10 Exemplary Pinoy PTs Making a Name in the US

A huge number of Filipino physical therapists practice the profession in the US after arriving here on skilled working visas.

Below are my own personal picks for the most innovative clinicians from the islands who are disrupting traditional clinical approaches, giving back to their community in the Philippines in a massive way, and just being admirable characters, thereby representing our Filipino heritage with excellence:

Rodiel Kirby Baloy, PT, DPT

Kirby is a huge advocate of pain science and active exercises over manual therapy. He teaches as an adjunct instructor in the PTA program at Stanbridge University in Irvine, CA.

He’s also a faculty of the International Therapist program of the College of St. Scholastica in Minnesota.

He’s an active member of multiple professional associations and is serving his second term on the National Credentialing Committee’s Exercise is Medicine initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The program aims to increase physician awareness of the benefits of physical exercise and to prescribe activity as routine as pharmaceutical prescription.

Kirby created the Facebook group the Academy of Filipino American Physical Therapists (AFAPT) which has 7,200+ members as of July 2019 to unite Filipino therapists and share clinical best practices.

Jodan Garcia, PT, DPT

Jodan teaches orthopedic content at the Georgia State University and has been recently awarded the President’s Award for Outstanding Faculty member.

He’s a Fellow of the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy and the American Academy of Orthopedic and Manual Physical Therapist. He’s also an Orthopedic Certified Specialist authorized by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties

Arvie Vitente, PT, DPT

Dr. Arvie Vitente is a core faculty member of the DPT program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences – Miami Campus and has been with the university teaching within its Neurology Curriculum including Neuroscience, Prosthetics & Orthotics, & Geriatric Physical Therapy since 2018.

He received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2017 from the Dominican College of Blauvelt in Orangeburg, New York. He received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy and Master of Public Health from Angeles University Foundation, Philippines in 2003 and 2006, respectively. 

Arvie has over 15 years of experience as a physical therapist in both academic and clinical settings. He was an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy from 2003 to 2012 at Angeles University Foundation.

He served as the Physical Therapist Assistant Program Director at Pensacola State College from 2017 to 2018. His clinical practice has been focused on Neurology and Geriatric Physical Therapy in the acute and post-acute settings.

He’s currently a member of the Academic Progress & Retention Committee in Miami campus, and serves as a Public Relations Committee Member at the Florida Physical Therapy Association since 2017. He’s a contributing author of Umphred’s Neurological Rehabilitation, 7th ed. and Neurorehabilitation for the Physical Therapist Assistant, 3rd ed. His research interest is focused on Education Leadership, Technologies in Neurorehabilitation, Neurology, and Geriatric Physical Therapy.

A Certified Dementia Practitioner, he’s also certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties as a Geriatric Clinical Specialist (GCS). He was a fellow at the APTA Education Leadership Institute (ELI) Fellowship in 2018, which is a yearlong program that is intended to develop innovative and influential leaders in physical therapy education.

Engelbert Devera, PT

This guy hustles hard. He’s the founder and CEO of the RehabPreneur online training courses that provides step-by-step lessons for clinicians to transition to business ownership minus the growing pains. 

Bert owns and runs Therapy Outsource Inc. and is an active member of Toastmasters International. He frequently speaks in youth group camps at Texas A & M University and mentors kids at the Garcia Arts & Education Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, teaching them early entrepreneurship skills.

He’s the host of the RehabPreneur podcast on iTunes. Bert has helped hundreds of therapists succeed in setting up their own home health therapy company and leave the traditional 9-to-5 corporate path.

Michael Chua, PT, DPT

Mike is passionate about combating dementia in older adults so he’s aligned his clinical practice for maximum interaction with people suffering from dementia.

He runs TN Therapy Outsource, a staffing company, and published the books MisUnderstanding Dementia, Time to Fly, 365 Daily Tips for Dementia Caregivers, and Caregivers Freedom Journal.

Mike still actively practices physical therapy in the home health setting. He runs 3 podcasts about finding your passion in therapy, and 4 online courses about alternative careers.

Richard Holsman, PT, DPT

Richard has blanketed New Jersey with 10 clinics of his own and branched out in neighboring New York, establishing centers in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Aside from running Holsman Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, he’s also managing director of Holsman Healthcare, a staffing and consulting services company.

He’s a Board Certified Geriatric Clinical Specialist and was one of the 15 awardees of the Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY) Prize in 2015, given to Fil-Ams who’ve inspired the community with their passion, conviction and achievements.

Christian Aniag, PT, DPT

Christian arrived in the US as a scholar of the Loma Linda University, taking up Masters in Physical Therapy. That was back in 1998. He obtained a DPT degree in the same university.

Through sheer hard work, Christian now owns and operates multiple home health agencies in the Southern California area, and branched out to being a hospice provider.

He grew up in Tondo, a densely populated, crime-ridden area in Manila. Today, Christian regularly donates funds to improve the facilities at the Gregoria de Jesus Elementary School in Tondo which he attended.

He helped establish libraries in several elementary schools around the Tondo area in honor of his father, Carlos Aniag.

Erwin Valencia, PT, DPT

Erwin is currently the Director of Training and Conditioning of the New York Knicks (NBA). He also leads the team’s Mindfulness and Breathwork programs. Prior to the NBA, he was the Major League Rehabilitation Director of the Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB) and today still serves as the Director of Medical and Performance Services for Baseball New Zealand.

He holds the distinction of being the first Filipino, raised and educated in the Philippines, with an NBA contract (and formerly MLB).

Erwin founded the Grasshopper Project to provide thought leadership through mentorship in the Health, Wellness, and Performance space.

In 2013, he founded KINETIQ, a global educational company which brings education to places around the world with no readily access. He also established BeyondMedyo, a social initiative that brings awareness to career possibilities to underserved youth of the Philippines.

Erwin is also an international speaker, author, and executive life coach.

Joel Sebag, PT, DPT

Music is therapy, and Joel has combined the two to enrich his practice. He owns and runs three clinics in Northwest Arkansas, as well as pursuing his passion – music.

Joel has his own music ministry and regularly organizes concerts showcasing Filipino artists in an around the continental United States & Canada.

He was a finalist for the 2006 Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Bayaning Pilipino sa America Awards which pays tribute to Filipino values of humanitarianism and dedication to service.

He was the 2010 vice president of the Arkansas PT Association.

The Sebag family regularly donates to impoverished families in Bukidnon, Philippines through the Tommy Sebag Foundation.

Joel has released 3 albums of inspirational gospel music. He donated the proceeds of his third album, The Serenity of the Ozarks to the CURE Foundation to benefit disabled children in the Philippines.

Eleazar Tayag, PT, DPT

Eleazar was the youngest Dean of the College of Physical Therapy of the University of Pangasinan at 22.

He currently owns two home health agencies and a rehab company- Imperial Home Health, Golden Seal Home Health and Optimum Care Provider in California.

He pioneered cutting-edge technology together with evidence-based practice to elevate the level of home health and rehabilitation practice in his community.

He holds clinical specializations in Geriatrics and Orthopedics accorded by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

Eleazar is deeply involved with Kalinga sa Puso – a brainchild project of PNHS Batch 1994. Now on their 8th year, the organization has donated backpacks and school supplies to more than 2,400 indigent students year after year. He also partnered with a PT colleague to start an outpatient and home health practice in Pangasinan to improve the locals’ access to rehabilitation services. 

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