Showing posts from 2010

Time off

I risked going home for the Christmas break two days earlier, to the dismay of my classmates who, at the time of my arrival in General Santos City airport, must have felt a certain amount of envy at the thought that I was having the time of my life when I texted them that I had a smooth flight, praise God. Since then I've kept myself busy, amused, and entertained.

Home, home, home

Praise be to God for His traveling mercies. From the airport, I went straight to Auntie Net, who treated me to a lunch of baby back ribs, shrimp, and baked clams. The restaurant is called Ocean's Cave, located at the Sun City Suites in General Santos City. My brother Sean, who commuted all the way from Davao, was able to join us, too. After lunch,  Sean and I met Tatay and Manong Ralph . We attended a wedding of a friend from church. Uncle Rene and Nonoy Jamison were there, too. It was weird, seeing old faces from church. Some were shocked at how tall we've grown. I don't know the bride personally, but it was a blessing to hear the couple's love story. I pray that the Lord reign supreme in Ren and Nan's marriage. We decided to spend the night in GenSan. Auntie Net treated us to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 3D. Yes, we have 3D in this part of the world; a ticket costs about a hundred pesos.

Sharon Cuneta was in class!

Today was my last day in class for the year 2010. I'm going home tomorrow—two days earlier than the scheduled end of classes. This afternoon, I took pictures of classmates whose expressions ranged from blank to bored.

On the air

I'm on unofficial Christmas break. Since last week's exam, school has been light and fun, with no impending exam in the horizon. These days, everyone looks so relaxed—except my friends, Bon Buno and Byran Ferrolino, who've taken charge of the Christmas façade preparations. It makes me so proud thinking of these two. I'm going home on the 16th (that's tomorrow), two days earlier than the scheduled vacation day. I booked my ticket a month ago.

He opens a window

This was the closest I ever got to dancing. The song, He Opens a Window , is from the musical, The Dreamer, and it's best understood when we know the context of the story. It serves as a commentary of sorts on  Joseph's life. You can read Genesis 37-47 for the full account. It's among my favorite Biblical narratives. Joseph was his father's favorite. His brothers got jealous of him, so they sold him into slavery. He eventually worked for Potiphar, a high ranking officer in Egypt, and became a most trusted worker and companion. Because he was falsely accused by the Pharoah's wife, Joseph was thrown into prison. God gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams. One time the Pharoah dreamt of seven fat and seven gaunt cows; he couldn't make anything out of it. Nobody could, except Joseph.  So the Pharoah called Joseph out and asked for his advice. Joseph told him that the seven fat cows signified seven years of bounty, and the seven thin cows for seven years of


After choir practice one night, I went to the dress rehearsal for the Agape hand mime. I signed up for two performances in the TRP and was already exhausted, but others, whose org affiliations bordered on the superhuman, had it worse. My mother asked me why I was "stressing myself unnecessarily," and I said, "Everybody here does it. You'll get crazy if all you do is study. And you still won't get higher grades if you lock yourself in the library." TRP is a big event in Medicine, a time-honored tradition that spans generations; some of my classmates' parents had been there during their student days. It's a variety show showcasing talents that are otherwise repressed by weekly exams, hospital rounds, and our share of academic stresses. It's a venue for release. And the more you keep it in, the louder the explosion.

When I die

When I die, I shall then have my greatest grief and my greatest joy; my greatest grief, that I have done so little for Jesus, and my greatest joy, that Jesus has done so much for me.—William Grimshaw


I don't cook. My family knows that. The only time I was in the kitchen was when Tatay trained me how to peel potatoes or slice vegetables, a chore I should have paid more attention to because I would have gotten higher scores in botany; I didn't remember the seed arrangement of okra when it was asked in the test. I'm surprised at myself these days: I have a keen interest in the kitchen. Just this evening, while taking a break from studying, I made a vegetable salad. If my family reads this, they'll burst with pride. It's a leap into adulthood: I can finally prepare my own meals.

