Showing posts from November, 2010


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?"