Congratulations, UP College of Medicine Class of 2018 qualifiers!

A READER requested that I post the results of admission process of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine here, in this blog. First thing I noticed: lots of Chuas and Tans in the list. There are many students with similar surnames, too: Crisostomo, Diaz, Lukban, Milla, Mina ... and the staple Reyes and Santos, among others. I don't know if these students are all related; some probably are. Goes to show that some clans breed doctors.

Imagine the confusion of having a classmate with the same surname as yours in the event that the professor announces—family name first—who will take the finals, who are exempted, who will repeat the course, who will endorse a patient, and so on. Ah, the agony of surprise.

See you around PGH! Get as much sleep as you can because when med school starts, you won't be getting any. That's hyperbole, of course, but you get the point.

The names after the cut.

How I spent my elective break

BY READING fiction.

1. Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. The reasons why people commit suicide often baffle me. I know people who've attempted to kill themselves, and some of them were successful in doing so. This novel doesn't explain — it illustrates — why people, teenagers especially, go to such lengths as taking their own lives. Is it the dysfunctional family, peer pressure, emotional instability? We shall never really know the reasons, but we shall be acquainted with the Lisbon sisters, told from the viewpoint of curious boys from the neighborhood. This may well be Jeffrey Eugenides's most powerful literary work.

Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides

Emotions, smoking, and how to avoid a broken heart

OF THE TEN unopened tabs inundating my web browser (Chromium, if you're curious) at any given time there emerge one or two—okay, maybe three—interesting sites that make me think, "My friends are going to like this." 

Instead of sharing them in Facebook, which I think is already bursting with information, most of it useless, I hope to share links that I find useful and interesting—and I hope you will, too. I'm going ahead of myself, but the links will most likely be about Christianity, books/literature, science, medicine, and photography—topics that engage me the most—but who knows? I might just link into politics, comedy, and show business.

I don't intend to do this weekly but only if I have extra time. So Dear Readers (and I know there are only a few of you), here's the first dose of interesting links. I may look like a trying hard Kottke, but I'm having fun.

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Cracked up by Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair

WHAT HAPPENS if literary characters leap from the book pages and talk to you in real life? Or what if there exists a portal that allows you to relive your favorite stories and interact with the heroes and villains that exist therein?

These were some of the questions that The Eyre Affair explored. This is the first of Jasper Fforde's novels that I've read, and I'm glad I did. The Eyre Affair so surprisingly cracked me up I had to ditch my review materials away (I went home on the pretense that I was going to review for the comprehensive exam -- that wasn't happening) and buried my nose on my Php 20-peso secondhand copy I got from Booksale.

So tell me. Who wouldn't fall for a story with a heroine named Thursday Next, whose father was a time traveler being hunted by the authorities? Thursday had a genetically engineered pet dodo named Pickwick (the name I'll give the next dog my father gets -- a lazy, sleepy chow chow, I hope). She was an investigator in a government agency called Special Operations Network where she was called a Literary Detective. That meant she hunted literary forgerers and thieves of original manuscripts, and, as the novel progressed, she got to talk to actual characters from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.

Two rivals: revisiting Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel

I DERIVE PLEASURE from returning to old books I had read previously. That's my preoccupation these days.

Here's Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel. My mother recommended this novel when I was in high school. Thankfully my mother's friend still had a copy, and this was lent to me. About a decade has passed, and the paperback is still at home.

Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer

Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer Chapter One, Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer

Homeland is about two people who want to be happy


DON'T WATCH Homeland if you don't have the entire day free.

Numb after watching the last episode of season two, I feel like going through the entire 12 episodes again.

The first season, which I had watched months ago, had me hooked—excellent cast, great story, characters I felt close to—but I wanted to reserve season two for better days. With all the free time in my hands and the unbearable summer heat during the afternoons, I figured now would be the best time to enjoy what remained of the series.

Homeland is about a US Marine officer Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) who returns home a war hero after being locked up for eight years in an Iraqi prison cell, tortured night and day by terrorists. While America is busy celebrating this homecoming, one CIA analyst (Claire Danes) thinks the said officer may be have been brainwashed—or "turned" to the other side—and may be working for Abu Nazir's intricate terrorist network to unleash another attack against the USA.

Olive oil

YESTERDAY I TOOK the 0520 flight to General Santos. I hailed a cab to the airport at 2 am, immediately checked myself in, ate a ham-and-egg sandwich and drank a cup of brewed coffee (what was I thinking?), and I almost missed my flight because I was too engrossed with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (John LeCarré, he's brilliant) that I didn't hear the announcement over the speakers. I will have a month-long break, and I'm spending most of it at home. There's nothing like hearing your mother wake you up in the morning to get a dose of early sunshine and your father urging you to go to the gym. The former I can do; the latter will probably never happen.


On the way I met a 30-something woman, an OFW from Cyprus, who was visiting the country after four years. I get a kick talking to strangers when I travel alone.

"Cyprus!" I said, "So you've been to the beaches?"

May gulay!

May gulay

AROUND LUNCHTIME my stomach was growling—borborygmi, it's scientifically called, though nobody uses that word anymore, except me, because I like to brag—and I imagined the cakes and iced tea and chicken and rice I was going to eat, and the friends I was to eat them with, people I haven't seen in a while, and I felt, at that point, that I missed them, my emotions stirred by the scenery I saw as the jeepney sped at full speed, which made me think of how the landscape looked before the new buildings were erected—still lush with greenery, as in the countryside, peaceful, and dangerous because it looked like a perfect spot for rape: dark at night, with hardly any passersby to witness and eventually report the crime.

Blast from the past: the 44th APMC Research Contest

THE FIRST TIME I'd been to UST was in 2011, when we presented our two research papers for the 44th Annual Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Convention Research Competition.

The contest happened two years ago, but I'm writing about it now because I had stumbled upon Migz Catangui's album in Facebook. I guess I'm in a state of perpetual reminiscing these days, processing and reflecting the four years that have passed. Time flies fast—too fast, in fact—that significant events like this easily blur in my memory, if I allow them to.


Unofficially over it

SAVE FOR A FEW more exams in April, my fourth year in med school is done.

Although I still sleep at ten o' clock and wake up at four—a messed up circadian routine I had long since acquired that has worked to my advantage in med school—I don't know what to do with my excessive free time. It's a great problem to have, something I wouldn't trade for monitoring ward patients or studying clinical cases—at least, not yet.

Old love

AMOUR (2012) was hauntingly beautiful and poetic I had to take breaks in between scenes to finish it. The film was about two retired music teachers, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), who had been married for a long time.

One day, while eating breakfast, Anne was found staring blankly, as if she were somewhere else, unresponsive to any verbal and tactile stimuli. At the back of my mind, I thought maybe it could've been an absence seizure. It turned out to be a stroke. Her carotid artery was blocked. She was scheduled for surgery which didn't go well. She went home paralyzed on her right side. Anne made Georges promise not to take her to the hospital, regardless of what happened.