Thursday, July 31, 2008

the pilgrimage to Simala

After weeks of talking about it, a bunch of us finally made it to the Simala shrine.

Head south of Cebu City. Take the SRP road if you can, as the traffic is lighter there. Just go straight. Beyond Cebu City's southern boundary lie the towns/cities of Minglanilla, Talisay, Naga, San Fernando and Carcar. When you reach the Carcar rotunda, DON'T turn right. Carcar is known for its lechon and chicharon, so you might want to stop for a sampler. Get back on the road, just go straight until you come to the town of Sibonga. On the right side of the road, watch out for the sign that points to the direction of the shrine. Turn right at that point. There will be another intersection, with a smaller sign on the left side of the road pointing right. Make another right turn. You'll pass a small river with a metal walkway built across it. After a few hundred meters, you'll be at the yellow gate to the compound.

Just left of the road leading to the church itself is a wishing well with a bell hanging above it. When I first heard about this well, my eyebrows shot up faster than you can say "three coins in a fountain." Why bother praying if you think a wishing well can do the trick? What kind of faith condescends to throwing coins on wells "just to be sure?" In the end, I did throw a coin into the well, not for favors but for the sake of trying the unique procedure: you're supposed to throw a coin at the bell, off which the coin was supposed to bounce into the well. It's not as easy as it sounds, at least not for a total klutz like me, and I managed it only after 5 throws. Good thing I don't believe in it, huh?

This is the main path leading up to the church, which is really rather big. The cathedral-like exteriors are mostly done, but construction/ renovation still goes on inside. Masses are held daily at 12 noon.

A colorful sight greets you once you're near the church doors: different-colored candles offered by believers with various prayer requests. There are candlestands outside as well as inside the church.

Outside the church, there's a stall selling candles in colors of the rainbow, depending on the type of prayers you want answered. There's a sign listing the possible types of requests (success in exams - green).

Inside the church, there's a simpler choice: black for P5 or blue for P10. I'd like to think God is, at least in the matter of candles, color blind. In fact, I'm sure He is! But if you're attracted to the different colors of the candles, as I was, I don't suppose there's any harm in selecting this particular one or that. Each candle sold outside (they're thicker and longer) costs P35. A tip for the kuripot: if you fancy a blue candle, the one sold INSIDE (for only P10) is just as pretty. And, if you can, bring your own candles. ;-)

Inside, the reportedly miraculous image of the Virgin Mary is situated high above the altar, but you can get close to it if you ascend the steps that can be found at the left side of the church. You leave your footwear at the foot of the steps, and the guard will lend you a shawl if your clothes are deemed inappropriate. There's a line going to the base of the image, where believers usually pause for a minute, kiss the case of the statue or whatever ritual they want to perform, and pray.
If, out of consideration for those behind you in the line, you only stay for a short while at the base of the statue, but you want to pray longer, there's a space further ahead where you can stay as long as you want. After we did this, we went back down, claimed our shoes, and proceeded to light our candles.

Those are my candles, that bunch of three blues (P30). This was before I realized with envy that the more colorful ones were prettier as well. I then bought a green (exams), white (purity), gold (something) and purple (something else) for a total of P140. And I bought another ten-peso blue just to make it a nice bunch of 5.

LOCATION OF THE SIMALA SHRINE: In Sibonga, a town south of Cebu City
PREPARATIONS: 1) Don't wear anything that might be regarded is sexy -- no revealing necklines, sleeveless tops, short shorts or mini-skirts. 2) Bring candles of your own, unless you absolutely must buy the ones at the shrine. 3) Bring water; it's easy to get thirsty up there.
FRIENDLY ADVICE: 1) If you have faith that God will answer your prayers, throwing coins into wishing wells is unnecessary. 2) If you believe in a God who loves you so much that He sent His Son to earth to die on the cross in our place, He's probably not the kind of God who will pick a bone over what color your candle is. 3) Simala is a shrine to the Blessed Mother, and she's a very helpful and loving Mother indeed, but remember she is only the Mother. We can ask her to pray for us, but remember we are not praying TO her. She is NOT God. The One who has the power to answer our prayers is God. Let's keep our facts -- and our faith -- straight.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

tales from my phone

My phone stores around a hundred pics, each carrying a slice of treasured memories. There are pictures of our trip to Lake Balanan, my parents' and sister's visits to Dumaguete, and all sorts of wala'y lingaw moments. These are a few of the more recent images, and the stories behind them:

