Monday, March 31, 2008

it doesn't interest me...

When you're all by yourself, do you like the company you keep?

The following are verses that I came across a few years back and really liked... It's supposedly a piece written by a Native American elder called Oriah Mountain Dreamer (who I hope won't take me to court for publishing his work here, hehe!). One of my father's favorite lines is, "You are a product of the choices you make." I often think I am a product of the things I've read: C.S. Lewis, a bit of Og Mandino perhaps, even Arthur Conan Doyle...and bits of beautiful prose and poetry, such as this one:

* * *

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,
for your dream,for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals,
or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,
without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own,
if you can dance with wildness,
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes,
without cautioning usto be careful, to be realistic,
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal,
and not betray your own soul...

I want to know if you can see Beauty,
even when it is not pretty every day,
and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,
and still stand at the edge of the lake,
and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know
where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone,
and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know,
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me,
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside,
when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself,
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

the bystander effect

March 27, 2008
(posted much later hehe)

The subject I loved most in college was Social Psychology, the study of how a person behaves in a group. One of the things that researchers have noticed – termed the bystander effect – is that, in a situation where another person needs help, a person is less likely to offer the help needed if a whole group of other persons is present. If, for example, I was carrying a pile of books, and tripped, and the books scattered all over the floor, I would be more likely to receive help picking them up if there was just one other person in the room besides me, than if there were a whole bunch of people. The theory is that the feeling that you’re somehow obligated to help is diminished when there are more of you who could be potentially helping, and if none of you help, there would be many of you sharing the guilt. This isn’t true for all people at all times, of course – it still matters what kind of person you are. But take the time to look around, and you’ll notice situations where there seems to be a lot of bystanders and no one actually doing something.

My good old Psych lessons came to mind recently because, the other day, Arlyn and Benjo admitted a young girl who broke her nose because her boyfriend had repeatedly punched her in the face out of jealousy. At dawn, when the girl found it difficult to breathe, the guy brought her to the hospital, but he wasn’t done with her yet. In the Emergency Room, he continued to punch her and shake her, and no one tried to stop him. No one, that is, except for Dr. Krypton Kho, a neurosurgeon who was there in that unholy hour admitting another patient. He startled everyone by shouting at the guy to get out of the E.R. and making sure the guards removed the guy from the premises. “Nakatilaw diay siya sa Iningles ni Krypton,” remarked another surgeon amusedly later that day.

When Dr. Kho made his rounds that night, while Dr. Christian and Sherwin and I were on 24-hour duty, the incident was still in his mind. We couldn’t do anything about it if the guy physically abused his girlfriend at home, he explained, but to let that happen in front of us, in the E.R., and not do anything about it was just disgraceful. There were many guys in the E.R. that time – doctors, male aides, guards – but no one even attempted to thwart the abusive boyfriend, and that was what made Dr. Kho really mad. No one had had “the balls” to intervene, he said. He had a daughter, and he couldn’t imagine what he would do if someone had done all those things to her.

One other thing researchers found out about the bystander effect: once one person steps forward and begins to help, the rest of the group would likely be quick to follow suit. Thank God, then, for people like Dr. Kho, who aren’t content with just being bystanders, who say: wait a minute, this isn’t right, I have to do something about this. Like I said, the bystander effect is just something that scientists observed in people in groups. But it still matters much more what kind of person you are.

I hope, when it comes to it, I can be brave enough.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No, I Did Not Drown

(...in case you're wondering. In case you've noticed I haven't blogged for days and days, and you recall that my last blog was about going to the beach, and you tried to put two and two together. It isn't always four, you know.)


I did go to the beach. Twice, actually. ;-) The trip to Brian's beach house in Zamboanguita didn't push through (force majeure, and all that), so I instead, by myself, went back to Lowland. By myself, because I really, really wanted to go to the beach on that, my second-to-the-last weekend off. Since we couldn't go to Zamboanguita, I was left with two choices: I could mope around Abby, or I could make things happen for myself. A good number of people were amazed that I could go to the beach by myself. Actually, once you have the motivation, and some directions on how to actually get to where you're going, it's quite easy. No, what I'm proud of is the choice I made that day, not to mope, but to get up and do something, even if I have to do it all by myself. I like it when people take care of me, so I think I grew up, a little, that day. (I have to admit, though, I'm glad Jouie, Emma, Dr. Cruz and Dr. Amasula eventually stopped by, otherwise, my lunch would have consisted of Pringles and Coke.)

