Dr. Bianca Acebedo Lopez focuses on her goals with grace
| By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
Her pursuit of performing arts kept her occupied — she had led theater and dance groups in school and during summers, she taught in the San Diego Dance Company. She had won several dance competitions here and there, and so being an optometrist, said Dr. Bianca Acebedo Lopez, was hardly the profession she envisioned herself to be in.
Upon the advice of her older brother, Mike, she found herself setting foot in medical school instead of a conservatory right after high school, inspired by a new vision that was to continue the legacy their great-grandfather, Dr. Felix Acebedo, had started in Manila 85 years ago.
Bianca has now been in practice for a year, but hardly is she resting on her forebears’ laurels. She wears her nameplate — engraved with “Acebedo” — with much responsibility.
“When people hear my name, they immediately associate me with Acebedo Optical,” she said. “I already have the name so I need to work hard for it. I should also live the legacy.”
Honing her skills
The 24-year-old doctor currently works in the eye institute of a reputable hospital in Cebu to hone her foundation of skills before joining the family’s optical group.
“You tend to grow complacent if your boss is your mom,” she admitted, “so working for someone else first is a good training experience.”
The tradeoff, of course, was her dancing. Bianca had to let go of the time she used to devote to the stage. But she refuses to hold on to any regrets, and even has many plans for the family’s business.
One of these is strengthening the brand name of the clinic, something which her great-grandfather, an advertising genius ahead of his time, had done. Radio and movie house ads that started before the war, coupled with the growing number of clinics nationwide, had made the name “Acebedo” almost synonymous to optical service for many years.
“The personalized service has always been there. It has always been well maintained,” Bianca said. But with regard to advertising, she said, “I want to catch the attention of the youth. The older generation already knows what the name stands for. With the younger generation, I want to keep that name recall.”
An austere man’s granddaughter
Bianca is the granddaughter of Dr. Herodotus Pangan Acebedo, the eldest son of Felix. In 1957, he founded the HP Acebedo Optical Clinics, a separate institution from Acebedo Optical Co. She is the only Cebu-based optometrist in the clan’s fourth generation.
Bianca was raised in the company of her grandfather in his estate here in Cebu, where in their home there’s a room — almost like a museum – that has antique, mechanical optical equipment.
He was an austere man, she recalled. Though he indulged his grandchildren with material gifts as grandparents usually do, he was particular in rearing them with utmost discipline.
This sense of discipline was what Bianca later brought with her in following in his footsteps. She had her internship at the prestigious St. Luke’s Medical Center in Manila, where she lived alone for over a year. She was pregnant at the time.
It was a tough year, Bianca shared. She had lunch at 2 p.m., went home at 9 p.m. Despite the challenges, she was determined to finish her internship there.
Halfway through her internship, Bianca gave birth to her lovely daughter, Arya, in Cebu. Two weeks later, she had to go through the pain of leaving behind her newborn as she rushed back to Manila, to chase the dream of graduating on time and providing her baby with a good life.
“When I got pregnant, I was even more inspired to be ready,” Bianca said. “It was not the way I had planned it to be, but because of Arya, I want to work and train harder so I can give her a better life.”
Bianca graduated and passed the board exam the same year.
Her love for the stage
As for her affinity for the stage, Bianca said, “I can still do the things I love even if I’m an optometrist.”
Her last stint on stage was when she won first place in a solo dance competition when she was in her fifth year of optometry.
Once her schedule permits, Bianca plans to join dance and theater productions again. But for now, the young doctor has two priorities in mind: to make a name for herself as an optometrist, and to make her family proud of her as she carries on the legacy of their great-grandfather.
Photography: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome | Hair & Make-up: Scarlett Alinsugay
Locale: HP Acebedo Optical Clinic