Mentoring at Figaro

Dr. Belen Dofitas met with us for the first time since she got back from a speaking engagement in America. She spoke at a Cochrane Colloquium in Colorado, and she shared her experiences with our mentoring group one afternoon. The Cochrane Collaboration is a big name in the medical sciences; it does systematic reviews to aid in the practice of evidence-based medicine. Ma'am Belen was one of two Filipinos in that conference. We're glad that she has brought honor to UP and to this country.

Preferred self-portrait

I was inspired by this cluster in Flickr , but I couldn't post my actual picture because I don't have too much facial hair to begin with. And then I saw a sketch I made in class to keep me from sleeping. To tell you frankly, I only started shaving on January of this year—and when I came out of the bathroom, my mother didn't even notice the difference.

Sunday morning: Psalm 31:31-40

Spiritual preparation. That's what we're called to do before we go to church, if we are to get and give as much of ourselves in worship. As early as Saturday evening, we should have donned a God-glorifying mindset, saturating our minds with Scripture, eagerly expecting what we will learn about God come Sunday morning. My father, for instance, makes it a policy that everyone should sleep early Saturday night so we don't get late on Sundays. One doesn't just rush to church; there is ample heart preparation, he'd always say. Sadly, I don't do that most of the time. I study until the wee hours of the morning or watch the series I've just downloaded. Sometimes that leaves me drowsy when the pastor is already preaching.


In the UP College of Medicine, as in most med schools in the country, the basic unit of learning is the transcription. The trans is an expanded outline of the lecture; it incorporates salient points raised by the professors as well as important concepts taken from reputable references. We've developed a system in class such that for each lecture, a group of four people is assigned to take notes, clarify important concepts from the lecturer, all in the hope of coming up a trans that would be sufficient to help us prepare for the test.  It's a system that has been on for years and years, the days when our old professors were still students themselves. That way, we don't have to read our books—it's awfully time-consuming and often low-yield. Sure, the book is still the gold standard, and the trans may have errors. But that's how we catch up with the lessons. The trans is of such value to us that a low score in the exam is reflective of the low quality of the transe

A Single Passion

Whenever I attend class reunions, the hottest topic is almost always romantic relationships or the lack thereof. I am, after all, in that age group where people start dating, falling in love, having their hearts broken once in a while. And when single friends recount their stories, they would often sound frustrated in a funny kind of way, so much so that I could almost hear the countdown timers that would signal the end of their viability period—the time when they're past their prime, too old to find or be found by someone.

My desk space

After I posted this tweet in Facebook, friends have been asking me how my study table is. The choice of a study table is crucial to any pretentious serious student. It can make or break you; it can motivate or discourage you to study. Choosing a desk is as important as choosing your mechanical pencil leads or highlighter colors. But maybe that's just me. Or my classmate, Lee-Ann Caro.

The last sembreak

At this point, it's painful to write about the sembreak in the past tense when the truth is, I still have a couple of hours left, but I had better because that's a good way to condition myself for the long haul ahead. Sembreaks just come and go, but this one . . . the one I had for the past four weeks was different: it was going to be my last. Come third year med proper, I'll be stuck in PGH, doing hospital rounds.

Word play

Meanings get lost in translation. Lambing , for example, doesn't have a direct English equivalent. Endearment is the closest word I can think of, but if you're Filipino, you know that it's more than that. If that were the case, we're missing out on a lot of things. Words, after all, are cultural. An agricultural society in the tropics will have various words for rice—in the Philippines,  kanin (cooked rice) , bigas (uncooked rice) , palay (rice that's still with a hull) are some of them. In America, they only use one: rice . The Eskimos, I remember from my Linguistics class, had lots of words for snow when we only have  niyebe, one that was only adapted from the Spanish nieve . Snow (or really cold, solid water) isn't important to us—until the advent of Milo-flavored ice drop, that is—but it is to them.


For the past days, I was reminded how hard it is to write for a printed publication because I've gotten so used to blogging—writing that's free from the rudiments of external editing or keeping to word number limitations. I keep a small column in  UP Medics  called In(ter)jection which appears on the Opinion pages. My editor told me I could write about anything I wanted. It's my space; I can do anything. AAce Agdamag is so gracious like that. For this next issue, I wanted to write something substantial (I wrote about Facebook the last time, and the piece was just horrible). And I thought of the plagiarism issue in the Supreme Court. The high court's decision that Justice Mariano del Castillo did not commit plagiarism because of the absence of malicious intent has far-reaching consequences, especially in the academic world.

