Sunday, September 28, 2008

new doctors take their oaths

We crowded around the stage and were enjoined to raise our right hands. Even before the first lines of the classic oath escaped our lips, flashbulbs went off, as our friends and family attempted to capture with the camera the moment we ceased "becoming" doctors and commenced "being." Hippocrates and all his humours would have been proud.

(The Greek might not have appreciated the terrible food, though. The significance of the occasion prompts me to exercise restraint in my criticism of the fare set before us, otherwise... At the very least, I must give this advice: if you're looking for yummy breaded fish fillet, you will not find it where we had it last night.)

From here, I think I'll let the photos do the talking.

I had no guests, so Jo Anne and Sherwin "adopted" me at their table, which also included Ria (whose parents were in another table -- dah, dugay man abot, hehe!), Aimee (with her family), and JoAnne's family/friends. Jecyl Amaya (bottom, left) was there with her boyfriend Roey. Making (bottom, center) went to SM to have his hair done, according to a reliable source (nga atong itago sa pangalan nga Rey). Jet (bottom, right) was beautiful in green -- dai, angayan kaayo ka ma-bride, hahaha!

Left: Me with Jet and Lei. (We miss you, groupies Ver and Chiong!) Right: Me with Making and Neil Wayne, who was undoubtedly the star of the night, called on stage to deliver an Invocation twice.

Left: Blesil, Tina, Maricel, Lugie and me. Right: Jo Anne, Tonette, me and Ria. I suppose this would be as good a place as any to mention that my "gown" was actually a mix-and-match affair. My white corset was from our "Bleached" party in junior year; my lovely crumpled dark-gray skirt cost P100 at a sale in Metro last week (so good a bargain, I also bought another in a different color); and my bolero cost P485, kinda steep but good enough for something I know I'll be wearing over and over again. My shoes and accessories were my mother's. I did my make-up myself (even though I didn't know how three days ago) and followed Rey's advice of "less is better kung dili ka confi mag-apply." And I just blow dried my hair. Aren't I smart? (Kidding! I just love bargains and not spending unnecessarily.)

Maricel (who also didn't have guests, hu hu, luoy kaayo mi, but at least we looked fabulous), Tina (fresh from a heroic stint at Daan Bantayan), Ria (oist, ingun akong Mama gwapa jud kuno ka), me and Lugie (the girl with the blingbling around her neck, and grabe kaayo ug powers to the point nga while nagpa-picture sya ug solo, nitupad jud ang Chairman sa Board of Examiners niya ug nagpa-picture ug apil!).

Silliman alumni: Brian (you don't have a normal photo jud jud jud), Tonette (lovely in her favorite color, nidaot daw ka dai, ingun akong Mama), me, Ria, Jo Anne (best friend ni Ma'm Tiffany, hahaha!) and Sherwin (I'm sorry, that's Captain Tiamzon diay). Anning took the photo (sorry dai, hehe!).

To view all the photos from my camera, click HERE.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

paul newman

When asked by Playboy magazine if he was ever tempted to stray in his marriage to Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman replied, "I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?" He also once took out an ad in Variety to apologize for a film he starred in but ultimately disliked. His food company, Newman's Own, donates all of its profits to charity.

I don't recall seeing any of Newman's films and first heard of him at the "About the Author" section (and he wasn't even the "Author") of the Reader's Digest condensed version of King of the Hill, a book written by Newman's Own partner A.E. Hotchner (which book I highly recommend, by the way). Still, he had me at "I have steak..." Paul Newman, I'm sure, will be missed. He was 83.


Hunting for a Dick Francis book I haven't read, I just realized, is a bit like playing slots. If you crank that lever an enough number of times, you should hit jackpot eventually. Or so you tell yourself. And one win is enough to inspire a hundred more attempts, and thus is an addiction born.

When I was in Powerbooks last week, however, I was not specifically looking for DF titles. I was there for another reason: to see if they had books 2 and 3 of The Great Tree of Avalon trilogy by T. A. Barron. (They didn't. Hu hu.) Avalon isn't the new LOTR -- it doesn't have the soulful sadness and the easy poetry of Tolkien's prose -- but it's a great other world that also has fantastic characters. I especially love Batty Lad!

Anyway. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did scan the rest of the bookstore and spotted hardcover books for sale at P100. After just a bit of flexing my head to the right and stepping sideways (my usual routine at book sales), I found Under Orders by DF. Yey! I read it right away.

