Wednesday, June 25, 2008

life sentences for the single

“Marriage is not a word,” said Father Tom as he began his homily for my cousin Jongjong’s wedding. “It is a sentence. A life sentence,” he added, and the congregation burst out laughing. It was a joke especially appropriate for that occasion, as my cousin and his bride Normie were both in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Father Tom was the parish priest of Camp Phillips, Bukidnon, where my cousin grew up, before he became the BJMP chaplain, and he knew them both intimately. At one point he even joked, “Mao na gyud ni atong gi-ampoan, Norm!” and the bride laughed good-naturedly. She was 40 years old; my cousin, 25.

When I first heard that Jongjong had gotten engaged to Normie, whom he met less than a year ago, I didn’t really take the news seriously. I thought one or both of them would eventually get a good bump in the head and realize how unwise it was to marry someone they barely knew. More so, when I heard about their difference in age. And the wedding actually almost didn’t push through. But, in the end, Normie and Jongjong felt that their differences were something they could work through, and so last June 14, my mother and father, my aunt and uncle, Aivan and I found ourselves in Cagayan, watching them exchange vows.

Ever since we were kids, Jongjong had always been like my brother. We often visited them in Bukidnon and later in Cagayan de Oro, and whenever they were in Cebu, they always stayed with us. I’ve watched him through his highs and lows and was proud when he stopped semi-drifting and was accepted into the BJMP after rigorous training in Manila. I was at first skeptical of the whole idea of him getting married to someone quite older, but Normie has turned out to be a really nice girl (who doesn’t look at all 40), so I’m glad.

Come to think of it, who actually knows what the future has in store for us? Maybe the reason why Normie has stayed single all this time was because she was being preserved so that, when she met my cousin, she would be at the level of maturity and emotional stability that would enable her to better understand my cousin and so be the perfect girl for him. And maybe my cousin is just at the right point where he could complement her life and her personality perfectly. Sure, God doesn’t play dice with the universe, but He has time and again proved that He has a quirky sense of humor.

So, sa tanang mga single diha, ayaw usa mo’g surrender ha! Basin wala pa diay gipanganak inyong makadayon, bwahahahaha!

Monday, June 23, 2008

nosebleed moments

At one point or another, everyone must have received a forwarded “Inday” joke through SMS – you know, those vignettes where the helper named Inday says something really intellectual or does something really sosyal to the point where her amo gets a nosebleed. The SUMC people have taken the term “nosebleed” even further, and it has come to be used not only when someone says or does something amazing, but also when someone gets scolded. Well, I came across a few pictures that reminded me of those “nosebleed” moments:

This one (the whole half-page of it) is quite self-explanatory, I think. ;-) But for those who can’t relate, well, basically, ideally, when you’re a resident on duty (or even when you’re still a PGI) (or even when you’re still an intern, ideally) you have to know everything about every patient that gets admitted. But, of course, you can’t be everywhere all the time, and if you haven’t developed a system for getting your bases covered, then you’re bound to get into trouble. Everyone makes mistakes and gets scolded once in a while, but what’s important is that you learn from your bloopers and (for your sanity) learn to laugh away your bruised ego. If you’re ever in a hospital and you wonder why we’re always laughing, that’s actually us trying not to lose our minds.

From a patient’s chart. Written by a consultant known not to mince words. Hehe! In fairness, she was right.
* P.O. = per orem = by mouth.
* IHD = ischemic heart disease = some parts of the heart aren’t getting enough blood supply and are therefore not sufficiently oxygenated.
* LVH = left ventricular hypertrophy = enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart.
* IVF = intravenous fluids = “dextrose”
* DAT = diet as tolerated = basically, you can eat/drink as much as you want/can

Now that I’m reviewing, I don’t miss waking up early or being kept busy in the ER for nonsensical complaints, but I do miss sharing a chuckle with friends about these nosebleed moments. Miss you guys!!

* If someone has a nosebleed and a fever, usually with other nonspecific symptoms such as headache or luya ang lawas, you have to consider DENGUE, especially if the disease has been going around your neighborhood.
* The most common cause of epistaxis (or nosebleed) in adults is hypertension (or “high blood”).* And, by the way, having a low-normal blood pressure does NOT mean you are anemic. Anemia refers to the concentration (usually measured in grams per deciliter) of hemoglobin in your blood; blood pressure refers to, well, pressure (in mmHg). Go figure. ;-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

divine intervention (desperately needed)

It is perhaps a reflection on how well my board review has gone that:
1) I have recently asked all the people in my phonebook (all those on Globe, anyway) to pray for the success of my board exam, and
2) I am planning to visit the first of seven churches with my parents tomorrow.

