Off the beach coast

When civilian boats voluntarily sailed through the English Channel to rescue the stranded soldiers off the bloodied beach of Dunkirk, France; I was almost brought to tears. After all, home brings a certain relief for most of us, and in this historical display of humanity and nationhood—two concepts that must necessarily, but not always, go together—home came to hundreds of thousands of men, with gratitude to some yacht owners who braved the turbulent seas, with all the risk that this had entailed. The 1940s was a time when the world, led by the British, was at war against the strong Nazi forces.

Soldiers drowned as British ships capsized. Bombs were dropped from the air. The soldiers would only duck for cover rather than doing nothing at all. Airplanes crashed after being bombed themselves. The magic of the film was its ability to trap us into the visually disturbing and noisy montage of bombs and planes, blue skies and wide beaches, drowning and crashing, hunger and food, agony and relief—as if we were there ourselves.

Fun: Stephen Colbert interviews Kenneth Branagh, who knows his History lessons.

PS. On a more personal note, I remember my roommate, Tom, telling me he'd caught a glimpse of this place during his last trip to the UK for his neurology elective. During my last trip to Paris, I stayed very near rue Dunquerque, a few steps away from the Gare du Nord. I consider this my irrelevant, remote connection to the film.



Jesus, my deepest thanks is always reserved for you. You have always been faithful to your word, though I have not always been faithful to trust it. Thank you for the amazing grace you have extended to me. Thank you for hiding your most precious treasures in the most difficult and painful experiences. And thank you for all that you have done to teach me to walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7) and put my greatest trust in things not seen (Heb. 11:1). I look forward to the day when the dim mirror of this age is removed and I finally get to see you face to face (1 Cor. 13:12). I know you long for that day, too ( John 17:24). May it be soon. — John Bloom, Dedication. In: Things Not Seen. Crossway Publications (2015).
A blessed Sunday!

Bonding with my friends' kids

Our last batch trip to Bohol was fun. The highlight of the trip was that I got to bond with my friends' kids.

Tagbilaran–Panglao Bridge

Here's Monay Mondragon, barely a year old, holding her Uncle Lance's hand firmly. She has the makings of a future diplomat. I haven't seen a child so sociable and well behaved. Her real name is Alessandra Mondragon, a fact that made us expect that this girl would grow up a diva. "Turuan na nating maging maganda," said Jay.

Interestingly, during the entire trip, Alessa didn't cry or make a fuss about anything, the way kids her age usually do, so much so that Karen, her mother, told us, "Now she's [Alessa] making me look like I'm lying." Karen would amuse us with her motherhood woes—stories of love, sacrifice, and breast milk. . These days, Karen shows us photos of Alessa's crawling and recent transition to more solid food—like mashed vegetables. She'll grow up to be a kind, gracious, smart, and beautiful lady like her mother. And maybe nerdy-cool like her father.

Monay with Uncle Lance

Mohan, who used to hate the water, had enjoyed it this time.


Here's Daddy David showing Mohan the wonders of aquatic life. "Peeesh," said Mohan.

David with Mohan, playing with fish

Peeesh be with you, Mohan.

Avoiding children in the plane

I avoid sitting next to children during long flights, mainly because I want to rest during travel. But this article offers a Christian perspective about (and against) this attitude.

First, children hold a special place in the eyes of God. Even the rowdiest of kids brings a smile to God’s heart, and they should bring a smile to ours. Jesus, after all, beckoned the children to come to Him, and we may hardly be more like Christ than when we do the same.

A joyful wedding

YESTERDAY, at Paul and Jac's wedding, I met good, old friends from way back in college—all very dear to me, like brothers and sisters. I hosted the reception party, had tons of laughs with the amazing co-host Sarah, who never lacked the right words to say, and whom—interestingly—I only meet every time we're cohosting weddings and when she gives birth. I saw Paul cry as he made the speech about how thankful he is for his family (and what a wonderful family he has), and Jac, too, who was more in control of her emotions but who succumbed to tears anyway. What love the Lord has granted them for each other, and how their lives have been blessings to everyone around them!

Ssssh, I'm reading

“I TOLD YOU LAST NIGHT THAT I MIGHT BE GONE sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old. And you put your hand in my hand and you said, You aren’t very old, as if that settled it. I told you you might have a very different life from mine, and from the life you’ve had with me, and that would be a wonderful thing, there are many ways to live a good life. And you said, Mama already told me that. And then you said, Don’t laugh! because you thought I was laughing at you. You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother’s. It’s a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I’m always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after I’ve suffered one of those looks. I will miss them.”—Excerpt from: Marilynne Robinson's “Gilead: A Novel.”
I always read Miss Robinson with a sense of wonder, as if her statements were sacrosanct, not to be meddled with nor read with so many distractions around.


Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your heart to God.—Colossians 3:16

The word of the Lord, when it occupies the heart, affects it in such a way that the person’s actions, words, and thoughts become transformed into more Christ-likeness. The passage starts with a verb, “let,” which means “allow” or “provide an opportunity for.” There is a sense in which a Christian must actively allow this to happen and to do so effectively such that Christ's word dwells richly. Scripture shouldn’t just reside in the heart—it must flourish there. Here Paul seems to say that the person must be saturated with the word of God before any effective teaching and admonishing, singing and being thankful, can happen.

And doesn’t Paul describe a joyful man? Someone who “sings psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” someone who is thankful to God for everything. The key to joy is Christ’s word dwelling richly in one’s life.

May I be like this person.

Millennial problems—and funny causes of death


This New Yorker Shout-Out cracks me up: a collection of obituaries a mother writes for her twenty something daughter. How millennial.*

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Bess Kalb, twenty-four, of San Francisco, formerly of New York. The cause of death was botulism from a homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam that was prepared by one of her housemates. The housemate, Aviva Something, holds a degree in—I kid you not—modern culture and media. She certainly had no formal training in sterile canning and preservation. If the kitchen in this “co-op” where the jam was prepared looks anything like it did six months ago, there is compost decaying right there on the counter next to the sink. Bess is survived by her brother, who once looked up to her.

I certainly don't label myself a "millennial." I don't like the word; I clump it in the same category as "netizens"—that is, words I will never use, except as an example, as in this sentence, to demonstrate my hatred of it (the word, not the people).

Trip to Cubao Expo

Racquel Bruno, one of my dearest friends in residency, went to Cubao Expo with me. The place—an old but not dilapidated square of local shoe shops, antique stores, and restaurants—was a welcome respite from all the commercial establishments now undergoing construction at the Araneta Center. I suppose time will come when the rest of Manila will become a city of malls and condominiums.


Ode to our interns

One of the greatest joys—and pains—of my residency training has been working with (and for) medical students. Since January I’ve been appointed one of the Learning Unit 7 (LU 7) resident monitors, a task I’d originally resisted but a responsibility I’d later come to like and actually love. I work with Mervyn Leones, who has been my all-around partner in the extra-curricular of residency, including research, where we’ve worked on our meta-analysis and, now, our original study involving something about discharge planning. I also work with Rich King, who never complains about the tasks I assign him, things he has every right to refuse but gladly does anyway. I also work with Alfie Chua, whose meticulousness cuts through every grade that’s improperly input, a trait that manifests in the clarity of his charting and formulation of diagnoses.

Together we orient the 26 blocks of interns that rotate with the Department of Medicine at some point during the academic year. These blocks are composed of both UP College of Medicine (UPCM) graduates and post-graduate interns (PGIs). Each student spends two months under our care: one month at the wards, and anther month at the Emergency Room, Medical ICU (MICU), and Out-Patient Department (OPD).

We deal with their gross absences and their complaints. We also learn about their blooming romantic attachments, or brewing conflicts, or simple joys—things that remind us of who were were during our time as interns. Talking to them refreshes us. Each block is different, in the way that each person is. There are blocks that are easily cracked up by anything remotely funny, blocks that like to eat and sing and take selfies, blocks that hate each other’s skins.

Al Mohler's summer reading list

I always look forward to Dr. Al Mohler's yearly summer reading lists.

David McCullough once told of Teddy Roosevelt during his time in the Dakota Territory and before his arrival on the world scene. Two thieves who had been on something of a crime spree in the territory had stolen Roosevelt’s rowboat, and he was determined to chase them down and arrest them. He chased the thieves for 40 miles of rough landscape, through deep snow and in constant danger of attack, and indeed brought them to justice. McCullough then tells the reader: “But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina. I often think of that when I hear people say they haven’t time to read.”

You can check the list here.

By the way, I love Anna Karenina!

* * *

At the Senior Residents' Call Room I occupy two tables. My stack of reading material occupies an entire half.

Bedside table books. The sight of them comforts me.


An uncle very dear to me has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. This I learned after my brother called while I had a meeting. As with most news involving a sick family member, it hit me to the core—an unexpected assault, like a stab in the back when no one was watching. The symptoms were gradual: constipation, abdominal pain, weight loss. It could’ve been anything.

I called my uncle last night to ask him how he was doing. A surgery was going to take place. Maybe chemotherapy after that. Was he in pain? No, he felt comfortable.

During times like these, I turn to Scripture for comfort. Jonah, when he was swallowed by a big fish, cried to the Lord for help (Jonah 2:5–9).