But I also found two other "jackpot"s. National Bookstore is also selling piles of hardcovers at P99.00 each (go look, do!), and I bought two other books, which I loved:

* The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz. Of the book, Lauren Weisberger (author of The Devil Wears Prada) says, "My enjoyment of The Spellman Files was only slightly undercut by my irritation that I hadn't written it myself. The funniest book I've read in years!" I couldn't agree more.

* The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez, translated to English by Sonia Soto. Intelligent plot, lots of logic and math, but delivered in everyday English. Ever since I imagined I had a flair for Math, I have always wanted to study at MIT. Now I want to go to Oxford (and study "Maths").

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

i applied at a call center

photo by ZoofyTheJi

I applied at a call center here in Cebu (which shall go unnamed) for a position as company physician. I was told my credentials were fine but they had issues with my lack of experience. My interviewer was afraid that sick, tired, uninhibitedly "vocal" call center agents would take in my "young" appearance and eat me alive.

While no one has certainly managed to eat me alive just yet, I have come across brash patients from the call center industry who act all uppity. They treat nurses and aides with little respect and expect hospital staff to be obsequious. As if speaking better English makes a person better than everyone else! I'm not talking about all call center agents, of course; not even most of them. But I would say many do come across as hilas.

For all that attitude, however, there's a group of people that's even more annoying: the expats.

Again, I'm not generalizing, but many of the expats I came across during post-graduate internship act like they know better than the doctor. That may be possible, of course, but that brings us to the question of why bother coming to the hospital in the first place. One Caucasian man once came to the SUMC ER and asked for a prescription for his back pain. He did not want to be examined, he did not want to answer any questions about his illness, he just wanted a prescription. When told that we couldn't do that, he said that he'd been treated by doctors from his home country who diagnosed him at the snap of a finger, without asking questions or sticking instruments at him. After several minutes of a pointless discussion, I finally told him that what we did at the hospital was interview a patient, examine him and then prescribe the medications we thought were necessary. If he didn't like that, he could go somewhere else. He did up and leave eventually...without paying his bill.

I mean, I've heard lots of patients complaining about doctors, but do y'all have any idea how annoying and presumptuous and stupid and obstructive you lot can be? ;-)

Maybe it all boils down to a lack of trust. A lot of people nowadays do not go to doctors they know and trust but make do with whoever is affiliated with their health insurance companies. Because they pay big premiums, they sometimes act like they are the ones who actually sent the physician to school. Doctors, too, seem to care less, because these are not "their" patients and do not particularly take to those who listen to them with eyebrows raised.

It gives me so much pleasure to treat patients who actually answer all my questions, listen to my explanations, ask to be clarified about my instructions, and do not fail to say a heartfelt "Thank you" before leaving. You'd be surprised how so few people say "thank you" nowadays. I dream of a practice where my patients know me and trust me, and treat me the way doctors were treated in the olden days -- not necessarily with reverence, but at least with respect, and certainly not as servants at the beck and call of the one who holds the checkbook.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

His ways

The Gospel reading this Sunday is one of my favorite parables because it allows us a glimpse into the mind of God. It's a glimpse that can be a bit disconcerting; we find that He is beyond all our quaint concepts of justice and goodness. Here is Matthew 20:1-16.

- - - - - - - - - -
"The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.'
So they went off. (And) he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o'clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?'
They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.'
When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner,
saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.'
He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
(Or) am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?'
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

- - - - - - - - - -

When I first heard this parable as a kid, I remember thinking, "But the first laborers were right! It's unfair!" I have (I hope) grown in wisdom since then, and (I hope) in faith, and I have realized something very important: God is always right.

The laborers who worked the whole day received the daily wage, as agreed. That is God's justice. The laborers who worked only an hour received the same amount. That is God's generosity. Just as the owner of the vineyard is free to do as he wishes with his own money, so God should be free to bestow his blessings and grace however He chooses.

The First Reading states it this way: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts." (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

In one of my college classes, my term paper was based on a book that discussed whether or not salvation was available for non-Christians. Many non-Catholic denominations, and even the Catholic Church itself, up to a certain period, believed that those who had not received the sacrament of baptism would not be saved. This includes babies who died before they could be baptized, and people in remote corners of the world who hadn't even heard of Jesus Christ. This of course stems from the fact that Christians believe it is their faith in Christ that saves them. And this was what provided impetus for missions around the world, since Christians also believe it is their duty to spread the Gospel and show the others the way to salvation.

