Compelled

For the love of Christ compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.—2 Corinthians 5:14

IN THE WEE hours of the morning, as soon as I wake up, I launch into a philosophical exploration of sorts. Why do I do what I do? Am I where I should be? Is it the Lord’s will for me to be a doctor? It’s amusing: I’ve had my PRC license for a year and half now, but I still wonder if I should be a physician at all. Do you find yourself asking these questions, too?1

But I am where I am and where I should be. And I trust in the comfort of God’s promises that all things work out for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28). I am thankful for the calling—this vocation of saving lives—that He has led me to.

Sweaty palms on bare metal

MY PALMAR HYPERHIDROSIS—sweaty palms, something I’ve had since kindergarten—has gotten worse. I’m not alone in this; apparently, I share this with more or less 2.9% of the US population1.

This afternoon I bought a transparent matte case for my laptop. The feel of sweaty palms on bare metal is too much for me to handle—too gritty, too uncomfortable. So goodbye to my well-loved, overused laptop sleeve for now. My palms are funny: if they’re not sweating, they’re peeling. Ah, they have lives of their own.



  1. Stratton et al. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;51(2):241. We don’t have local data on this condition. ↩︎

The professional food critic

Post-orals lunch at Café Ilang-Ilang, Manila Hotel

THE New Yorker’s profile of Pete Wells, The New York Times restaurant critic, is fascinating.

The front of the room was bare and bright, and filled with thirty-year-olds on backless stools at communal pale-wood tables—a picnic held in a cell-phone store. The noise level reminded me of Wells’s review of a Tex-Mex restaurant: “It always sounds as if somebody were telling a woman at the far end of the table that he had just found $1,000 under the menu, and the woman were shouting back that Ryan Gosling had just texted and he’s coming to the restaurant in, like, five minutes!” Wells is not peevish about discomfort. His columns make a subtle study of what counts as fun in middle age—loyalties divided between abandon and an early night. His expressions of enthusiasm often take the form of wariness swept away: Wells found joy in a conga line at Señor Frog’s, in Times Square. But after dining at Momofuku Nishi he returned to his home, in Brooklyn, and wrote in his notes about “a hurricane of noise.”

Being a restaurant critic is one of my dream jobs and is in the category of: “being a writer for The National Geographic” or “being a book critic for The New York Times” or “working in Shinya Yamakana’s stem cell laboratory.”

Under-shepherds

“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and changed you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”—1 Thessalonians 2:9–12

ON THIS SUNDAY morning, I thank my pastors and Bible study leaders in my local church, men who preach the gospel day in and out, in season and out of season, regardless of how many there are of us who listen. I thank these men who toil daily, searching and understanding scriptures to equip us to be God-fearing church members. Theirs is a difficult job and calling, and one that doesn’t start at 5 and end at 8. They labor to strengthen our souls, to lead us to maturity, and to leads us to see the beauty and majesty of Christ. Let's thank the Lord for them, and to pray that God strengthen them and their families, and provide for their needs.

The end of the day

Going home

THERE'S something about this photo that makes me sad and tired and comforted—a typical scene of Pedro Gil Street that one encounters after long, tiring moments at the hospital, a reminder that the day is almost over, and one can retire to one’s bed and read a good book or maybe have dinner with friends or go to church for Bible study. Every day ends, and regardless of how long it is, it comes to a full stop at some point.

Displaced: Outtakes from the AVR

THE SMELL of something burning brought us all out of the Second Year Call Room. I think it was a Thursday, and I was sleeping inside my dorm room when I got the text pass: vacate the call room now. It was later traced to a defective electrical wiring inside the bathroom. The Call Room has been declared a fire hazard.

Since the weekend we've been sleeping, rather comfortably, like refugees at the AVR Conference Room, where Mang Dan made a homey place for us to lounge around as we wait for the next referral.

Jason in the house!

Jason in the house

JASON Enriquez, my college roommate in Kalayaan Hall, still looks the same after all these years—save for the fact that he now sports more subcutaneous fat, his hair peppered with white strands of hair, his orbits barricaded by metallic frames that look comfortable on his face.

“Nearsightedness,” he told me. “Laging nasa harap ng computer.”

His fourth finger now bears a minimalist silver ring.

“How does being married feel like?” I asked.

“Masaya,” he said in perfect Tagalog.