Seeing with fresh eyes

If not for Katrina Magallanes' prodding, I wouldn't have made time to explore my little corner of Manila, a city more popular for its pollution and crime than for its culture. I've been living in the city for more than a year now, but except for Divisoria and the Bay Area, I've never really explored it. I was a bit ashamed to tell Katrina this. After all, she knew more of my neighborhood than I did. So I was excited for our scheduled date on November 2. With Katrina, trips become cultured, scholarly experiences—her ideas are grand and stimulating—and she has a tendency of treating me to delicious desserts.

A game of checkers

It's a sleepy Sunday afternoon, and my five-year old nephew—my cousin's child, not my brother's offspring—is looking at me with curious eyes. As I dish out instructions before we begin, Zach asks me the first of many hard questions pertaining to checkers, "But why do we have to pick one color?" "That's just how it is," I tell him. "So what is it now? Do we use the red or black squares?"


A few weeks before the end of the first semester, I had the opportunity of representing my class in the case presentation for the Cardiovascular Module, an event that would comprise 10% of everyone's grade. The case was of a twenty-something lady who had constrictive pericarditis secondary to untreated pulmonary tuberculosis. She had community-acquired pneumonia and probably urinary tract infection. That's a mouthful, I know, but the moral is that you have to treat TB as soon as you spot it. (We were later surprised by our mentors' reaction , and I hope it will translate to good numerical grade equivalents.)

The Glorious Sembreak—and a prayer request

I was waiting for my mother at a posh hotel lobby the day Megi brought rain and wind. I waited there for five hours like a space-occupying lesion, reading Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner while finishing the best ensaymada and honey milk shake I had tasted thus far. The sheer lack of nothing else to do sharpened my senses. As I shifted positions on the couch, I overheard business deals of a Japanese investor with a Filipino businessman who came in late—we do live up to our reputation as a nation—and heard two men, possibly PAL officers, talk about the company's next move after their pilots' resignation. I was trying to shut their voices out, but they were too distracting.

Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore: Oedipus replayed

I like reading modern Japanese literature. I said this of Kazuo Ishiguro and Yasunari Kawabata's works , and I'll say this again of Haruki Murakami: I felt the peace and quiet. There's a certain kind of stillness to them, like a pond with waters undisturbed. So maybe Kafka on the Shore is a bit overrated, but at least now I understand why my friends had given it the highest recommendations. Murakami weaves a tale that borders between reality and fantasy. There's a very thin line dividing the two realms, but he hops on either side with masterful fluidity. I like his prose, but I love his characters.

Nasally endowed

If you're a friend in Facebook, you must've wondered why my profile looks like it does. Here's the story.


What if your cleaning lady turns out to be a painter who doesn't know how great she is? I didn't imagine that possibility until I watched  Séraphine , a 2008 French-Belgian film directed by Martin Provost. It's set in Senlis, France during the early 1900's . An art collector is visiting the region and is staying in one of the rented apartments. There he meets Seraphine (Yolande Moreau), the cleaning lady. She doesn't wear any shoes. She speaks with unmistakable childlikeness. She's rather dumb.


10/10/10 is a Sunday, and I'll probably remember this day because of Mommy Cely, an old lady from church who shared her favorite passage in front of the congregation.


There's nothing like fever and a dripping nose in the middle of an early-morning cardiology cramming session to make me realize just how weak, how unmistakably human, I am. But isn't is true that "The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him" (Psalm 28:7)? What an encouragement.

Great reads on

It's almost amusing because just this week, the June issue of UP Medics, the official student publication of the UP College of Medicine, was released. Delayed printing due to delayed funding—these things always happen. It's a problem of the Third World. But that didn't keep us from sharing with you stories that empower, educate, and inspire. We have a website, , to bridge the time—and financial—divide. It's a work in progress, many thanks to Jay Magbohos, who does the nitty gritty details with the web design, and Arianne Agdamag, our gracious editor-in-chief, whose vision for the publication—be it in what form—is noble and something that I believe in, too.