The Catholic Church eventually re-defined its position. In a landmark document (I just forgot which one, hehe), they conceded that it is possible -- if God wills it -- for people of other religions, and even those with no religions, to gain entrance to heaven. Up until then, I'd thought of the RCC leadership as a hierarchy of well-meaning old men who nevertheless make all these fuddy-duddy rules based on spiritual concepts too difficult to understand. That was the first time I thought, omigosh, the Catholics have some sense after all! (I'm Catholic, by the way. It was a long journey from there to my current appreciation of my Catholic heritage, but that was the first step.)

I don't want to stir another religious debate. I state the "salvation for non-Christians" issue as an example of a case where we can make all these rules, and these rules may be based on our best logic and our deepest faith, but in the end, it's still God who decides. If He wants to admit non-Christians into His kingdom, why shouldn't He? Or is He not free to do as He wishes with His own kingdom?

Far be it from me to declare that I know God's mind, entirely, consummately, to the point where I say, "This is what I believe because I am certain God agrees with me!" I know some of His mind, perhaps -- I know He is good, He is merciful, He is just, and, if I may be so bold, He also has a sense of humor. He is better than the best of us, and He is smarter than the rest of us combined. My ways are not His ways, and I am content with that. It is enough for me to know that He knows me, entirely and consummately. He knows that whatever I believe, I believe after having thought it through with my best logic, in tune with my deepest faith. If I am wrong, He at least knows I have tried. I am at His mercy, as is everyone else, and I am betting that He will be a better God than we all take Him for.

the road less traveled [tends to be bumpier]

First, I avoided taking up Medicine even if my father had saved up for the tuition since I was a kid. Then I decided to become a doctor after all. After I graduated, I moved to Dumaguete, a town I'd only been to once and which I only remembered as a source of yummy pianono.* Then I outright refused to take board review classes at CIM. After nonetheless passing the boards, I let people slowly realize I wouldn't be rushing into residency. And now I'm threatening to boycott the oathtaking.

My poor mother is getting alarmed at my increasing affinity for the road less traveled.

Even my father -- who, if he had been in Manila during the dictatorship, would probably have been carted off to jail for rebellion -- is urging me to show up and is offering to pay the CMS fee etc. (He did support my reaction to the compulsory gown. Yey!)

Hmmm... Maybe I will go to the oathtaking after all. But I won't buy or rent a gown; I won't, I won't, I won't. I'll wear a nice, decent dress that I feel comfortable in, and if they don't let me in, I'll threaten them with the Constitution. Hahaha! That should make for a smooth initiation into the medical society. (I'm off my rocker, as usual.)

I suppose I ought to clarify that I am not being intentionally nonconformist. Gosh, no! I would be the first to decry going one way just because everyone else is going the other way. There are people who intentionally do things just to be different, to challenge conformity. But, as anyone might realize if one bothers to actually think, that is just a form of conformity as well. The term we used in Social Psych is counterconformity.

For example, I have nothing against mohawks. I used to entertain getting dreadlocks myself, but I didn't think my mother could bear it. I like making my mother happy more than I like the coolness of the thought of getting dreadlocks. And, anyway, I'd have had to shave my head after. And not getting to wash your hair! Ew.

Back to mohawks. If some guy really likes how he looks in a mohawk...go ahead! People have the right to choose how to look, even if they look funny. People have the right to look funny, so long as they remember other people have the right to laugh. But if a guy gets a mohawk just because he wants to be different, he wants to rebel, he wants to raise a defiant fist to the world, then that raises my eyebrows.

You refuse to blindly follow norms. But you do the exact opposite. Guess what? You're still letting the norms decide for you. On the other hand, if you do something because you think it's right, you think it's the most sensible thing to do, you have your reasons, then -- whether it's what everyone else is doing or what everyone else is afraid to do -- hats off to you, man. Mind you, you may be wrong, but having the right reasons should count for something.

And, um, yeah, that's Brad Pitt.

* If you are ever in Dumaguete, you must, you must, you must try the pianono from Gold Label. The yummiest flavors are the original and the pandan. There are several Gold Label branches, including one in Perdices St., and they usually have pianono at the Lee Plaza supermarket, too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

boycott! boycott!

If you're wondering why doctors charge so much, wonder no more. Aside from having to pay P40,000 per semester for four years and buying books that cost as much as P4,000 each, here's a breakdown of what the oathtaking this September 27 will cost:

Registration with Cebu Medical Society ------ 1,500
For the oathtaking itself ----------------------- 1,500
If you bring your parents (2 x P850)----------- 1,700
And you have to wear a gown ------------------ 3,000

Total ---------------------------------------------- 7,700

For ONE NIGHT?! No, for a few boring hours?! Seriously?!

