Calibri!

I'm not the biggest fan of Calibri, Microsoft Word's default font. Recently it has figured into different anomalies and has generated interest about fonts.

Lucas de Groot, a Dutch typeface designer living in Berlin, recently began receiving a flood of calls and e-mails from Pakistan that, he said, “seemed very urgent.” He soon discovered that Calibri, a font he’d designed almost fifteen years earlier, was playing a central role in a corruption scandal engulfing Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. As part of an investigation launched by the country’s Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s daughter had released a supposedly exculpatory document signed and dated February 2, 2006. The document, however, had been printed in Calibri, which was not widely available until 2007. Investigators deemed the document to have been falsified, and the term “fontgate” began trending on Twitter.

Do you like Calibri?

(My friend Rac said, "I don't like Calibri, but I like libre!")

More Instagrammable

Casey Newton's article in The Verge tells us how restaurants are changing their designs to look more Instagrammable.

Now some entrepreneurs are taking the idea a step further, designing their physical spaces in the hopes of inspiring the maximum number of photos. They’re commissioning neon signs bearing modestly sly double entendres, painting elaborate murals of tropical wildlife, and embedding floor tiles with branded greetings — all in the hopes that their guests will post them.

To be sure, restaurateurs have always wanted their spaces to look attractive. But in the era before social media, a designer could concern herself primarily with the space’s effect on its occupants. How a room looked in photographs was, at best, a secondary concern. Ravi DeRossi, owner and primary designer of 16 bars and restaurants, including the pioneering New York craft cocktail bar Death & Company, says he has never used Instagram, preferring to design by instinct. “I want my places to feel transportive,” he says. Death & Company, which opened in 2007, exemplifies design in the pre-Instagram age: dark wood, dim lighting, and a muted color palette. The bar has a sophisticated interior, but it’s kryptonite for Instagram — good luck getting any likes on that underexposed shot of your $16 Dixieland Julep.

It's interesting to see how social media[1] influences everything around us. Facebook and Twitter, for example, dictate what comes out in traditional news outlets.


[1] Should "social media" take a singular or plural verb?

“In collective references to communication outlets and platforms, generally treat it as singular: The news media is a favorite target of politicians; Social media is playing a crucial role in the uprising. Avoid referring to news outlets simply as the media; that broad term could include movies, television, entertainment, etc. In referring to artistic techniques or materials, treat media as plural (in this sense, the singular is medium): Many different media were on display in the student exhibition.”—Excerpt from Allan M. Siegal. “The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, 2015 Edition.”

Off the beach coast

When civilian boats voluntarily sailed through the English Channel to rescue the stranded soldiers off the bloodied beach of Dunkirk, France; I was almost brought to tears. After all, home brings a certain relief for most of us, and in this historical display of humanity and nationhood—two concepts that must necessarily, but not always, go together—home came to hundreds of thousands of men, with gratitude to some yacht owners who braved the turbulent seas, with all the risk that this had entailed. The 1940s was a time when the world, led by the British, was at war against the strong Nazi forces.

Soldiers drowned as British ships capsized. Bombs were dropped from the air. The soldiers would only duck for cover rather than doing nothing at all. Airplanes crashed after being bombed themselves. The magic of the film was its ability to trap us into the visually disturbing and noisy montage of bombs and planes, blue skies and wide beaches, drowning and crashing, hunger and food, agony and relief—as if we were there ourselves.



Fun: Stephen Colbert interviews Kenneth Branagh, who knows his History lessons.




PS. On a more personal note, I remember my roommate, Tom, telling me he'd caught a glimpse of this place during his last trip to the UK for his neurology elective. During my last trip to Paris, I stayed very near rue Dunquerque, a few steps away from the Gare du Nord. I consider this my irrelevant, remote connection to the film.

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Grateful

Jesus, my deepest thanks is always reserved for you. You have always been faithful to your word, though I have not always been faithful to trust it. Thank you for the amazing grace you have extended to me. Thank you for hiding your most precious treasures in the most difficult and painful experiences. And thank you for all that you have done to teach me to walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7) and put my greatest trust in things not seen (Heb. 11:1). I look forward to the day when the dim mirror of this age is removed and I finally get to see you face to face (1 Cor. 13:12). I know you long for that day, too ( John 17:24). May it be soon. — John Bloom, Dedication. In: Things Not Seen. Crossway Publications (2015).
A blessed Sunday!

Bonding with my friends' kids

Our last batch trip to Bohol was fun. The highlight of the trip was that I got to bond with my friends' kids.

Tagbilaran–Panglao Bridge

Here's Monay Mondragon, barely a year old, holding her Uncle Lance's hand firmly. She has the makings of a future diplomat. I haven't seen a child so sociable and well behaved. Her real name is Alessandra Mondragon, a fact that made us expect that this girl would grow up a diva. "Turuan na nating maging maganda," said Jay.

Interestingly, during the entire trip, Alessa didn't cry or make a fuss about anything, the way kids her age usually do, so much so that Karen, her mother, told us, "Now she's [Alessa] making me look like I'm lying." Karen would amuse us with her motherhood woes—stories of love, sacrifice, and breast milk. . These days, Karen shows us photos of Alessa's crawling and recent transition to more solid food—like mashed vegetables. She'll grow up to be a kind, gracious, smart, and beautiful lady like her mother. And maybe nerdy-cool like her father.

Monay with Uncle Lance

Mohan, who used to hate the water, had enjoyed it this time.

Fish!

Here's Daddy David showing Mohan the wonders of aquatic life. "Peeesh," said Mohan.

David with Mohan, playing with fish

Peeesh be with you, Mohan.

Avoiding children in the plane

I avoid sitting next to children during long flights, mainly because I want to rest during travel. But this article offers a Christian perspective about (and against) this attitude.

First, children hold a special place in the eyes of God. Even the rowdiest of kids brings a smile to God’s heart, and they should bring a smile to ours. Jesus, after all, beckoned the children to come to Him, and we may hardly be more like Christ than when we do the same.

