EulogyA pillar of the Tan family has gone to...

A pillar of the Tan family has gone to his heavenly father


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Dr. Edwin Lim Tan was an upstanding psychiatrist, and a loving family member whom we had always wanted to emulate.

We, his nephews and nieces, feel fortunate to have experienced the joy of having an uncle who cared about our careers and our troubles. He was not like someone who was  too preoccupied with his own life to care about his siblings, nephews and nieces. He was genuinely concerned about us, congratulating us on our little victories, and comforting us on our disappointments.

Because Uncle Edwin demanded nothing but the best he can do for his career and personal life, we were also inspired to practice self-discipline, hard work, patience and perseverance.

He had achieved much in his work but this did not come easy – it was not handed to him on a silver platter. On the contrary, he and his siblings came from humble beginnings, and had to fight their way to achieve their goals and dreams for a better life.

The parents of Edwin Lim Tan (our grandparents), Perian Tan and Jiok Lian (Judjuan) Lim Tan, were descendants of Chinese immigrants who came from Fujian Province in China to settle in Jolo, Sulu, a coastal town in the southern part of the Philippines. They were of humble backgrounds.

His father taught English at a local school, while his mother sold jewelry consisting of jade, pearls, and other precious gems beautifully framed in exquisite Chinese gold.

Dr. Edwin Tan had five siblings: Judge Alvin Tan; Helen Garcia, a teacher at Sulu Tong Jin School who later became a successful entrepreneur; Carolyn Que, who taught at the same Chinese school, and later at Grace Christian High School in Quezon City; restaurateur Philip Tan; and Evelyn Estrella, a registered nurse who worked in New Jersey until she retired.  All of his siblings, save for one, have now gone to their eternal home.

They grew up in their old house in Tinda Laud, where pathways going to the houses were made up of makeshift bamboo poles loosely tied together. One had to walk slowly and carefully to avoid falling into the creek below.  Playful kids running around would sometimes fall into the water, come home soaked, knowing they would be scolded by their parents for not being careful.

All six siblings studied hard under the strict eyes of their father, and excelled at school, finishing at the top of their classes.

When time came for them to go to college, their parents were in a quandary, not knowing how they could afford  college tuition for them. Their mother took the initiative, and urged them to apply for the CNI scholarships, a government-funded grant for cultural minorities, including the Tausug group of people from Jolo. All siblings took the competitive exams when their time came to attend college.  They passed it, landing at the Top 1 or 2 spots among all applicants.

This was God’s way of enabling all of them to complete their education, and get a shot at achieving their goals and dreams.

Dr. Edwin Tan was one of a few hundred pre-Medicine students who passed the prestigious and highly- competitive UP College Admissions Test among thousands of aspiring students.

With some of the smartest professors in the country, and being among the top students from their respective schools as his classmates, Uncle Edwin was able to get high quality education.

He studied Medicine at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in Manila.   He took his residency in Psychiatry at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1975-78. He then completed his Fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas from 1978-79.

Dr. Edwin Tan was a lifelong learner, and passionate educator, and worked as instructor in Psychiatry at SUNY-Buffalo, at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

He practiced Forensic Psychiatry, both civil and crimina,l and General Psychiatry until his retirement in 2012.

While he was able to reach stellar heights in his chosen  profession, he will be remembered as a loving husband to his wife Janet, and a devoted father to his three accomplished children, Nicole, Marissa, and Nathaniel.

Dr. Edwin Tan was a caring brother to his brothers and sisters, and a concerned, kind, and helpful uncle to us, his nephews and nieces.

My unforgettable experience with him was when my husband and I went to the U.S. on a working visa in the mid-1980s.  I was accepted as an account executive and feature writer at the California Examiner, a Fil-Am newspaper based in Los Angeles. During the preparation of our travel documents, I had discovered that I was pregnant.  I wanted to be fair and honest, and told my boss about it. To my surprise, he was still interested to hire me, and promised to take care of my medical bills, and that there was free housing for his new hires until we were able to afford our own rent. Sadly, both promises were not kept.  So I spoke on the phone with Uncle Edwin, and right then and there, he mailed me a check to cover my hospital expenses. I believe this was God’s way of using him to enable us to solve our problem at that time.

Looking back, it now seems that Uncle Edwin was always there to lend a hand at some of the critical stages of my life.

Once when we attended the funeral wake of my Grandma Jiok Lian Tan in Pennsylvania, I had a sudden attack of extreme pain on my abdomen, and down my spine.  The spasms were sharp and painful, I couldn’t even walk.  I had to be carried by my uncles to the car to be rushed to the hospital.  Uncle Edwin immediately asked that I be given a serum pregnancy test. The results showed an ectopic pregnancy that had to be terminated to prevent it from doing further damage. There and then, Uncle Edwin arranged to have his doctor-friend at the hospital perform the surgery. Thus, I was given a second lease on life.  Not only that, my medical bill that had run up to $5,000 was covered by my Canadian Health Care Insurance. (Luckily, we had just landed in Toronto as Permanent Residents, and were given our temporary Ontario resident health insurance card.) I believe this was another way God had intervened for us, and once again, Uncle Edwin was made an instrument of His kindness to us.

Uncle Edwin had always wanted to give back to the community, and was able to establish two scholarships, a Law scholarship for poor but deserving Law students from Mindanao at Silliman University under the name of my late father, Atty. Alvin Tan. Through that grant, two sscholars are now practicing lawyers here in Dumaguete.

Dr. Edwin Tan also established a scholarship for Medical students in Zamboanga, under the name of my late grandmother, Jiok Lian Tan. Similarly, two of his scholars are now medical doctors.

Uncle Edwin lived his life fully, achieving his personal goals, and giving back to others in his own way.

We will remember him as a pillar of the Tan family, an inspiration, and a good role model of a loving and caring person. He is now happily reunited with his parents, and siblings in a place where there is no pain,  sorrow, nor conflict; only love, joy, and peace under the radiance of God’s eternal light.


Agnes Tan-Aliman

Valencia, Negros OrientalValencia, Negros Oriental





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