And P850 per guest? What, are you serving us a quarter of a lechon each?

And why do we HAVE to wear a gown? Will our oaths be less true if we say them in jeans?

BOO!! Hippocratic oath schmoath. I am seriously considering a boycott.


Before I was accepted into the Cebu Institute of Medicine, I, like everyone else, had an interview with the dean. She noted that I was from UP and asked me not to cause trouble. The idea made me laugh then, but not anymore. As someone once said (in a movie or a book somewhere; I forgot who and where), "You were right to fear me." When leaders make stupid orders or bathe in frivolity, the only sensible thing to do is to revolt.

search for Brad and Beyonce at your own risk

McAfee says searching the web for "Brad Pitt" and "Beyonce" [and, I guess, actually clicking on the results of the search] enables "cybercriminals" to "plant viruses in users' computers."

Read the story here.

Good thing my number one crush of all time is not Brad Pitt but Karl Urban (you know...Eomer in Lord of the Rings). Next to Aivan, of course.

stocks and bonds and risks and money

CannonCreek -- where I used to work after I graduated from Psych and before I decided my true calling was Medicine -- is a company that publishes newletters [via email] that cover billion-dollar bankruptcies. When I was junior editor a few years back, it was computer-related companies that were in big trouble. (Right, Bern?) And I was actually with CannonCreek when Enron went bankrupt.

Today, America's financial institutions are the ones in deep, er, poo. Lehman Brothers has filed for Chapter 11 protection, Merrill Lynch has sold out, and big names such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are in critical talks in an attempt not to follow suit. Analysts say the current financial meltdown may be the biggest crisis since the Great Depression. (Read the story here.)

One thing I learned at CannonCreek was the difference between stocks and bonds. I really had no idea until then what they even were. A simplified explanation would be that if you own stocks in a company, you own part of the company. If you hold bonds, the company owes you money. Owning stocks has a greater potential for profit -- if the company does extremely well, the owners do extremely well, but the bondholders just get paid, period. On the other hand, stocks also have the greatest risk. If the company files for bankruptcy, the bondholders get paid earlier than the stockholders, if at all. The greater the risk, the greater the rewards, and vice versa.

Or, as my mother always says, nothing beats selling food.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Mangarap po tayo. Kahit simpleng tao pwedeng mangarap!"

These were the words uttered by Bugoy at the Finale of Pinoy Dream Academy last night. He only placed second to Laarni, but it is his story that inspires me the most. Bugoy (full name: Jay Bogayan), a farmer's son, worked as a canteen janitor before he joined the reality singing contest. His humble background did not stop him from dreaming of a better life, and even during the auditions, when he sang Guy Sebastian's "Angels Brought Me Here," everyone knew he was special. At last night's Finale, Bugoy said that even if he was not the eventual winner, he still felt like the "Grand Star Dreamer" because of all that he had achieved and all the blessings that had come his way. And it was then that, teary-eyed, he shouted to the rest of the world those two immortal sentences: "Mangarap po tayo. Kahit simpleng tao pwedeng mangarap!"

Dreams can come true. Thank you, Bugoy, for proving that.

* * *

This is my 100th post! It warms my heart so much whenever people tell me they like something I've written. This is what I really want to do in life: to touch people's lives in whatever way I can -- with the hands of a healer, or with the words of a fellow traveler in this middle Earth. If I bring a smile to one face, or touch one heart, all the time and effort I put into writing my blogs shall have been justified.

Many of the points shown in this map are just blind hits, or servers of some sort, or readers who stay less than 5 seconds. But there are a few who visit my blog regularly...thank you! Hehe!

Let me end my one hundredth with excerpts from my first, because during these times of confusion and doubt, it helps [me] to be reminded of who I am and what I want to do with my life.

* * *

"I came to Dumaguete because the whole idea of living on my own appealed to my curiosity and smelled enticingly of adventure. I wanted to see if I could handle medical internship, stressful enough as it is, while having to cook my own food and do my own laundry and, in general, take care of myself."

"As I'm still here, I guess I could claim a small measure of success for my 'adventure.' I've broken down less than I thought I might, but I have nonetheless broken down, sometimes with the flimsiest of triggers."