A blast

Close friends have been asking how my brother, who took the Bar Exam last Sunday, is doing, if he has, by any chance, been injured by the explosion that left many wounded, some limbless, thanks to the mindless bomb throwers who did not, for any second, think that lives were at stake. The answer is that he is doing well, he is safe and is enjoying reading his books and catching up with his tv series. Thank you for your prayers and concern. Praise be to the Lord for His protection.

Playing Dr. House

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of representing my class in the College's Clinicopathological Conference (CPC). It's a big academic gathering, one that I personally look forward to because it reminds me so much of Dr. House , only this time it's for real. It goes like this. A weird true-to-life medical case is given, with detailed history and physical exam findings, management and treatment, and the progression of the patient's condition. Usually the patient ends up dead. But for what reason? Could the death have been caused by a single disease or a combination of diseases? Could the clinical manifestations have been due to a rare disease or a common disease with a very weird presentation? No one really knows, except the people from the Department of Pathology who have done the autopsy.

I'm a grown man

While I was looking at a Christian story book for children at the Manila International Book Fair, a tall, Caucasian lady in her twenties approached me, "Is that for your daughter?" A part of me wanted to tell her, "Why, yes. She has just turned five."


I went to Cartimar Market this afternoon to buy something for a research project. I was with Casti Castillo. Carlo de Guzman willingly dragged himself with us because he didn't want to go home yet, and he knew the place quite well, having been there a couple of times. We were pleasantly surpised that the guy knew how to commute. I'm kidding, I'm kidding, Carlo!


It's 6 am, and I'm on my way home after studying at McDonald's. Just before I turn right, I see a van packed with people. They wear light clothing and sunglasses tucked like headbands. There are food trays and bags. They sound like children on a field trip: hysterical with excitement, laughing and talking with a restlessness that could only mean one thing—they're going swimming. It's a good thing other people actually make something fun out of the holidays while the rest of us are stuck doing things that are supposed to matter.

The Bar

Rarely does the Bar Exam not take its toll on the people who take it. The test is tough, long, and tiring. Passing is the lowest among the licensure exams in this country, which explains the hype that surrounds the process. With the hype inevitably comes the pressure. My brother is taking the Bar for the next Sundays of September. It started yesterday. My father's here to support him, cook his favorite meals, and cheer him up.

Meeting students from other med schools

I had the privilege of hosting the program of the NCR-wide meeting of medical school Christian organizations last Saturday. I was able to interact with other students and hear them testify of God's faithfulness. The place was packed with students from Far Eastern University, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, St. Luke's College of Medicine, Our Lady of Fatima College of Medicine, University of Santo Tomas, University of the East, and UP College of Medicine. Some were like me, too: groggy from weekend exams. We had games, singing, praying, and eating.

My favorite pharmacological principle

There's this principle doctors follow in prescribing medications: use treatments in the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time necessary.

The wee morning hours

A slow, quiet flipping of the pages of the Bible. A glorious humming of church hymns before the break of day. A satisfying, home-cooked breakfast I haven't tasted for the longest time. My father's in town.

A weekend well-spent

The past three days have been the first extended weekend I've had in a long time. I feel liberated; suddenly I had 24 extra hours to do other stuff, oversleeping not being one of them, although I had the option.


François Truffaut's 1959 film, Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows) , tells the story of a boy.  The scene opens with the teacher writing on the board and the boys passing around a picture of a half-naked woman in lingerie. Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), our hero, is caught, and he comes right up to the teacher's desk. He doesn't look scared. He goes to a corner—the French has a face-the-wall version, too—and patiently waits for recess. When the bell rings, however, the rest of his classmates hurry up to play outside—recess has always been for playing, not eating—and he attempts to join the rest of the crowd, until the scary teacher they call Sourpuss (Guy Decomble) calls him back, "Recess isn't mandatory; it's a reward."

Never the same

I treat myself to a movie after every test. It doesn't matter who stars in it, as long as it keeps me interested and I get something out of it. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) is a comedy-drama about a brilliant, dysfunctional family. If you liked J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey , you'll probably like this, too. The three children are extremely gifted. Chas (Ben Stiller) is a genius in international finance. He also breeds dalmatian mice in his home-based lab. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), the adopted daughter, is a popular playwright. Richie (Luke Wilson) is a world-class tennis player.