When I was still living in Dumaguete, one of the plusses of my coming home for a visit was that my mother would get to eat bacon and fried chicken wings and sisig. See, if my father had his way, our whole family would be eating nothing but fish, fruits and veggies. Now that I'm living at home, the situation's kind of changed: we've all been trying to eat healthy. And with the proper spirit of experimentation, I've learned that "fish-fruits-and-veggies" doesn't have to translate to "yucky." This dish consists of crisp shreds of lettuce, slices of tomato and pieces of fried Fish Burger (easily available at Save More and White Gold; I'm not sure about the other groceries), topped with Honey Mustard salad dressing (available in sachets for those who aren't willing to commit to a whole bottle; other dressings available include Thousand Island, Caesar's and Creamy Herb).

Name: Jiggy
Nickname: Dodong Jiggy, or simply "Dong"

Talents: Figuring out ways to get food; bullying Jack (our other dog); listening first to carolers and then growling ferociously at them; staying alert for my father's footsteps down the stairs, which will mean he has to get off the couch (he's not supposed to be on it, in the first place) and act innocent

Greatest achievement: Biting Aivan's foot -- a sure way to tell that a guy really loves you

What he's done this time: While studying, I became really, really sleepy and decided to have a nap in our couch. I immediately fell sleep but was awakened after just a few minutes by Jiggy insistently scratching my foot with his paws. I sat up; Jiggy scrambled up the couch and immediately lay down on the space I had just vacated. What a great dog.

My mother often babysits my niece Thya, whose stubbornness includes a downright refusal to speak properly (even though she can). My mother likes babysitting her, though, because Thy-Thy's comic antics and insightful personality are worth the occasional exasperation.

A sample of their conversation:

Thya (pointing at a book): Look, Mamu, 'elephone!
Ma: Tarong ug sulti, Thy. Ingna... Te-
Thya: Te-
Ma: Le-
Thya: Le-
Ma: Phone!
Thya: Phone!
Ma: Telephone!
Thya: Okay!

Monday, July 28, 2008

random wisdom, part 1


The fact that the boards are a few days away and yet there are still so many things you don't know can make you feel like kicking the bucket. Some of my classmates actually have an exit plan set up: Osita and Anne will each jump from one Mactan Bridge, Carrie has reportedly called dibs on jumping from Club Ultima, and Neil Wayne will magpaligis ug barko. (How do you say that in English? Get run over by a boat? Sounds weird...) It's a joke, of course, but with a genuine desperation to it.

Reasons why suicide is dumb:
1. If your life on earth sucks, how can hell be better?
2. There's a chance you won't actually die, and you'll look even more stupid. You'll be a failure at everything, even suicide. And if you've resorted to malathion, you'll smell so bad, the interns who have to do gastric lavage will want to finish what you started.
3. Funeral expenses are, well, expensive.
4. All the good things you've done will fade into the sidelines, and you'll be remembered as the person who killed himself/herself because of...[insert reason here]. You'll have let one failure define your whole life.
5. No one gets it right all the time. The people who matter will still love you. If you roll over now, you'll miss out on the chance to someday shine bright and say to your estwhile naysayers, "Well, look at me now."
6. On a moral note: our lives aren't our own. We didn't ask for it, so we sure don't get to return it and claim a refund.
7. Remember Jesus' tears outside Lazarus' tomb? He does care. Let's give Him the opportunity to work His miracles.

Hmmm... My personal exit plan is to just crawl under a rock.