"Why on earth would anyone in his or her right mind want to become a doctor? Most of us in the profession have asked ourselves that one time or another. For my part, I insist my reasons were noble. It was never about the money or the prestige. I DID want to help others. But noble intentions can't insulate you from the physical and emotional hurricane that is a medical intern's life. And there's no stress-free future to look forward to. As a resident, and more so later as a consultant, the responsibilities are bigger, the consequences of failure unspeakable. I would much rather be a singer (if I had the voice, which I don't) or a housewife. But people get sick and someone's got to take care of them when they do. And I made the choice a long time ago to answer that call.

"So I break down, from time to time. I fall, dust my weary ass, and plod on. I paste a grin on my face, even when I don't completely feel like it, because there's so much to smile about. I have a family who loves me even at my most unlovable, friends I can share a good laugh and a fine cup of coffee with, and a boyfriend who makes me happy and keeps his cool when I fall asleep in the middle of a long-distance conversation.

"The whole point of an adventure is to test your limits, and then come home."

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I love book sales. I don't mean when the usual bookstores hang signs of 10% or 20% off over shelves and stick red or green stickers in books to tell you for how much they are discounted. I mean when books are piled on top of each other -- all sorts, from different authors, fiction and nonfiction alike -- and they are sold for prices half (or less) of the original.

photo by kylpyamme

The price is important when I decide whether to buy a book or not because I don't like the idea of spending more than P200 for a story that I'm not sure I would like. The last two times I broke this rule brought disappointments. I decided to splurge on Good Omens (Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett) because of the crazy plot -- the Antichrist is misplaced as a baby, it's the end of the world as prophesied by a witch named Agnes Nutter, et cetera -- and because the Neil Gaiman books I've read generally amuse and entertain, although they don't exactly make me happy. Good Omens did not make me happy. The beginning was riveting but it falls apart somewhere in the middle. By the time it ends, it's not the end of the world but you kind of thank God it's the end of the book. I still think Gaiman's a good storyteller, but Good Omens could really have been better.

Night Train To Lisbon (Pascal Mercier) I picked up because I was desperate for new reading material, and Amadeu del Prado was a doctor who worked to overthrow a dictator's regime (how cool is that). It was haunting and would be a good read for older people and literary/artsy people who like that sort of stuff. It took me maybe three days to read it, however, because there were times that I was just too un-interested to continue.

Perhaps the un-discounted book I regretted buying the most was One Hundred Years of Solitude. It was just horrible. (This is just my own opinion, of course, and I'm aware the book has many fans.) It was a hundred years too many. All that trouble in the book for nothing and a pig's tail. Don't get me wrong: I like Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of A Death Foretold and have nothing against the author. But OHYS made me resolve never, ever, ever listen to critics again.

On the other hand, some of the best books I've read cost practically nothing.

My best browsing find would have to be the Narnia books, which cost me P45 a piece. I've gone on and on about Narnia in the past, so I'll skip the paeans for now.

Dick Francis! I just love him! I don't know anybody else here in the Philippines who does (except probably Bingbing); maybe that's why National Bookstore and Powerbooks rarely, if ever, carry his books. Ironically enough, I got my first Dick Francis book -- Come To Grief -- in a National Bookstore pile and bought it for P90, I think. My second -- To The Hilt -- was also from a NBS sale and I've been hooked ever since. I browsed the Metro Ayala used books section almost weekly and spent my allowance on his tales. Dick Francis is a former RAF pilot and champion jockey, and his books are set in an English horseracing backdrop. His heroes come from all sorts of backgrounds, though, and if what they say about authors is true -- that writers reveal themselves in the kind of heroes they create -- then Mr. Francis must be a great and intelligent man indeed.

I can name many more treasures excavated in book piles: The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson (exciting plot, and I like "magic" books in general), The Secret Pilgrim by John Le Carre (thoughtful without being boring, and I like spy books in general), and my latest find, The Great Tree of Avalon: Child of the Dark Prophecy by T.A. Barron. I'm still looking for Books 2 and 3 of the Avalon trilogy -- if you guys find them, let me know where, please.

Books mean different things to different readers, I guess. For some, reading is a way of pleasantly passing time. For me, it's a journey, an adventure. The good books are the ones that I can't put down, that I wouldn't mind reading over and over again. They are the ones that remind me that this world isn't as crappy as it sometimes seems, that there are still such things as love and happiness and magic and self-sacrifice and nobility, beyond the reach of dusty-nosed cynics. They prove that heroes still exist, and happy endings are possible. Thank God for gifted storytellers!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

offering a son to the Father

Since I started posting my thoughts online almost a year ago, I've realized there's a whole universe in here / out there. My friends' blogs keep me updated with what's going on in their lives. But I also regularly check out the writings of people I barely know, or only know by name, or know not at all. (I have listed them in the "Recommended Readings" box in the lower portion of the right pane of this page.) Some blogs catch my attention because they are written with wit and verve. I recently came across one -- Home of Good Ideas, written by a parent in Biliran -- that I immediately liked because of its sincerity and palpable good-natured-ness.

