In shirts, shorts, and slippers: our day trip to Tagaytay

IT TOOK us a while to realize the big mistake we made after we had hailed the bus bound for Tagaytay: we forgot to bring our jackets. Already used to the rural community setting, we were dressed in shirts, shorts, and slippers—as if we were headed to the beach. We forgot how freezing it could get in Tagaytay, and the wind was so cold we felt we were being refrigerated.

The quick day trip to Tagaytay was largely unplanned, which was just as well, because sometimes the best trips are those made spontaneously. From Bailen we took the jeepney to Alfonso, which was 30 to 45 minutes away. From Alfonso we rode an ordinary bus (the Coastal Mall route) to Tagaytay. The trip lasted an hour. All in all, the bus fare totaled to Php 40.

trees trees

Getting the hang of it

Women

AFTER three weeks of living in Bailen I think I may have gotten the hang of provincial life. It wasn't that hard—I am a promdi. It should come to me naturally. I was born and raised in Southern Mindanao, where the malls start closing at 7:30 PM and most people are alseep by eight. Bailen, islands and seas away from where I was born, has its own charms, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to call it a home, albeit for a short time.

Albert Camus' The Plague: death is an omnipresent reality

SLOWLY I'm making headway to finish my reading backlogs.

The Plague by Albert Camus is what people have called it—disturbing—because so much of what happens in the city of Oran can happen to any city in the world. People in Public Health or those involved in epidemiological research must read this book. It is by no means a textbook about the do's and don't's in an epidemic, but it reflects the basic human reactions to helplessness: panic, submission, and acceptance of the new status quo. To the people in Oran, the epidemic has become an omnipresent reality.

It has happened before. It can happen again. 

My favorite twins

I LOVE twins. I've always wanted to have one: it's like seeing yourself every time without having to look at the mirror.

I've been called twins with other people, especially my brothers. People in church, for example, still mistake me for Manong; they ask me for legal advice, which I know nothing about. Years ago, my high school classmate Angeli yelled in excitement after seeing my brother Sean, whom she thought was me. I'm called a twin with another non-relative, my forever blockmate Casti, because we sport similar haircuts (semi-kal), and we bear prominent traumatic alopecic scars in our occiputs, which is a grander way of referring to a poknat.

Juan Pablo Villalobos' Down the Rabbit Hole: in the eyes of a clueless child

Juan Pablo Villalobos' Down the Rabbit Hole

THE KID Tochtli only wants to own a Liberian pygmy hippopotamus. He's also fond of the Japanese samurai and French guillotines. He likes hats and big words—like "sordid." He lives in a mansion. He doesn't play with other children, but he is properly cared for by servants who do not speak a word—their tongues have been cut off. He gets what he wants. Daily he sees his father's gang members, guns, and prostitutes. He is the son of a notoriously rich Mexican drug lord. He doesn't realize how dangerous his life is. How far can a child's innocence get him?

Joseph O'Neill's Netherland: playing a game of cricket in New York

NETHERLAND is about a Dutch banker in post-September 11 Manhattan. His name is Hans van de Broek, a successful Wall Street analyst whose English wife had left him for London. She took their son with her. He visits London occasionally—he expects for the marriage to work, but it's on the verge of falling apart. Why all this is happening to him is something he grapples with every day. His solitude is so palpable it spills over the pages.

My first Christmas Eve in Manila

2013 WAS THE year I was going to spend Christmas Eve in Manila, the first time without family. I was feeling rather depressed—my appetite gone, my mood lonely, my mind fixed on Koronadal—and it didn't help that on the morning of December 24th, Gary V's Pasko Na Sinta Ko was played on my patient's phone while I was doing blood extraction. I wasn't exactly on the verge of tears, but I longed for home like a Filipino OFW in Kuwait.