Wednesday July 1, 2020

Submission peer-reviewed by: Naiia Lajoie

Mildred Vande Vusse Vitangcol is a medical doctor by profession, but has been engaged in the “Death Care” and Pre-Need Industries for the past twenty-three years. What began as a mere curiosity while observing her midwife mother help others eventually turned into a calling in the medical field. This then transitioned into corporate management as well as business marketing in the death care industry – which is unfamiliar to most. While this sounds like far too many hats for just one person to wear, Dr. Mildred does exactly that – making it look both good and easy.

This road to success was not-so-easily paved. With years of hard work and an equal amount of study, things managed to fall into place for Dr. Mildred. After being fascinated by how medical practitioners tended to the sick, she began her medical studies at Silliman University in Dumaguete City. There she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, serving as her pre-med degree, in 1985. She also completed a degree as a Medical Doctor at the Cebu Doctors University College of Medicine in 1991. Thereafter, she specialized in Internal Medicine at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and was also accorded a Fellow in Gastroenterology in 1997.

As if being a practicing physician was not challenging enough, Dr. Mildred would eventually find her way into corporate management where she met her future loving husband Mr. George York Bautista Vitangcol. York graduated from the University of the Philippines in 1986 with a Bachelor of Physical Education degree, and later completed his graduate studies at the Asian Institute of Management in 2004. York has been the President & CEO of the St. Peter Group of Companies since 2007. In addition to wanting to start a family together, he wanted Mildred to work with him as an equal and integral partner for life as they strengthened the business through the years. When asked about her transition into both partnerships, Dr. Mildred had this to say: “St. Peter Life Plan is actually my husband’s family business. I started working in the company as Company Physician back in 1997. Eventually I got involved in Marketing and Business Development, then the rest is history. Getting involved with St. Peter through my husband was a very good starting point. However [it was] my hard work and efforts with York, the good people, and teams who I worked with, [that] produced the right results. Hence I was given bigger and broader responsibilities as the business grew.”

Indeed it was, as this meant a continual quest for education in order to better prepare herself for the eventual prestigious position she would find herself in. Dr. Mildred went on to obtain her Masters in Hospital Services Administration from Ateneo Graduate School of Business in ’04. She also finished the Strategic Business Economics Program from the University of Asia and the Pacific’s School of Economics (UAAP) in 2006. Fortifying her business competencies with attendance to foreign and local conferences eventually lead her to be the Chairman of the Board for St. Peter Life Plan, Inc.

Already a Licensed Embalmer (LE) since 2004, a Certified Preplanning Consultant (CPC) since 2008, a Certified Crematory Operator (CCO) since 2012, Dr. Mildred V. Vitangcol’s path merged from being a career physician to that of a Funeral Director and pre-planner of the Philippines’ leading Life Plan Company. It was her mindset that caring for the deceased should be just as crucial as tending to the living. But as with the proverbial, the literal ‘end of the road’ is not without obstacles as Dr. Mildred explains. “Time management is a challenge and struggle. There is always a lot to do, but so little time. Scarce resources and lack of efficient, effective, and reliable manpower can also be a cause of concern. Then there are those who, instead of supporting you, will try to bring you down”.

The fact of the matter is, what sets aside the St. Peter Group from other companies also known for their bestselling products, inventions, and pioneering systems. This, and its marketing advantage of having Dr. Mildred on board. It goes without saying that she is an integral part of the growing success of the St. Peter Group of Companies, with her natural people skills and leadership qualities. Strongly believing that doing acts of kindness is the most fulfilling aspect of life, amidst the branch visitations, area immersions, company programs, constant communication, and organizational coordination, Dr. Mildred maintained that it is the unification of all – regardless of rank or position – that achieves customer satisfaction and good results. Even when handling the uncertainty of death, she remains optimistic:

“While enjoying the fruits of hard work, there are always detractors along the way. I am aware that not everybody will appreciate the things I do, nor will everybody understand the reasons behind it. But at the end of the day, I focus on what gives positive results and what give me fulfillment. I continue doing the things that I believe are right and necessary to make the world a better place, continue to be kind and help people, and pray that even better things will come out of it – that the people I have helped will also pay it forward.”