A joyful wedding

YESTERDAY, at Paul and Jac's wedding, I met good, old friends from way back in college—all very dear to me, like brothers and sisters. I hosted the reception party, had tons of laughs with the amazing co-host Sarah, who never lacked the right words to say, and whom—interestingly—I only meet every time we're cohosting weddings and when she gives birth. I saw Paul cry as he made the speech about how thankful he is for his family (and what a wonderful family he has), and Jac, too, who was more in control of her emotions but who succumbed to tears anyway. What love the Lord has granted them for each other, and how their lives have been blessings to everyone around them!

Ssssh, I'm reading

“I TOLD YOU LAST NIGHT THAT I MIGHT BE GONE sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old. And you put your hand in my hand and you said, You aren’t very old, as if that settled it. I told you you might have a very different life from mine, and from the life you’ve had with me, and that would be a wonderful thing, there are many ways to live a good life. And you said, Mama already told me that. And then you said, Don’t laugh! because you thought I was laughing at you. You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother’s. It’s a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I’m always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after I’ve suffered one of those looks. I will miss them.”—Excerpt from: Marilynne Robinson's “Gilead: A Novel.”
I always read Miss Robinson with a sense of wonder, as if her statements were sacrosanct, not to be meddled with nor read with so many distractions around.

Saturated

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your heart to God.—Colossians 3:16

The word of the Lord, when it occupies the heart, affects it in such a way that the person’s actions, words, and thoughts become transformed into more Christ-likeness. The passage starts with a verb, “let,” which means “allow” or “provide an opportunity for.” There is a sense in which a Christian must actively allow this to happen and to do so effectively such that Christ's word dwells richly. Scripture shouldn’t just reside in the heart—it must flourish there. Here Paul seems to say that the person must be saturated with the word of God before any effective teaching and admonishing, singing and being thankful, can happen.

And doesn’t Paul describe a joyful man? Someone who “sings psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” someone who is thankful to God for everything. The key to joy is Christ’s word dwelling richly in one’s life.

May I be like this person.

Millennial problems—and funny causes of death

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This New Yorker Shout-Out cracks me up: a collection of obituaries a mother writes for her twenty something daughter. How millennial.*

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Bess Kalb, twenty-four, of San Francisco, formerly of New York. The cause of death was botulism from a homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam that was prepared by one of her housemates. The housemate, Aviva Something, holds a degree in—I kid you not—modern culture and media. She certainly had no formal training in sterile canning and preservation. If the kitchen in this “co-op” where the jam was prepared looks anything like it did six months ago, there is compost decaying right there on the counter next to the sink. Bess is survived by her brother, who once looked up to her.

I certainly don't label myself a "millennial." I don't like the word; I clump it in the same category as "netizens"—that is, words I will never use, except as an example, as in this sentence, to demonstrate my hatred of it (the word, not the people).

Trip to Cubao Expo

Racquel Bruno, one of my dearest friends in residency, went to Cubao Expo with me. The place—an old but not dilapidated square of local shoe shops, antique stores, and restaurants—was a welcome respite from all the commercial establishments now undergoing construction at the Araneta Center. I suppose time will come when the rest of Manila will become a city of malls and condominiums.

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Ode to our interns

One of the greatest joys—and pains—of my residency training has been working with (and for) medical students. Since January I’ve been appointed one of the Learning Unit 7 (LU 7) resident monitors, a task I’d originally resisted but a responsibility I’d later come to like and actually love. I work with Mervyn Leones, who has been my all-around partner in the extra-curricular of residency, including research, where we’ve worked on our meta-analysis and, now, our original study involving something about discharge planning. I also work with Rich King, who never complains about the tasks I assign him, things he has every right to refuse but gladly does anyway. I also work with Alfie Chua, whose meticulousness cuts through every grade that’s improperly input, a trait that manifests in the clarity of his charting and formulation of diagnoses.

Together we orient the 26 blocks of interns that rotate with the Department of Medicine at some point during the academic year. These blocks are composed of both UP College of Medicine (UPCM) graduates and post-graduate interns (PGIs). Each student spends two months under our care: one month at the wards, and anther month at the Emergency Room, Medical ICU (MICU), and Out-Patient Department (OPD).

We deal with their gross absences and their complaints. We also learn about their blooming romantic attachments, or brewing conflicts, or simple joys—things that remind us of who were were during our time as interns. Talking to them refreshes us. Each block is different, in the way that each person is. There are blocks that are easily cracked up by anything remotely funny, blocks that like to eat and sing and take selfies, blocks that hate each other’s skins.

Al Mohler's summer reading list

I always look forward to Dr. Al Mohler's yearly summer reading lists.

David McCullough once told of Teddy Roosevelt during his time in the Dakota Territory and before his arrival on the world scene. Two thieves who had been on something of a crime spree in the territory had stolen Roosevelt’s rowboat, and he was determined to chase them down and arrest them. He chased the thieves for 40 miles of rough landscape, through deep snow and in constant danger of attack, and indeed brought them to justice. McCullough then tells the reader: “But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina. I often think of that when I hear people say they haven’t time to read.”

You can check the list here.

By the way, I love Anna Karenina!

* * *

At the Senior Residents' Call Room I occupy two tables. My stack of reading material occupies an entire half.

Bedside table books. The sight of them comforts me.

Swallowed

An uncle very dear to me has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. This I learned after my brother called while I had a meeting. As with most news involving a sick family member, it hit me to the core—an unexpected assault, like a stab in the back when no one was watching. The symptoms were gradual: constipation, abdominal pain, weight loss. It could’ve been anything.

I called my uncle last night to ask him how he was doing. A surgery was going to take place. Maybe chemotherapy after that. Was he in pain? No, he felt comfortable.

During times like these, I turn to Scripture for comfort. Jonah, when he was swallowed by a big fish, cried to the Lord for help (Jonah 2:5–9).

The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.
When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!

We remember the Lord and what He has done for us. And we will hope in Him and rejoice.

John Calvin

I'VE BEEN reading John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. I'm using the translation by John Allen. Addressed to the King of France, the book is considered one of the best books ever written in Christendom.

John Calvin is an intelligent, deeply thoughtful man whose writing reflects his faith and convictions. It's a feast for the soul. I can't believe I'm only starting to actually read classic Christian literature now.

