The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) recognized University of Santo Tomas Department of Physical Therapy (PT) Department Chair Asst. Prof. Donald G. Manlapaz, Ph.D., as the ‘2020 Outstanding Professional of the Year for the field of PT.’ The conferment of the award will be held online on December 4, 2020, according to a letter from PRC Commissioner Yolanda Reyes dated September 18, 2020.
Manlapaz, who in 2015 received a Special Citation by PRC for contributions to his field, mentioned in an online interview that he did not expect that he will be chosen as the most outstanding professional because the first comment of the esteemed panel was ‘You are so young.’
“However,” he said, “I’m thrilled and fulfilled. I was happy since my fellow physical therapists recognized my work again.”
Having obtained his Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy degree from the UST College of Rehabilitation Sciences (CRS) in 2006, and later in 2010, his Master of Science degree from the same University, this year’s Outstanding PT has now been in the field for 14 years.
Manlapaz shared that his passion for the profession stems from his core and his desire to improve Physical Therapy education. It is based on an idea of quality and opportunity. He stressed that he wants to value his service to the profession in three-fold aspects: positively contributing to teaching and learning strategies, research productivity, and empowering his colleagues to deliver quality education to (our) stakeholders.
It is this commitment to his passion that drives him to do his best as a mentor. Manlapaz explained, “If I teach my students well, then the skills they acquired can be translated to patients in the hospitals and clinics. It is an opportunity to give students a solid backbone to treat patients with a signature of Thomasian care,” he said.
After obtaining his doctoral degree in 2019 at the University of Otago in New Zealand, a school renowned for its PT program, the new graduate returned to UST to share what he has learned.
A forward-thinking leader and educator, the current PT Department Chair remains focused on steady improvement, saying that the department is aiming to work on the application for the PT program for the Center of Development recognition given by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and to maintain the status as the only PT program in the Philippines with Level IV status awarded by the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA). The department is also preparing to be assessed by the ASEAN University Network-Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) network this year.
Concurrently, Manlapaz is also part of the World Health Organization working group on Rehabilitation Package 2030 for Osteoarthritis and continuing his research on game-based exercises. Projects on the pipeline include telerehabilitation in the community among individuals with hypertension and international collaboration with other experts from the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Tanzania regarding persistent low back pain.
Previously recognized by PRC as Outstanding Professionals in the field of PT were former CRS Dean and now Continuing Professional Education and Development Director Assoc. Prof. Jocelyn F. Agcaoili in 2007, former CRS Dean and now Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Prof. Cheryl R. Peralta, DrPH in 2009, and faculty researcher Assoc. Prof. Donald S. Lipardo, Ph.D., in 2015.