Saturday, May 23, 2009

the mountain and the squirrel

While reading Aesop's Fables in Project Gutenberg, I rememered this lovely little poem that we learned in high school English class.

THE MOUNTAIN and the squirrel
Had a quarrel;
And the former called the latter "Little Prig."
Bun replied,
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not as large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."

I hardly give my high school teachers much thought, but this poem makes me remember Mrs. Aranduque with fondness. I also remember singing Sad Movies in Ms. Cabajar's class and The Sound of Silence in Mrs. Peteros' class. High school is a lifetime behind me now, but I think, perhaps, I do owe those teachers something.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Today I took our dogs out for a walk. I stopped to smell the sampaguita flowers blooming profusely by our garage. I petted a week-old, scraggly-haired kitten who was hiding from the neighborhood crow between a barrel and a watering can.

Today I personally took my grandfather's blood pressure. I checked my cousin's hurting throat. I laughed heartily with my parents around the dinner table. And then I washed the dishes.

Today I ignored all work-related phone calls, but got to talk, albeit for just a few seconds, with my sister and an old friend. I thought I'd do something, but changed my mind, freely, with no pressure from anybody or anything. I decided that, just for today, I would do what I want to do, and only what I want to do.

Today I slept in. I read a book in bed, and watched some TV. I showered late. I ate with leisure. I talked with Aivan. I played Scrabble with my family.

Today. Not tomorrow. Not when turnaround times have been met, and the clients' demands have been satisfied and their whims indulged. Not when there's enough money in the bank, and the bills are paid, and the future is secure.

Today. Because the future might not come. And I will have it said of me that I lived, every moment of my life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

lonely, wounded healers

Doctors are the last persons you would think would be lonely. They are surrounded by patients, nurses, medical representatives, colleagues, friends. Even at home, people come knocking at their doors -- to ask for advice, to extend invitations, or for various other reasons. Their phones are always ringing. They are rarely left alone.

So what one of my MD friends said this morning -- as we waited for the morning's patients to start trickling in -- may come as a surprise to most. Out of the blue, he observed, "Medicine is a lonely profession."

And it's true.

I listen to patients. I heal their hurts. I tell them what to do. I tell them it'll be okay.

But at the end of the day...who listens to me? Who will heal my hurts? Who will lift the burdens from my shoulders?

People tend to think: I'm so good at solving others' problems, I should be able to handle my own.
And I can. But I shouldn't have to handle it on my own.

Should I?

I spent most of my Saturday morning crying my stress away. I felt like I had given everything that was within me to those who needed it. I had summoned so much energy trying to deal with others' dilemmas, and now I had nothing left for myself. I was empty, and tired, and still there was so much to do.

It was in The Secret Pilgrim, I think, where George Smiley says to a class of graduating intelligence officers something like, "By becoming all things to all men, one runs the risk of becoming nothing to oneself." (This is a paraphrase...I really must look the correct quote up!)

It isn't only doctors who run this risk. Psychologists, priests, counselors...anyone who finds himself or herself constantly being turned to, by others, for succor and sustenance.

I think the description that is most apt is that of a "wounded healer," as illustrated by Henri Nouwen in this story:

"A well known story among the Hebrew people concerns a Rabbi who came across the prophet Elijah and said to him:

'Tell me—when will the Messiah come?'

Elijah replied, 'Go and ask him yourself.'

'Where is he?' said the Rabbi.

'He’s sitting at the gates of the city,' said Elijah.

'But how will I know which one is he?'

The Prophet said, 'He is sitting among the poor, covered with wounds. The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and bind them up again, but he unbinds only one at a time and binds them up again, saying to himself, “Perhaps I shall be needed; if so, I must always be ready so as not to delay for a moment.”'"

I am blessed to be loved by people who could [eventually] lend me an ear when I need it. Others aren't so lucky.

Monday, May 11, 2009


And while we're on Karl Urban...

(Because, yes, we still are.)

