Saturday, November 29, 2008

lion reunites with human friends

This is a video of a lion being reunited with two humans who adopted him when he was a cub but who were forced to return him to the wild.

I'm still crying.

Friday, November 28, 2008


photo by kianee

When my father was teaching me how to drive, I used to focus on the road, literally. I would be looking down at the asphalt and seeing all those clumps of gray and black speeding past the front end of the Volkswagen. And I would be terrified, because at the rate I was putting all that asphalt behind me, it seemed like I was driving too fast. In reality, the car was only in first gear. When I looked up and ahead, I was actually moving at a safe -- that is, a snail's -- pace.

It's a lesson worth remembering when life seems to be spinning out of control. We get lost in all the details, in the day-to-day struggles, and we panic and forget to look up. Some bumps are real, of course, but sometimes it is just a matter of perspective.

And the person behind the wheel of the VW was someone who was only just learning how to drive (and forgot soon after). The Person behind our lives is so much more reliable.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

#9 of 28 Things... Harry Potter

Harry Potter.

book art by Mary GrandPre

Typically, I only started reading Harry Potter when my sister brought home copies of the first, I think, 3 books that she borrowed from a friend. The fact that half the world was crazy about them hadn't convinced me to buy the books, as they were known to be quite expensive. But after the first few pages of Sorcerer's Stone, I was hooked. I, un-typically, even made reservations for Deathly Hallows.

I still re-read my Harry Potter books when I get the chance -- that's how much I love them. Just this week, I read Hallows for, like, the nth time, and still I couldn't help sobbing over Hedwig, Mad Eye, Dobby and Fred.

(Watch the trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince HERE.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

#8 of 28 Things... Drivers who give back 50 cents

jeepney drivers who give me 50 cents back

Jeepney drivers that give you 50 cents change when you give them P8. The reason I don't insist on getting the change is, well, I figure, I ride a jeepney 4 times a day, so that's P2/day or, let's see, P44/month. And I figure the jeepney drivers need that more than I do. So I pay P8 without a heavy heart [while reserving my option to give P7.50 to: (1) those who, at certain stops, wait as long as it takes to get the jeepney full, not minding that their passengers are running late, (2) those who insist on cramming as much matter into as little space as possible, and never mind that some of their passengers are seated by less than half a butt, and (3) those who keep asking for change even when it's late in the day to the point of being annoying]. But there are really drivers and conductors who make it a point to give the right change. I pray they are rewarded a hundredfold.
photo courtesy of

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

US doctors planning to quit or cut back

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Primary care doctors in the United States feel overworked and nearly half plan to either cut back on how many patients they see or quit medicine entirely, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

And 60 percent of 12,000 general practice physicians found they would not recommend medicine as a career.

"The whole thing has spun out of control. I plan to retire early even though I still love seeing patients. The process has just become too burdensome," the Physicians' Foundation, which conducted the survey, quoted one of the doctors as saying.

The survey adds to building evidence that not enough internal medicine or family practice doctors are trained or practicing in the United States, although there are plenty of specialist physicians.



Good news for the Pinoy doctors who would love to step into their shoes?

I suppose any profession, and not just medicine, has the potential to become such a burden as to consider abandoning completely. One time, my mother and I were buying some stuff at Metro Gaisano, and the lady in the counter who put our purchases in plastic bags was positively scowling. The Christmas rush is only just beginning, but the department stores are getting really crowded, and stress levels must be running high among the employees. As I saw her harried face, I thought, "Geez, that must be what I look like when I'm super-busy at the ER!" (Hehe. I know my "toxic" look can be scary.) But at least a doctor can command a decent salary -- and some even command PF's that are so enormous as to be indecent. What do sales ladies have to look forward to? Minimum wage, minus all sorts of deductions? It's hardly fair.