Saturday morning

It's a crisp Saturday morning. My roommate, Monchi, has left earlier for yet another frat-organized activity; this man is restless and is hardly here on weekends. After checking my email and doing stuff for school, I feel hungry. I go out and feel the morning sun burn. As I walk along the streets on slippers, I hum a tune. The song is O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go , an old hymn I like to be sung when I die. It's a great feeling, anonymity, the time you can do what you want in public without anyone—usually a classmate going through the same daily routine—recognizing you.

"I hated what was my own"

I enjoyed Autumn Sonata recently, a 1978 Swedish film directed by Ingmar Bergman.  A mother comes to visit her daughter's home in a beautiful, rural farm town. The mother is Charlotte Andergast (Ingrid Bergman), an accomplished classic pianist who wants distraction after her lover just died. The daughter, Eva (Liv Ullmann), now married to a preacher, welcomes her mother with open arms, with an almost childlike excitement. They haven't seen each other for seven years.

Over dinner with old friends, I jokingly told them I wanted to be a plastic surgeon

After what seemed like an eternity of after-class meetings, I got a text from an old friend, Katrina Magallanes . Now a student at the UP College of Law, she was in the Supreme Court to attend the Hacienda Luisita hearing, and she wanted to meet me. I was excited, of course. This was the classmate I often teased in elementary school. I wanted to know how she was doing, if she has been getting enough sleep, or if a man has been brave enough to finally ask her for a date, with her intimidating credentials and all that.

Sawi sa pag-ibig

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is more than a narration of a geek's life story. It is a tale of epic proportions, spanning different generations and weaving horrifying stories of the Trujillo regime in Dominican Republic. Published in 2007, this is undeniably Junot Diaz's masterpiece, having won the Pulitzer Prize. The hero is Oscar de Leon, an overweight, ugly, introvert, dark-skinned guy whose idea of entertainment is collecting comic books, watching sci-fi, and writing stories of his own. A quintessential geek, he has a hard time getting girls to like him.

Pus reminds me of cheese

The exam I took this morning just capped off Derma Week. You know how it is: puke-inducing pictures of pus, blood, and parasites; and beautiful doctors—consultants and residents alike—with glowing, almost pore-less skin. I couldn't help but stare if they weren't looking.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Prisoner for God: a man's love for his Savior

Over the weekend, I read Prisoner for God , a collection of letters, poems, and essays written from the prison cell by Dietrich Bonhoeffer , a pastor and theologian who participated in the German resistance against Nazism. Bonhoeffer founded the Confessing Church which, at that time, was a beacon of Christian hope and courage, encouraging the German people to persevere in their faith amidst the persecution. Because of his Christian leanings, he was imprisoned in 1943 at Tegel Prison in Berlin. He was later transferred to Prinz Albert Strasse. He was eventually executed in 1945.

A blessed, restful Sunday

Mike Tan —not the anthropologist-cum-Inquirer columnist—visited Higher Rock (my local church) for the first time. Boy, I was glad to see him again; too bad Luther Caranguian couldn't join him this morning. Mike was among my closest friends in Yakal, like a kid brother, even. I'd go to his room to listen to his newest song downloads, to pass away time, and to ask for prayers. We also shared a keen interest in books and table tennis. To celebrate the Lord's Day, we headed straight to Il Terrazo, a couple of blocks away from church. We ate at Banapple where the food is always delicious.

My UPCAT experience

Some of my younger friends are taking the UPCAT today. And as I've been praying for them, I tried remembering my own experience, a story that keeps my feet on the ground because to this day, I don't know how I managed to pass it, if not for God's grace. Seven years ago, on a clear Saturday morning, I woke up earlier than usual, took a hearty breakfast, and quickly made my way to Notre Dame of Marbel University, the testing center in my area. Minutes away from taking the exam that would change my life forever, I prayed for guidance, strength, and wisdom. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to pass. Desperately.

Medical board exam is tomorrow

Around this time of the year, the library is packed. The mood is quiet, hushed even, because one can't bear to disturb the new graduates as they prepare for the dreaded medical boards.