That is to say, review has NOT been going well.

The schedule I made at the start of my review should have me done with Physiology, Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Biochemistry by today and starting Anatomy by tomorrow. So far, I’m done with Physio, but I’ve barely touched Patho, I’m only halfway through Micro, I don’t even have a Pharma reviewer yet, and I’m currently struggling through Biochem. Blame it on attention deficit, or on Kim Chiu’s My Girl, or on hypersomnia. Whatever the excuse, I am now light-years behind my study schedule.

me in front of my Biochemland map :-(

Jecyl Amaya, a friend from Psych and one of last February’s successful board examinees (on her first try, no less!), advised me, among other things, to make a pilgrimage to Simala and to say the rosary everyday. It was only divine intervention that enabled her to pass the exam, she said. I’m sure that she also passed because she’s a very smart girl, but I am nevertheless taking her advice and calling on heavenly aid.

There is no doubt in my mind that prayer can work wonders. The last time I solicited prayers through text was in summer of 2007, when my unfinished paperwork threatened to keep me from joining the CIM graduation ceremonies. No, I did NOT wake up one morning and find all my discharge summaries done. But God often chooses to work through other people and “coincidence” and “luck,” and I was cleared the day before graduation.

And why visit seven churches? I don’t really know. For one, seven seems to be a good number: it keeps recurring in Biblical lore. And, well, others have done it that way. Of course, an argument might be made that the time one spends visiting churches or going on pilgrimages could be time more efficiently spent on praying at home and then actually reading reviewers. I can’t really justify it beyond that it’s actually (for me, anyway) more a pledge of faith than anything. Things like that sometimes aren’t logical.

I remember a story I once read: this Syrian guy, Naaman, had leprosy, and he came to the prophet Elisha to be cured. Elisha told Naaman to bathe in the Jordan river seven times. When he heard this, Naaman totally flipped. Why?! he asked furiously. There were rivers in Syria that were more beautiful, not to mention cleaner, than the Jordan river. He thought Elisha was just making fun of him, so he resolved not to do what the prophet had asked. But his servants quietly took him aside and said, Sir, if Elisha had asked you to do something great or difficult to cure yourself of leprosy, wouldn’t you have done it? All he asks is for you to take a dip (well, 7) in the Jordan river; why can’t you do THAT? So Naaman concedes, and goes to the Jordan river, and after 7 dips, his leprosy’s gone. Just like that.

Sometimes, with God, it’s really JUST LIKE THAT. Believe in Jesus, and you will be saved, JUST LIKE THAT. A blind man once told Jesus, Lord, if You want to, You can make me see, and then he could see, JUST LIKE THAT.

As I’ve told a few people before, I don’t think there’s ever been a person who DIDN’T study for the boards and passed. I WILL study: I promise at least that to all those who are praying for me. But I will also pray, and I will visit seven churches as a[n illogical] symbol of my faith. And, maybe, if God wants to, He’ll hear all our prayers and grant me a successful board exam. Just like that.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

i still believe

For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong,
there is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

(And, now that I've thought about it:
For every woman who is physically battered,
There's a man who is verbally and emotionally battered.
Just a thought. Not justifying either.)

Hearing Kent talk about the misdeeds of fellow guys always brought Jen and me to the brink of ka-praning-an. Whenever we tried to say, "But surely not all guys are like that!" he would come up with example after example. (By the way, Mel, you probably don't read this, but you're being played, girl. I'd dump him.)

Well, NOT all guys are like that. Not ALL (surely). As Brian said when Detroit lost to Boston, I STILL BELIEVE. In Aivan, for example. And, Kuya Bri, I believe in you too. Hehe. DON'T disappoint me, guys.

And, you know what, I'm sure there are a lot of evil girls out there too.

Happy fathers' day everyone! Well, no, just those who are fathers, I mean. (I could NEVER make a sensible post for occasions that call for it. My mothers' day post was abysmal too.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Freedom From What

Do you need someone to blame for the rotten living conditions in the Philippines? You don’t have to look farther than your P20 bill. Yup, that’s right! The moment Manuel L. Quezon said he would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than one run like heaven by Americans, he doomed us all. He has now got his wish: we have a government being run like hell.

Well, no, another round of government bashing this will not be. Haven’t we had too much of those? When I entered college, the student government was mostly composed of one political party. The opposition kept complaining and complaining, but the next year, when they had the majority, they weren’t really able to do much either. Isn’t that just a microcosm of politics as a whole, especially Philippine politics, where people switch (or create) political parties at the drop of a hat? Sure, a lot of those in office today are morons, but who elected them? In the end, we get the government we deserve.