So stress on the job is a given. But I don't ever want to get to the point where practicing medicine becomes an inescapable burden. I dream of setting up my life in such a way that I see patients because I want to, not because I have to, out of conscience or out of need. These days, I'm happy enough seeing patients -- mostly neighbors and relatives -- without getting anything out of it. That's how I always thought of medicine: as service, not something I do to earn my daily bread.

I want it to be a choice, not a duty (and not even as a duty that I chose the moment I stepped into med school, so don't give me that). When I think about it, I can deal with pressure and sleepless nights and cranky kids and neverending ward calls. What absolutely breaks my heart just thinking about the usual doctor's life is the loss of freedom.

Monday, November 17, 2008

28 things to be thankful for (1-7)

1. My wonderful family! Supportive, loving and reliable parents who still take care of me even though I'm this old. A thoughtful, responsible, caring [and currently penniless] sister who makes her presence felt though she's miles away.
2. My super-cool (even without the long hair) boyfriend, who barely has time to rest but who took the time to make (and not just buy) me a birthday gift.

3. My job. Not everyone has one. It can be frustrating at times, and it's not something I would willingly burn out for, but it's filling the gap.
photo courtesy of ante3

4. My entertaining nieces, Sam and Thya. I'm not a kids person -- I'm not one of those people who squeal when they see a baby and are experts at making cooing sounds and funny faces -- but, just the same, Sam and Thya look for me when I'm not around.

5. My cool lolo. He makes it a point to give me chicharon whenever he has a fresh supply, and linat-ang bukog sa baboy (mmm!) when he makes it. When my mother and father were in Manila visiting my sister, I hardly had to cook for myself because my lolo would keep giving me food. And I'm thankful that he's as spry as ever at 79.

6. Travel! Thank you to PAL for giving us employee's discounts and to the other airlines for coming up with promos that satisfy our wanderlust.

7. Real estate. Hehe! Thinking about buying land and a house [and wondering how you can afford it in a million years] seems to be pathognomonic of growing up. For me, though, it isn't so much a mark of maturity as it is another adventure! We're going on a reconnaissance mission a few minutes from now, so I'll have to sign off.

photo courtesy of reznor

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"we could die a slow death if they chose to leave us"

what i wouldn't give for an arabian horse of my own
and land to gallop in
(one of my favorite LOTR scenes was the muster of Rohan)
photo by winterdove
courtesy of stock.xchng
...and more of what a not-that-common Arab says about Filipinos, HERE. The article is unreal and had me laughing silly. Courtesy of the equally unreal Mel.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

lani and papu's vietnam

My sister and father recently went to Vietnam.

More of my brilliant sister's brilliant pics HERE. You'll want to visit Vietnam, too. Kuyog ta!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

getting closure from wiki, the gates of hell, and all that

closure from wikipedia

I don't know about you guys, but I occasionally come upon books that are part of a series, say, Book 1. They are good enough to read, but not good enough for me to shell out serious bucks to buy the whole series. I am tempted to, though, because I don't like being left hanging.

Enter Wikipedia. I was actually searching for online sellers of Books 2 and 3 of The Great Tree of Avalon. Google displays Wikipedia links, and I click on them. Serious spoilers. I get my suspicions confirmed: romance will blossom between Tamwyn and Elli (duh), the bard is Merlin, and Batty Lad is actually Basilgarrad. Yey! Now I'm at peace, and I don't have to buy the books anytime soon. (It's a book for young adults, and it shows on the writing style. But the diversity of characters is Tolkien-ish.)

I've also just read The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman, but I don't have a copy of The Amber Spyglass. So I pull up the Wikipedia entry for Spyglass, and, voila, I now know what happens in the 3rd (and last) book. Fans of the series, and literature purists, will probably shudder at what I'm doing, but it's saving me from spending hard-earned money on books that I wouldn't read again.

If you're as kuripot as I am, and as averse to being left hanging, you could try it.

the gates of hell

Speaking of The Golden Compass, there was a bit of controversy when the movie version was released. Officials of the Catholic church actually asked people not to see it, because it has an anti-Catholic sentiment. I, er, saw it. And read the book. Books.

