Future Dr. Doolittle: Nurturing A Dream To Mend Furry Hearts

How Anda Lagdameo’s love of animals prompted her to want to heal them as well.

Eighteen-year-old Anda Lagdameo can jokingly admit her fur-family can easily outnumber her immediate family. She currently has seven dogs of various breeds, and a thoroughbred mare and she is the eldest daughter of business-oriented parents, JM and Iya and ate to sisters Maritina and Katrina. “I’ve always loved animals and have been surrounded by animals,” says Anda, who also grew up watching shows on Animal Kingdom and National Geographic. It was this early exposure that prompted Anda to apply for Animal Science at UC Davis in California for her college degree (even if originally she was planning to be a geneticist) where she would learn more about Agriculture, Animal Welfare and Management; and would also prepare her to eventually pursue a degree in veterinary medicine. Anda’s mom, Iya, had also wanted to be a vet and continues to be very knowledgeable about nutrition and care for their pets at home.

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Anda having a bonding moment with Astuce, her former french sporthorse mare/Photo courtesy of Anda Lagdameo

Equestrianism as education

Anda’s love for animals also extended into her choice of sports, up until she left for University, she competed actively in showjumping, starting out when she was about seven years old. She continued to train over the last 10 years with Michelle Barrera, Nikki Aboitiz, and Janine Felix under Team Equisport and as of this writing, is in the running to be Junior Showjumper of the Year of the Manila Polo Club.

Showjumping competition on her Australian Thoroughbred mare, Serena/Photo courtesy of Anda Lagdameo

Anda credits Janine Felix who is also the founder of her riding team for teaching her to be more attentive to the needs of the horse. “She told me that it becomes a partnership, and there should be mutual trust and respect, and that the effort has to also come from the horse, doing what you want it to do.” It is because of her equestrian experience that Anda says she has learned to be both competitive and patient. “You can’t go from zero to a hundred when you ride, you really have to work a long time, and since I’m a competitive person, I also want to do more. Riding taught me to be doing well, or the best at what I’m doing now, rather than pushing myself and losing my confidence.” 

Anda with TeamEquisport coach and founder, Janine Felix/Photo courtesy of Anda Lagdameo

Riding also meant a lot of “me time” for Anda, as she was busy with extracurricular activities (like cello, touch rugby) and  organizing  a fund-raiser which she initiated at the height of the pandemic in 2020. This fundraiser was called Mosaic, an online collective of music and art which benefitted San Antonio Parish (in its initial year) and then White Cross Orphanage in 2022 and 2023. She gathered 10 of her schoolmates from the International School Manila to perform live music, dance, and display art collections and galleries online. “Since we were all stuck at home during the pandemic, I felt it was a good way for them to showcase what they were learning,” shares Anda. “Each concert was meant to be a mesh of different skills, and the first year was so successful we continued until our senior year.” 

Day to day in Davis 

Life now as a new college student is something Anda has taken in stride. In the meantime, it seems to be less harried than her life in Manila. “I go to classes, gym and I do my grocery,” she laughs. “My animal science class has a lab and focuses on all kinds of animals, I even learned how to milk cows and goats. In aquaculture class, we get to study fish ponds, do a tour and at one point, shuck oysters.” As she has also had the opportunity to experience farm life in the Philippines (her family has farms in both Batangas and Davao) she says that the glaring difference is the sanitation and cleanliness systems of agricultural farms in the US. “Everything is monitored and super efficient, something we can learn from and bring back to the Philippines, hopefully.” 

Anda and her mini schnauzer, Butter/Photo courtesy of Anda Lagdameo

If there is one thing Anda misses about being away from home, it’s her family, especially traveling and eating with them, as they form a tight bond around both activities. Although one of her most memorable trips was when she did a summer course in Brown University, it was her first time to be solo while she studied Human Physiology and Sports Science.  Regardless of her enjoyable two weeks, she still decided to pursue a degree that would be more beneficial to animals. This year she is hoping to apply to another study abroad program, this time in Costa Rica for the summer and also a quarter abroad program in Australia in the fall. “They’re both animal science related but the one in Australia is more animal management while the one in Costa Rica is working with and shadowing vets in the field.” 

Arriving on campus at UC Davis/Photo courtesy of Anda Lagdameo

After Anda completes her bachelor degree and applies to vet school, her choices being UC Davis, Edinburgh Vet School, Royal Veterinary School in London, The University of Pennsylvania, Tufts, and Cornell, and even our very own University of the Philippines in Los Baños, she would love to take a gap year to ride. “It’s always been a dream of mine to compete abroad (outside of the Philippines). I know a lot of work and time goes into riding. One year is definitely too short but I’d love to qualify for the Grand Prix in the future.”  

Here’s looking forward to this young achiever and athlete’s dreams coming true.

Banner photo courtesy of Anda Lagdameo.

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