Calvin summarizes his work:

Man, created originally upright, being afterwards ruined, not partially, but totally, finds salvation out of himself, wholly in Christ; to whom being united by the Holy Spirit, freely bestowed, without any regard of future works, he enjoys in him a twofold benefit, the perfect imputation of righteousness, which attends him to the grave, and the commencement of sanctification, which he daily increases, till at length he completes it at the day of regeneration or resurrection of the body, so that in eternal life and the heavenly inheritance his praises are celebrated for such stupendous mercy.


Bo-Whole-New-World

Praise be to God for the wonderful time in Bohol with my IM family. Finally, after two years, we've managed to book cheap plane tickets to the Visayas. Lots of laughter, reminiscing, and planning for the future happened; lots of eating and swimming and basking under the sun, too. This is our last year as residents in Internal Medicine, and this trip was part of making the most out of it.

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Half of us spent the day lounging at the resort-hotel. Bellevue was reasonably priced and offered great amenities. The danggit was exceptionally tasty, especially when dipped in ulcer-inducing vinegar.

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Think about these things

Consider these things if you haven't come to a personal knowledge of Jesus.

Sit down sometimes, and well bethink you, what recompence the world or sin will make you, for your God, your souls, your hopes, and all, when they are lost and past recovery? Think what it will then avail or comfort you, that once you were honoured, and had a great estate; that once you fared of the best, and had your delicious cups, and merry hours, and sumptuous attire, and all such pleasures. Think whether this will abate the horrors of death, or put by the wrath of God, or the sentence of your condemnation; or whether it will ease a tormented soul in hell?
Dwell on the blessings of our salvation through Christ.
Think what it is, to have a purified, cleansed soul; to be free from the slavery of the flesh and its concupiscence; to have the sensitive appetite in subjection unto reason, and reason illuminated and rectified by faith; to be alive to God, and disposed and enabled to love and serve him; to have access to him in prayer, with boldness and assurance to be heard; to have a sealed pardon of all our sins, and an interest in Christ, who will answer for them all and justify us; to be the children of God, and the heirs of heaven; to have peace of conscience, and the joyful hopes of endless joys; to have communion with the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, and to have that Spirit dwelling in us, and working to our further holiness and joy; to have communion with the saints; and the help and comfort of all God's ordinances, and to be under his many precious promises, and under his protection and provision in his family, and to cast all our care upon him; to delight ourselves daily in the remembrance and renewed experiences of his love, and in our too little knowledge of him, and to love him, and in the knowledge of his Son, and of the mysteries of the gospel; to have all things work together for our good, and to be able with joy to welcome death, and to live as in heaven in the foresight of our everlasting happiness. (Direct. XI)

—Baxter, Richard. “A Christian Directory: Or, a Sum of Practical Theology, and Cases of Conscience"

So far, so good. I'm getting used to the "old" language; it's very poetic. A feast for the Christian soul!

Reading Baxter

The Christian mind must be trained in righteousness if one must glorify God in all aspects of life. I'm doing something ambitious with my reading and spiritual life: I'll be reading Richard Baxter's "A Christian Directory: Or, A Sum of Practical Theology and Cases of Conscience." Inspired largely by Tim Challies, who engages his readers to read Christian classics, I decided to slowly and meditatively take up this habit. It helps that my pastors are fans of the Puritan writers, quoting them a lot during preaching.

The book's subtitle is "Directing Christians How To Use Their Knowledge and Faith; How To Improve All Helps and Means, and To Perform All Duties; How To Overcome Temptations, and To Escape or Mortify Every Sin."

This is an ambitious project—the book comes in four volumes—and even Baxter himself had to write,
The book is so big that I must make no longer preface than to give you this necessary, short account, I. Of the quality; II. And the reasons of this work.
I'll be quoting and writing a few things about the book here and there. I don't expect to finish soon, with all the readings I need to do for work. But I'm quite excited.

* * *

I've been having difficulties formatting the .txt document from Gutenberg. It turns out that it's better to use html as the base file in in Calibre, prior to converting it epub or mobi, so the formatting is still preserved.
If we provide a HTML file for the ebook you are interested in, it is best to convert that file, rahter than the TEXT file, to MOBI or EPUB format as required.

Words to spell

I was a pretty good speller when I was young. This is funny: Seven words I would have children S-P-E-L-L if I were running the National Spelling Bee.

1. MELANCHOLY (adjective)

Definition: A gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression.

Sentence: “The young boy sought to escape the MELANCHOLY of learning word origins for all 450,000 words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary by stress eating a bag of Oreos.”

More here.

Introductions

Umberto Eco's How To Travel With a Salmon & Other Essays

Umberto Eco, "How to Write an Introduction," in How To Travel With a Salmon & Other Essays, p. 172-175. So funny, this man.

My children have been a source of great comfort to me and have provided me with the affection, the energy, and the confidence to complete my self-imposed task. Thanks to their complete, Olympian detachment from my work, I have found strength to conclude this article after a daily struggle with the definition of the intellectual's role in postmodern society. I am indebted to them for inspiring an unshakable determination to withdraw into my study and write these pages, rather than encounter in the hall their best friends, whose hairdresser follows aesthetic criteria that revolt my sensibilities.

Mt. Matutum coffee

Mt. Matutum represent!

Mt. Matutum coffee is featured at a local café in Tomas Morato. Not surprising news, of course, given that Sultan Kudarat, which is just minutes away from where I live, is considered the country's top coffee producer, with the Mindanao region producing more than 70 percent of the country’s annual coffee output of approximately 98,000 metric tons. Yes, apparently. The coffee capital is no longer Batangas, or Alfonso, Cavite—although there are still choosy barako coffee drinkers in the area, like my patient at the Emergency Room, who was admitted for heart attack. "Puwede pa rin po bang uminom ng kape?" she asked because she did like her coffee black.

On coffee shops

Starbucks Matalino

Near my brother’s apartment is the Starbucks where I used to spend most afternoons studying for the board exam. The branch is called Starbucks Matalino. Matalino is Filipino for intelligent. Why would I study anywhere else? I liked its proximity from where I had lived. Its air-conditioning system was consistently cold and extremely indefatigable. I preferred to stay indoors, donning my jacket and embracing the coffee mug with my palms to help me cope with the cold, rather than staying outside in the sweltering tropical heat. I still think summer is highly overrated, and would rather prefer cloudy, melancholic climates.

