On this day, July 2

By | July 2, 2020

Today in History, July 2 in 1887, Dr. Proceso B. Gabriel, the pioneer Filipino bacteriologist, and a physician who headed the public health initiative to eradicate cholera, dysentery, typhoid and beriberi in the Philippines, is born in Santa Cruz, Manila.

Context: At the turn of the 20th century, upon acquiring the Philippines as its colonial possession and muzzling all forms of dissent & independence efforts, the United States embarked on the task of sanitizing public spaces in the Philippines with the advice of the 2 commissions.

U.S. President William McKinley, under whose government, the U.S. acquired the Philippines as its colonial possession, appointed the Schurman Commission and then the Taft Commission to study, assess, & suggest policies on Philippine governance that’s advantageous to the U.S.

As part of its colonial policy, the U.S. trained doctors, changed infrastructures (e.g. dumping soil on moats in Intramuros – a breeding ground for Malaria), imposed stringent (at times unequal & draconian) policies vs. Filipinos, to impose colonial authority as well as sanitation.

Among the ranks, was Proceso Gabriel, who, while still a medical student in the years leading to the Philippine-American War, was an intern under Dr. Lorenzo Aycart in a military hospital. At the time, he was able to familiarize himself with different diseases rampant in the Philippines.

He became a clerk in the Bureau of Health (precursor to the DOH), having been recommended by Trinidad Pardo de Tavera. While in gov service, Gabriel also taught in academia. He was appointed as a member of the Council of Hygiene, an advisory body to U.S Gov-Gens Wood & Murphy.

Gabriel built the 1st private bacteriological lab established by a Filipino, in Manila (located at 731 Calero Street). It manufactured autogenous vaccines, the 1st ones in the Philippines. He was also a prolific author, having written on medicine, hygiene, and sanitation, producing manuals.

Gabriel practiced medicine passionately until his death on 4 November 1935, having been married to Carmen Borja, and having had 7 children, two of whom became medical doctors in their own right, inspired by the dedicated service of their father to his country. (Kristoffer Pasion | @indiohistorian)

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