Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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My morning anthem

Just when the day starts to overwhelm me, I am reminded by the fact that the Lord is in control, sovereign in all things. There is no cause or need for worry because if the birds of the air do not, why should I, whom the Father loves?

Each morning for the past weeks I've been playing Keith and Kristyn Getty's What Grace is Mine.

What grace is mine that He who dwells in endless light
Called through the night to find my distant soul
And from his scars poured mercy that would plead for me
That I might live and in his name be known

So I will go wherever He is calling me
I lose my life to find my life in Him
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart, take up my cross and follow Him

What grace is mine to know His breath alive in me
Beneath his wings my wakened soul may soar
All fear can flee for death’s dark night is overcome
My Saviour lives and reigns forevermore

So I will go wherever He is calling me
I lose my life to find my life in Him
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart, take up my cross and follow Him

To lose my life, to die to self, in order to find my life in Him—there is joy, peace, and strength in Him. Listen to the song here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

No monopoly of greatness

Spot on, Kay Rivera, my med school batch mate and favorite Inquirer columnist! How long has it been since we took the UPCAT? How time flies. She ends her piece with this.

Clearly, UP is not homogeneous. It takes all kinds to make a university. For those who have made it past this weekend’s hurdle, my limited, unsolicited advice is simple: don’t romanticize the university, lest one be prone to complacency; don’t rest on your laurels or belittle the achievements of other universities; don’t buy into the thinking that it’s UP or nothing; and realize that what makes UP, even more than its staff and its professors, are the mettle, passion and moral compass of its students. The expectation shouldn’t be that UP ought to make or break you, but that your actions and choices can make or break a university which is held to a certain standard of freedom of expression, justice-seeking and political awareness. UP is only as good as the students it produces, and to respond to the needs of an ailing nation, you’ll have to be very good students indeed.

One thing I learned throughout the years: UP doesn't have the monopoly of greatness. This is both humbling and comforting.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Aliwagwag Falls: my mother's adventure


To keep her busy, I've asked Mother to take pictures of her every day. This is a year-long project. I installed the Flickr app on her phone and configured it so that all photos are automatically uploaded to a private cloud. Because of this, I know that she has gone walking, or has met with high school classmates, or has attended yet another funeral—events she can't seem to get too much of, as she wants to encourage the grieving families with God's comfort, as she has been comforted when we lost my father.

She went on tour with our church family from Marbel Evangelical Fellowship to visit Aliwagwag Falls in Compostela Valley-Davao Oriental.




Here's Mother, with Auntie Cecil, her forever best friend who sticks closer to her than a sister (they've shared the same dental clinic for years, until her retirement) and practically a second mother to us.


Nanay takes good pictures, doesn't she? I tell her to take photos of clouds, flowers, moving things, and people. She listens to my advice occasionally.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Quietly extraordinary

week 29 (waitress)

Over breakfast coffee, I talked to my colleagues and friends, Berbi and Marvin, about generation gaps in medicine, sentiments about fellowship training, funny experiences in the clinics, and life in general. I love these conversations. I liken them to well-written systematic reviews because they clarify the meaning of certain life events that have happened during the past week or month, amplify the important lessons in those time periods, and offer future directions.

We talked about our desire to live simple, quiet lives—doing God's work in our little corner of the world. "And maybe that's not such a bad thing," we concluded. Some people are destined to change the world and rally others to do the same. Others are called to carry on the good work quietly: a doctor in his clinic, a mechanic in his shop, a student in his class. It is a meaningful life.

And then I came across a beautiful tribute to a man who worked with medical missionaries in Bundibugyo. I don't know Drs. Scott and Jennifer Mhyers personally, but their blog has become one of my favorite go-to's in the internet. I am always refreshed, encouraged, and moved by their testimony. The man's name was Yosefu Mutabazi.

He was never in a hurry, never demanding, patiently deliberate, dedicated to Scripture and truth and mercy. Perhaps because he began as an outsider he was sympathetic to our neediness. After knowing him for more than two decades we found ourselves entrusting our newest missionaries into his care. I don't think any of us imagined Bundibugyo without him.

This brought to my memory the lesson we had this week in my Bible study and prayer group (Pilgrims) on arrogance (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Yosefu Mutabazi, based on the Mhyers's account, wasn't full of himself, did not consider himself important, but cared for the needs of others. He lived a "quietly extraordinary" life, doing God's work in his little corner of the world.

* * *

Photo above was taken at Midtown Diner in 2011. It remains one of my favorite breakfast places in Manila.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019

What to do when the patient starts to cry

This is my every day: breaking the bad news, reminding people of their mortality, and reassuring them I'd do my best to care for them. Dr. Bishal Gyawali's essay reminds us to connect with our patients' humanity. And nothing confronts a person with his humanity as when he is faced with the reality of death and dying.

Dr. Gyawali offers a peculiar insight on the beautiful intricacies of cultural differences in how patients and physicians from Canada, Nepal, and Japan approach bad news.

In my brief medical career, I have worked in quite a few different countries. I went to medical school in Nepal, where I was born and raised. I then went to Japan in 2012 to train in medical oncology. Five years later, in 2017, I returned to Nepal to work as a medical oncologist before moving to Boston, Massachusetts, for a research fellowship in cancer policy in 2018. I now live and work in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, having moved here from Boston in early 2019.

He continues:

Although training does help, the most crucial elements of delivering bad news to patients—having empathy and being sensitive—cannot be trained. Knowledge can be obtained anywhere, but listening to and genuinely caring for a patient has to be built into an individual's character with inspiration from experienced mentors. Protocols and guidelines help, but the richness and diversity of the patients we serve are reminders that we need to be flexible, listen to our patients, and respect their values and the culture that created those values.

Thanks, Alfie Chua, for the heads up on this article.
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