Music is therapy. It moves people…soothes pain and longing. It can boost memory and sets mood. Its healing power is as effectual as the curative control of a medical dosage.
For hopeless romantics there’s but a thin line dividing Music and Medicine for both, no matter how diverse their specific range of knowledge, there’s still a peculiar universality of emotion that connects and justifies their relative status.
This far-fetched set-up threw Angat, Bulacan-born Imelda Cruz, second among the three children of Rodrigo, a dentist, and Sotera, a teacher, into a mind-boggling situation when she was pressured with an unsolicited advice from her parents to pursue a medical course than enroll at a conservatory of music.
“I was devastated at first since my childhood dream was really to be a singer-composer…but my parents firmly persuaded me to be in the practical side. There was no way that I could disobey them and so I followed the right track to becoming a doctor. From the University of Santo Tomas I got my BSPT degree (Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy) in 1986, my Medicine proper at the Pamantasan ng Maynila, and later my post graduation from Ospital Ng Maynila,” Doc Ime elucidated with intense clarity.
“But my love for music persisted relentlessly and its blaze was kept burning within,” the petite Sagittarian (born December 5) appended. “My limitless passion for music saw its materialization through performances in between school breaks and social events and that for me was fair enough.”
It was in New York where she did her four-year residency training to become a Specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation from the New York Medical College.
Currently, Doc Ime is a Fellow, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehab, a Licensed Physical Therapist, and a Physician Certified to use acupuncture. Her private practice enables her to do Physical Therapy, Acupuncture, Electrodiagnostic Services, Balance Rehab, videonystagraphy, and Braces/Prostheses.
“My parents were right!” This time her voice took a higher tone. “Good that I heeded my parents’ advice and I have no regrets. Everything is going well with my career while simultaneously conquering some lost moments of my musical passion. Now I’m enjoying the best of both worlds.”
They say: “Love comes from unexpected places…” and Doc Ime’s lovelife is somewhat as fascinating as her career choice having unexpectedly met her prospective life partner at her own birthday party in 1986. Roman Banting, a dashing but almost taciturn guy from Marikina, gamely tagged along with one of Doc Ime’s invited friends. That evening could have been just like any ordinary birthday celebration but unpredictably made special by their credulous meeting.
An instantaneous association indicated a serendipitous whirlwind affair while every music seemed to set the mood to a lingering connection.
“It wasn’t actually a love-at-first-sight thing but there was something compelling during our initial meeting…I don’t know but until now I couldn’t believe it happened,” Doc Ime vividly recalled with a giggly smile. “His well-mannered stance was simply arresting enough laced with his innate friendly ways and affable smile that made my heart skipped a beat. There was some sort of effortless charm in him that I couldn’t help but notice.”
“Actually, the feeling was mutual but I just could not execute a move just so to show my interest in her…it was just our first meeting otherwise my intention might be labeled wrongly… and beside she was so petite that I mistook her for a high-schooler,” Roman, who was just sipping his coffee, butted in upon hearing what Doc Ime had revealed. He gently wiped his lips after a sip and continued with a tone of seriousness. “I knew right there and then that I had found the woman who embodied my ideal girl,” he shared, to which Doc Ime reacted coyly with a mischievous wink.
Their reciprocated maiden encounter led to a romantic togetherness blissfully spent while consistently fortified by mutual trust and reliance until they decided to seal it with a marital vow…not only once but twice: a civil wedding on May 5, 1993 and a church ceremony on December 17, 1995.
Their conjugal union was blessed with two adorably intellectually-gifted children: 20-year old college student Rodlyn Mae majoring in English and Rico-Ian who’s currently a high school freshman.
Getting to know Doc Imee better
It’s but fitting and proper that our readers get to know Doc Ime better for she’s much more than what meets the eyes. She’s literally “a huge surprise in a small package” kind of personality: full of wit, amiable with a munificent heart, and a multi-faceted woman unbounded by her varied activities in the medical and musical fields.
Asian Journal (AJ): What was your childhood like?
Imelda Cruz-Banting (ICB): Just like any ordinary young girl with a supportive and happy family. I grew up in Bulacan and stayed in Tondo, Manila when I had to go to high school. I was probably born with music for my twin. I could skip my meal but not strumming my guitar or playing the piano. Despite my profound fondness with music (I was an active choir member) I never abandoned my studies (I graduated valedictorian of our class).
AJ: Was there an option before you were counseled to pursue medicine?
ICB: Actually there was none…it was Medicine or nothing.
AJ: What motivated you to write and compose?
ICB: My intense passion for music…it’s my emotional expression… an outlet of my mood.
AJ: What was your first ever composition?
ICB: That would be “Friendzone” which has two versions: one pop and the other, standard.
AJ: What are your sources of inspiration?
ICB: Earlier my children’s poetry gave me the idea to compose music. After reading my daughter’s “I Was Made For Loving You” and my son’s “Pouring” motivated me to apply notes on their lyrics. With the help of singer-composer Archie D, the songs came out in two versions; acoustic and jazzy. Then human situations and conditions that touched my heart would ignite the fading ember and awaken the passion within me.
AJ: How long does it take you to write and compose?
ICB: It depends…but when I’m inspired, it takes only 15 to 20 minutes because my mood was already conditioned.
AJ: You said, you’re inspired by human situations or conditions, what have you composed about them?
ICB:I have a nephew with severe autism that urged me to compose “Talk To Us,” for a PT friend with ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease), I did “A Reason Why,” and for somebody suffering from XLDP (X-Linked Dystonic Parkinsonism), I wrote “Twist” due to his involuntary abnormal movement disorder, I have a soft heart for them…I’m straightforwardly touched and moved and these instantly inspired me.
AJ: What was your first ever public performance as a professional singer?
ICB: It was a fundraising concert at D’Haven to benefit a progeria patient where I first delivered “Rochelle,” a song I composed and dedicated to her.
AJ: Aside from your fundraising projects, what are your advocacies?
ICB: In 2013 I joined Illinois-based Project Michelangelo Foundation spearheaded by Jojo Sayson where I met Rochelle. Every year I do Mini-pain Clinical Mission in the Philippines where my group visited orphanages, School for the Deaf & Mute, and other less-privileged communities in Mindanao. We deliver pain medications, administer injections, train the youth how to apply first-aid, and orient them about the importance of tree-planting. I also contribute to the Angel Rising Magazine, an internet Women’s Magazine.
AJ: At this point and time, are there still things you want to accomplish?
ICB: There are still a lot but at the moment, concerning my medical career, I want to write about the latest studies and available treatments on certain physical disabilities and diseases, and for my music, I may sound ambitious but I like to write and compose more songs, perform on the international stage, and be known all over the world.
AJ: Given a choice, what is your priority?
ICB: My being a doctor, of course! Singing gives me a different kind of fulfillment but an effective and successful medical treatment gives me a different kind of high. They’re both gratifying for I feel pleasurable joy from my clinical job and performing especially songs with medical theme.
AJ: By the way, what is Roman into?
ICB: He’s a numismatist for almost 2 decades now. It’s a rare occupation to be into but he’s doing good.
AJ: What advise can you give someone who is passionately torn between music and medicine?
ICB: Both could be expensive but take it from me…take Medicine first and when you’re financially stable, you can lean towards Music…and you won’t regret!
In conclusion, after hearing Doc Ime Cruz-Banting’s personal point of view, I want to believe Kanye West when he said: “My music isn’t just music…it’s medicine!” Similarly, Red Averback quoted: “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
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