He has been married for at least two years now, a ceremony I had missed because I was in the hospital, attending to my patients—a tragedy I have repeatedly come to accept. It wasn’t the only time something like it had happened.

I met Jason two nights ago, at 9 PM—a time of the day that, after all these years, he still remembers as the beginning of my descent into sleepiness. It was the only common time we had for his brief foray in Manila: a business trip in between which he planned to squeeze meeting family and friends before he goes back to Kyoto with his wife.

Rainy nights

The IM coffee shop lifestyle.

ON RAINY nights such as the ones we’ve had for the past days, I wish I were curled up in bed, reading a good book, the blues playing in the background1. But routines are meant to be disrupted, especially with well-meaning, insistent friends.

True enough. A few days ago, friends from work insisted that we study elsewhere. The weather was perfect for walking—the winds were just beginning to howl, the clouds were starting to pile up on top of Manila Bay, the way crowds in concerts do before any singing happens. I wasn’t too tired, so I gave in.

Redesigned with Bitter(ness)

Bitter, font by Huerta Tipográfica

YOU'LL notice that I've switched fonts. From Helvetica Neue, which I have enjoyed immensely, given its neat, modernistic feel; I've moved on to Bitter, developed by Huerta Typogràfica, an Argentinian foundry. I discovered it through Google Fonts. The site bears a tutorial on embedding the code to one's CSS. The transition took me less than 15 minutes.

I like how reminiscent it is of Caecilia, the font used in Kindle. Bitter is a beautiful slab serif-typeface. It looks contemporary but also academic, and isn't distracting at all. I hope it adds pleasure to your online reading experience here, assuming you haven't realized that you may have wasted your time.

A surplus of water

rain

WE HAVE too much water in this country—a fact I’ve come to terms with after three days of almost-incessant rain in Manila. It’s something we forget: we have easy access to water, unlike, say, our friends in Syria or Ethiopia for whom water is, literally, life-giving.

Israel has just opened a new desalination plant, “the largest reverse-osmosis desal[ination] facility in the world and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.”

Miracles

CS Lewis's Miracles is my bedside reading material.

MY BEDSIDE reading material is C. S. Lewis's Miracles, a short, albeit meaningful book about whether miracles are possible in the world. It's not a very easy, breezy book to read, but C. S. Lewis makes very strong arguments, dividing the world's thinkers into Naturalists and Supernaturalists. I admire his restraint and economy of words. I admire, too, the depth of his thinking, which, on the surface, seem simple but are actually profound. His analogies are funny, witty, and accessible.

What I woke up to

OPD
View of the OPD Building.

Silver

I WOKE up to news of Hidilyn Diaz winning the country’s first silver Olympic medal after a 20-year drought. The sport is weightlifting, where she competed in the 53-kg division. She thanked God after her win. I had goosebumps. Onward, Hidilyn!

This is yet another proof that we need to focus our efforts on less popular sports, as opposed to basketball, our nation’s favorite past time. We’ve never really excelled in the sports arena—a combination of our natural physique that renders us at a disadvantage compared to our taller, bigger Caucasian counterparts; or our lack of resources for training because sports never gets the government funding it deserves; or perhaps we compete in the wrong sports events—but we’ve always been good at the arts and beauty pageants and Math quiz bees. I don’t know what my point is.

Broken down

Ambulance conduction

On the latter half of my Neurology rotation, all of the hospital's CT scan machines have broken down. They have all snapped after months of being overworked, their scheduled maintenance procedures interrupted by serious pleas of oily residents handling many patients at the brink of death: bleeding brains, complicated abdominal masses, and you know what. It couldn't have been more timely.

This breaking down of the machines could have been a metaphor for what I was going through at the time; I wasn't a machine, though, but I wondered how it would have felt to have a clone—there were so many things to be done. My rotation made me appreciate my friends who are training in Neurology: they must really love what they do to be able to do it excellently day in and out.

Leave 2016: Southern Philippines

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PART OF ENJOYING one’s travels is retrospection, when one recounts the things that have happened, the places visited—a process made easier by the advent of camera phones and social media[1].

On this long weekend (yesterday was Araw ng Maynila—ah, Forward Ever, Backward Never![2]), I shall indulge myself in this exercise because I haven’t written much about the second half of my break, which I spent with family and friends in Koronadal, the place I still consider home.