Almost a week later, a bunch of us trooped to Wuthering Heights, the site of Arlyn's near-drowning experience early in our PGI year. I was sunbaked by that time, so I contented myself with jumping off the resort's pier. I've fearlessly jumped off heights into the water many times before, but, for some reason, I hesitated this time. I eventually took the plunge (literally) and, weird as it may sound, I'm glad I hesitated. It made the jump worthwhile, in a way. Some things you know you can have or pull off, and when you do, it's no big deal. But when you have to struggle with yourself, and you win, that's something.

What I'm most proud of, though, was going home to Cebu for my mother's birthday. I almost didn't, but I wanted to give my mother a gift that she would really treasure, and deep down I knew that, more than anything, it was the presence of her family that she wanted most. My excuse letter is still lying in Dr. Ursos' desk, but whether it's eventually marked 1:1 or 1:3, the tears in my mother's eyes and the fierce hug that she gave me when she saw me standing outside our front door at almost 11pm on her birthday...dili kabayran, as they say.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

i want to go to the BEACH ! ! !

It's my weekend off, and I really want to go to the beach. My plans for frolicking in the sand and sun are, however, being challenged by another plan for Sunday shared by millions of Filipinos: that of being glued to the couch in front of the TV and watching Manny Pacquiao punch and pummel his way to victory against...geez, I don't even know who he's fighting.

Boxing, stand-up comedian Ant claims in "The Last Comic Standing," was invented by gays. Who else, he says, would think of a sport where two topless men in silk shorts fight over a belt and a purse? ;-) (Now doesn't the beach sound better?)

Actually, if it weren't for that I really want to go to the beach, I myself would probably be watching the Pacquiao fight. A lot of people romanticize our fascination with Manny Pacquiao in terms of that he's the only one giving hope to the Philippines right now, with all our woes and political circuses that never seem to end. I don't know...or maybe people just like a good fight, in the same way that millions practically devote their whole lives to tigbakay. Or maybe people just want to be entertained, in the same way as going to the movies, or reading a good book, just something to take your mind off your to-do list for a while. It could also be, as my Psych teacher used to say, "BIRG"ing -- that is, Basking In Reflected Glory -- Pacquaio won, he's a Filipino, I'm a Filipino, so I feel like a winner too. Whatever the explanation, there's sure to be a lot of drunks trooping into the ER tomorrow for accidents following drinking sprees toasting (or mourning) Pacquaio.

But I still want to go to the beach. ;-) I'm already looking forward to going to Sumilon or Antulang or wherever it is we're going on our PGI outing on May 1. And I want to go back to Bais and dolphin-watch before my PGI year is through. Hehe, maybe my sister's affinity for the sea is rubbing off on me. But mostly I just want to make the most of the time I have left in Dumaguete and, somehow, a day on the beach sounds a whole lot better than a day watching (that's right!) two men in silk shorts fighting over a belt and a purse.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

agree to disagree

This will be brief, as it's my lunch break and I'm supposed to be researching on pelvic fractures for our case presentation tomorrow. ;-) I just want to apologize to a reader who wrote a comment that I decided not to publish. It was about my blog entitled "Catholic and Proud of It," and in his comment, he quoted verses from the Bible on how a person is to be saved. He then ended by hoping that I would accept Jesus today (so that I'll be saved).

Um...

Okay, first of all, thanks for reading my blogs. Hehe!

Second, thanks for hoping I'll be saved. I'm hoping the same thing, 'cause I sure don't want to go to hell. In The Last Battle (the 7th book in The Chronicles of Narnia ), all the creatures line up before Aslan, and then some of them enter by his right side...these are the ones that get to go into the true Narnia. Those that were on his left simply disappeared. There's no mention of a wretchedly hot place, fiery flames or a lake of sulfur. But one understands. Being apart from God is hell enough. I sure don't want that.

Third, I wonder: how does a Catholic convince a Protestant that he/she has already accepted Jesus into his/her life? Maybe it's just me, but a lot of non-Catholics seem to be under the assumption that Catholics haven't accepted Jesus into their lives. Like I said, we may have been baptized when we were still too young to actually understand the whole thing, but we renew that baptism every Easter. There's a whole part in the Easter service dedicated to that. Hey, here's an idea: why don't YOU guys attend Mass one of these days? Seriously. Anyway, thank you for the concern, and I don't mean to generalize, but please stop treating us like we aren't Christians. It can be annoying, sometimes.

