Dr. Manny Calayan


By Jon Verzosa


The first thing that caught my eye when I entered Dr. Manny Calayan’s clinic, the Calayan Surgicenter in Makati, was its vision statement, pasted on his cream-coloured, well-lighted walls.  It said: Meeting every client’s expectations and their resulting satisfaction as our greatest moment of success.


I was a bit absorbed with the ‘resulting satisfaction’ part because most of his clients are well-known celebrities and so what went on in my precarious head was, “Wouldn’t it be better to discern if there was anything else to improve in the faces of all the gods and goddesses whose photographs were also nailed in Calayan’s walls, whether or not they have outgrown their satisfaction as well?”


Well, that’s me ‘just saying’ but why in actual fact does beauty in Philippine showbizness so bloody honest in saying that cosmetic surgery has become so natural that it is just a nail-bite away from calling it a must in the aspect of beauty, however else we can define it as such.  So my burning query as we were ushered inside Dr Calayan’s office was “Where did natural beauty go?  Did it hide somewhere and finally suggested that beauty inside and out does not measure up to the computation of its real essence?


What, in truth, is real beauty?”

I executed today’s interview for a segment in GMA-7’s Pinoy TV and I was more than happy to do so because apart from the slot, it would be my pleasure to meet and speak with the country’s most-respected, highly-coveted, celebrated and as we went along, down to earth, cosmetic surgeon in the country.  As we all know, Manuel “Manny” Calayanis one of the country’s most important cosmetic surgeons for the stars of Philippine television and cinema. He specializes in cosmetic surgery such as nose lifts, eye bags removal, liposuction, breast augmentation, among others.  Also, Calayan is teamed up with his wife, Dr Pie Calayan which, in 1995 launched their business, Cosmetiderm. Starting with one clinic in Makati, the company has expanded to four locations. A husband and wife team ever since, both were highly-trained and have reaped successes for almost fifteen years since their first venture.  Today, Calayan Surgicenters are located in Quezon City and Makati City and just recently, they opened a new branch in Beverly Hills, California.


Dr. Calayan, in his genteel Burberry shirt and not-so-surprising amiability welcomed us inside his office where we held the interview.  The moment I started asking questions about his legendary travels with his family, I found myself almost talking to a relative, if not, a close friend, whose genuineness resuscitated my quench for more opinionated queries on subjects of beauty, thus, I found myself immersed in his itchy feet as he recounted his travels around the world with his beautiful wife, Dr. Pie Calayan and his three girls.  I liked him instantly!


“I’ve always loved Greece. I like everything about it. I want to believe that it is the most perfect place in the whole world!  It is very relaxing, filled with beautiful people, such stunning islands and to top it all, great food and lovely weather too!” Dr. Manny embarked on, daringly trudging on the catacomb of his passion in going places outside the Philippines.



“What really compels you to travelling?  Is it really that addicting?”  I asked.


“I absolutely love travelling and I can travel 365 days, if only that’s possible,” Dr. Manny confessed.  “I guess in a lot of ways, it relieves you. It works for me.  In this day and age – with all the load of work that we do every single day – we all need to relax.  It prolongs youth and dynamism in many ways.  It relieves stress, which we all know is one of the primary cause of illnesses.  Seeing different places, having to taste their cuisine and meeting its peoples replenishes the tired spirit.  If one has to commensurate the logic of having a happy disposition and staying that way all year round, then all your days should be treated like a vacation!”


We both laughed to his affectionate joke and then I asked, “What are your favourite places that belong in your top ten and why?”


“Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok for its shopping and sites, London, Paris, Spain and Portugal for its history and romanticism, the United States of course for being the U.S. itself and of course, the Caribbean islands which, for me, is best enjoyable if journeying in a cruise ship.  Actually, most of these travels, if not all, were family travels, so they all belong on my list.  Had it not been for the family bonding and the laughs that we share throughout, and then it wouldn’t be as significant as it ought to be in the first place.  I firmly believe that through the years, these getaways with the family did not just help us be closer to each other but also paved a lot of way for us to get to know each other even more.  Family is important and to me, my wife, Dr. Pie and my children is what keeps me going.


Being Filipino, we are all attached to our kins.  That is how we were all brought up.  I am proud to say that this is one of best Filipino eminence that we, being Pinoys, should be big-headed about worldwide!”


“What is the most comforting thought of your success and what drives you to come to work every day?” I asked, hitting on the secret of the beauty guru’s first-rate triumph in the field of cosmetic surgery.


He smiled and said, “Well, like I said, my family keeps me up.  They are, in fact, the reason why my wife and I are working very hard.  Of course, working hard is also important particularly with keeping pace with the latest surgical procedures,” shares the pioneer of Smartlipo and Vaserlipo in the Philippines, two ground-breaking fat removal procedures that are safe alternatives compared to the traditional liposuction. He added, “. . . knowing that more than anything else, I am also training my team with the latest and safest technological methods in this field.  I guess it’s the tandem between me and my wife, Dr. Pie, who’s a Dermatologist. We work together hands-on. We refer patients to each other too, meaning, after skin problems, sa akin naman ang under the knife, and vice-versa. Also, I think success is relative. As long as you are determined, devoted and honest, a good karmic return isexpected.  I guess, in more ways than one, the most consoling part of being where I am is the fact that I am of help to people who simply want to feel good about themselves.”