Several points:

1. It is anti-Catholic, in the sense that it is clearly against the Catholic Church as depicted in the book. It depicts the Church as always hatching plots, and seeking world domination, and resorting to inhuman methods of preventing people from sinning. But, actually, the real Catholic Church isn't like that at all.

2. The RCC isn't perfect. My Church is flawed, priests aren't paragons of virtue, we've reportedly burned witches, etc. But those who would criticize us for this would do well to remember that our very flaws are the very center of Christianity -- we are sinners, and we won't in a million years deserve heaven, but Christ came and made heaven possible.

3. Criticizing the members of the Church is one thing. Again, I say: we are human. It is only by God's grace that we still have a shot at eternity by His side. BUT, if you really want to take us down, you ought to take the battle to the doorstep of the Leader. And INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, this is exactly what Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig's character) does. Gosh, he may have his head in the clouds but no one can say he isn't courageous. Which is sad, as there are better uses for courage than to defend one's pride.

4. "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18. I personally do not fear for my Church, but I do fear for those who know nothing of it, and go and read books such as Compass. Or Da Vinci Code, for that matter.

It's becoming trendy to attack the Catholic church. I know it's partly because there have been scandals brought to light in the past few years. Some people think that the Church, being composed of sinners themselves, can't possibly lead other sinners to Christ, as in the case of the blind leading the blind.

Now, of course, that may be true if they are the only ones in the picture. But suppose there were 3 people, all in a line. The middle person is blind and is holding the last person, who is also blind, by the hand. It can be said that the middle person is leading the last. But what if the blind middle person is also holding on to the first person, who isn't blind? That changes everything.

The last person can say, "I won't be led around by someone who's just as blind as I am!" And he can choose to let go. The middle person, out of concern, can try to hold on to him, to persuade him that they're going in the right direction, that they're safe. But, ultimately, it's the last person's choice.

Then again, there is the statement "just as blind as I am." Now, of course, both of them are as blind as the other, in the sense that none of them can see with their eyes. But the middle person, being closer to the first -- who isn't blind -- can hear him better. He can hear the first person say, "Over there is a red building, and over there is a farm, and right in front of us is a hole, so you better do exactly as I say and go where I go." So you can imagine that, while the middle person is "just as blind" as the last, he is more informed about the world and where they're going.

You could also say, "But the third person has the capacity to hear the first person's commentaries as well." True, and that's all very well if they were in a huddle. But they are in a line, and the distance between the first and the last person is greater. And there is the environment: if they're on a street, it's bound to be noisy, and that would also lessen the last person's capacity to hear. And, finally, is the third person even listening?

My friends, we are just as blind, but we sure know Who we are holding on to. And we've got His promise that He won't let go of us, though the gates of hell should come in between.

and all that

The doubts of some people about the Church not having the moral authority it claims is understandable. But questioning moral authority is one thing, and depicting the Church as always hatching evil plots is totally another.

I actually think it might partly be name-dropping, pure and simple. Nothing evokes power and the potential for much good and evil as "the Vatican." It's right up there with "Langley" and "the White House" and all that. When I was in high school, I used to try writing spy stories, and "Langley" definitely played a role in them, even though I hadn't got the faintest idea what it was actually like in real life.

I remember reading Da Vinci Code, and reading something there about Mary Magdalene being from "the house of Benjamin," and so she must be from a royal family, and that the union of two royal families had some sort of significance, et cetera. I am not a Bible expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know that Biblical characters are often associated with the son of Jacob from whom they descend. It does not necessarily have to do with royalty, any more than does being from the "house of Asher" or the "house of Gad." And is there even a King Benjamin in the Bible? Because I sure don't remember reading of one. But how many readers thought of that? How many readers stopped to ask, "Is there even a King Benjamin?"