In this post, HGI's writer relates how he (I'm assuming it's a "he") felt when he first saw his son in a red cassock as a new altar server in the Cathedral in Naval. His son later told him how he [the son] planned to enter the seminary next year. The father confesses that his financial capacity might not be enough to see his son all the way through priesthood, but trusts that "God will provide in whatever way."

A young boy entrusting his life to God. A father willing to give him up, as Abraham, Isaac. If their love for God somehow tugs at your heartstrings, enough that you want to help, donations (even small amounts) are accepted at Home of Good Ideas.

Good night and God bless everyone!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

procrastination doesn't pay, and other tales of The License

The pursuit of The License is fraught with tales that will be told and retold among the pursuers. Those of us who had our post-graduate internship at Silliman met for videoke and coffee last week, and we couldn't help rehashing our fears, bloopers and doubts, always ending with "Well, we still passed." Fair enough. But still. The retelling is a form of debriefing because, well, The Exam is a form of trauma. A few things on earth will make you as queasy and will more effectively induce palpitations and will generally scare the living daylights out of you as will a board exam and awaiting its results. (Well, okay, snakes and spiders and slimy things have the same effect on me, but you know what I mean.)

My cousin Em-Em (Emilia Mae Arceo Galleto, RMT as of this morning) came over for dinner last night and we laughed about our board experiences. She had a classmate who left her Notice of Admission in the Sto. Nino basilica and had to retrieve it from the crowded church very early on the morning of the exam. (Thank God it was still there!) Em-Em's hands were shaking when she shaded her identification sheet, and the proctor, noticing, told her to calm down, which only made her more self-conscious.

I had my share of licensure exam trauma. My own proctor, in Day 1, made me lead the prayer and my voice was all tremors. I also mistakenly detached my identification sheet from the rest of my answer sheets and for three whole hours all I could think was that that mistake could cost me The License. Not so. By the end of Page 1 of the Anatomy exam, I realized it would be Anatomy that would do that.

Wrong again. Hehe. I got my Board Rating today. I passed Anatomy but, gulp, I failed Surgery.

I don't know if this is something I should be telling the whole world. But there it is. I was still inside the PRC and scanning my Board Rating and taking in my grades, happily seeing mostly line-of-8's, and I was thinking, "O, naka-79 man lagi ko sa Anatomy!" and I was generally feeling idiotically self-satisfied when one simang grade caught my eye. Omigosh!!! My Surgery grade was 66%. Omigosh!!! I could have failed the entire thing!

What I felt wasn't so much shame or sadness as it was -- weirdly enough -- elation. Like I'd just gotten off a roller coaster or had a near-death experience. The after-taste of adrenaline made me want to laugh out loud at the barely-achieved triumph, all the while realizing, my gosh, I should be at least a little ashamed of myself.

Then I remembered: I hadn't studied for Surgery. At all. At least not until the hour before the exam, when I first opened the Surgical Recall I had borrowed from Laurjie. There is justice in this world after all, and while it made allowances for my shortcomings and let me pass anyway, I still got the Surgery grade I deserved.

So, to those who are still about to go on the quest for The License, I say: STUDY! Hahahahaha! Seriously, though... Study, do. Because Baby Prints might let you escape by the skin of your teeth, but not all the time. Because cramming might work, but it might not. And because procrastination just doesn't pay, or at least it only pays you what your effort was worth.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Anti-Wedding

No gowns. No roses or lilies. Pizza at the reception. Welcome to The Anti-Wedding. Two journalists from The Washington Post cry "Enough!" to lace and frills and offer to organize an "anti-wedding" for free. An adventurous couple who are just as allergic to the usual wedding extravagance takes them on, and one of the most unique weddings ever unfold. Read the full story here.


For those who want to try their hand at wedding planning (er, the usual way), there's a wedding planning seminar to be held this September 13 and 14, 2008. AND there will be a WEDDING EXPO this September 17-23 at SM. Details for both events are in my wedding blog, A Wedding In Cebu.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Blogging friends forever.

I can't help but be reminded of that Pinoy in a white suit who stole the show in this year's American Idol auditions by singing his own composition: I am your brother, your best friend forever! Watda! His performance made people laugh so much, the show's producers not only featured him in a montage of the season's most, er, memorable auditions, they actually invited him to perform in the finale. Renaldo Lapuz, you are my idol! Hehe!

