The Philippine Medical School was built in 1905 at the former Malecon Drive (now Bonifacio Drive). In 1910, it was integrated as one of the colleges into the University of the Philippines and was renamed to U.P. College of Medicine and Surgery. The name was later shortened to the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. Its first Dean was Dr. Paul Freer, while Dr. Fernando Calderon, an alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, became the first Filipino Dean of the College. The Calderon Hall is currently the main building of UP College of Medicine students.

When the United States occupied the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, American pioneer Dr. Victor Heiser, who was appointed as the Director of the Bureau of Health, observed that “the hospitals in the Philippine Islands were of the most primitive type, and modern medicine had not penetrated far.”

Then Secretary of Interior of the Philippine Commission Dean C. Worcester conceived an original vision of building a hospital, a medical school, and a laboratory as one integral complex in the new American colony that paved the way to the development of the current medical college and the Philippine General Hospital.

Dr. William E. Musgrave directed the development of the technical planning of the medical school and a new hospital toward treatment of local endemic and tropical diseases. However, the primary challenge is the critical shortage of Filipino physicians, and the need to train the Filipino doctors to man this proposed medical center.


The Calderon Hall and the University of the Philippines College of Medicine was the only UP unit that was open and functional during the height of the Second World War, to provide medical services needed during that time. After the War, the building was rehabilitated in 1951 under the leadership of Dr. Agerico Sison.
The University of the Philippines Health Sciences Center was established in 1967. The Center was established by law to provide training and research in the various health sciences. It became an autonomous member of the University of the Philippines System in 1979. The Center was further renamed University of the Philippines Manila in 1982. In 1983, U.P. Manila was reorganized to conform to the other autonomous universities of the U.P. System.

The U.P. College of Medicine is one of nine resident degree-granting units of the University of the Philippines Manila.

The statue depicts a young, nude woman with flowing hair, standing on a skull while bearing a torch. The woman symbolizes the ignorance of humankind during the Dark Ages of history, while the torch she bears symbolizes the enlightenment science brings to the world. The woman stands atop a skull, a symbol of death, to signify the victory that humankind aims to achieve by conquering the bane of death through scientific advancement.

The original sculpture is now displayed at the Rizal Shrine Museum at Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila. A large replica, made of concrete, stands in front of Fernando Calderón Hall of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine along Pedro Gil St. in Ermita, Manila. Another replica is found outside the old Department of Health research facility in Muntinlupa City and now incorporated into the design of the ongoing expansion of Festival Supermall.

The motif of the statue is also used by various medical associations in the Philippines as their symbol, the most notable of which is the Philippine College of Surgeons.

In 1890, Jose Rizal sent two statuettes to his friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, an Austrian scholar. These hand-crafted sculptures were made of clay. One of the statuettes was Scientia or The Triumph of Science over Death.

It is figure is of a nude, young woman holding a torch with both stretched hands. At her feet is a large skull from which she stands. Her long hair covers her lower privates.

The clay statuette is now in Fort Santiago in Intramuros. However, a monumental copy made of concrete guards the Calderón Hall (College of Medicine) in the University of the Philippines Manila. I am not familiar of its artist but it has nuances from the original statuette. For one, the countenance is not identical, however all the elements and symbols are present.