“Exactly how a guru should be!” I interrupted, remembering the great psychic and scholar Jean Houston when she once said that feeling good roots back to one’s own original self, even with the aid of a guru, humorously saying, “Remember, that guru is spelled ‘Gee, you are you.’”


“Yes!  You know what, some of my friends ask me why I reply to almost every tweet being sent to me and I tell them, ‘Simply because I want to be there and make the people know [as most of them I haven’t met in person yet] that I exist.’” Dr. Manny stipulated.


“But being who you are, everybody knows that you exist!  You are, in fact, ‘the’ Dr Manny Calayan,” I countered.


“Of course, but I want to reach out for reasons of being trouble-free.  As a person, I have always been approachable and so it extends towards my profession and how I treat my clients. Before and most especially, after a particular procedure, my patron would be here, right in this office, talking about everything under the sun with me.  I am not saying that I declare this kind of personal touch to my clients as a ritual; I am, in all fairness, simply a very sociable person.  I guess it is a tragic state of affairs both for the physician and the patient not to have a person-to-person relationship.  The physician denies himself or herself the fulfilment of knowing the patient on a personal basis and loses the opportunity to be taught from the therapeutic encounter.  Without the real delight that comes from a direct connection, the practice of medicine becomes sterile and mechanistic which is simply sad.  I like people. I like their stories.  It inspires me to see and hear what everyone who sits in that chair [pointing to where I was sitting] has to say about his life.”


A successful husband and wife team, down to earth and both a kindred spirit, Doctors Manny and Pie Calayan also have a Beverly Hills branch that offers cosmetic surgery procedures and a new one in West Hollywood that has skin and laser services. I asked him, “Since we are on the topic of travelling, tell me about the U.S. branches?”


“It is exhilarating that we already have clinics in America.  Both Dr. Pie and I are very grateful.  It is difficult because we are apart from each other as she manages the U.S. branch and I am here but we make time, so I make it a point to visit the U.S. often.  In fact, my daughters are already set on going to school there very soon.  They are all excited as we are, Dr. Pie and me.


I am enthused that I represent our country in building a force in America when it comes to wellness and cosmetic surgery.  It is amazing that clients over there are spirited as they are over here!  In a lot of ways, a Pinoy boost is on its way, hence, situating a mark in the medical field shaped in excellence and innovation,” he chipped in, flawlessly determined of his accomplishment.


He added, “It is personally enlivening that the present government is high on developing our nation’s medical tourism.  In my own opinion, it is only timely that we should be recognized as a pioneer of medicine in Asia.  The Philippines has a lot of well-trained doctors and Pinoy doctors are one of the best in the world.  Again, I will reiterate that this stems from how we were all brought up.  By nature, we are caring, empathetic and religiously hard-working people that there is every reason for every Filipino to be the best in Asia and the world.


It is such an honour to be an element in all of this.  Medical tourism in the Philippines is something that I wish for to thrive on simply because we are great workers.  We also understand what excellence means because most of us went to school and it is only proper that we dwell in excellence to be victorious because we can.”



“Dr. Manny, what is real beauty to you?” I asked the burning question in my head after all.


“Simple. Beauty is how you see it.  It resides in all of us.  Despite my profession, I still believe that beauty is skin deep, that it radiates from within and that real beauty prowls its way out if we all believe in basic goodness and pure basic love,” he said with a beam on his face.


I, on the other hand, was amazed with this statement because it came from a famous doctor who literally used the blade to modify someone’s corporeal appearance.  Moreover, with that said, I clearly understood that being a cosmetic surgeon is also a bona fide profession and that beauty, satirically, has nothing to do with it.


Beauty, indeed, did not come from the wisdom of the body, or from a standard of one’s own classification or opinion. In fact, I can say that something beautiful to me is not beautiful to some people. ‘To each his own’ as they say and with the assistance of emotions, the power of imagination and the initiation of love inside all of us, I can state that only then when we will be allowed to feel and see true beauty in magnified proportions.  With Dr. Calayan’s out-of-the-country travels, his vocation in satisfying his clients, his passion for the country’s medical tourism and his devotion to his own family, it is already praiseworthy that we have been journeyed towards his life and beauty, in all its obscure empire, has a lot to do with that.


Without a doubt, our country should be proud that we have Dr. Manny Calayan.  And the ‘resulting satisfaction’ of my interview with him that day proved to be conscientious, similar to his vision statement that was attached on his cream-coloured, well-lighted walls.


And then my standard finalē question, “How would Dr. Manny Calayan want to be remembered?”


He happily answered, “I want to be remembered as someone you can talk to.  A family man, a friend and someone who was sincere, honest and devoted in what he did.”


Dr. Manny Calayan will be seen very soon in ABS-CBN’s Showtime as one of their guest judges.  I wonder what ‘sampol sampol’ he’ll try to pull off on the show.  Well, let’s wait and see.



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