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  • Carla Piñeda, MD

A non-negotiable YES to a #healthierPH



The Leadership Journey (LJ) was a significant turning point in my life. Months prior to my LJ, I was seriously contemplating on leaving the Philippines – for good. I was frustrated with the bureaucracy and inefficiencies in the health system and in the Philippines, in general.

The Leadership Journey (LJ) was a significant turning point in my life. Months prior to my LJ, I was seriously contemplating on leaving the Philippines – for good. I was frustrated with the bureaucracy and inefficiencies in the health system and in the Philippines, in general. I was overworked, burnt out and highly dissatisfied. I felt lost and conflicted. Staying in the Philippines to serve the underserved Filipinos was what I fought for as a young doctor. I detested the thought of Filipino doctors who couldn’t wait to leave the Philippines right after graduation from medical school. I detested the fact that some of them would come back after a few years, full of criticisms on how dire and hopeless the Philippine health system is. In my mind, I ask, “What have you done to contribute to the improvement of our healthcare system?”


Even before I was certain about my specialty choice, I was clear about where I wanted to serve. I wanted to serve in the Philippines. I wanted to serve the Filipinos. So, to actually contemplate on leaving for good was a big conflict for me. It felt like I was abandoning ship. It felt like I was turning my back on my call to service.

When the nomination came to join LJ, I reluctantly joined. I couldn’t come up with a quick enough excuse NOT to join, so I did. Little did I realize that this simple act of saying ‘yes’ would impact my life in more ways that I could imagine.


I came to know the experiences and challenges of fellow doctors in different sectors of our health system. I was humbled by their stories of dedication, and genuine love for the Philippines and the Filipinos. I was overwhelmed by their passion and their commitment to serve with excellence, despite the imperfections in the system. I was equally appalled by stories of corruption inherent in the healthcare system, of how some politicians would use doctors and institutions to further their corrupt agenda. LJ was five days of stories of compassion, frustration, hope, dedication and unconditional love for the Filipino people and for our country. They were five full days of adventure, punctuated by periods of contemplation and introspection.


LJ was an awakening of sorts for me. It allowed me to clarify my calling and purpose, and forge the direction I wanted to pursue. The journey rekindled my passion to serve. For this, I am forever grateful.


So, when the opportunity to serve the LJ as facilitator came, my “yes” was non-negotiable. The perspective from the other side was different, but equally fulfilling. I was impressed at how the team was committed to making the whole LJ experience for the doctors rewarding. The logistical planning of the whole event was excellent. Every detail of the LJ experience was well thought of and flawlessly executed. But more importantly, I am amazed that despite seven successful runs of LJ, the whole team is continuously exploring avenues on how to level up the experience.


I am both humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve my fellow doctors, alongside the #bestLJteamever. I am equally grateful for having been given another chance to listen to the stories of hope, commitment and unconditional love for our country. Thank you for reminding me of the reason why I fought to remain in the Philippines to serve the underserved Filipinos. Thank you for giving me hope that the vision for a #healthierPH is truly possible.


If I am given another opportunity to serve the LJ in the future, my ‘yes’ will still be non-negotiable.


Dr. Carla Fabreo-Pineda is an alumna of the Leadership Journey Batch 6. She volunteered as a facilitator for the LJ Run 7 last April 4-9 in Siargao. She is a Neurologist at Lucena United Doctors Hospital in Quezon, and UERM Memorial Medical Center and St. Luke's Medical Center, both in Quezon City.

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