Saturday, January 16, 2021

Jehu, lizard, naps, rejoicing

2 Kings is where I read about Jehu, a furious driver (2 Kings 9:20). During his 28-year reign, he slaughtered the house of Ahab, including the wicked Jezebel and all the worshippers of Baal. The account was like an episode of Game of Thrones, only that it happened in history. The Bible is so fascinating and comforting. God's justice prevails in the end. 

On this early Saturday morning, I'm the only one awake. It's 26 degrees in the living room, without any fan on. A lizard sticks to the white wall. The neighbor's cat isn't around. It usually visits the house between 3 to 4 am, hiding underneath the sofa. 

Lots of reading and studying planned for today. Might head out to the café at 8, when it opens. Resolved not to complain but to glorify God through perseverance and prayer. Wrote in my notebook, "Take fewer naps." 

An encouragement by John Calvin (via Tim Challies).

Friday, January 15, 2021

What am I doing here?

Bruce Chatwin, What Am I Doing Here

Before I visit my patients, some morning entertainment: the account of a writer finding himself in the middle of a coup in Benin. Wish I got to be friends with Bruce Chatwin. Seems like a guy who's fun to travel with. 


Thursday, January 7, 2021


Random kindness

My kid brother Sean—not a kid anymore, he's 30—barged into the room. He found me reading something in my laptop and shoved a mug in front of my face. 

"Hold this," he said. 

"What's that?"

"It's cold, don't worry." There was ice floating. "It's Vietnamese coffee," he clarified.

Sweet and bitter, with an earthy taste, it reminded me of the restaurant that served banh mi at the fourth floor of Robinson's Manila. "You made this? It's delicious. I'll take this," I said. 

He walked out of the room, resolved to make another cup for himself. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Tuesday, December 29, 2020



A beautiful word:
Feierabend isn’t just a German word for ‘work-life balance’. While it’s related, ‘work-life balance’ is a term that can often end up just as nebulous in meaning as the problem it’s trying to correct. Instead, the German approach seems to acknowledge that there will always be tension between the work self and the private self. Rather than attempting to reconcile the two, the disconnection that comes with Feierabend establishes boundaries between them. It also usually creates a path between the two states, like dressing for the office and changing after work . . . .

When I did my medical oncology fellowship in Manila, I made a conscious decision to live as far away from the hospital as was allowable. I got curious glances from people when I said I spent an hour or more of commute from Mandaluyong to Philippine General Hospital. I could easily have rented a condo unit nearby if I had so wished; a lot of my colleagues did that. But I wanted the clear separation of work and rest to be established. I did not want to see the hospital from my window. My experience in med school showed me that proximity to the workplace was a bad idea. Because the hospital was just right across the street from my Taft condo, I did not feel like I had gone home at all. 

In retrospect, those long commutes proved to be worth it. I finished reading Calvin's The Institutes, listened to Tim Keller's preachings, enjoyed New Yorker Fiction podcasts, and heard myself think. The view from the 20th floor did not consist of the hospital. Save for two or three incidences, I did not see anyone from work. My Mandaluyong neighborhood consisted of cafés devoid of medical students and doctors. The streets were cleaner. I could do long walks at night without fear of getting stabbed. I was anonymous. On Saturday mornings, when I did not have to report for work, I was like every one else, sipping coffee and reading with pleasure. 

I understand that for doctors, it is a challenge to separate work and life completely. I could not do that. My phone rings on odd moments. I receive SMS updates about patients that I must respond to. But the ritual of the long commute gives me the illusion of distance: I am home, and the hospital is elsewhere.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas Sunday

Sunday service in church this morning. Sermon was a survey of the Christmas message from Genesis to Revelation. Powerful preaching that began with God’s holiness, continued with man’s depravity, God’s mercy and grace through Jesus Christ’s life and death on the cross, His resurrection, our redemption.

Been thinking about God’s humility in the manger. A painful rebuke to my pride, as I have moments of self-entitlement. Must remind myself I don’t deserve what I have, and I deserve worse. Yet God, my Father, looked at a sinner like me with unconditional love, adopting me into His fold and calling me His own. I am not the captain of my ship; God is. And He chose to be born on a manger instead of a fancy inn in Bethlehem.