To navigate through my readings, I had to forgo my afternoon naps. Then I discovered coffee. I started ordering americano—one espresso shot diluted in hot water to make a cup—and was amazed at the jolt it gave me. I had an adrenaline rush of sorts, and my brain was getting sense of concepts in rapid-fire succession. Two weeks of an almost-daily intake of coffee beans allegedly imported from artisanal farms in Africa—I really didn’t care much at the time—my palpitations disappeared. I was liking the bitter taste in my mouth, and I started drinking my coffee without coffee or cream. I liked it best with a slice of cheesecake, which I treated myself with once in a blue moon because I didn’t have any money, and coffee itself was a big assault on my no-longer-a-student-not-yet-employed budget.

Since then I’ve been brewing my own coffee, but I would visit coffee shops to kill time or to finish a report. I prefer places with wide tables that don’t wobble. It’s a plus if the table is rectangular and is made of varnished wood. It’s exponentially better if the place is devoid of teenagers or whining children—why bring your kids to coffee shops, anyway?

I’ve been ordering espresso, too: I like how so much caffeine is packed in the demitasse. I’m still amused that whenever I order it, I often get advised by the highly concerned barista, “Maliit lang po ‘yun, Sir, ha?,” to which I would reply, “Oo, okay lang,” instead of getting irritated. The barista, after all, doesn’t presume I know anything about coffee, and I still probably don’t. I still have so much to learn about the wonderful bean that keeps me up all day.

The scene in this Viennese Kaffeehaus reminded me of John Piper's The Trellis and The Vine.
At Café Restaurant Palmenhaus, Buggarten GmbH, 1010, Vienna, Austria

Christ is All

My prayer today. It reminds me a lot about the song "Give Me Jesus" by Fernando Ortega (1999). And don't you love the Puritans?


O Lover to the uttermost,
May I read the meltings of Thy heart to me
in the manger of Thy birth,
in the garden of Thy agony,
in the cross of Thy suffering,
in the tomb of Thy resurrection,
in the heaven of Thy intercession.

Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,
tread down his temptations,
resist his schemings,
renounce the world,
am valiant for truth.

Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship to Thee,
as spiritual bridegroom,
as Jehovah's fellow,
as sinners' friend.

I think of Thy glory and my vileness,
Thy majesty and my meanness,
Thy beauty and my deformity,
Thy purity and my filth,
Thy righteouness and my iniquity.

Thou has loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,
may I love Thee as I am loved;
Thou hast given Thyself for me,
may I give myself to Thee.
Thou hast died for me,
may I live to Thee
in every moment of time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart.

May I never dally with the world and its allurements,
but walk by Thy side,
listen to Thy voice,
be clothed with Thy grace,
and adorned with Thy righteousness.
Taken from the collection of Puritan prayers by Arthur Bennett, ed. Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 18.

A complicated past: Walter White in Albuquerque


I miss Breaking Bad. Stephen Wood's essay, Tearing down this statue of Walter White would erase an important piece of Albuquerque's unique heritage, just perked me up.
I’ll be the first to admit this town has a complicated past. But that’s just the point — it’s our past. And I’m sorry, but I’m not going to let the Political Correctness Enforcement Agency just swoop in and erase it. For all his flaws, Walter “Heisenberg” White was an important figure in this community. Tearing down our beloved statue of him would be an attack on Albuquerque’s unique heritage.

Theology of the home

John Tweedale starts his essay:

Whether you are a child learning to read, a freshman in a dormitory, newlyweds settling into a first apartment, an upstart launching a career, a family with a quiver full of children, or a widow navigating life without a spouse, the comfort of home is a stabilizing reality of life.
He writes about the theology of home—a beautiful essay. Praise God for Christian homes!

The home is not a neutral zone for acting upon baseless desires, nor is it simply a bastion for maintaining traditional values. One of the primary purposes of the home is to cultivate Christlike virtues that animate who we are in private and facilitate what we do in public. When the Apostle Paul addressed the households in the church of Colossae, he instructed wives, husbands, children, masters, and servants alike to put to death the exploits of the flesh, put on the qualities of Christ, and do everything in word and deed for the glory of God (Col. 3:1–4:1). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul sandwiches his instructions to households between teaching on devotion and worship (Eph. 5:1–21) and spiritual warfare (6:1–20). And the Apostle Peter prefaces his comments to families with an extended discussion on the church (1 Peter 2:1–11; 2:12–3:8), an important reminder that home life can never be isolated from church life. 
This side of heaven, home should be a place where faith, hope, and love flourish. Faith in the sure work of Christ crucified and resurrected. Hope in the power of the gospel to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. And love for a triune God whose glory and beauty knows no end. The Christian home in a fallen world is a place of rooted optimism. Rooted in the place where God has called us and optimistic about a far greater place He is preparing for us. The home front is the forlorn battlefield of the cultural wars. In our strivings to defend the gospel against doctrinal decline in the church and increasing secularism in the culture, we must not forget the importance of cultivating virtue in the home. For the church to remain a city on the hill, the light of the gospel must shine brightly in the home.

Where's the moon?

1. PAG–ASA PAGASA hasn’t declared that it’s the rainy season yet, but the afternoon downpours we’ve had for the past days have been welcome treats from the summer heat. But “summer” is a Western construct and should technically not apply to us, a country with only two seasons: tag-ulan (rainy) and tag-init (sunny). Nevertheless we’ve called our month-long breaks from school “summer breaks.” TV commercials have done the same.

[Before the rainy season is officially declared, there should be at least 25 millimeters of accumulated rain in three consecutive days, and there should be at least one millimeter of rain in a day.  (Dr. Jun Galang of PAG–ASA  PAGASA).]

2. I’ve spent much time taking naps. It’s almost surreal—napping in the afternoon, while it’s raining. I find that most pleasurable. I’ve been dreaming but couldn’t remember what I’ve been dreaming about, except that it had felt like being chased and stressed. I dream of so many things, but I end up forgetting about them. Sleep experts say that’s natural.