...I have to say, though, that the actor whom I really loved in his Lord of the Rings character is Bernard Hill, who played King Theoden of Rohan. He got to recite the most beautiful lines -- lines that brought out the poetry, history and grief for things past or soon to pass away that permeate Tolkien's work. I especially love that part where he recites:

Where is the horse and the rider? where is the horn that was blowing?
They have passed like rain on the mountains, like wind in the meadow
The days have gone down in the west behind the hills into shadow

This is, of course, an adaptation of Tolkien's adaptation of The Wanderer, an Old English poem written (according to Wikipedia) in alliterative meter.

And now we come full circle to Karl Urban, who says his favorite line as Dr. Leonard McCoy in Star Trek is [the one I almost missed by going to the bathroom at the wrong moment]: "Space is full of disease and danger, wrapped in darkness and silence." He says he likes the line because it "encapsulates McCoy's perspective in a nutshell, and it has such a wonderful alliteration about it."

Speaking of which -- alliteration, that is, not Mr. Urban -- here's one of my favorite poems. I haven't got a clue what distinguishes a good poem from a bad poem, but I just like the way this one by Hilaire Belloc sounds.

Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the bedding
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in--
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
Never more;
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar;
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

i am now officially a Trekkie. and i've forgiven karl urban for shaving.

Who ever thought Star Trek would be, of all things, funny?

It was funny, it was fun, and I am so watching it again.

(Naa na ba kaha'y DVD copy sa Manalili sah?)

And Karl Urban!!! Who knew? Who knew he could be funny? Out with the growling horse lord and in with the comic Dr. McCoy.

And I guess long hair with braided strands would look out of place in the USS Enterprise. I get it.

star trek: some people do look better dirty

I'm excited! I'm planning on watching Star Trek this afternoon!

Whenever people mentioned "Beam me up, Scotty" before, I was always confused who they were referring to. I always figured that, since that was presumably the captain's line, Scotty was probably his second-in-command, you know, the guy in love with the ship's doctor. It took me YEARS to realize that my confusion was a generation-gap thing. When people said "Star Trek," I always thought they were referring to the Star Trek I grew up watching, which was NOT AT ALL THE SAME. (Sheesh!)

Just so we're clear on this, I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Channel 9. The captain was bald, and, yes, his second-in-command dated the [female] ship doctor for a while. (As far as I can remember, they didn't end up together -- a tough development for a child to swallow.) I really THOUGHT that "next generation" was used as a sort of adjective, you know, like, they were really high-tech. It took me a while (YEARS, would you believe) to realize that "next generation" was actually a NOUN, as in, there was a previous generation.

Sorry! My knowledge of William Shatner is exclusively of his stint hosting Rescue 911.

(By the way, I feel like I'm treading on thin ice here. The people who grew up with the original Star Trek probably think I'm a ditz, and the people who grew up with neither will realize I am OLD. Especially when I mention Rescue 911.)

Knowing absolutely nothing, therefore, of the original Star Trek, and remembering next to nothing about The Next Generation, I feel pretty confident that I will enjoy this afternoon's movie. Some Trekkies are reportedly disappointed with the changes the current filmmakers have made, but since I won't be able to recognize those changes, I really couldn't care less.

But a CLEAN-SHAVEN Karl Urban is another matter altogether.

Why? Why? Why?!?!

I was IN LOVE with Eomer, but now Karl just looks like, I don't know, Joey from Friends.

WHY?!?!?!?!?!?! (I'm still watching the movie, though.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

it happens

When I was a surgical intern, I remember I was assigned to report on appendicitis. I remember being called to do the report when I hadn't finished making my slides. I remember the usual symptoms -- right lower quadrant pain, anorexia -- and I remember the signs to watch out for during the physical examination.

I don't remember ever thinking it could happen to me or any of my loved ones.

Which is silly, because people do get appendicitis, and why shouldn't those people be people I know?

Like...I don't know...Aivan.

Fresh from thanksgiving parties given by his fellow board-passers, Aivan complained of pain in the right lower corner of his abdomen the other night. No fever, no loss of appetite (clearly!), no other problems really. "Obserbari lang," I said.