Back to the BFF. Bernadette -- friend, cool mom, fellow UP Psych/CannonCreek alumna, empress of Purpled Sky -- tagged me, and I am, in turn, tagging:

1. Leilani - sirena extraordinaire, sister and best friend forever
2. Brian - go on, don't be shy, be a BFF too
3. Doc Ness - anesthesia prowess is just the tip of her iceberg
4. Hershe - talamban girl, mag-liloan pod ta nah!
5. Ruby - Bangkok's happy duckling, conquering the world a continent at a time
6. Doctor Ducay - blog na bah! tell us what pregnancy is like
7. Um. Papa? Hehe...

You guys are supposed to tag 7 people, too. Put that cute little logo in your post, and just basically spread the luv. Hehe.

I am your brother, your best friend forever, singing the songs, the music that you looo-ove! Now I can't get it out of my mind.

Friday, September 5, 2008

lost in pro's

Pro-life. Pro-choice. Pro-quality life. One wades through a lot of buzz-words when exploring the issues surrounding reproductive health. It has been a free-for-all -- the Google search results page shows that even a group of "Philippine atheists" have joined the fray, signing a petition supporting one of the RH bills -- and it doesn't look like a consensus will be reached anytime soon. Or ever.

My two cents' worth of disorganized thoughts:

Is population really a problem? Some say it is, some say it isn't. The urban centers are doubtlessly overcrowded, because that's where the jobs are. But I've also seen tracts of land with nary a human soul seen for miles. I think population won't be so much of a problem when the country's money goes to building roads and supporting agriculture and funding cooperatives and creating widespread employment opportunities instead of going to our officials' pockets. Which is to say, never.

Isn't the Catholic Church being just a bit too meddlesome? If by meddling, one means that the Church is being very vocal about what it believes and is trying its darndest to get everyone else to believe similarly, I suppose so. But it really is the Church's business to look after its flock's souls. The separation of church and state may be set in stone, but one can't separate earthly life from eternal life. It wouldn't be much of a church if it didn't try to tell us what is right and what is wrong.

What should be the role of religion? Um. As a general question, that's a bit "above my paygrade." Personally, I am a Catholic, and I try as much as possible to behave myself. I know a lot of Catholics who do not feel bound by moral obligations, and I know non-Catholics who believe differently from me. I think each person should listen to what his or her respective church has to say, but I don't think the state should feel itself obliged to please any one church. After all, if this country had been predominantly Muslim, I would dearly mind if the state banned lechon.

Is the use of contraceptives really a sin? That's what I'm not really sure of. In a Bible study I once attended, our speaker -- one of the more outspoken Monsignors in Cebu -- explained that contraceptive use is wrong because it "blocks the transmission of life," life being a gift from God and all that. But I would think that the "natural" methods of family planning block it just as well. I mean, no baby is conceived in either case.

Will providing "artifical" means of contraception encourage promiscuity? Seeing into the future is not one of my talents. Statistics will decide. A couple will, I suppose, find the decision to hit the sack easier to make if they don't have to worry about unwanted pregnancy. But, as much as I dislike the thought, there will always be promiscuous people, whether condoms are free or not. The fate of their souls is their own problem, but I equally dislike the thought of children being born into an environment where they are not wanted, where they don't have enough to eat, where they don't have a shot at a decent life in the future, just because their parents didn't have anything else to do on a Saturday night.

I heard someone say on TV that sex education for children would be just like telling your kid, "Anak, stealing is wrong, but just in case you do steal, here's how not to get caught." Oh, come on. In the stealing scenario, you deny the victim the chance for justice. But in the use of contraceptives, who, really, is the victim? Isn't it the child who would be born without them? I am a Catholic myself, but even I see that if contraception is done properly, there wouldn't be a victim.

I'm only eleven years old! Do I really need to know all that?! I didn't read the actual House bill authored by Rep. Garin, but news reports say that the sex education will be optional and age-appropriate. Gosh, I sure hope so! When I was a kid, I used to think that couples got pregnant just by deciding that they wanted to get pregnant. I got my first hint that maybe that's not how it actually happens while I was struggling to understand my Advanced Bio textbook in 3rd year high school. I'm sure the eleven-year-old me wouldn't want the burden of all that knowledge, so I hope that the lawmakers will find a way to make "optional" and "age-appropriate" truly operational terms.