3. I decided to spend the rest of the day at home and catch up on reading. I’m on the second chapter of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, which I took up because Bill Gates and President Obama recommended it, and Jason Kottke highly recommended it, too. It starts with the moon disappearing, with everyone wondering why that happened, even the astronomers on board the International Space Station fondly called “Izzy.” (My friends Wegs Pedroso and Dianne Deauna called me just that in college, while we were making sure our PCRs were going well.)

4. My daily Bible reading (thanks to the ESV Read the Bible in a Year plan) takes me today to Psalm 94.

“If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.”—Psalm 94: 17–19 

Psalm 92

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We sing a song patterned after Psalm 92 in church. With the flute, keyboard, and the excellent singing of our church’s worship team; I can’t help but be overwhelmed. It is a beautiful song. It is a beautiful psalm, full of gratefulness and joy.

The Psalmist exclaims, “How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!” (Psalm 92:5). It comforts the Psalmist that although he doesn’t understand everything that’s going on, he knows that the God he worships does great work and is great! He is so full of awe that he wants to “declare [God’s]steadfast love in the morning and [His]steadfast love by night” (verse 2).

That the righteous are rewarded by the Lord in the end also brings comfort to the Psalmist. The righteous “flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (verse 12). “They still bear fruit in old age; they are every full of sap and green” (verse 14).

I often wonder what will become of me when I grow old, if the Lord allows it. But I surely hope I’ll become fruitful, my lips forever praising my God, my heart bursting with thanksgiving and joy.

Getting old by the day

MY FATHER complained he wasn't feeling too well. Days ago, he let himself be dragged by my two other brothers to a bowling match. Of course I didn't care to join; I was sleepy, having just left the hospital after a 24-hour shift. My brothers thought I just didn't want to end up the lowest pointer. They were all insistent that I join. My father even volunteered to be on the same team with me. Tatay's first shot was a strike. When we got home, he complained of back pains.

"Your Tatay is getting old," confessed my mother. "I shouldn't overwork him."

"Yes, Nay. You make all sorts of demands," we said.

My mother smiled.

The fact is that my parents now carry their senior citizen card, a badge of distinction for them, an excuse to buy that extra dessert or watch that new movie. They're getting older by the day.

How do I encourage them, as well as the rest of the old people I work with?

R. Paul Stevens writes:

Aging people experience progressive losses: parents, friends, colleagues, career, driver’s license, and perfect health. Then life-threatening health challenges are encountered, usually heart disease or cancer. And finally, there is the certainty of death.

In these realities, though, there are implicit spiritual incentives to grow. Here are three ways to encourage and exhort the aging.
It's summarized in three points:
Experience intensification
Embrace simplification
Cultivate (practical) heavenly-mindedness
Read the rest of the article here.

Ash turned to diamond



The quiet was disturbed by the sound of chisels striking stone. The gravediggers removed a metal plaque, then a cement wall, and, finally, a brick façade. More than an hour later, they hit what they were looking for: an oxidized copper urn, filled with the ashes of Luis Barragán, one of Mexico’s greatest architects, who died in 1988. They removed the urn from the cavity, brushing off dust and ants. Then they opened the vessel and presented it to Magid, who scooped out half a kilo of what looked like dirt and transferred it to a plastic bag, which she then put into a box. The next day, with the box in her carry-on, she flew home to New York.
The famous architect, Luis Barragán, was turned into a diamond. This created a lot of talk regarding morality, ethics, and such. The plan was to exchange the diamond for the precious archives of the architect's work, now heavily guarded by a private entity based in Switzerland. This is an excellent piece by Alice Gregory in The New Yorker.

Social media fast, and you miss nothing much

One of my web heroes, Jason Kottke, writes about his social media fast.

"Last week (approx. May 7-14), I stopped using social media for an entire week. I logged out of all the sites and deleted the apps from my phone. I didn’t so much as peek at Instagram, which is, with Twitter and old-school Flickr, probably my favorite online service of all time. I used Twitter as minimally as I could, for work only. I didn’t check in anywhere on Swarm. No Facebook. As much as I could, I didn’t use my phone. I left it at home when I went to the grocery store. I didn’t play any games on it. I left it across the room when I went to bed and when I worked."
He continues, as a footnote:
"Still one of my favorite tweets is from Scott Simpson: “My new standard of cool: when I’m hanging out with you, I never see your phone ever ever ever.”"
He concludes:
"After the week was up, I greedily checked in on Instagram and Facebook to see what I had missed. Nothing much, of course. Since then, I’ve been checking them a bit less. When I am on, I’ve been faving and commenting more in an attempt to be a little more active in connecting."

On memory

Memory is a mutable element, fickle in its suggestibility. It can be tricked to expand far beyond its true bounds, and yet, if overburdened, is liable to shut down altogether.—Alexandra Schwartz, "The Unforgotten: Patrick Modiano's Mysteries"

I'm reading Honeymoon by Patrick Modiano. I'm almost halfway through the book. The sentences are clear; it's quite an easy read. Jean B. tricks his wife and colleagues into thinking he's going to Brazil; but he stays put and hides in Paris, planning to uncover the mysteries of a woman named Ingrid, who, years before, had committed suicide in a hotel in Milan.



I was reading about Patrick Modiano and found the quote about how memory is mutable and trick-able. Who was it who said that pen and paper is better than sharpest memory? That's the reason why I blog and write on journals, too. The same reason that God ordered the Israelites to make memorial stones, lest His people forget Him.

Why so many blogs are awful


I've been blogging since 2004, and Tim Challies' article, "Nobody Respects A Blogger," is a beautiful reminder of why I do the things I do.

So why do people blog? In many cases, it’s to build a platform, to gather a following that can then earn the right to graduate to one of the more honorable media. Many people consider blogging a means to an end, not a worthwhile end in itself. Blogging is a kind of minor leagues, a proving ground, and those who prove themselves as bloggers may then advance to the big leagues—book deals, plumb conference spots, columns in magazines. The blog is the necessary evil, the rising platform that eventually elevates them from obscurity to respectability. 