When you have a boyfriend who has classes whole day, attends review classes in the evenings, and tutors Korean kids during breaks and on weekends, you have to understand that he can't always indulge a sudden impulse to go out for ice cream. If a lot of "trip" ideas get quashed by a hectic schedule before they're even proposed, and especially if you're a girl prone to "trip"-ping, you sometimes feel like grumbling and whining and making an annoying fuss. (--> This is called projection.)

Fuss for five seconds, then stop. Explain, listen, come to an understanding, then suck it up. Why?

There are guys who do absolutely nothing whole day. Trust me, I know a few. Nothing with a capital N. They just tambay and light one cigarette after the other and come home expecting a nice dinner. Might go out again for a beer or two or ten. Come home drunk, punch walls (or worse), repeat sequence the next day. Oh, he has time all right.

Want to trade? Didn't think so.

Neil Wayne texted me this morning and says he DIDN'T propose, even jokingly, getting run over by a boat. Hay, Neil Wayne, kahibaw ko nganong wala kahunahuna ug paligis. AS IF pod, sa kadaghang higayon nga naligsan ka, nitalab. If you HAD planned on any form of death involving an MVA, I would have said you were bluffing. You may have a penchant for getting your cellphones stolen, but you have the luck of the devil when it comes to accidents. Hehe! Happy studying!

Friday, July 25, 2008

it could be worse

It's amazing how much I'm learning while I'm reviewing for my board exam. (Hah! See...I do review! Just not as tenaciously as might be desired.) It's also amazing how much I should have already known but never knew. (Bad cheetah!)

I've even learned a valuable lesson about life: it could be worse.

For example, I was studying the Pharmacology portion of a chapter on musculoskeletal disorders. After a long list of familiar drugs such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Ibuprofen and Mefenamic Acid), colchicine, allopurinol and the like, I came across ETANERCEPT. There was a short description of the drug in the book, and I was curious, so I looked it up in my MIMS as well.

Here's what I learned:
Mechanism: Recombinant form of human TNF receptor that binds TNF Alpha

Clinical Uses: Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis (ooh...big words)

From MIMS: If used in rheumatoid arthritis, the dose for adults is 25 mg twice a week.

Price in MIMS: Each vial (25 mg) costs roughly P8,000.

The frustrated Math whiz in me: P8,000 per dose x 2 doses per week x 52 weeks in a year (cancel, cancel...) = over P800,000 per year. That's PER YEAR.

Daily burden of a person with rheumatoid arthritis taking Etanercept: P2,285 PER DAY, not to mention the actual symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Conclusion: This is for everyone, so if you've been tuning out, get back in here. No matter what your problems are, they could be worse.

Count your blessings, guys.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

i love Elizabethtown!

It was a lazy day in Abby Jacobs Hall and we were switching from channel to channel when we (or was it just I? -- hmmm...the exact details elude me, but I was definitely there, and I) saw Orlando Bloom riding a bike with a knife pointed at his chest. I've been in love with Elizabethtown since.

The reasons why it's one of my favorite movies ever:

1. Claire -- Kirsten Dunst's character -- is crazy! Her weirdness is charming and she knows it. I wouldn't mind being her, I really wouldn't.

2. The movie deals with really important things but it doesn't take itself too seriously. Issues of failure, death, family and love are treated with finesse. You feel comfortable shedding a tear or two because you know you weren't conned into it.

3. Holly Baylor (played by Susan Sarandon) pays tribute to her deceased husband by tapdancing to the tune of Moon River. And the teary-eyed smile she gave his heart is made of ice and yet it melted.

4. Let's admit it: Orlando Bloom is just beautiful. I have since decided that the impossible Legolas stunts in the LOTR trilogy that made me cringe (e.g. "surfing" down the stairs of Helm's Deep, climbing up a mumakil in the fields of Pelennor without breaking a sweat) weren't his fault but Peter Jackson's.

5. The cinematography is just great, from my I-have-to-admit-I-don't-know-anything-about-cinematography point of view. There are scenes in the movie that are like a guided tour of that part of the United States, with a matching soundtrack prepared by the inimitable Claire. So Travel & Living; so cool.

