Tuesday’s Google Doodle Honors Pediatrician Fe del Mundo

Google Doodle depicting Fe del Mundo

Tuesday’s Google Doodle celebrates the 107th birthday of renowned pediatrician Fe del Mundo.

In Manila at the turn of the last century, women had relatively few opportunities, but lawyer Bernardo del Mundo was supportive when one of his young daughters declared, at an early age, that she wanted to become a doctor someday and care for the poorer population of Manila. When the ambitious young girl died of appendicitis at age 11, her younger sister Fe took up the torch.

Fe del Mundo graduated from the University of the Philippines Manila at the head of her class in 1933 and scored so highly on her medical board exam that Filipino President Manuel Quezon offered a full scholarship to any medical school in the United States to study any specialty she wanted. She chose Harvard and pediatrics, and having completed her enrollment, she arrived in 1936 to settle into her dorm room and begin studying.

But she found herself walking into a men’s dorm. Del Mundo hadn’t realized that in 1936, Harvard Medical School didn’t admit women. Harvard hadn’t realized that del Mundo was, in fact, a woman. In light of del Mundo’s impressive record — and, no doubt, her determined presence — the head of the pediatrics department made an exception and allowed her enrollment to stand. Harvard wouldn’t officially open up its medical program to female students until 1945.

By then, del Mundo was back in the Phillipines, having arrived in 1941 just ahead of the invading Japanese Army. As a Red Cross volunteer, she volunteered at an internment camp for the first two years of the war, then accepted a position as director of a city-run children’s hospital in 1943. In early 1945, the fighting had come to a head in Manila, where American and Filipino troops were fighting to push Japanese occupiers out of the capital city. Over 100,000 civilians died in the battle, and del Mundo’s pediatric hospital found itself pressed into more general service. After the war, much of Manila lay in ruins, but the North General Hospital (eventually renamed the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center) endured, and del Mundo served as its director until 1948.

It took until 1957 for del Mundo to raise the funds to open her own hospital, the Children’s Medical Center, in Quezon City (she even sold her home to help scrape together the money; del Mundo opted to simply live at the hospital, where she stayed until 2007). Del Mundo continued to practice until well into her 90s; patients describe the 99-year-old doctor making her daily hospital rounds in a wheelchair. The hospital was the first true pediatric hospital in the Philippines, and today it bears its founder’s name. Del Mundo died in 2011.

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Designer’s historic restoration project featured in 34th Annual Holiday Home Tour

Todd Yoggy is an interior designer who has designed and owned homes across the U.S. – from Los Angeles to Richmond.

He grew up in Big Flats before moving to California, where his office is now located. In December 2017, Yoggy purchased a historic Tudor home on Hoffman Street, in Elmira’s Near Westside neighborhood. That home will be featured in the 34th Annual “Homes for the Holidays” holiday house tour.

His goal of restoring the home aligns with the goal of the Near Westside Neighborhood Association (NWNA), a non-profit organization based in Elmira which aims to revitalize the area and preserve its history.

Yoggy and some of his childhood friends, who also have houses in the area, approached the NWNA to ask if they could all participate in the holiday tour.

The designer’s hope is that not only does the tour of his home inspire residents to “do something different” with their own homes, but also raises awareness of the NWNA’s goals.

“Hopefully people will get involved and be inspired to save more houses like this and bring them back.  I hope when I’m done with this project that it’s good for the next 100 years, and then somebody else will have to come and do it again. It’s an ongoing process,” Yoggy said.

Also featured in his home is a 13-foot Christmas tree, with a 40-year collection of ornaments. Yoggy purchased the tree from Maple Ave. Tree Farms, which has over 800 trees in its lot.

“I knew if I was going to do the tour, I wanted to go all out[…]I’m a total traditionalist when it comes to Christmas. I want my Christmas tree to be as traditional as possible,” Yoggy said.