We celebrate our country’s independence today, but are we really free?

Poverty still holds most of our countrymen in its chains. Last night I saw a documentary that featured, among others, a young girl who was top in her class the previous year but couldn’t attend school this year because her parents couldn’t afford it. And another girl hadn’t gone to school at all. Everyday, she looked for scrap metal among piles and piles of garbage and that way contributed to her family’s meager income. She cried when she thought about how other girls her age would soon be taught lessons she would never have the opportunity to learn. These are all children who ought to be reading and solving equations and playing during recess and getting scolded for talking too much. Why do they have to suffer? How do we explain equality and justice to them to whom life has been unfair?

A lot of our people still have next to nothing to eat. A lot of them still rummage through trash and live in shanties and can’t even spell their names. And I wonder, what can I do? These are the people I want to become a doctor for. These are the people my heart yearns to help, but what can I do? If their lives become better for having intersected with mine, then perhaps the three meals I've eaten everyday and the good education I've received can somehow be justified.

More lives than those of our heroes need to be sacrificed for this country. While we are still bound by the shackles of poverty, corruption, ignorance and inequality, we can never truly be free.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

quoting Lewis

At one time or another, I have bombarded my fellow Globe subscribers with quotes from C. S. Lewis. Para fair, kamo pod. Hehe!


"A great many of those who 'debunk' traditional...values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process."

"Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."

"History is a story written by the finger of God."

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be 'cured' against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we 'ought to have known better,' is to be treated as a human person made in God's image." (in "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment")

"Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already."

"Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions."

"There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes."

"And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger."

"Joy is the serious business of Heaven."

"The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys..."

"Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is..."

"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..."

"Now that I am a Christian I do not have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable."

"All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy."

"No philosophical theory which I have yet come across is a radical improvement on the words of Genesis, that 'In the beginning God made Heaven and Earth'."

"Some people probably think of the Resurrection as a desperate last moment expedient to save the Hero from a situation which had got out of the Author's control."

"Democracy demands that little men should not take big ones too seriously; it dies when it is full of little men who think they are big themselves."

"Disobedience to conscience is voluntary; bad poetry, on the other hand, is usually not made on purpose."

"Only the skilled can judge the skillfulness, but that is not the same as judging the value of the result."

"Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well governed?"

"To admire to give one's vote not only for a world of misery, but also for a world of lies and propaganda, of wishful thinking, of incessant autobiography."

"In the midst of a world of light and love, of song and feast and dance, [Lucifer] could find nothing to think of more interesting than his own prestige."

"It is in their 'good' characters that novelists make, unawares, the most shocking self- revelations."

"'You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,' said Aslan. 'And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.'"

"Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal."

"Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger."

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

"We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it."

"[God] is not proud...He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him."

"Tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless."

"Every uncorrected error and unrepented sin is, in its own right, a fountain of fresh error and fresh sin flowing on to the end of time."

"The road to the promised land runs past Sinai."

"Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst."

"Looking for God—or Heaven—by exploring space is like reading or seeing all Shakespeare's plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one of the characters..."

"I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."

"Many things—such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly—are done worst when we try hardest to do them."

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere—'Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,' as Herbert says, 'fine nets and stratagems.' God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous."

"It was when I was happiest that I longed most...The sweetest thing in all my life has been the find the place where all the beauty came from."

"If there is equality it is in His love, not in us."

"Authority exercised with humility, and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live."

"Perfect humility dispenses with modesty."

"100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased."

"When you invite a middle-aged moralist to address you, I suppose I must conclude...that you have a taste for middle-aged moralizing."

"Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it."

"Every story of conversion is the story of a blessed defeat."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

on Caspian, former residents, and prayers

(though not in that order)

I went to CIM this afternoon and saw one of my old Pedia residents. That chance encounter with her brought back all my bad memories of Velez. How can some people be so plastic and bati ug batasan? Maybe I've just been living a sheltered life before, but it was really when I entered the world of Medicine that I realized that there are just some people of whom you wonder: "WHAT THE **** IS YOUR PROBLEM?!" Seriously. How can some people be so nice despite their gulo-gulong buhay, and some people just uncommonly evil? My Psych background urges me to search for reasons and hopefully see the good in everybody; the cynicism I've acquired in just two years of hospital life (80% having been obtained during the first of those two years) tells me I search in vain.

To all the residents and consultants and staff who have been nice despite our busy busy lives, thank you. You guys (yep, that includes you, Dr. Ducay and Dr. Cuyacot) restored my faith in doctors.