6. It's got a happy ending!! I admire movies that are brave enough to have happy endings. It's so easy to think: "I want people to take me seriously, so I'll make them feel awful. I'll make a 'deep' movie: I'll make my heroes dark and I'll make my villains sympathetic." Please. I studied Psych. The world is so full of excuses! It's one thing to dig deep and understand one's issues; it's another thing -- braver and altogether more sensible -- to rise above them and make the right choices and JUST BE happy! But I digress... Sorry, pet peeve. ;-)

7. In the beginning of the movie, Drew (Orlando Bloom) tried to kill himself because he made a blooper that cost his company a billion dollars and he got fired for it. When he finally tells Claire this, she says, "You wanna be really great? Then HAVE THE COURAGE TO FAIL BIG and STICK AROUND. Make 'em wonder why you're still smiling."

It's a movie I can watch over and over again.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

if wala mo'y lingaw...

...and you're feeling altruistic (this is me crossing my fingers), here are things you can do that won't take up too much time:

1. Flood me with useful tips on anything and everything about organizing weddings in Cebu. Or even not in Cebu. Just anything about weddings. Uh, yeah, [sheepish look] I'm writing yet another blog. I figured I might need this information at one point or another in my life, and I might as well make a blog out of it. Could turn out useful for many of you out there, too, hehe! And I do mean ANYTHING: stuff you did or didn't like at a wedding you attended, good photographers you know, giveaways you absolutely don't want to receive any more of, anything. You can leave a comment here or at aforementioned other blog ( Thanks daan! ;-)

2. Pray for us. Boards are less than a month away. Pray for: me, Brian, Tonet, Ria, Jo Anne, Sherwin, Benjo, Chofi, Anning, Mel...kami ra man from Silliman, I think. And for Pabs, who I met the other day at Bo's when I was on my way to Pedro Calungsod and asked me to pray for him as well. And for Osita, Chatie and Making, Jet and Neilbac, Lei, Lugie, Neil Wayne, Clariss, James... Maybe I should stop before I make a really really long list and inadvertently leave someone out. Pray na lang for all of us, but they say specific prayers are better, and there are people who really do ask for names.

3. Care for a short mystery? My other other blog has 2 short stories, one by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the other by GK Chesterton (both in the public domain!). Hehe todo advertising na gyud ni.

Yey! Thanks very much!

Friday, July 18, 2008

la la la Latin

I had a surreal experience yesterday on the latest stop of my seven-church pilgrimage. The Pedro Calungsod Shrine, located in the Archibishop's Palace grounds, is walking distance from Velez, and I'd been there once before to spend some time in prayer. I've never attended Mass there, though, so I resolved to do so yesterday.

I asked Hershe for the schedule, and she told me they have a rosary and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every 5:30 PM, followed by the Holy Eucharist at 6:30 PM. I arrived at around 6 PM and heard the churchgoers just going into the Nicene Creed ("I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth..."), so I decided to participate in the Rosary as well. The church ladies gave us a laminated copy of the prayers as we entered, and I was amused to see that a good part of the ceremony was in Latin. (Amused but not surprised; a Latin ceremony seems in keeping with what I've heard about Father Ilde from Talamban parishioners.)

What made the whole thing even more surreal was that I happened to sit in the same pew with a man who sounded like Pavarotti when he sang. For real! He had a wonderful Latin-ish voice and he managed to make even English songs sound Latin by mispronouncing them a bit, all done tenor-style. I sailed through the ceremony in a dream-like state. I thought about the old Masses, which were said in Latin with the priest's back to the churchgoers, and I wondered if the foreign language made people feel that God was foreign too.

In the end, I just said my prayers and skipped the Mass (which was not held in Latin, by the way), resolving to come back some other day. In some weird way, it was too much to handle in one sitting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the important things

My father, Julito, turns 57 today.