And this is exactly why so many blogs are so awful.
Read more here.

Offensive

To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.—1 Corinthians 4:11–13

Who was this man Paul—perhaps one of the smartest, wisest men who ever walked the earth—and why did he write these things? Whenever I read his letters, I wonder how he must have been like in real life. I imagine Paul to be very intellectual and academic, perhaps a bit intimidating, a no-nonsense man who was well-connected and famous in the most elite of circles. He was, at one point, feared because he led the prosecution of the early Christians; so I imagine Paul as a very serious man, who got quite scary when he was proving a point.

He had everything the world could offer, and he threw these all away, when the Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to him. He would leave everything behind to follow, live for, and even die for Jesus; and his epistles would form much of the New Testament, and offer direction and guidance to the establishment of the church.

Despite his accomplishments in the faith, Paul knew that the world would think him foolish. He didn’t mind being called a fool. The present reality is similar in that Christianity—biblical, orthodox Christianity—is folly to the world, standing in opposition to the current tides of thinking and way of life.

Smart kid

If, theoretically, you had a gifted child—someone who could solve problems mentally, without pen and paper; who already knew calculus before her classmates could even read or write—would you hide her under the radar or let the entire world know about her? Would you send her to a normal school or enroll her to prestigious institutions, where she can be mentored by the world’s best?

I’m asking these questions because I had just watched Gifted. Nothing is spectacular about it, story-wise—it was as predictable as Maalala Mo Kaya episodes in ABS–CBN—except that I really, thoroughly enjoyed it.

To see a kid get bored by one-plus-one drills in class; standing up for a bullied classmate by smashing the nose of the bully; keeping quiet in moments when her intellect is called for, just because her uncle had advised her to keep her mouth shut lest she look like a smartass—that was fun. She is an adult trapped in a kid's body, but a kid, nevertheless. Who is this toothless kid? I love her. (I searched: her name is McKenna Grace).

On call

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THE NIGHT before her flight, Nanay tells me she has low back pain.

“Is it just my posture?” she asks at 11 PM. “It aches when I sleep with my back flat.”

I tell her I’ll have a look. “That’s nothing,” I say. I see a faint redness near her lower spine that’s painful when pressed for a long time. The lesion can be musculoskeletal, or probably a consequence of her prolonged steroid use, which is notorious for making her bones weak. She’s been taking dexamethasone for months now.

But Nanay has a healthy doubt for all the things I tell her, always interpreting everything I say with a grain of salt. This, after med school and residency training. The thought comforts me, like the fact that she still revises everything—speeches, notes, letters—she makes me write for her.

She and Tatay land safely in General Santos. Sean, my younger brother, meets them at the airport and drives them back to Marbel. While at the ICU, I hear my phone vibrate—my mother, calling in the afternoon, a highly unusual occurrence, because she knows I’m busy.

“It looks like shingles,” Nanay says. “It’s painful.”

Sweltering heat

THE website was down for a few days. My domain host failed to receive any notices from me that my renewal fee had been paid a day before deadline. But now it’s up and running, and my blog is 13 years old, give or take two months. Thanks for being here. It still amazes me to know that this space here is older than many kids I see in church. They were still being contemplated, while I was already posting selfies, and “selfie” wasn’t a thing yet.

My traffic has markedly gone down after I’ve decided to quit posting links from Facebook, a platform that I’ve long felt to be antithetical to my dreams of living a quiet and peaceful life, what with the many, many things being posted there—namely, people eating in restaurants, political view points I can only disagree with, and a few useful ones, which are the exception rather than the rule. I’ve logged on occasionally to communicate with old friends or to honor my mother’s wishes of checking out the latest about her batch mates from high school.

It is so hot in Manila that I need to hydrate myself once in a while. It’s a good thing I’m at the ICU now, where temperatures are friendlier, and the air-conditioning hasn’t bogged down—not yet. Please, not ever; not in this heat.

Still, we have plenty of reasons to be joyful, like this fun-looking, friendly man I saw inside a café's bathroom.

Such a fun-looking man. Anyone knows who he is?

Out at night

Cobblestones

AT 9:30 PM I was still outside, with street names I couldn’t read properly, at roughly 4-10 degree temperatures, until I found an inscription that read “Mustak,” a train station. My feet hurt. From Charles Bridge, I wanted to hit Old Town but got lost. My guide, whom I’d meet a day later, would tell me the Czechs don’t know how to define squares. (I suppose the Austrians are the same—the platzes aren’t exactly isometric and four-sided).

Nove Mesto

Central European men, most likely drivers, were smoking outside, their taxis parked on an alley I hadn’t been to before. Or maybe I’d been there already, only that it was already dark. Groups of tall college students were shouting in the middle of the street—they seemed very happy, as I was—and were probably drunk, and I wasn't.

Touchdown Prague

IN GRADE TWO I prided myself for being able to spell “Czechoslovakia” without batting an eyelash. I liked the sound of it and picked it for a school project in celebration of the United Nations. Its flag was a lot like the Philippines’, sans the sun and stars. I looked down on my classmates who picked Japan (too easy to spell, and the flag was too simple) or France (for the same reasons), but couldn’t quite feel superior towards a classmate (I forget who) who picked USA. Cutting up fifty or so stars from a piece of art paper impressed me.

Many years have passed, and now I’m here—my side trip in Central Europe—after a comfortable three-hour train ride from Vienna. It goes without saying that the country has split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia; so I don’t have reason for boasting anymore. It’s much easier to spell.

I arrived at 3 PM, checked in at my hostel in Národní Street, and took a nap. At 5 PM, I walked around the city. I had wanted to get lost, the best preliminary way to imbibe the city, and found Charles Bridge. For dinner I ate at a burger stand near the Old Town. I had mulled wine—quite sweet, but its warmth was soothing—and trdelník with chocolate for dessert.

Tomorrow I’m joining a walking tour.

Bubbly welcome

Prague Metro

View from my room

Swans

Mulled wine

Kafka

City center

30

“You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when then their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” —Psalm 4:7–8

“For I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”—Galatians 2:20

What grace you’ve given me all my life, O Lord, and what delight you’ve made me enjoy in your presence. There’s nothing else I can wish for, no other thing I desire. I am grateful—eternally, most of all, for all the things that you’ve done for me, for showing me who you are.

