Dr. Fernando R. Calderon was one of the leading Filipino obstetricians during the American colonial period and the first director of the Philippine General Hospital. Named after his paternal grandfather, he was born in the old town of Santa Cruz de Malabon, now called Tanza, Cavite on August 14, 1866, to Jose G. Calderon and Manuela Roca. Felipe G. Calderon, famous for his work on the Malolos Constitution, was his younger brother.
Together with his young brother, Felipe, Fernando was sent to an elementary school conducted by a teacher called Gabriel in barrio Lamayan. Later, he has transferred to the Ateneo Municipal when the family moved to Santa Ana, Manila. He started his studies at the Ateneo as a second grade pupil in the primary course. Hardly able to speak Spanish, he was placed at one of the lowest rungs in the class. However, he made great strides in his studies. Before the end of the first semester, he was already at the top and had gained the coveted honor of being the class “emperor”.
After obtaining his bachelor of arts degree at the Ateneo in 1885, he moved to the University of Santo Tomas to take up medicine and pharmacy. He completed his licentiate in medicine in February 1891. During the last month of 1891, he secured the post of municipal doctor of Calbayog, Samar. But after serving there for about two years, he had to go back to Manila to recuperate from an ailment, which the famed chemist of that time, Anacleto del Rosario, confirmed as advanced tuberculosis.
When he regained his health, he accepted a job as medical officer of the Carigara municipality in Leyte. Six months later, in 1894, he transferred to Ormoc, which was to be his residence for six years. When the Filipino-American War broke out in 1899, General Lukban appointed him as president of the revolutionary junta of Ormoc, a position he kept for about a year. He returned to Manila when the Americans occupied the town.
After a brief stay in Manila, Dr. Calderon decided to leave for Europe, taking the French steamer Laos. He arrived in Paris in March 1900. He was admitted as a president in the famous Clinique Tarnier, a five-storey hospital that specialized in maternity, gynecology, and puericulture.
He stayed there for eight months, and then visited other French hospitals like the Maternidad Baudeloque, under Professor Pinard; the Maternidad Saint Antoine, directed by Professor Bahr; the Cochin and Broca hospitals; and the Necker Hospital, under Professor Guyon. After two years in Europe, he returned to Manila, arriving in March 1902. Later, he married Januaria Alvarez.
On July 1, 1907 he was appointed professor of obstetrics at the school of Medicine, which was created on the recommendation by the Philippine Island Medical Association and approved by the Philippine Commission on June 10, 1907. This school was to become the University of the Philippines’ College of Medicine.
On September 16, 1914, Dr. Calderon was appointed auxiliary director of the Philippine General Hospital while serving at the same time, without additional compensation, as head of obstetrics of the UP-College of Medicine. He was named president of the Council of Hygiene on June 03, 1915. He became dean of the College of Medicine and director of the Philippine General Hospital on October 25, 1916. From October 11, 1922 to October 10, 1925, he was a member of the UP board of regents. He was designated acting UP President from January to August 31, 1934. On November 1, 1936, he resigned as dean of the UP College of Medicine and as PGH director due to physical incapacity.
Dr. Calderon was instrumental in creation of La Gota de Leche in Manila. He died on February 7, 1948.