i had not seen mario in a long time, since 1985, to be precise, but over the years i had a sense of what he was up to. reading now the obits and eulogies, i am not surprised that he had become a civil-society celebrity. mario was a rare one, very keen, and a lovely lovely man.
By Quasi Romualdez
LAST Sunday, Mario M. Taguiwalo, health technocrat par excellence, died, years away from retirement age. Mario was a much sought after health consultant who participated in almost all of the significant changes that took place in the health sector during the past three decades.
Armed with a master’s degree in economics, Mr. Taguiwalo was introduced to health work as an adviser to Intercare, then a subsidiary of the famed consulting group of Bancom. After the EDSA Revolution, he became the highest ranking non-physician in the Department of Health ever when he was appointed Undersecretary of Health and Chief of Staff to then Secretary of Health, Alfredo Bengzon.
Mario’s firm understanding of the dynamics of the health sector enabled him to become one of the architects of the most wide-ranging reforms of the government’s health services during the turbulent period immediately following martial law. His ability to articulate health concepts and issues coupled with a calm and soothing personality soon made him a favored participant in most important health events. Even after he left the Department of Health in 1992, Mario became a most valued adviser and consultant to all succeeding Secretaries of Health.
As well, Taguiwalo became one of the most favored consultants/advisers to almost all health development agencies in the country – foreign as well as local, multilateral as well as bilateral.
Mario played a key role in developing and advancing the concepts and the cause of universal health care – an idea that now frames the health agenda of the Aquino government. As one of the key figures providing technical inputs to politicians and bureaucrats alike, Mario’s premature demise has left a void that will be very difficult to fill even as the country moves towards the dream of equal access to health care services for all Filipinos.
Mario Taguiwalo, 1951-2012 by Jessica Zafra
Obituary: Mario Taguiwalo, leading thinker in the Cory Aquino administration by Howie Severino
‘Never again’ by Rina Jimenez-David