You know my innermost thoughts, my restlessness—and you know all too well that, if left on my own devices, I will never turn to you. But you sought me ought, and you found me, and you’ve never let me go.

What a story it is to tell the world, and if every life is, in fact, a story, then mine would have you as the centerpiece around which everything resolves. May it always be, O Lord, that you will always occupy the throne of my heart—not my family, my ambitions, my worldly desires. May I behold you so dearly that the entire world—no, the entire universe—pales in comparison to you.

Remove from me the vanity of the world. Restore to me the joy of your salvation daily, and help me be cloaked with humility, because I am a truly proud man. My pride manifests in so many ways—in my irritations, my unholy thoughts, my wicked actions, my feelings that I deserve more than what I have. But I look to Christ, who left everything and became man, and when he was a little past 30—around my age—bore my sins, accepted your wrath, and died the most brutal death imaginable on that wooden cross. May I be reminded of this daily—the cross, your suffering, your death, your life.

Take good care of my family. Give more good years to my parents and provide for my brothers. Bless the church, and nourish it with your Word. Show my friends the way of your salvation so they will know you, too. Heal my patients, and comfort them.

And may this be the narrative of my life: that I’ve lived—and will joyfully live—my next remaining, most fruitful years, for you.

Wine!

I PLANNED ON doing nothing today—at least nothing as touristy as going to the Schoenbrunn Zoo (ok, maybe in two days). Of course, I had my usual coffee at the local café—Kaffee Melange and salami sandwich—where I greeted the kind people behind the bar. The old lady already recognized me. “The English-speaking kid,” I overheard her say in German. Don’t make me translate that.

As I soon as I was done reading Morning and Evening by CH Spurgeon for my devotions, I chatted with a fun-looking family of five—three children, all of them girls, aged 11, 8, and 2, and they were on break for Easter. I recognized them from yesterday, as I am now in the habit of baby-watching. Their mother, probably a little older than me, told me they came from Munich. I said I was from Manila. “Our au pair was from Manila,” she said. They kids smiled; they missed their yaya.

By my side

MAVIS Gallant’s stories have been with me for the past days. Paris Stories, selected by the writer Michale Oondatje and published by NYRB, has kept me entertained during my moments of “idleness.” (Rest has been a part of my itinerary, which is why I cannot stand paid three-day tours with a crowd. The itinerary is regimented, with hardly room for sipping tea comfortably. And I probably won’t afford them.) Consider, for example, the 11-hour train ride I had subjected myself in a few days ago, and the quiet moments at the cafés, both in Paris and Vienna.

What she does with the stories is nothing short of magical. She comes from a position of omniscience. She tells stories, sometimes in hushed tones, so one must pay attention. It helps that the stories in this collection are set in Paris—at least I got the imagery right. Miss Gallant doesn’t insult the reader by telling everything: one just knows.

For instance, this line from the story, “In Plain Sight,” about an old romance that never came to be.

Years of admiration, of fretting about his health and, who knows, of love of a kind have been scraped away; yet once she had been ready to give up her small and neater flat, her wider view over Boulevard du Montparnasse, the good opinion of her friends (proud widows, like herself, for the sake of moving downstairs and keeping an eye on his diet.

Overheard

This morning I overhead at the Schoenbrunn Palace, the Habsburg summer house, a family who looked brown and noisy and happy enough for me to consider they were Filipino, and as I went close to them—I had no intention of opening a conversation, because I like to keep my anonymity—I listened to their conversation.

“Ma, ayusin mo ‘yung picture. ‘Yung pang-I.G.” said the teenager, as she was posing for the camera.

“Yung upo mo—‘yung relaks lang, ‘yung parang tambay,” said the lady who looked like her mother. “Bilisan mo! Iiwan na tayo ng bus!”

Yet another reason why I prefer to travel alone, or with people who detest taking photographs of themselves all the time. But I belong to a nation that has made selfies and Facebook-profile-picture-taking a national pastime, if not entirely a science. I love my people.

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Orchestra

Mozart concert with Vienna Concert Orchestra at Karlskirche

DESPITE the snow, I emerged out of my bed in Hütteldorf to take the U4 to Karlsplatz, where I could walk my way to Karlskirche. I was going to watch a 65-minute performance of the Vienna Concert Orchestra that would start at 8 pm. I arrived just in time, my body frozen to death because the snow never stopped falling outside. I loved their rendition of G. F. Händel's Oueverture. Natalia Stepanska, the soprano, gave a heart-stopping performance of Largo from Xerxes. Of course, Mozart's Requiem (Lacrimosa) and Divertimento in D Major were played, too. When I got back to my room, the songs were still playing in my head.

Post-modern

TOUR guides always refer to Christianity as if it were something distant: something that needs mentioning, but not too much. Talk about anything else—the food, the culture, the lifestyle, but not about politics and religion—or so the modern thinking goes, because you'll make enemies if you do. But Christianity has formed much of Europe; as Christianity flourished, so did the rest of the world. Tour guides have a job to do, nevertheless: not to evangelize, but to show us around, so we forgive them.

And while Europe is pretty much a post-modern, post-Christian world, it's been interesting for me to see a few of its remnants in modern culture. Like the musical Jésus, de Nazareth à Jerusalem in Paris.

Jésus, de Nazareth à Jérusalem

And a page from the leaflet of my OBB train from Stuttgart to Munich: a celebration of the Reformation. Martin Luther is my hero.

Martin Luther on the OBB train

First snow

Snow

Nothing arouses playfulness like the first experience of snow.

From Gare Paris Est, I took an 11-hour train journey to Vienna, crossing Germany (Strasbourg, Stuttgart, then Munich), then Austria (Salzburg, Linz, and Wien Mielding). Taking this ride, with the greenery and quaint German houses and snow-capped Alps in my view, has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for this tour thus far—never mind the hipster-looking Frenchman behind the information counter at Charles de Gaulle who, when he asked me how long I was staying, to which I answered, “Just for a few days, then I’m taking the train to Vienna,” couldn’t stop himself from saying F***!