Fourth, I didn't publish the comment because I don't want a long debate about anything, especially religion. Nothing personal...if it was a comment about my political beliefs, I probably wouldn't publish it either. I'm not one to change my mind easily, and I don't want to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get others to change theirs. Time I should be spending researching on pelvic fractures, hehe! If we can't agree, then let's just agree to disagree, as the cliche goes. If you think I'm not gonna be saved because I haven't "accepted Jesus" in the exact same way that you have, then, well, go on thinking like that. As for me, I'm just going to accept Jesus the way I know how, and leave the judging to Him.

Fifth, thanks again for reading my blogs. ;-)

Good heavens, did I say this was going to be brief? Ahehehe...

Monday, March 10, 2008

an adventure ends

My one-year internship here in Dumaguete is almost over. Come April 30, my fellow PGI's and I will be marching down the aisle of Cunningham Hall -- merely a figure of speech, as Cunningham doesn't actually have an aisle -- and bidding Silliman Medical Center farewell. The new interns will be there, just as we were at the previous batch's graduation. Last year, we watched Dawn Tan break into tears as she gave a message in behalf of her batch. I can't imagine Anning being just as dramatic, but we'll see. What I can imagine is Brian singing the Invocation, hehehe! And, of course, Benjo dancing. It would take a fracture of enormous proportions to stop Benjo from dancing.

It's silly, I suppose, to be thinking about graduation this early. Way too early to start becoming sentimental! I still have mountains of paperwork to accomplish (again) and extensions to serve (again!). I blame our upcoming CPC for getting me into this weird frame of mind. I was just searching for pictures to paste on my slides and I came across the pictures of all our laag and wala la'y lingaw moments at Abby. (Yes, Arlyn figures prominently on most of them.) I can't imagine that, in just a few weeks, I would be saying goodbye to some of my friends and perhaps never see them again.

Internship throws people together in a way that classrooms and offices can't. You get to see people at their best, and at their worst. You get to dress up and shop and sing and dance and laugh and eat and have loads of fun together. You also get to see your co-intern in blood-stained sweaty scrubs, hair askew, hungry, grumpy, dead-tired...and you know you look even worse. You get to know and un-know them. You learn all about their ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends and you get to a point where you think nothing they do can surprise you. And then they do something that does.

One of the things that made me want to come to Silliman for post-graduate internship was Dr. Campomanes' assertion that "wala pa'y nag-PGI sa Silliman nga nagmahay."That rings truer now, more than ever. I'll miss the friendly environment, the consultants who really take the time to teach you and even become your friend, the residents who are the coolest in the world, the staff who call you "doc" and treat you with respect even if they often know what to do more than you. But I think I'll miss my co-interns the most. It'll be weird not having them around.

Weird, but it's almost time to go home.

Monday, March 3, 2008

shot sa^

My uncle Alexander was the proverbial black sheep in my mother's family. Rivaled in notoriety only by his older brother Frederico (sometime drug dealer, masiao financier and BBRC "mayor," but currently behaving himself), Uncle Alex worked as an electrician, received his pay on Saturday and would manage to spend it all on alcohol before Sunday. He was unmarried, so he lived with my grandmother, who would literally "suwa ug asin" just so she could give him money to sustain him for the rest of the week. Literally.

We all hoped Uncle Alex would change, but we never foresaw the way by which our prayers would be answered. Seven years ago, while he was walking home drunk, he was sideswept by a tricycle, and he hit his head on the pavement. His brain spilled out, and horrified acquaintances rushed him to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, where he spent quite a long time in the Neurosurgical ICU. When I was doing my Neuro rotation in Sotto last year, I looked his case up and copied the complete diagnosis:

OPEN DEPRESSED FRACTURE, LEFT TEMPORAL BONE WITH BRAIN FUNGUS; ACUTE SUBDURAL HEMATOMA, LEFT CEREBRAL CONVEXITY; HEMORRHAGIC CONTUSION, LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE; S/P CRANIECTOMY, LEFT FRONTO-TEMPORO-PARIETAL, PETROUSECTOMY; EVACUATION OF ASDH AND HEMORRHAGIC CONTUSION

Big words, aren't they? For my uncle, it simply meant that he could no longer live the way he used to. Not because he had a change of heart, but because he just couldn't. "Brain fungus" is the fancy term for "brains spilling out" and the part of his brain that spilled out, the temporal lobe, is the part that's important for speech. My uncle could still speak but, because of his accident, what comes out of his mouth is completely different from what he intends to say. He calls my mother "Bacaray" instead of Bernadette, and reads Mentos as "Robar." It frustrates him because he knows that he's saying the wrong things but there's nothing he can do about it. Sometimes what he says is so far out that we can't help but laugh. Over time, he has learned to laugh at himself as well, but there are still times when the torture of being trapped inside gets to him.