Where dreams take us

At 3 pm today, I closed my eyes. And as I drowned myself in darkness (and the good professor's voice with it), I started to dream.


I don't do groceries regularly; like any Filipino, I like buying my stuff piece by piece. A sachet over a bottle of shampoo. Cookies in little plastic packs over cookies in big metal containers. I patronize the sari-sari store economy. But this one time was a little different. I felt like I had to replenish my supplies. My parents would be relieved knowing I was munching something.

Jef and some old Kalayaan memories

These days the only text messages I receive are med school-related reminders. So when I got a text confirming if I was Lance Catedral from an old friend I haven't met in five years, I had a serious suspicion that something was well on its way. It turned out that Jef Sala  was in the country for a three-week vacation. He was planning to surprise us with an apparition. Too bad, though, because I eventually figured things out.

Fulfilling their dreams

Last week my undergrad class organized a send-off party for Juanchi Pablo and Kino Aquino who will be leaving the country to pursue their PhD's. This opportunity is a fulfillment of their dreams. On our way to Tomas Morato, Quezon City, I told Coy Cabanilla (who, like me, is happily stuck in med), "There was a time na pinangarap din natin 'yan ." Juanchi is taking his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at the Duke University in North Carolina, while Kino qualified for the Biomedical Engineering program at Boston University . They're flying to the US on August. While it pains me to see them go, I'm comforted by the fact that they'll do great things wherever God would put them.

Don't we just live busy lives?

The past few days have been extraordinarily hectic, so let me bore you with details on how my week has gone.

The Lives of Others

Among the more interesting films I've seen recently is The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), a German film released in 2006 by first-time director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

The road to pharma

Maybe now isn't the right time to put this in writing, but the amount of lessons I need to remember has  gone out of proportion that I feel like I need to distract myself. Give me one more set of drugs to memorize, and my head might just explode.


After taking four exams Friday morning—a harrowing experience but only the tip of the iceberg, I was told—I needed a break. I figured Saturday evening was a great time to meet up with my high school classmates, so I reserved my schedule for a dinner engagement.

The 15th President of the Republic

I spent my morning live-streaming the Aquino Inaugural, alternating between reading my parasitology notes and checking if my browser was up and about.


Faculty is a short film commissioned by the ANC and directed by Jerrold Tarog. Two teachers from a private college clash on their opposing views on education. The scenes are beautifully shot, and the message is powerfully provoking. If you have 7 minutes to spare, do take time to watch it. Whose side are you taking? (HT: Hazel Baconga, via Twitter)

Walking through

The afternoon sun is turning us wet with sticky perspiration. As the jeepney swerves to make a sharp U-turn, we crack jokes and laugh like there's no tomorrow. Our subjects? Our more well-off classmates whose experiences of private transportation are limited to class-organized field trips. Like this. "Guys, look for black cars. Tin's bodyguards must following us."


I greeted my father twice today. The first one was through text: "Happy Father's Day, Tay! I praise God for giving me the best father in the world!"


For the longest time, I've been meaning to document a typical day in med school. For the curious, it's a day spent inside a huge auditorium. There are lectures from 8 to 5, except if the speakers can't make it or if there are lab classes in tow.

Waiting for sleep to come

It's 2:30 am, and I'm looking at my window, waiting for sleep to come. It's a hot night. The fan is at full blast. Its grumbling is the only sound I hear, drowning the the quiet, solemn classical music playing on my computer.


Today I had the privilege of being one of the country's delegates to the 10th Science Council of Asia International Scientific Conference at Sofitel, Manila. It runs until June 16.

Food trip in Binondo

I belong to a research group of 16 people whose dedication, commitment, and passion have been an encouragement to me. Last year we were so busy we didn't have time to hold a decent celebration party. We worked so hard on our Influenza A(H1N1) project, sacrificing hours of sleep and rest just to get things done. By God's grace, though, we were able to submit a good research output.

Cry out to Jesus

I used to sing on-stage when I was little. My voice was like a girl's, my range perhaps higher than Charice Pempenko's  Pempenco's. No kidding.


