BROD IN FOCUS – Pipo Bundoc MΣΦ 1986

Brod Rafael Felipe Cruz Bundoc, MD, FPOA, MΣΦ 1986, or Brod “Pipo” as many would call him, stands as a beacon for those who aspire to become a Mu man. Starting his journey from the bustling district of Tondo, Manila, he progressed into one with stewardship, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of brilliance– defying the odds to become a stalwart figure in Philippine medicine.

Specializing in Spine and Joint Surgery, Brod Pipo’s contributions to the medical field are profound, earning him the esteemed title of the “Father of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery in the Philippines.” Presently acting as the Chair of the Department of Anatomy at the University of the Philippines Manila College of Medicine (UPCM), his impact extends beyond the operating room, as an inspiring educator igniting the aspirations of future physicians.

Brod Pipo, together with the Department of Anatomy at UPCM

Beneath the white coat of Brod Pipo lies an affinity for the art and science of architecture, a love he shared with his father. Back in their old home, they had many books about architecture. His interest in the subject made him decide to take a Bachelor of Science in Architecture during his first year in college. His mother, on the other hand, saw his potential in the field of medicine. As someone who has a strong filial bond with his mother, Brod Pipo took a chance and decided to shift from architecture to a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, which ultimately became a transformative journey into medicine.

Navigating the crossroads of choice, Brod Pipo faced another pivotal moment—his induction into fraternity life, as his mother forbade him from joining one. His father, on the other hand, encouraged him to make his own decisions as he was already an adult at that time. Convinced by his classmate and future batchmate, Brod Carlo De Guzman Catabijan, MD, ΜΣΦ 1986, pushed him to join Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity. Despite being firm with his decision to become a Mu Brod, his mother was still unconvinced and forbade him from continuing the process. Hence, Brod Donato Rivera Marañon, MD, ΜΣΦ 1983 went to talk to Brod Pipo’s mother to convince her to let her son join the Fraternity. As Brod Pipo’s mother was a public school teacher, she made Brod Donato talk in straight English to convince her. Brod Donato completed the task; thus, Brod Pipo finally received his mother’s approval to join the Fraternity. As Brod Pipo would say, joining Mu is one of the best decisions in his life that he ever made.

Brod Carlo De Guzman Catabijan and Brod Rafael Felipe Cruz Bundoc

Joining a fraternity is an investment. That is how Brod Pipo would describe Mu. Based on his experience, the Fraternity or the Brods are always the first people whom he can ask for help, especially during emergencies. Brod Pipo saw this in full when his mother had a heart attack and was rushed to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), where he was doing his internship. Brods, who specialized in Cardiology then, rushed back to the hospital in response to Brod Pipo’s cry for help. However, his mother arrived in the emergency room dead on arrival. To revive his mother, the Brods did everything they could. In the end, they performed CPR on Brod Pipo’s mother for 20 minutes but to no avail.

During this darkest hour of his life, Brod Pipo decided to quit medical school despite only having half a year remaining in his internship year. Amidst grief and uncertainty, the Fraternity became a beacon of hope, urging him to persevere in the pursuit of his medical vocation. Brod Carlo and his other batchmates visited him at home and tried to convince him to finish medical school.

Officers of the Fraternity also went to his home and convinced him to finish medical school and take the board exam. With such efforts to pull him back, Brod Pipo’s will to become a doctor was reignited; however, he was worried that he already missed a lot of things and would need to catch up a lot in his internship. The Brods reassured him that they would help him to the best of their abilities, which they did. He successfully finished his internship, managing to be recognized as an Outstanding Intern for five different departments, and passed the board exam.

After passing the boards, Brod Pipo did not know what to do next; thus, he decided to go back to his alma mater, UPCM. During this time, he did his best to provide quality discussions with his students while also maintaining a competitive clinical career. Throughout his continuing dedication to the College of Medicine, Brod Pipo has become a well-loved faculty member by the students and by the personnel in the Department of Anatomy. Brod Pipo has also greatly contributed to the field of medicine through his copyrights and patents for the Axial Ergonomic Rongeur, the Dissection In-Situ Submersible Ergonomic Cadaver Table (DISSECT), and the Mobile Operational Video Education System (MOViE). His teaching styles also reflect his innovative mind through blended learning and LEAP program. In 1996, he was among the 10 Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines. He was also given the Metrobank Outstanding Teacher Award. Overall, he received a total of 30 awards for Teaching (Academe), Research, Clinical Practice, Publication, and Community Service.

After graduating from medical school, he tried to apply for an orthopedic residency. However, he was rejected, possibly due to his class ranking. Brod Pipo did not lose hope. He once again asked for help from Brods. Through his grit and unwavering dedication, he finally got accepted into the residency program. 

Beyond the four walls of UP College of Medicine and Philippine General Hospital, the Fraternity continued to help Brod Pipo improve himself. With support from the Fraternity, he received an Eisenhower fellowship, which allowed him to study for 3 months in the United States to learn about the basic science curriculum in the top 10 medical schools. Through the fellowship, he learned about the best practices in teaching anatomy and basic sciences. During the fellowship, he was able to save money when he opted to stay in the houses of Brods and Sisses, who kindly offered their home. All of these successes in Brod Pipo’s life highlight why joining the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity is the right investment.

Now, Brod Pipo is not only a highly accomplished physician but also a dedicated educator and visionary leader. With over two decades of experience in both clinical practice and academia, Dr. Bundoc has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the advancement of medical education, research, and patient care. His innovative approaches as the Chair of the Department of Anatomy at UPCM is but a testament to his profound understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing medical education today, igniting the aspirations of future physicians. The transformation of the anatomy laboratory as a wet simulation center, as well as development of teaching equipment and local, economically available orthopaedic and medical technologies, are some of his most recent accomplishments as an exceptional and innovative leader of the institution.

Brod Pipo with his wife and grandchildren

Currently, Brod Pipo is focusing most of his energy on “Lolo-hood” by taking care of his grandchildren. He also became a “plantito” as he has many plants at home, specifically ferns. Aside from these, he also enjoys capturing life through photography. He also reduced his surgery time to focus on his responsibilities as the Chair of the Department of Anatomy. Initially propelled by the ambition to pursue medicine and honor his commitment to his mother, he found himself navigating unfamiliar terrain, lacking any scientific background. Yet, within the Fraternity, he unearthed not only camaraderie but a stronghold of brothers that he can always rely on and that will help you reach your fullest potential. With a call to embrace the journey and uphold the Fraternity’s legacy, he imparts a timeless message of brotherhood and perseverance.