IT’S been six years since Dr. Isagani S. Leal intimated to Sun.Star Davao his dream of setting up a center in Davao City as he yearned to share all his successes and advanced knowhow on a most common disease and injuries – musculoskeletal – to Mindanaoans, the land that nurtured him as a boy dreaming to overcome poverty in the mountains of Magpet, Cotabato.
Today, the countdown is on for the opening of the Center for Muscoloskeletal Science-Asia (CMS-Asia Davao) branch at 6th Street in Ecoland Subdivision, just a walking distance from SM City Davao. CMS Asia-Davao will hopefully open by July or August 2019 as construction is still ongoing.
Muscoloskeletal science has everything to do with the joints – where muscles meet bones – and the CMS-Asia has been building its reputation not only among the country’s top athletes but also prominent personalities with age-related diseases like arthritis and bone spurs and the skeletal conditions plaguing millions of Filipinos, scoliosis and slipped disc, as Dr. Leal remains to be the only Asian member of the Israeli Society of Muscoloskeletal Medicine since he took his residency for that specialization in Tel Aviv from 2004-2008.
“All treatments being offered in Manila will be offered in Davao, so patients from all over Mindanao will no longer have to fly to Manila,” Dr. Leal said in an online interview.
“The newest technology that will be offered are the use of Platelet rich plasma or stem cell for sports injuries, removal of bone spurs without surgery, equipment for the correction of scoliosis without surgery, treatment of slipped disc without surgery,” he added.
This is a most welcome news to all those who fear surgery, especially when it involves their joints. Happiest are Leal’s patients who have been seeking him out for consultation and diagnosis at the Alexian Brothers Wellness Center in Matina, Davao City, where he has been holding clinic during the first or second Saturday of the month since 2015.
The center will have around 300 square meters of floor area for musculoskeletal ultrasound, skeletal scanner, fluoroscopy or live x-ray, infrared thermal scan, stem cell processing laboratory, and others, and will be manned by staff and therapists who have earned their expertise in his center in Manila.
With his strong longing to serve his people in Mindanao, Dr. Leal had held this yearning close to heart. But he had to wait and earn the investment capital he needed in the national capital as the bigger bulk of patients are there.
The doctor has been practicing his specialization as the CMS-Asia at the second floor of the Hollywood Square Bldg. at No. 33 West Avenue in Quezon City. The doors of this center has welcome the country’s athletes for years now, as Dr. Leal offers not just the state-of-the-art technology but does this at very reasonable rates. He’s not out to skim anyone of their hard-earned money as his primary purpose is to heal.
In that first Sun.Star interview six years ago, Dr. Leal said, “Hindi ako naga-take advantage kasi it’s a gift from God. Kung mag-take advantage ako, baka kunin sa akin; pwedeng makadisgrasya ng pasyente, matanggalan ng lisensya.”
He has been the doctor of several university and national teams, among them, all the sportsmen under contract with Manny V. Pangilinan. His photos could very well be a who’s who in Philippine sports and politics as no one else can cure as Dr. Leal cures.
But all these he gives back to God, whom he sees as the source of all his gifts because without divine blessings, becoming a top-notch doctor would not have been possible.
Sun.Star Davao in an article published last April 13, 2013 recalled how Dr. Leal beat all odds to achieve his dreams. (“Perseverance personified,” https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/279325)
Not one eye was dry during his graduation from the Manila Central University-Filemon D. Tanchoco Medical Foundation (MCU-FDTMF) College of Medicine on April 18, 1994 when his father, Gemeniano F. Leal went up the stage as the graduation speaker and spoke of Dr. Leal’s journey. His father was a jeepney driver in Magpet at that time.
That he got a passing 75% rating for the board on his first try was even a cause for celebration and not shame, since that bestowed to him the title of Doctor of Medicine. It was a long rough road that brought him there, which did not even become any easier after he got his license.
But the difficulties and dire financial situation of the family is what led Dr. Leal to become the only Asian trained in Israel on Muscoloskeletal medicine. The reason? Israel is always at war and no one dares to take his four-year residency there at the risk of getting killed.
Dr. Leal did not have anything to lose and everything to gain because at that time, he could not even afford a residency. The Israel residency was free and even came with living allowances.
His four-year stay in Tel Aviv saw him offering his medical services for free to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and became known as Roffeng Pinoy. Roffe is the Hebrew word for doctor. To this day, he returns regularly for updates on his specialization during which he still give free services to OFWs, reaching out even to unregistered workers in the firm belief that they are those who most need help.
“I chose to locate in Davao City because I like to help my people in Mindanao,” he said. In his hometown in Magpet, he has been supporting Manobo scholars, determined to give them the push that saw him defeat poverty and hopelessness.