FOSS advocate Eloy Marcelo is a surgeon, too

The winning of Dr. Alvin Marcelo, a.k.a., Eloy, last year as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in the Philippines has been a big boost in the open source advocacy in the country.

Personally, I thought that there was no way doctors would have the time and patience to learn new tricks amidst their mission to save lives. When I listened to the team of doctors (Eloy included) during the LinuxWorld Conference last year, I realized that, yes, professionals can be ICT geeks, too.

In the PLUG’s mailing list thread on Eloy’s victory, I posted this message:

I did attend that session on FOSS @Health. The doctor really amazed me. He’s a
rara avis.It’s very rare that I know of non-ICT professionals having open source
computing as their second (or first) field, or hobby or advocacy even. I wish
that there were legions of:

a. Pilots using Linux-powered PDAs.

b. Lawyers that customize LAMP or LAPP to manage cases.

c. CPAs that use and advocate open source accounting softwares.

d. Policepersons maintaining their blotters on suite.


Until recently, I was fortunate to have Eloy as our co-delegates to the Asian Conference on the Digital Commons. Oh my goodness, I said to myself incredulously, I am attending a conference together with the Outstanding Young Man himself. To think that the man was my buddy during the event. Below is our picture (guess who looks more like a doctor):

Reading Eloy’s resume, one will surely get impressed with the following description of the surgeon:

  • More than 10 years experience in health informatics
  • One of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of 2005 for Medicine/Medical Informatics
  • Acknowledged leader in health information management in the country

So you must know the feeling of a simple social activist having the opportunity to commune with the doctor.

Eloy is one of few doctors behind the success of the Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS), the open source patient tracking system designed for community health centers. CHITS is one of the finalists in the Stockholm Challenge Award 2006.

I related with Eloy for barely three days in Bangkok (June 5-8) and I assure you that he’s the type of a person that is easy to get along with. Perhaps it’s the almost same age that we have as well as the common passion for societal change that have bound us. He could have been earning much more as a doctor or he could have been in another country practicing and honing his field, but Eloy has chosen to remain in the Philippines. Although, he’s aware that he needs to develop co-doctors in field of health informatics.

I agree. There should be more Eloys in this seemingly hopeless country.

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