When my sister and I were little kids, we would homemake the cards we gave to our parents on special occasions. Blank paper, pastels, metallic pens and other creative paraphernalia would be taken out of their storage boxes, and you would find us scribbling furiously...behind locked doors, of course, because we wanted it to be a "surprise." Sometimes they weren't cards but letters. From the start, my mother and father always made it clear that they appreciated things we made ourselves, rather than expensive gifts or Hallmark cards.

These last few years, I haven't been making my own cards. I know my parents still preferred them, but lately I haven't been able to come up with anything new to say. I didn't want to be writing down the same stuff over and over again, so I ended up writing nothing at all. I kind of felt guilty about it, because my parents had gotten used to those cards and letters, and I knew it meant a lot to them.

Today, I made my father a card of sorts. I put electronic pictures and textboxes together and saved them as one giant picture, and then I set that picture as my father's desktop wallpaper. He saw it when he opened the computer today (to search the web for topics related to mangosteen production, his latest obsession). He didn't comment on it, so I don't know if he appreciated the return to tradition (albeit in a nontraditional way). But that's not the point.

I guess, when I think about it, that people just want to be assured that they are loved. One gumamela given by a boyfriend "for no reason at all" can oftentimes mean more to a girl than a whole bouquet of roses given for her birthday. A gift given because "wala lang" suggests that the gift was given out of a sudden spontaneous surge of affection and not merely out of obligation.

But it cuts both ways. The girl, in this example, holds dear, not the gift per se but the reasons behind the gift. And if she cares about the reasons, then it means she really cares about the guy, and not just what he can give her. (By the way, mga suspicious minds, wala ko gapa-dungog-dungog ha! It's an example; that's all it is. Hehe!)

Some people would want to receive jewelry, some would like techie stuff, some say "convert to cash na lang." My father wants nothing more than a homemade card because it's something that comes from our hearts, not our pockets, and that says a lot about how important we are to him.

Aren't we lucky?

Monday, July 14, 2008

bag-ong post

Due to popular demand (that is, due to the demand of my most popular reader), I'm posting even though there's really nothing to post about. It isn't so much writer's block as sensory overload: the fact that the boards are just around the corner is using up most of my consciousness, so much so that there's little space in that consciousness left for the actual studying for the boards.

I might as well announce that I'm starting a new blog. Haha, as if I don't have too much on my hands already! I won't be overzealous in developing that one yet, but, well, I'm just saying. I've actually already created it: it's at ligayasolera[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Yeah, yeah, I'm a traitor to blogspot, and I'm already feeling remorse, as Wordpress is proving to be too complicated. The dashboard is so samok! If any of you guys want to start a [new] blog, take my word for it and stick with Blogspot.

Anyways, that new blog will be my new project in piracy. Well, not exactly. I'll be lifting some stuff from the works of my favorite authors and re-publishing them; duly credited, of course. Don't worry, a lot of the stuff I'll be posting there are already in the public domain (dili na copyrighted, I mean). But I'll be putting there some quotes and excerpts as well, and I'm just crossing my fingers that the authors' estates won't be suing me. Wala lang, anyway, I have nothing to gain from it man pod. I just want to share with the rest of the world the words that have touched my life, or at least brightened it.

Magtuon na ko oi! Good night everyone!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

the Goldameir of SUMC

The news that Twinkle had left Dumaguete in the middle of her Pediatrics rotation sparked various combinations of pity, guilt, annoyance and dismay in those of us left behind. I don't think any of us were that surprised, though. We'd noticed her worried face and significant weight loss for several weeks; we'd heard of the verbal whippings [though relatively minor] at morning conferences and the escalating headaches she'd subsequently suffered. She had, officially, gone on a leave of absence, but many of us felt she'd quit. Either way, we'd seen it coming.

As early as PGI orientation, Twinkle stood out for being the only Tagalog in the group, but she was fortunately (for her own sake, hehe) not one of those who assumed that the rest of the Philippines had no electricity. She was quiet but friendly, and she made a good impression on everyone by trying her darndest best to converse in Bisaya, baluktot though it might have been. Her first rotation was in Family and Community Med, and we thought that, come July, she'd have adjusted well enough to handle Pedia.

