Filipino American History Month: Oliver Ancheta

Photo of Oliver Ancheta

October is Filipino American History Month, which commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States. To learn more about Filipino culture, The Daily is putting the spotlight on Filipino American members of the Case Western Reserve University community to celebrate their accomplishments—and shed light on their experiences at CWRU. 

At Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Assistant Professor Oliver Ancheta specializes in geriatrics. For the proud first-generation Filipino American, the inspiration for his career trajectory was clear: his culture’s emphasis on respecting and caring for older adults.

“We are a culture that greatly respects the elderly,” said Ancheta, whose father is from Manila, Philippines, and mother is from Badoc, Ilocos Norte. “In the Filipino language, we have words like ‘opo’ and ‘po’ that we use when talking to older adults to signify respect.”

Today, Ancheta serves as an academic attending for inpatient geriatric consultation services—and for the past two years, he’s been teaching fellows, residents, medical students and physician assistant students how to excel in this field. 

Ancheta said he’s been fortunate to have had incredible mentors throughout his medical training and early career, and feels that working in academic medicine is a great way to give back after receiving so much.

“It’s truly a privilege to work with such talented and motivated learners,” Ancheta said. “It is my goal that by providing teaching and mentorship to the best of my ability that it will lead my trainees to do the same in the future, resulting in the ability to make a meaningful impact in the lives of so many more patients and learners than any one person could do individually.”

In his day-to-day interactions with his learners, Ancheta tries to incorporate a Filipino term, “kapwa tao,” which means a call to care for others. He wants them to know that rotations are not only meant to teach them the biological principles of medicine—but also how to advocate for patients in society. 

This month, as he reflects on how his heritage has played a part in his personal and professional life, Ancheta is also thinking about the many ways Filipinos continue to positively impact the United States. He believes there have been great strides in bringing Filipino culture into mainstream American culture. 

“Filipino restaurants and eateries are popping up in the Cleveland area and in many other cities throughout the country,” he explained. “When I was growing up, there weren’t many Filipino faces in popular culture, but now we have people such as Manny Pacquiao (former boxer), Bruno Mars (musician), and Jo Koy (comedian), among others who are bringing the Filipino face into the mainstream.”

Outside of his teaching role at Case Western Reserve, Ancheta serves as a faculty interviewer for applicants to the School of Medicine program. It’s important to him to recommend people who not only can contribute to the school through academic excellence—but also through their unique life experiences.

“You can also find me at corgi meetups with my two Pembroke Welsh Corgis (Gatsby and Glenda),” he said. “I am only beginning to put my roots down here in the Cleveland area and look forward to becoming more active in the community.”

Learn about other Filipino members of the university community.