I'm not cut out to be a fratman. If you've seen me, you won't ever associated me with any organization named with Greek letters. I simply don't have the look nor the attitude nor the coolness or hotness, whichever way you look at it.

To the freshman of the UP College of Medicine

I'm in my second year of medicine, and I still don't know squat. I have yet to work for real in the hospitals, but I think I know a few things—many I learned the hard way—that can probably help you, the young medical student, course through your First Year.

The slow bureaucratic process called the enrolment

UP is notorious for its tedious enrolment process. This situation is something I see every semester, an irony in itself because the University has been around for more than a hundred years, but it has yet to perfect the process. I recall a time when it took me three days to finish because there weren't slots in the subjects I needed. I would wake up really early, just before the offices opened, only to be disappointed by the long queue of even more early birds. Enlisting for a subject was a struggle for dear life.

The breakfast table

Again I've found a beautiful prayer when I visited Pastor Scotty Smith's blog this morning. The prayer is called The Prayer About the Gospel for Breakfast . It quotes Psalm 143:8, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." And it begins with these words:

Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: a boy who can't read faces

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a first-person fictional narrative. A 15-year-old boy tells the story in simple language and black-and-white illustrations any normal grade schooler can understand. Interestingly, though, Christopher John Francis Boone isn't your ordinary kid on the block. He's gifted with superb logic, and he's autistic. I think he may have some kind of Asperger's—which means he can't understand facial expressions and other non-verbal cues, so you have to tell it to him straight in the face. He writes:

"My dear Dodoy"

While rummaging through the old stuff, my father called my attention to a letter my mother wrote him before Manong Ralph was even born. This was around the time Tatay was still working in Saudi Arabia, and Nanay was pregnant with her first son. Using a blue pen and her prescription pad, my mother wrote a letter packed with anxiety, care, and longing. Months after they were married, my father went to a foreign desert land, hoping to earn money for a new family he was building. Here's a snippet of that letter.

Post-summer break evaluation

I'm back—back from vacation, back to the real world. Before I hit the hay, I just want to wrap things up by doing a mini-evaluation as to how my summer break went. In April 10, I listed the things I had wanted to do . Here I'm going to indicate which ones I accomplished and which ones I didn't—and for what reason/s. How did I fare?


Banga, South Cotabato I took the shots during a heavy downpour. The water level was rising by the minute, and the current was getting tougher. I could've by-passed the river entirely, but a visit to my aunt's farm wouldn't be complete without this adventure.

My blogging resolutions*

1. Resolved, to write only of things that are honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8) for the glory of God and my own good, profit, and pleasure. 2. Resolved, to compose blog entries only after I have come into a daily personal communion with God through the careful study of His Word.

Getting lost

The hour after lunch is the sleepiest time of the day, regardless of where I am. It's 1 pm, and I'm yawning. I take a short nap, but the air is too stifling to allow a decent siesta.

The Ultimate Hard Thing, Part 2

This is the second installment of the message I gave during the SDG Youth Camp at Camp Alano, Toril, Davao City on May 23. (Here's the first part).

The Ultimate Hard Thing, Part 1

This is the first installment of the message I gave during the SDG Youth Camp at Camp Alano, Toril, Davao City on May 23. It's rather long, so I'm publishing it here by parts.

The long and winding road

While on the road, I poke Sean's armpits and wait for his punch. I need to do something—a painful distraction—before the long, winding curve gets the better of me. Travel-induced nausea, I call it, one of the worst feelings in the world.

To the young

I'm off to Davao City today. I'm one of the speakers at the Soli Deo Gloria Christian Church 's Youth Camp. I'll be speaking tomorrow, May 23, during the evangelism night. Until now, I'm overwhelmed by this rare, undeserved opportunity of speaking to the young, and I pray that the Lord would use me to encourage and stir them up to doing hard things for Him. My talk is entitled, "The Ultimate Hard Thing: What Jesus Did So That The Hard Things We Do Are Not In Vain." Please pray that God's name be lifted up.

Same genes, differing perspectives

"That movie is life-changing for me— Patch Adams ," I tell Sean as I browse through cable TV. I don't think he hears me the first time. He goes on texting. "What movie changed you, Sean?" He answers, "Batman," without lifting his eyes.