He's no longer an alcoholic. He no longer has to insist, "Di man ko hubog, naka-inom lang," that immortal slogan of drunks worldwide. No longer does someone have to subsist on salt just so HE could get to work and have three meals a day. Overall, that accident seems to have been a blessing in disguise. But did it really have to come to that? Wouldn't it have been easier to just give up the beer?

I myself am a teetotaler, not because I have an irresistible urge to be a killjoy, but because I just don't like the taste of alcoholic beverages. I've had a small sip of martini (which started the whole aversion to alcohol) and a smaller sip of Bailey's, and that's about it. I manage to be happy with my life, nonetheless, so I don't really see what the fuss over alcohol is all about. Of course, it helps that my nawng is baga enough, and I don't need to be drunk to videoke.

At 2 AM today, my nap was cut short by the arrival of a drunk man who was last seen speeding in a motorcycle and was later found sprawled in the street, unconscious, and bleeding. A portion of his skull must have been left in the street because when I inserted two fingers inside the open fracture I could have pinched his brain if I wanted to. He was subsequently identified as a dance instructor in a popular restaurant/bar here in Dumaguete, and his wife revealed he drank 2 to 5 bottles of beer (or stronger) EVERYday. What struck me most was her reaction when she arrived and saw her bloody husband at the ER -- it wasn't grief I saw but a lack of surprise. It was as if she had gotten used to his getting in trouble, and that a major accident such as this was something she had thought inevitable. As I write this, he is in the ICU, his head wrapped in an elastic bandage, his forehead swelling with subcutaneous emphysema, his left eye bruised, his body covered with abrasions and smelling horribly of old blood. He will never be able to dance again.

S*** happens, as they say. But do you really have to wait until it happens to you?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

lessons from a petty fight

Lessons I learned today:

1. JUST EAT. When you're hungry, you tend to get irritated more easily. Something you would normally tolerate on a full stomach can spark a big fight. The few calories you avoid probably aren't worth the trouble you create when you start a fight. Besides, when you're not on good terms with someone, and you're depressed about it, it's so easy to fall into the clutches of chocolate. So just eat.

2. IT'S HOW YOU LOOK AT IT. Okay, so he's already asked you if you've had lunch. And you've answered. And a few seconds after, he asks you the same thing. So what? You could think, he's not listening to what I'm saying. Or you could say to yourself, wow, he asked TWICE, he must really care! Hehe, well, don't be stupid either. But if you know he really cares, and you know that maybe there's just a lot in his mind, then ayaw na lang padak-a. ;-D

3. SAYING SORRY SUCKS BUT IT WON'T KILL YOU. I lived to write this blog, didn't I? Hehe. And it doesn't diminish you one bit. You know, as an aside, I could never figure out what that saying "Love means never having to say you're sorry" means. I haven't watched the movie, so I don't know the context. I suppose that if someone loves you, he won't wait for you to say you're sorry to forgive you. But I think that if you love someone, and you know (deep down, even if you haven't admitted it to yourself) that you may have done something wrong or made the whole thing worse, saying sorry can actually make you grow. Love means knowing when to say you're sorry. Hahaha, this is why no one will hire me to write a screenplay.

4. DIG UP THE PAST. That's right! Dig up the past and remember all those times that YOU were the jerk, YOU were the insensitive one, YOU were the one who couldn't remember stuff, YOU, YOU, YOU. If you aren't perfect, why should you expect others to be?

5. LIFE IS SHORT AND PRIDE IS A DETERGENT. The time you spend fighting could be time you spend laughing. Petty fights are cute and can spice up your life but shouldn't last too long. As that oft-repeated bit of wisdom goes, would you rather be right, or would you rather be together? Forget pride...make the first move if you have to. And Pride is a detergent, get it? Haha! And Ligaya is corny. And so this blog should end now, before she gets cornier.