Am I for the Reproductive Health Care Act or not? Let's see... I believe irresponsible and indiscriminate sex is a sin. I think letting a child -- who didn't ask to be born -- suffer poverty, malnutrition and miseducation is also a sin. I believe life begins at the moment of conception, and taking away life at any point after that is murder. I think that, whether the population is too big or not, it would definitely benefit an impoverished family to have just two children instead of eight. Having said all that, I still think that what makes our country so poor is not how many we are but how corrupt and incompetent are the officials we elect. So...I don't know. Hehe.

This is my contribution to TBR 18, hosted by Dr. Tess at Prudence, M.D.
Further readings:
Reproductive health bill: facts, fallacies - by Rep. Edcel Lagman
Rebuttals by Atty. Jo Imbong (in behalf of the CBCP) and Sen. Kit Tatad

Health News On A Platter - the latest health news, served fresh and bite-sized


I was awakened today at 3 AM by my dog Jiggy, who somehow found his way upstairs, opened the door to my room, and made whining noises at my bedside till I woke up. Turns out he wanted to pee outside -- in the middle of a heavy downpour, no less. Hay, the things we do for the people we love....

Jiggy is, indeed, "people" to me and my family. We got him when I was in my 2nd year of college, when we had to train an animal as a requirement for my Behavioral Psych class. It was almost like having a little brother, and there were times that my mother paid more, almost exclusive, attention to him than to the rest of us. My sister lost her temper about that at one point, and since then I have always teased her about being jealous of Jiggy. My father used to call our attention whenever we talked to Jiggy like we would to a human being, but now even he says "Jigs" in greeting when he comes home. Even my lolo acknowledges Jiggy whenever he comes to our house, and I get my nieces Sam and Thya to say "Bye Jiggy" when they head home after a visit.

I can no longer enumerate the number of people who have Jiggy's teethmarks on them. One of them was my mother's friend, Tita Daylin, who saw Jiggy standing guard by our front door. She decided to come up anyway and knock because she wanted to surprise my mother and another friend, both of whom were inside. Needless to say, she was the one surprised.

Aivan is another victim. He now has a two-month old pit bull named Murdock and he says he will be posting Jiggy's picture on Murdock's cage. Somehow, I think Jiggy will still win if they do come to a contest. My beloved mongrel is more tenacious in a fight than Manny Pacquiao.

Someone once told me a dog's actual age is computed by multiplying the number of dog-years by seven. Jiggy will turn 10 this November, so that makes him almost 70 human-years old. My mother and I tease him about it these days -- I refer to him as "our retiree" and, when he does nothing but sleep all day, I ask him if he thinks our house is a "home for the aged." He ignores our jibes.

I suppose it will all sound silly to some, but Jiggy really is one of the family. That's why he had no compunctions in waking me up a few minutes ago. He feels it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

growing up hard to do. (Harder than breaking up, I should think, though I thankfully have no point of comparison.)

I've been luckier than most. I'm 27 and I still live with my parents. I even have a good excuse: I was still studying medicine.


Time to grow up.

That means having to set aside plans to party and travel when there are bills to pay.

That means having bills to pay. (Hu hu.)

That means having to make big decisions, knowing they could decide what the rest of your life will be like.

Decisions. Another bad word.

In a way, I envy those of my classmates who are rushing into residency. The flurry of putting together requirements for this and that hospital for this and that training program can leave you little time for doubts. There are also those who are taking the USMLE and who have got time-tables for their career. How can they be so certain that that -- whatever it is they intend to pursue -- is really what they want? And how can they have that much energy?

I, on the other hand, am a walking stop sign. When in doubt, stop.

I do NOT doubt that I want to be a doctor. It wasn't something I have always wanted to do, but as a profession, it's very rewarding. Yesterday I volunteered to insert an NGT for my post-stroke neighbor and his wife was ecstatic, as she wouldn't have to pay the ER fee for NGT insertion anymore. Something like that... You know, it's simple, it's easy, any intern could do it, but it means a lot to people who don't have a lot. So I DO like being a doctor.

I think the problem is that I really don't have an ambitious bone in my body. All I've ever wanted to do was to set up my own clinic and cure people of common ailments. I don't want to have to make hospital rounds everyday and spend my waking hours thinking about patients whose lives are hanging by a thread. There's so much else to do.

When in doubt, stop.

Live one day at a time. Work. Learn. Earn. Save. Buy house. Get married. Family first, always. Go on a trip or two. Enjoy life as it happens. And, somewhere along the way, grow up.

Sounds like a plan to me.