Investing in memories

After his morning coffee, Lolo would take us to this small park. We'd play with the swings and see-saws, and he'd stand nearby, warning us to be careful. Just before we'd go home, our feet would be soaked in morning dew. This was more than 15 years ago.

Lost in the rain

The sun was directly overhead, and the air was stifling. I was indoors, trying to beat the heat. The fan was in full blast. I was writing something when the skies suddenly darkened. I felt a cool breeze enter the house. Minutes later, I saw raindrops outside, first in trickles, and then in a massive gush of water from the heavens. I took my shirt off, flung it on the floor, and headed straight to the garden. Ah, the rain. I haven't soaked myself wet in the rain for a very long time.

Good music, good food

Photos from our mini-reunion at EMR in Morales, Koronadal City. We look so pretentious with the wine glasses.


Damo sa mga kilala ko ang mga nagkaramatay. Ang adviser sang Tagatala. Ang nanay sang classmate ko. Ang classmate sang nanay ko. Tapos si Rotchelle. Kagab-i, nag- videoke kami sang batchmates ko sa high school . Pagkatapos sang dinner , nag-istoryahanay kami.  Wala ko gid ginpalampas ang chance nga mamangkot kung ano natabo sa lubong ni Rotch. Okay man daw. Damo nag- attend . 

Happy birthday, Manong!


Little joys

I'm now subscribing to Scotty Smith's blog, Heavenward . It has been a source of encouragement for me. Smith serves as Pastor for Preaching, Teaching, and Worship at Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. I hope I could pray like him. In one entry , he writes: I praise you for the loud-stringy-splashing crunch of celery and the oohs-and-aah-generating texture of good ice cream. I praise you for my wife’s gentle kisses and my grandson’s limitless repertoire of facial expressions. I praise you for the polyphonic soothing sounds of ocean waves… the memory-connecting music of the 60’s… the well-timed greeting of a friend. I praise you for the permanent smile on the face of dolphin… the never-the-same array of sunrises and sunsets… the more-faithful-than-a-Swiss-clock ways you show up when I need you the most—ways which only confirm that the gospel is so much bigger and better than I ever imagined. God continually showers me with little things that make my life enjoyable

Do not be anxious

Sinclair Ferguson in The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World : It is only when we take our lives out of the Father's hands and have them under our own control that we find ourselves gripped with anxiety. The secret of freedom for anxiety is freedom from ourselves and abandonment of our own plans. But that spirit only emerges when our minds are filled with the knowledge that our Father can be trusted implicitly to supply everything we need.




The country has seen history unfold in the past two days, and her people have demonstrated what democracy is: a nation run by the people. Among the developing stories I've been following on tv, what stunned me most was the way candidates have taken their losing, something this land hasn't seen before—at least, in a way not as widely practiced as we see it today. They conceded. They congratulated the winner. They accepted defeat. You see, in the Philippines, when a candidate loses, he'll claim that there was massive vote-rigging. It's a nation hurt and more divided after the election.

I cast my vote in the first automated Philippine elections

I was voter 117 in the queue which, by UP standards, was still relatively short. The system was slow, and the people were complaining. It was only 8 am. My number was called at around 10 am. I finished marking my ballots in less than 2 minutes. I had a list which made things easier. So how did it feel like? When I read "Congratulations!" on the PICOS PCOS machine, I felt like I just made history. How did you fare?

Leaders we do not deserve

In a few minutes, the family is going to the precincts for the historic automated Philippine elections. It's also my first time to vote, and I'm excited to finally take part in this democratic exercise. Over breakfast, I finalized my list of candidates and put it in writing. I've had the greatest difficulty choosing from the local candidates. I hardly knew their platforms, and the internet wasn't helping either. Just a few thoughts, derived mostly from a Sunday preaching:

Wise words from my dentist

Tired from the clinic, Nanay noticed something in my mouth. "Lance, you should make toothbrushing an obsession."


If you're curious, I took pictures with a camphone while standing on the same spot. I used GIMP to manually stitch the images; it was pretty much like solving a puzzle. The final images surprised me. Many thanks to Heather Champ for the inspiration.