Lunch at church followed. Food preparation was a labor of love. Mother and Auntie Cecil headed the committee on food. The women took on the reins. Menu was overflowing—thanks be to God! Manong’s brazo de mercedes was a hit. Asked a kid what her favorite meal was; she pointed to the brazo. Auntie Judy’s macaroni salad was mouth-watering; Uncle Ramon said it took three days to prepare to let flavors seep into the macaroni. Pakô salad was refreshing. Pinakbet was a delight. Delved right into the menudo. Brothers placed a slice of lenggua on my plate—so soft and flavorful! Lechon was a hit, as usual. Not the biggest fan, but people said the skin was crispy. Visited a patient at the ICU. Happy to report he's been transferred to a private room. 

Slept through the afternoon. Writing this now before I start review on genitourinary cancers.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Thursday, December 24, 2020



One of Nanay's visits to the farm. She used her iPhone. I did some tweaking, adding a vintage filter through Flickr.

In our neighborhood, people drive to their farms on weekends to while away the time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Tuesday, December 22, 2020



Nanay's phone is synced to my Flickr account. I've been telling her to take photos of her every day. I don't know where she took this shot, but I like it!

Monday, December 21, 2020


Teach me Your statutes

Light rain greeted me at 4 am. I meditated on Psalm 119 on this cool morning. I wrote the passages by hand to relish them, praying as I went along. In these passages, the psalmist extols God's precepts. He is a student of the Word, celebrating and relishing the greatest Book ever written, worshipping the Author of all creation. "You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes" (Psalm 119:68).

Sunday, December 20, 2020



Prof. Marj's Evasco's Farol de Combate is one of my favorites. It is good to be home! Here's an excerpt. 

I trust that beside the well which had been dug

By my elders, a storm lamp had been placed,

Lighting up the path toward home, the lamp-
Lighter minding the first law of neighborliness:

To help one another as best as one can in daily
acts of living, for if the lamp were put out, unlit,

Someone passing by might stumble or slide,
Fall into the neighborhood well and die.

When I pass by the well I will draw water and drink,
Give thanks to my unseen neighbor for the light.

Saturday, December 19, 2020


Like Christmas morning!


For Christmas, Prof. Marj Evasco sent me a copy of Dinah Roma's poetry collection, "We Shall Write Love Poems Again." It is beautiful. Tinitipid ko para hindi matapos agad. Thank you for writing this, Prof. Dinah!


The mail came with a note from Prof. Marj. Her handwriting is exquisite, her message heartwarming! Like me, she also shares a fascination with fountain pens. 

My family thinks I'm the coolest because I know poets personally!

Friday, December 18, 2020

Thursday, December 17, 2020


Just received an email that the diplomate exam in medical oncology will be held in regional testing areas on January 2021. Suddenly I feel like an elementary pupil again, about to compete in a regional contest in Davao (when South Cotabato was still in Regional 12, and we had to defeat the smartest kids from Philippine Science High School - Southern Mindanao—but they mostly won!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2020


Apan-apan (grasshopper)

On our way back to Marbel, Sean and Hannah, his charming girlfriend, saw a stall in Barangay Paraiso. "Apan-apan, Manong, makaon ka?" (Game for fried grasshoppers, Manong?)

It brought back childhood memories: apan-apan is one of my favorite snacks. From Eat Matters:
Apan-apan in the Ilonggo dialect means grasshopper. Back in the days when the verdant fields of rice were still pesticide free, farmers would catch the deluge of grasshoppers infesting the rice crops with a large net.The grasshoppers are then cooked to be eaten as sumsuman( a drink accompaniment)when the farm folks gather to drink at dusk after a hard days work or, as a dish on the family dinner table. With some degree of hesitation I was able to taste this dish many years ago when somebody from Mindanao dropped us a bagful. It was crunchy alright but the discomfort of thinking that you are munching on a grasshopper somehow made the eating experience a bit stressful.
No stresses from me!



Fried grasshopper is a delicacy elswhere.
In southern Mexico, grasshoppers, known as chapulines, are eaten in a variety of dishes, such as in tortillas with chilli sauce. Grasshoppers are served on skewers in some Chinese food markets, like the Donghuamen Night Market. Fried grasshoppers (walang goreng) are eaten in the Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta, Java in Indonesia. In America, the Ohlone burned grassland to herd grasshoppers into pits where they could be collected as food.
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