The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.
When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!

We remember the Lord and what He has done for us. And we will hope in Him and rejoice.

John Calvin

I'VE BEEN reading John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. I'm using the translation by John Allen. Addressed to the King of France, the book is considered one of the best books ever written in Christendom.

John Calvin is an intelligent, deeply thoughtful man whose writing reflects his faith and convictions. It's a feast for the soul. I can't believe I'm only starting to actually read classic Christian literature now.

Calvin summarizes his work:

Man, created originally upright, being afterwards ruined, not partially, but totally, finds salvation out of himself, wholly in Christ; to whom being united by the Holy Spirit, freely bestowed, without any regard of future works, he enjoys in him a twofold benefit, the perfect imputation of righteousness, which attends him to the grave, and the commencement of sanctification, which he daily increases, till at length he completes it at the day of regeneration or resurrection of the body, so that in eternal life and the heavenly inheritance his praises are celebrated for such stupendous mercy.


Praise be to God for the wonderful time in Bohol with my IM family. Finally, after two years, we've managed to book cheap plane tickets to the Visayas. Lots of laughter, reminiscing, and planning for the future happened; lots of eating and swimming and basking under the sun, too. This is our last year as residents in Internal Medicine, and this trip was part of making the most out of it.


Half of us spent the day lounging at the resort-hotel. Bellevue was reasonably priced and offered great amenities. The danggit was exceptionally tasty, especially when dipped in ulcer-inducing vinegar.


Think about these things

Consider these things if you haven't come to a personal knowledge of Jesus.

Sit down sometimes, and well bethink you, what recompence the world or sin will make you, for your God, your souls, your hopes, and all, when they are lost and past recovery? Think what it will then avail or comfort you, that once you were honoured, and had a great estate; that once you fared of the best, and had your delicious cups, and merry hours, and sumptuous attire, and all such pleasures. Think whether this will abate the horrors of death, or put by the wrath of God, or the sentence of your condemnation; or whether it will ease a tormented soul in hell?
Dwell on the blessings of our salvation through Christ.
Think what it is, to have a purified, cleansed soul; to be free from the slavery of the flesh and its concupiscence; to have the sensitive appetite in subjection unto reason, and reason illuminated and rectified by faith; to be alive to God, and disposed and enabled to love and serve him; to have access to him in prayer, with boldness and assurance to be heard; to have a sealed pardon of all our sins, and an interest in Christ, who will answer for them all and justify us; to be the children of God, and the heirs of heaven; to have peace of conscience, and the joyful hopes of endless joys; to have communion with the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, and to have that Spirit dwelling in us, and working to our further holiness and joy; to have communion with the saints; and the help and comfort of all God's ordinances, and to be under his many precious promises, and under his protection and provision in his family, and to cast all our care upon him; to delight ourselves daily in the remembrance and renewed experiences of his love, and in our too little knowledge of him, and to love him, and in the knowledge of his Son, and of the mysteries of the gospel; to have all things work together for our good, and to be able with joy to welcome death, and to live as in heaven in the foresight of our everlasting happiness. (Direct. XI)

—Baxter, Richard. “A Christian Directory: Or, a Sum of Practical Theology, and Cases of Conscience"

So far, so good. I'm getting used to the "old" language; it's very poetic. A feast for the Christian soul!

Reading Baxter

The Christian mind must be trained in righteousness if one must glorify God in all aspects of life. I'm doing something ambitious with my reading and spiritual life: I'll be reading Richard Baxter's "A Christian Directory: Or, A Sum of Practical Theology and Cases of Conscience." Inspired largely by Tim Challies, who engages his readers to read Christian classics, I decided to slowly and meditatively take up this habit. It helps that my pastors are fans of the Puritan writers, quoting them a lot during preaching.

The book's subtitle is "Directing Christians How To Use Their Knowledge and Faith; How To Improve All Helps and Means, and To Perform All Duties; How To Overcome Temptations, and To Escape or Mortify Every Sin."

This is an ambitious project—the book comes in four volumes—and even Baxter himself had to write,
The book is so big that I must make no longer preface than to give you this necessary, short account, I. Of the quality; II. And the reasons of this work.
I'll be quoting and writing a few things about the book here and there. I don't expect to finish soon, with all the readings I need to do for work. But I'm quite excited.

* * *

I've been having difficulties formatting the .txt document from Gutenberg. It turns out that it's better to use html as the base file in in Calibre, prior to converting it epub or mobi, so the formatting is still preserved.
If we provide a HTML file for the ebook you are interested in, it is best to convert that file, rahter than the TEXT file, to MOBI or EPUB format as required.