Yesterday morning, the pain was still there and was worse during urination. I explained the possibilities to Aivan. "Of course, the first thing we think of is appendicitis," I said, and proceeded to mention ureteral colic and abdominal colic.

"And it hurts when I cough," Aivan interrupted.


He wanted to wait until I got off work at 5 PM so I could personally examine him. I told him it might be better if he had himself examined by my uncle, a surgeon whose clinic was a couple of stone-throws away from where Aivan lived.

"Maybe after lunch," Aivan said. Both of us, I think, were still clinging to if-we-don't-do-anything-maybe-it-will-go-away. But by 2 PM, my uncle had elicited direct tenderness, rebound tenderness and Rovsing's sign. By 3 PM, the med tech had extracted blood for CBC. By 4 PM, Aivan's white blood cell count had risen to 14,000. By 6 PM, we were at the Emergency Room, being admitted.

By 7 PM, we were laughing about it. The good thing about having appendicitis now, I tried to persuade Aivan, was that you won't have to worry about having it ever again. Which was small comfort for him when the doctor on duty asked him to prepare for a rectal exam.

Aivan was horrified. I acidly pointed out that at least he was the one being examined, as opposed to being the one who rectal-ed someone else. "You mean you've done rectal exams on other people?" he exclaimed. "I'm never holding your hand again!"

(Yeah, right.)

It is a mortal sin not to do a rectal exam on a patient who complained of abdominal pain. As our seniors loved to say, there were only 2 acceptable reasons for not poking your finger into the patient's butt:

1. if you didn't have fingers
2. if the patient's butt had no hole.

(Sorry. I hope no one's actually eating while reading this.)

Pila ra ma'y istorya, Aivan's appendix is now resting in peace inside a specimen bottle on top of his bedside table.

I remember we also once did a report on a guy who got impaled on the stern of a rowboat. Now that's scary.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

the coolest t-shirts ever ... for sale :)

A year ago, my sister discovered these totally cool shirts in Manila. The designs were refreshing and appealing, the cloth they used was comfortable, and the price was reasonable beyond belief.You can see all the designs (with their specifications) HERE and HERE. T-shirt prices are as follows:

LADIES Printed.....P300
LADIES Plain.......P250
MEN Printed........P350
MEN Plain..........P275

Discounts are available for orders of 5 shirts or more. Email me at or text me at 0922-8616396 for your orders / inquiries.

yeah!!!!!! manny!!!!!

That was fun!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

anthony bourdain loves lechon

What did I tell you? What did I tell you?! Forget your lipid profiles. Come to Cebu and have lechon.

TIME Magazine has apparently hailed lechon as the "best pig" in Asia in 2009 -- which sounds weird, quite frankly; it conjures images of pig sties and tahop -- but I only care that they did it because Anthony Bourdain said so!

During my one year of exposure to cable TV,* one of the shows that I always loved watching (with Ria and Tonette) was Anthony Bourdain's travel/food show No Reservations. Tony Bourdain ate at side-streets, was occasionally grumpy, and had a way with words. He got to visit the world's many corners, and he got to sample the most delicious food. It would be an understatement to say that I envied him his job.

The good thing about being me, though, is that I live in Cebu, and we have the best lechon ever! And the best move he ever made was to come over here and try it.

(All right, I'll stop crowing.)

HOW TO RECOGNIZE A YUMMY LECHON. Not all lechons taste the same. Look for the skinny ones -- the flavor is better absorbed into the meat -- with green onion stuffing. Those stuffed with just lemongrass don't taste as good. And if you're buying by the kilo, request for the belly portion. The slightly dark meat that lines the abdominal cavity taste the best. And don't get me started on the crispy, juicy, yummy, yummy, yummy skin.

(The same thing is true for roasted chicken. Green onion stuffing = the best lechon manok ever.)

It's May = fiesta time = lechon time. Yey! :-)

* In Dumaguete. We don't have cable in our house. My father considers it an unnecessary expense. Hehe. They say you don't miss what you've never had. I've had it (for a year), but I don't really miss it either. Hehe!


Hedwig dead.
Mad Eye dead.
And Fred.