It comes as no surprise then that Dr. Mildred has been a devoted Rotarian since 2008 of the Rotary Club of Makati Uptown. She currently serves as Deputy Senior Assistant Governor for Service Projects, as well as Deputy District Chair for Public Image of Rotary District 3830. As if that – compounded by her already stacked work-related plate – were not enough, she is also the new club Advisor (NCA) of both the Rotary Club of Las Piñas Uptown and the Rotary Club of Puerto Princesa Uptown. Being a Major Donor Level 3 of the Rotary Foundation, a member of the Paul Harris Fellow Society, the Bequest Society, having been elected as a Club TRF Chair, and RIPIC Liaison Officer District for numerous clubs in previous years, are all among her other accolades. For the year 2022-2023, she looks forward to serving with manilaupmagazine.com 13 COVER STORY full devotion as District Governor for Rotary International District 3830. The reason behind all of this Rotary involvement is to strengthen it as a community service organization by amplifying the effectiveness of each club in the district. Hence assisting those smaller to medium sized clubs in beefing up membership to at least charter strength, while still respecting their autonomy. As if pouring all of her time, effort, and resources into the Rotary community was not enough, Dr. Mildred received the 2019 ASEAN Women Entrepreneur Award, which was presented to her by the Princess of Bangkok. On top of it all, in 2019 she made the list of 100 Most Influential Filipina Women. “I have always been an advocate of Women Empowerment, and receiving such a recognition for being an empowered Filipina is really nakakataba ng puso” she beams.

A true humanitarian at heart, Dr. Mildred is serving communities of girls and women; growing their confidence by providing access to resources for their education and livelihood. She likewise equips them with job traits and life skills that make them more productive family members as well as citizens in general.

Dr. Mildred serves with the Zonta Club of Makati-Ayala in District 17, Area 5, which has been in existence for thirty-one years. As the club’s newly inducted President for the 2020-2022 two-year term, she comes equipped with several dynamic visions in store. Dr. Mildred is deeply grateful for the trust & confidence of her enthusiastic & hardworking club officers and members; compounded with her active membership for a couple of meaningful service years prior.

With planned in-new-vations, adaptive ways of recreating projects, and creatively reviving traditions, she seeks to align her milieu with the changing times; the way club meetings and fellowships will be done, for example. These changes aim to strengthen community service and friendships among club members – these lifelong bonds spanning the same amount of years Zonta International has been performing community service.

The pride Dr. Mildred has for her roots is as extensive as that of her business, as she grew up in a traditional Filipino family to a Filipina mother and American 14 manilaupmagazine. father. With her father’s Western influence, their household was considered more lax compared to other Filipino households, however she was still taught the values of pakikisama, paggalang sa magulang, pagpapakumbaba, bayanihan or pagiging matulungin, fear of God and faith, and utang na loob. “I believe that it is because of this very Filipino upbringing that I got my passion for service, whether it be to the Church, the community or the company that I am part of ” she explains, “I always make it a point that in everything I do, I am also able to help the people who help me and bring back all the glory to God”.

Of all of her community involvement and corporate positions previously and currently held, amid what would be madness in any layman’s equally busy life, Dr. Mildred still derives the most satisfaction in the role of dutiful mother to three (other than a devoted loving wife to York). Her and York’s eldest Karol Lolek is a Software Engineering graduate in Melbourne, Australia, while Mkyl Angelo and Julia Ysabela are both presently studying at other universities also in Melbourne. Always on the go and ready to serve anyone in need, Dr. Mildred finds fulfillment in serving those around her. She lives by the very notions she exclaims – family, company, community, and God.


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