People who will write about Biblical characters ought to read the Bible first. Otherwise, it's all just a case of biting off more than you can chew.

Again, I do not fear for my Church. But those who read books that tinker with faith ought not to stop there. It's funny that there are people who take anything that "the Vatican" says with a grain of salt but will not think of questioning what the Dan Browns and the Phillip Pullmans say. If I must put my faith on someone, I would rather not put it on people who, after all, create fiction.

barack obama's speech

President Obama's speech is beautiful. (Read it here.) It's moving, fitting for a statesman, and I wish I wrote it. I couldn't help giggling in the end, though, when he says, "while we breathe, we hope." Omigosh! The American version of "habang may buhay, may pag-asa!" For some reason, it makes me think of April Boy Regino. (Sorry... I don't mean to be irreverent. Haha!)

I wonder if, in years to come, school children will be using it as a declamation piece, in the tradition of "I Have A Dream."

P. S.
In the Philippines, we have Raul Manglapus' Land of Bondage, Land of the Free. Generations of Filipinos grew up shouting --in school, at least -- "Free me from bondage, and I shall prove you false!" And there is also Ninoy Aquino's speech, the one he never got to read. It says there somewhere, "Order my immediate execution or set me free." Sheesh. Did his assasins rise up to the challenge or what? But it was precisely that "execution" that set the nation free. Bravo.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

my Santa story

It's a Santa story among many.

When I was a young kid, I, like so many others, hung up a sock every Christmas eve. We didn't have a chimney, so, to spare Santa the hassle of having to pick our locks, I left it outside our main door. I would write Santa a letter explaining what I wanted that Christmas (which would invariably be a Nancy Drew), and he would write me back.

And he had the same handwriting as my father! I thought that was cool. They even used the same type of ballpen (a blue Mitsubishi). I looked up to my father, and I simply figured that all great men wrote like that. If I had thought about it, I would have expected God to have the same handwriting. Nope, the aspiring detective in me didn't sense anything out of the ordinary; the Math geek didn't put two and two together.

Santa was cool. He was never over-generous -- no blank checks, or elaborate Barbie Houses, or anything like that -- but he knew how to please a kid. Aside from the books, he would give me a stick or two of Toblerone. And he would write reams of good advice. (He even talked about the same stuff my father did.) And I will never forget that time that he asked me to take a look at our neighbor's sock. I don't remember the exact way he wrote it in his letter, but our neighbor's sock was empty, and he told me it was my chance to be generous. I remember taking some of the stuff in my sock and putting it in the other. It felt so wonderful to give, and I was so happy at the chance to make Santa proud.

My sister and I loved Santa.

One time, while we were vacationing at Bukidnon, I chanced upon my father's wallet on the dresser. Some impulse made me open it and rifle through the contents. To my slow surprise, I discovered one of my letters to Santa inside the wallet.

I was older then, and I had gone through the stage of insisting to my classmates that Santa was real. When I finally found the explanation for all those coincidences, I wasn't shocked, or hurt, or jolted even. I didn't feel the walls crashing down on me, didn't feel betrayed, didn't lose faith. I remember being actually thrilled at the discovery, thinking, "well, that makes sense," and still feeling that nothing had changed.

Because, well, nothing had. Santa was real, even if he didn't ride on a sleigh and lug a sack around. Some kids never got to know him, and that makes me sad. Sometimes, I think that was his greatest gift -- he made me believe in good things, in magic beyond comprehension, in generosity conquering the limits of possibility. He gave me his values, he showed me the power of kindness, he imparted standards to live up to. I had such a strong idea of what he stood for, so that when the red suit faded, he was still there.

I kept up the ritual for a while (I hadn't told my sister). I forgot when we stopped. I don't regret one bit of it. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And those of us who were lucky enough to have had him in our lives truly have got a gift beyond measure.

This is my [late!] contribution to The Blog Rounds 22: The Gift, hosted by the only TV star I know, MerryCherry. (Hehe.)