The therapist is in, and he’s the Pidci grand marshal

Dr. Prospero Lim. Photos by Elton Lugay

By Cristina DC Pastor

The funny way Dr. Prospero Lim told the story, it was a choice between being a surgeon and a psychiatrist. In the end, he chose to treat mental disorders because “I don’t want to stand.”

Lim, this year’s Philippine Independence Day grand marshal, is a psychiatrist from Staten Island. This 70-year-old, unmarried doctor from Samar has more than four decades of medical practice.

“It can be painful to stand for too long,” he said. “As a surgeon, you have to stand the whole time. I cannot stand too long, masakit sa baywang.”

We both laughed. I had expected the reason to be more profound than just a matter of comfort. Something in the realm of wanting to decipher the depth of the human mind to better understand clinical depression. But that’s how Lim struck me: He was comical, down-to-earth and uncomplicated.

Although retired since 2006 from his position as director of psychiatry at Cumberland Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Brooklyn, Lim continues his private practice. “I have to keep busy, otherwise I’d get sick,” he said. “I’m now 70.”

“I cannot retire, maraming utang,” he added wisecracking.

From the time he left the Philippines, Staten Island has been home since 1977. After graduating from UST medical school, Lim interned at the St. Vincent’s Medical Center/North Richmond Community Mental Health Center, and later set up the psychiatric unit of Bailey Seton Hospital. Throughout his psychiatric practice, he found time to be involved in numerous faith-based and humanitarian organizations and social clubs, including the San Lorenzo Ruiz Association in Staten Island and the Katbaloganon Association USA.

“I love to talk — and listen,” said Lim on why he enjoys his job immensely.

He does not treat a lot of Filipino patients because of the “good support system.” Filipinos who are emotionally troubled have families, friends, and even the parish priest to turn to.

The Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (Pidci) chose Lim to be this year’s grand marshal. He apparently met three important criteria: he is positive role model, he is actively involvement in FilAm or mainstream community, and he is an effective fundraiser.

“I’m just lucky,” he said, brushing aside the attributes that clinched him the title. “I think they like me.”

He is “very amiable,” said his friend Myrna Gutierrez.

A ballroom number with Eleanor de Leon, wife of the Consul General in New York, at the GM Gala at the Astoria World Manor in Queens.

As grand marshal, Lim was feted at a ballroom gala on March 24 in a tradition rich with music and pageantry. There, he was given an uproarious welcome by the Pidci officers and his supporters from the medical profession. In response, he pledged to do his best to make this year’s Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue – touted as the biggest outside of the Philippines – bigger than in previous years.

“First, I need to galvanize my support,” he told The FilAm, referring to more than a dozen organizations he has founded or is affiliated with. Only then, he added, can he work to heal the fractured Pidci organization that has been hit by infighting within its ranks.

“The one thing I’d like to see is to have some kind of unity in Pidci,” Lim said. “It always happens that if a candidate loses, he and his followers don’t participate in the new administration. I’d like for that to stop.”

“But we can always change,” Lim said confidently. “I believe in change.”

One Comment

  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Thanks for a wonderful inspiring story about a Filipino-American doctor!

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