Summary

As a case study of the Filipino elite's engagement with western medicine, this article looks at the writings of two brothers who studied in Paris in the 1880s, Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera (1857–1925) and Félix Pardo de Tavera (1859–1932). It focuses first on Trinidad's observations on folk beliefs and popular medicine in the Philippines, and secondly on Félix's doctoral dissertation, in which he examined the causes of foetal death during early pregnancy. Both the Pardo de Tavera brothers found the methods of modern scientific medicine to be greatly superior in diagnosing and treating disease than the diverse practices followed in the Philippines. But in embracing western medicine, I shall argue, they and other young Filipino physicians of their generation simultaneously embraced western moral prejudices and proscriptions that had no basis in science.

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