Not quite. Most of us had come from more toxic clerkships with toxic endorsements, neverending ward work and barely avoidable a**-whippings. The trick, we'd learned, was to retain only the important bits of criticism and let the below-the-belt verbal shots lapus sa pikas dunggan (go in one ear and out the other). And, at any rate, Silliman Medical Center wasn't at all like that. Most of the people at SUMC were nice, and those who weren't were shades lighter in their un-nice-ness than most peope in our previous hospitals of origin. But Twinkle had come from a hospital where, she later told me, everyone was nice. Thus the worry and the weight loss and the state of apparent perpetual "previous"-ness, culminating in the disappearing act.

We figured she was gone for good, but Twinkle eventually came back, and I couldn't help but respect her courage. If I'd done a bunk (as she was widely believed to have done, although she had actually gone home and had her headaches worked up), I wouldn't have had the nerve to return. And she came back knowing she'd be facing the same people and the same circumstances that had literally and figuratively made her head ache. That's strength and bravery that I don't have.

When we became "groupies" a month later, I learned so much more about Twinkle. I learned about her family and the troubles they'd been having. I learned that, quite opposite to what most of us do, she actually sends home part of her P5,000 stipend. I think she has also slowly learned to cope with different sorts of people and their different sorts of drama. We all agreed, among ourselves, that we'd help her adjust to the stress of internship, but she was actually the one who helped us: covering for us at the ward, writing a history or two, and, most of all, becoming a friend.

I once read a poem that now reminds me of her. It goes:

It takes strength to be firm.
It takes courage to be gentle.
It takes strength to stand guard.
It takes courage to let down your guard.
It takes strength to conquer.
It takes courage to surrender.
It takes strength to be certain.
It takes courage to have doubt.
It takes strength to fit in.
It takes courage to stand out.
It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain.
It takes courage to feel your own pain.
It takes strength to hide your own pains.
It takes courage to show them.
It takes strength to endure abuse.
It takes courage to stop it.
It takes strength to stand alone.
It takes courage to lean on another.
It takes strength to love.
It takes courage to be loved.
It takes strength to survive.
It takes courage to live.

For her quiet strength in facing failures, and courage in rising despite of and above them, Daphne Goldameir Crisostomo, currently on her 2nd Pedia rotation and better known in SUMC as Twinkle, is my unsung hero.


This will be my first TBR post! Doc Ness has been inviting me to participate for some time, but I've only now risen to the challenge. (Actually, karun lang kay bag-o pa lang mi nagpataod ug DSL hehehehehe good-bye Cafe Noriter na man gud kay naa na ko sa Cebu.) Specifically, this is for the 16th edition of The Blog Rounds, featuring today's unsung heroes, hosted by Doc Gigi (I always thought your name actually was Lei Si, hehe!). The Blog Rounds is the brainchild of Bone MD, who was kind enough to include me in the Yahoogroups list even though I hadn't actually complied with the TBR guidelines yet. Karun pa nako nabasa, hehehe, sorry. Hoy Brian ayaw na sige'g tuon, i-update na to imong blog. Ikaw pod Doctor Ducay. Hey...I'm getting the hang of all these hyperlinks... Hehe, hey guys! Hope maayo ra mo tanan diha. Hi Doctor Dioko! Thanks for the prayers and for reading. Sosyalan ka ha, pedia onco.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

pictures from Cagayan

On our last day in Cagayan de Oro, where we attended my cousin Jongjong's wedding, we went to a nearby city called El Salvador. There, a shrine for the Divine Mercy was being built. Work was still in progress but many pilgrims have already found their way there.

The shrine is built on a hillside, facing the sea, and they're starting to landscape the area around it with colorful blooms.

The rays of the Divine Mercy actually hide a staircase that you can ascend to get to the "heart" area. The rays reflect light and the whole thing must look really cool in the mornings, as the statue faces east.

Aivan, Normie, Jongjong, Tito Ruben, Tita Inday, Auntie Eng, Uncle Jun, Mama and Papa.