Leave 2016: Southern Philippines

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PART OF ENJOYING one’s travels is retrospection, when one recounts the things that have happened, the places visited—a process made easier by the advent of camera phones and social media[1].

On this long weekend (yesterday was Araw ng Maynila—ah, Forward Ever, Backward Never![2]), I shall indulge myself in this exercise because I haven’t written much about the second half of my break, which I spent with family and friends in Koronadal, the place I still consider home.

Why I no longer write as often

the thought

— THESE days I struggle with the lack of things to write about. Five years ago, I could turn the mundane into a decent blog post, complete with photos and quotes and links to random websites. Now that the world has changed, and the divide between the public and private has almost disintegrated, I tend to overthink. Will the things I write about merely contribute to the junk that’s already out there in the open? Do people really need to know this about me? While this is a private space, and only friends and a few strangers know of this website (the plan is to keep it this way), I still entertain the possibility that I might be wasting time—mine and those of my readers.

Fatherless

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Sean and Tatay share a light moment. 

I CAN write about my father all day.

He has been with me since the day I was born. He cooked me breakfasts and made me swallow everything on my plate—never mind the fact that I was full and already 10 minutes late for my first class. He reprimanded me for staying up late on Saturday evening and for taking so much time sleeping on Sunday morning. He has never been late for church. He is the most charming, humorous man I know. And I thank the Lord every day for him, my Tatay, whose body habitus I inherited.

But I know some friends didn't grow up with fathers. A few of them harbor hatred, indifference, or contempt for their fathers. Most of them miss their fathers even years after they had passed on.

Despite these, the Bible says we have a Father in heaven, Someone greater and better than the best fathers on earth.

"Behold what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure," says 1 John 3:1–3.

Pastor Scotty Smith's prayer for Father's Day is worth reading.

Rest

fishing

That God has allowed me to enjoy the past two weeks is something I thank Him for. The theology of rest is that as God has rested on the seventh day of Creation, so should we—we of finite and limited strength and abilities. We can only go so far in our work if we do not give our bodies enough leeway to recuperate, our cells to regenerate, our sleep to take flight.

Yet there is a kind of rest that only God's children—His elect, His chosen ones—can enjoy. It is the rest of the soul after striving to earn its salvation and desperately failing to do so. It is, as Saint Augustine has written, the ultimate rest of the restless soul. After it has tasted this world and its promised rewards, the soul yearns for peace, healing, and assurance. Above all, the soul yearns for God Himself, whose very Person transcends yet embodies the very things He provides. For hasn't He promised that He will give rest to those who are heavily laden?

Have you experienced this rest?

Dogs

I'M NOT the biggest fan of dogs, but I like watching them. There's a reason why they're called man's best friend.

— At Stanley Beach, where they were in a sort of courtship.

dog at stanley beach

— At the Stanley Market, where one dog looked too indifferent and tired—just the way I happen to like dogs best.

dog

— At the Po Lin Monastery, where they kept guard.

Standing on guard

I was surprised to know that Benjamin, our spitz, still recognizes me despite my two-year absence from home. He looks so grown up now, but is still extremely movable and hysterical.

Hong Kong 2016

like in a film

AS WITH most of my trips before, my going to Hong Kong was largely unplanned. I originally wanted to go to Vietnam to get a feel of what I was reading (The Sympathizers by Vien Thanh Nguyen), a book set in the 1970s during the US war with the Viet Cong. It was a toss up between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. But three weeks before my scheduled leave, it was already too late to score cheap flights. My brother, always the optimistic planner when I felt I had nowhere else to go to, figured we could go to Hong Kong—it's not too far away, it's not expensive, and it's convenient.

Case presentation—done

30 minutes before case presentation

FINALLY. I'm done with my case presentation. The Training Committee requires that each trainee present at least one case for an audit. I was never picked to present a medical audit, so I was given an option to present an interesting case of my own choosing in exchange. Originally slated in May this year, it has been bumped off from the Department's calendar many times already. I didn't mind that I had to go back to the hospital on the second day of my mandatory two-week vacation leave. I just wanted to get it over with.