Have you ever had those moments when you feel protected now because of a prayer you made in the past? I think I'll have to expound on this in the future; I haven't really thought it totally through. I was just thinking about my year in Dumaguete and I realized there were a lot of bad things that could have happened but didn't. It's like all the prayers that I've prayed before have somehow been like a protective coat on me. The Lord is truly faithful.

I couldn't resist. Hehe. I loved it! I know different people will have their different opinions but...whatever. My own 2 cents' worth:

The storming of Miraz's castle and other inventions. The CS Lewis purist in me dreaded the plot changes that the producers had admitted to making, but when I saw the movie, I actually changed my mind. We'll just have to think of Prince Caspian the movie as being "based on" the book, and not the book itself actually being made into a movie.

Peter. We twenty-first century people like our heroes complicated, don't we? The Chronicles of Narnia, being essentially a book for children, was uncomplicated and rightfully so. I personally liked, however, the dash of arrogance (who wouldn't, if you'd been High King) in the movie Peter, if only because it reminded us that the Pevensie children were just human after all, and if Aslan still liked them, so could He us. Peter feeling guilty about having "abandoned" Narnia was also, I thought, a nice twist.

The cute mouse. After Lucy herself, Reepicheep is perhaps my favorite character in the Narnia series. He is the epitome of a knight, valiance personified, and Aslan's man, er, mouse through and through. You'll love him even more in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Susan and Caspian. This one I don't like, theoretically, because while I was reading the Narnia books, I've always thought that it would be Caspian and Lucy who'd end up together. When Caspian married Ramandu's daughter in VDT, I sulked; and now this kiss in the movie! I have to admit, though, there was chemistry between C and S in the movie, and it'll at least be a consolation to Susan, who won't get to be in The Last Battle.

I can't wait for Dawn Treader. Till then, those of you who haven't read the books, do!

leaving tracks

A tag from Bernadette de Roda and curiosity led me to Eugene Villar's Lakbayan website, where you can check all the places you've visited in the Philippines and get a grade. I got a pathetic C-, hehe! Here's the map that my former travels (for what they're worth) generated:

For those who don't know their geography, that's:
Luzon - Metro Manila, Laguna, Tagaytay
Visayas - Cebu, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Siquijor
Mindanao - Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Davao

Actually, I count myself lucky to have traveled anywhere at all. Still, a C- makes you hear Regine Velasquez's voice over and over again: tara na, byahe tayo...tara na, byahe tayo...tara na, byahe tayo... Shut up, Regine!

Now, if they were to ask me to create a map of where I want to go, I'd get an A+ for sure! My dream itinerary would include the following categories and destinations:

A. I'm 27 years old, living in the Philippines/Cebu, and yet I've never been (so I've really got to go) to...
1. Boracay - yup, never been
2. Bantayan - can you believe that? (ala MLEU)
3. Malapascua - ditto
4. Baguio - nope, haven't been on an "eductional" tour there

B. I hear there are a lot of fun activities / unique experiences in:
1. Subic - I WANNA GO ON A SAFARI!!! so if I can't go to Africa...
2. Siargao - can't surf but why not try; also the home of the infamous Mario
3. Donsol, Sorsogon - unsa gani to naa diri? whale sharks sa?
4. Mt. Pinatubo - getting buried in (supposedly therapeutic) mud sounds like fun
5. Guimaras - mangoes and monk-made coffee, oil spills notwithstanding

C. Where I REALLY want to go:
1. Palawan
2. Ilocos

And that's just the Philippines. Don't get me started on the rest of the world...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lessons from Beggars

While I was walking down the Laguna road that leads from my dorm to SUMC, I noticed a woman and her two kids dressed in filthy rags sitting by the roadside. They appeared to be eating. As I passed, they turned to me.

The kids looked like those street urchins plying the downtown and Boulevard areas asking all and sundry for "piso lang, te."I have given in to these requests once or twice, but the pity that I used to feel for such beggars have since turned to irritation. I've seen those kids gamble away the coins given them by strangers. A friend also related that these childrens' parents once refused to let their children go to a feeding program that her brother was organizing because participating would take time away from begging.

When the little family turned to look at me, therefore, I prepared to say "No" once again to the request for piso that I was sure was coming. To my utter surprise, one of the kids smiled at me and said, "Mangaon ta te." ("Ate, let's eat.")

I felt what must have been a dagger piercing through my heart. That I, who had more than they would ever have, but who was preparing to refuse any request they would make, should be extended an invitation to share a meal that was surely not enough for even the three of them -- that humbled me more than I could bear. I thought they would be asking something from me, but, as it turns out, it was I who took something away that day: much-needed humility, and a profound reminder that God's grace is for all.