DR. JOSE BENJAMIN B. UNTALAN…first dermatologist of Sultan Kudarat
By Apolinario Villalobos
If one hears the word “derma” or “dermatologist”, what comes to his or her mind is the sophisticated line of medicine with select patients such as the rich. It connotes pretty and smooth face without fine lines…but, that is true many years back. Today, “derma” means total skin care not necessarily with the use of expensive lotions and oils as affordable products have proliferated the market.
On November 20, Dr. Jose Benjamin B. Untalan assisted by his dentist wife, Dr. Maggie Reginaldo and young son who is also a medical practitioner, Dr. Janjan, attended to hundreds of senior citizens of Tacurong city at the office of the OSCA. Affording him additional assistance were volunteer senior citizens who prepared the list of beneficiaries as early as 8:00AM. Most medicines given to the seniors were from the family’s clinic, dispensed free of charge, while the rest were donations from the Philippine Dermatological Society. The medical outreach was in commemoration of the World Skin Day in collaboration with the OSCA and the Senior Citizens Federation of Tacurong City.
Dr. Ben Untalan has practically went through insurmountable trials and difficulties before he realized his dream to serve his fellowmen. He chose the special field of dermatology when he observed that this is what his province lacks, as the rest of practitioners were surgeons, internists, optometrists, or pediatricians. His early days of practice saw him treading roads towards almost inaccessible communities. The choice made him the “first dermatologist in the province of Sultan Kudarat” trained by the SPMC, one of the 11 accredited institutions for such field. Other titles he earned are: FPDS (Fellow of Philippine Dermatological Society); DPBD (Diplomate, Philippine Board of Dermatology); FPSV (Fellow, Philippine Society of Veneriologists).
Reared by a midwife mother and a physician father, Dr. Ben grew up with compassion deeply-etched in his heart. He could have pursued a profession that could make him amass wealth in a short period, but he opted for one that could force him to be generous oftentimes. Such compassionate generosity even pushed him further…serve the seniors, many of whom are underprivileged.
The boyish-looking doctor is highly idealistic which I observed when I had a breakfast with his family a year ago. With his son, Dr. Janjan silently listening to our discussion, we touched various subjects. We did not realize that we have spent almost 3 hours for the supposedly quick breakfast as they still had to leave for their clinic. It was my first time, too, to have such kind of breakfast, as I normally abhor conversation over meals.
Dr. Ben’s idealism founded on compassion was put to fore on November 20, 2017 when he gamely reported for “duty” during that particular medical mission outreach project despite aching knees due to depletion of collagen that provides lubrication so that a slight bending made him wretch in pain…but he persisted until the last patient has been served.