Google honors late Filipina doctor Fe del Mundo on 107th birthday

By Allyson Escobar

Google is honoring the late Filipina doctor Fe del Mundo with a Google Doogle on their homepage on what would be her 107th birthday, Nov. 27.

“Also known as ‘The Angel of Santo Tomas,’ del Mundo devoted her life to child healthcare and revolutionized pediatric medicine in the process,” Google said in a blog post announcing the illustration.

Born in Manila, Philippines, in 1911, del Mundo was awarded a government fellowship in 1936 to travel to the U.S. and continue her medical education, according to a government biography, studying at multiple schools, including Harvard.

While it has been reported that she was the first female medical student at the school, which did not admit female students until 1945, according to the Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard, evidence supporting that assertion is anecdotal and it appears “more likely that she completed graduate work at Harvard Medical School through an appointment at Boston Children’s Hospital.” A university spokesperson told NBC News that Harvard historians consider del Mundo among early female trailblazers to conduct graduate studies in Harvard-affiliated hospitals.

Members of the Filipino-American community said del Mundo’s doodle was an opportunity for youth to see their “endless possibilities.”

“Dr. Fe Del Mundo was a pioneer for Filipino Americans, women of color, and everyone in general. She teaches us to recognize that despite the systems that try to push us down, we can dream big and accomplish our goals,” Kevin Nadal, a psychology professor at the City University of New York and trustee of the Filipino American National History Society, told NBC News.

Del Mundo returned home at the start of World War II, opening a home to care for some of the children of those incarcerated during Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

After the war, del Mundo would open her own hospital, eventually expanding it cover preventive medicine and to include research facilities.

She is also credited with writing the first “local textbook on pediatrics” and developing a bamboo incubator widely used in rural health centers that lacked electricity. The Philippines named del Mundo the first female national scientist in 1980, and she has received numerous other honors.

Del Mundo died at 99 years old in 2011 after suffering cardiac arrest.

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Charles Lam contributed.


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