Dr. Edgar Eufemio follows in his father’s footsteps
(Part two of four)
Though the late surgical oncologist Dr. George Eufemio hoped that his second son Edgar Michael, aka Gar, would enter general surgery and take over his practice, the latter was set on sports medicine. In a heart-to-heart talk that lasted until dawn, the father eventually compared choosing a medical specialty to picking a life partner.
The father asked the son, “Do you want to be not-so-happy with someone from a wealthy family with a more comfortable life? Or do you choose someone you love even if the financial future is unsure?”
Gar says, “I ended up picking what I love (sports medicine), and who I love (my wife Annette).”
His father and mother Juanita gave Gar their blessing. And in terms of financial security, they need not have worried. Gar runs a highly successful practice today. He is inundated with patients, a testament to his determination, skill and care.
“My father is the only reason I wanted to be a doctor,” says Gar, who initially wanted to join the Philippine Basketball Association. “But Daddy [frankly] told me I wasn’t that good, so it’s best to follow another career.”
Dr. George himself wanted to go into agriculture, but his own father dictated medicine, and in those days, children obeyed their parents without question. Knowing that medicine is a grueling career, Dr. George never forced his own kids into it.
Last week, we discussed how Dr. George insisted on the best for his patients, and expected much from his colleagues and staff. He demanded no less from his son.
“I did not like how demanding Daddy was when I was in med school,” says Gar. “I felt I was never good enough. But years after, I realized what his intention was. He knew that if things came too easy for me, I would amount to nothing. If I had to struggle to get where I was, I would appreciate it more and I would go farther. I realized his wisdom only years later. He, of course, also wanted to make sure that I did not destroy his name.
“Daddy was always near the top of his class and the medical board [exam]. I barely passed both. He knew I needed an edge, so he taught me hard work—no one works longer hours than me—and street-smarts, and caring for patients like family. Daddy was very hard on me and demanded I give more than 100 percent. He even talked to my consultants at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital when I started residency and told them to work me hard because it would make me a better doctor and person.”
In this way, Gar is like his father in more ways than one.
When his daughter Ysobel was in my mathematics class in Ateneo de Manila University, Gar never asked about her grades and only mentioned that she had a bit of math anxiety. So I advised Yso to work hard and do her best. Yso sat in the front corner of the room, never missed a class, did all the assignments and earned decent marks that anyone would be proud of.
Gar says, half-jokingly, that Yso is academically smarter than he—but the mere fact that I trust Gar with my knee surgery means that he is on top of his field.
“I support all [of] Yso’s plans, whether they seem practical or not, as long as she takes time to think about them before deciding,” he says. “She also has to be passionate about them.”
He adds, “When I get home late, I pass by Yso’s room and whisper to her, ‘Yabee, I love you’ even if she’s asleep. Daddy did that to us when we were kids.”
For the Eufemios, grades do not matter too much.
“Daddy demanded a lot, but not more than [what] he demanded of himself,” says Gar. “No pressure on grades—just pass and hopefully get good marks. He had seen enough people who did great in school but sucked in private practice.”
His older brother Edwin agrees that their father was not strict about grades “as long as we enjoyed learning and applied the theories in our lives.” Younger brother Edson concurs, “Our father emphasized learning over grades. He did not believe exams properly gauged learning, but when I did badly in one class, he demanded that we at least pass and do our best.”
Next week: Succession
Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at Lazada or Shopee or the ebook at Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks. Contact the author at [email protected]
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