It's the final week of 2011, and my Week in Photos Project has ended. I started late in the year, but I so far I've been pretty consistent in taking a variety of pictures, thanks to my trusted iPod Touch.
I got home on a 7:30 am Cebu Pacific flight to General Santos last Thursday, but the plane only got off the runway an hour after we boarded the aircraft because of what could only be described in layman's terms as heavy traffic--there were so many people going home to the provinces.
My younger brother, Sean, who studies Dentistry in Davao, was already home when we arrived. I was surprised to see that he, too, has grown fatter.
I'm writing this from my grandmother's old house in Polomolok, about 45 minutes away from Koronadal City. We used to spend our summers here when we were younger. Lola is about 80 years old now, but her memory is still intact, her humor still piercing, although she does have difficulty walking because of osteoarthritis.
We went to Joseph Chua's farm and rest house in Norzagaray, Bulacan, about an hour and a half drive away from Manila, for the Agape sem-ender celebration. He invited us to have our planning session there last year, but we never had the opportunity to go until today. Sadly not everyone made it—they either had prior commitments, or they were already home in their provinces for the Christmas break.
Joseph's mother, Tita Maritz, graciously offered to drive us. The trip was smooth and enjoyable. The traffic wasn't as bad as we expected.
Group mates can make or break you in Medicine. You don't have much of a choice but to get along with those people. The medical curriculum—at least the one in our school—is designed such that most of the time you don't work alone; you have to work as a collective and cohesive group.
This set-up naturally poses a major challenge for those who can't work well with others. For instance, those who are too opinionated, too full of themselves, too shy, and too quiet will have a hard time unless they can adjust to their new social environments. The key is balance: the group members must complement one another and must learn how to give and take.
I'm still reeling from the emotional after-effects of David Mitchell's masterpiece, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which I finished moments ago.
Set in the 1800s, during the time when Japan's only connection to the rest of the world was her trading relations with the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), the story revolves around Jacob de Zoet, a twentysomething clerk set to check and document the corruption going on in the Company's transactions in Dejima, Nagasaki Bay. There he meets Orito Aibagawa, a midwife, who rises to fame after she successfully saves the lives of both the Magistrate's wife and son after prolonged labor. To tell you the truth, what initially drew me to this book was David Mitchell's scientific descriptions of obstetric techniques in the first chapter—how the attending Doctor Maeno and Miss Aibagawa-san determined the fetal lie, what they did when they suspected a possible cord strangulation, with an illustration so reminiscent of those seen in William's Obstetrics. These details were mixed so expertly with the author's prose.
I got a couple of emails from a few readers asking me for tips about the NMAT (National Medical Achievement Test), the big qualifying exam for medical schools in the Philippines. The multiple-choice exam covers basic science subjects, language, and abstract reasoning, and is administered twice a year: every April and December.
The pressure is for would-be medical students to score high in this test, so they'd get the desired cut-off percentile score for the med school they're eyeing. In the UP College of Medicine, for example, the cut-off is officially pegged at 90%.
"No one who knows the Bible and is a careful observer of human beings will dispute that pride is and has always been a gigantic problem in the world," writes Dr. Wayne Mack in the Preface of his book, Humility: The Forgotten Virtue. I first encountered Dr. Mack, a known Bible scholar and professor of Biblical Counseling at the Master's College, in his book, Life in the Father's House.
In this short but important work, he attempts to "understand pride and humility from a biblical perspective" in the hope of diminishing the "destructive pride factor" and to increase the "true humility factor" in our lives. The book follows the 4D outline: a biblical definition of what pride and humility are, the display of pride and humility, how humility can be developed, and how pride can be diminished. At the end of each chapter are simple guide questions that readers are encouraged to answer.