particular is Cebu Institute of Medicine’s Total Outreach for Community Health or Torch.

The brainchild of 13 medical students, Torch was established in 1989 as a brotherhood and as a medium for them to further their education through exposure to the social and health realities of the community.

Consequently, it developed their technical skills, instilled social awareness in them, and nurtured charity, among others. This brought about the founding of Torch Sisterhood in 1991, by nine third year medical students.

The brotherhood and sisterhood share the same ideals and philanthropic spirit, and are driven by the organization’s thrust which is to “extend help to those who need it most,” with special emphasis on healthcare.

Some of their projects are Ignite, a fundraising party; breast cancer awareness in partnership with ICanServe Foundation; Soles on Fire, a charity drive every December; and Torch Harana on Valentine’s season.

Torch is currently working on a project called 2nd Chance for 2nd Hands, through which members would gather secondhand medical books from alumni and sell them to the student body at a much lower cost.

Torch also participates in medical missions where members perform circumcision, give consults and assist in minor outpatient surgical procedures such as the removal of cysts. Last year, the group was invited to at least 10 medical missions.

As the study of medicine is a lifetime pursuit, Torch members are taught the secret of prioritization and time management.

“We understand that in choosing to become doctors we also choose to undergo all the challenges that go with it and more. To this end, all of us have engraved the words ‘Rest if you must but don’t you quit’ into our very hearts, and though seemingly simple, these eight words hold the secret to our success,” says Dr. Edward Oliver Sy, Torch Inc. president.