Waiting for my train

Café at Gare du Nord

IN A few hours I'm hopping on a train that will take me to Munich, Germany; then to Vienna, Austria, where I'll be staying for a few days. God has graciously provided for everything I need and has kept me safe. I thoroughly enjoyed my two full days in Paris, where I've spent the day walking then having desserts in the bistros, occasionally whiling away time and praying along the Seine. It's been a good chance to brush up on my basic French again, a skill that was challenged when, hungry, I barged into a Subway store right across the Gare du Nord station, and the man behind the counter, who spoke very little English, got confused with my orders.

Forsaken

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”—Psalm 22:1

Were here behold the Savior in the depth of his sorrows. No other place so well shows the griefs of Christ as calvary, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as that in which his cry rends the air—“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which he had to pass; and to make his grief culminate with emphasis, he suffered spiritual agony surpassing all expression, resulting from the departure of his Father’s presence. This was the black midnight of his horror; then it was that he descended into the abyss of suffering. No man can enter into the full meaning of these words. Some of us think at times that we could cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” There are reasons when the brightness of our Father’s smile is eclipsed by the clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never really does forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ’s case it was a real forsaking. We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father’s love; but the real turning away of God’s face from his Son, who shall calculate how deep the agony which it caused him?

— CH Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Get a copy of "From the Eyes of a Healer: An Anthology of Medical Anecdotes" where my story appears



"From the Eyes of a Healer: An Anthology of Medical Anecdotes" will be released on the third week of April. I had the privilege of contributing to this collection, and this will be my first book publication to date. Many thanks to Dr. Joey A. Tabulá—poet, internist, and now book editor—who has realized that medicine and medical training are minefields of stories about the human condition. I'm excited to read the rest of the stories myself; I know and have worked with many of the authors, too.

Each book sells for Php 249 and is released by Alubat Publishing. You may reserve your copy through this link.

Thankfulness

I give thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day that I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.—Psalm 138:1–3 (ESV)

Bad News and Good News


I TREATED myself to a novel yesterday—Edward St. Aubyn’s “Bad News,” the second of his Patrick Melrose novels, where the twenty-something Patrick, after learning about the death of his father whom he had despised, flies to New York City to claim the remains. In what reads like a blow-by-blow documentation of his descent into drug addiction, St. Aubyn paints the portrait of a rich man who has everything the world desires—money, sex, influence, women—but who remains empty despite these earthly possessions. We read of Patrick showing up to dinners high with concoctions of heroin, Quaalude, cocaine, and alcohol, which he took shots of inside washrooms, hotel rooms, and dark alleys. His hatred of his father burns him inside out.

Today's Sunday sermon couldn’t have been more timely. Pastor Bob spoke on John 5:1–16, “The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath.” In this gospel account, the apostle John takes us to a place in Bethesda where a healing pool was. It was widely believed that when the angels would stir the water, the healing would take place. In the area were five roofed colonnades, shielding the blind, lame, and paralyzed from the sun and rain. I imagine this place to be a lot like the hospital where I train, where there is no shortage of illnesses, loneliness, and desperation.

March has ended

All the things I’ve learned and struggled with and suffered through the past two years—yes, all of them—have found their ultimate utility and fulfillment in my first stint as a General Medicine service senior. It was as if everything was meant to prepare me for this: leading the team of residents and students to sound dispositions, focusing the direction of management, and even arguing for or against certain clinical impressions.

Very normal

NOTHING much happens in Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island. An anthropologist, who works in-house at a big commercial firm, writes about Claude Lévi-Strauss, parachutes, oil spills, his love life, and his modern-day theories about civilization. The novel reads like a diary. The prose is magnificent.

“The terminal’s interior, despite its new façade, was dingy. Parts of it were boarded up, awaiting repair. The smell of popcorn, hot dogs, pizza and donuts hung about the concourse, impregnating air that was much warmer than the air outside—cloying and heavy, too. People were milling about, waiting for the ferry: normal, everyday folk who commuted on it daily. A few of them wore suits—cheap, polyester ones, the standard-issue outfit of the low-white-collar ranks; but most wore plain, casual clothes. They looked bored, frumpy, tired, unhealthy, overweight, and generally just very, very normal.”

Adding it all up

I see "345" in the cash registry—three digits flashed in green light on a dark background, like how they had appeared in old calculators in the nineties. I’m in a queue at Wendy’s, buying bacon mushroom melt with fries and Coke Zero—my long delayed lunch. I hand two one-hundred peso bills, and two twenty-peso bills to the nice lady behind the counter—confidently, as if had, in fact, added them correctly in my mind. “Sir, kulang pa po,” she tells me. I rectify my error, a realization that although I like mathematics, I do not like arithmetic.

Admit

While I was leisurely reading my morning paper, @dindindinny and @ninolator—the Instagram rockstar—sat in front of me and joined me for breakfast. The music playing. was John Mayer's "Love On The Weekend." Our morning chat was a pleasant surprise; but ala

WHILE I was leisurely reading my morning paper, Din Floro—my senior in IM, now a gastroenterology fellow—and Niño Lucero, the plastic surgeon who doubles as an Instagram rockstar, sat in front of me and joined me for breakfast. The music playing was John Mayer's "Love On The Weekend." Our morning chat was a pleasant surprise; but alas, duty called. It's admitting day today.

Too early, too soon

Untitled

A young doctor almost my age—plus-minus a year or two—has died. Someone shot him one night: a bullet that killed him right on the spot, piercing his heart. Four years of medical education, one year of internship, all these on top of the four or five years of college undergraduate education—and then this: an armed man who, for whatever reason, pulled the trigger at him, leaving him defenseless as he lost blood and eventually his consciousness.

He was, I later learned, a gentle soul: a towering six-footer but whose voice was sonorous, whose ways were charming. And charm the entire Lanao town he did: the people he served loved him, for who would leave his family to ease the suffering of his lowly Mindanao community, many of whom hadn’t met a doctor in the flesh until his arrival?

There is no escaping death, but there are good ways to die—and his came too early, too soon.

My first General Medicine Service

Service Four — March 2017

THIRD year residency reaches its pinnacle during the four months of being a service senior. Under a General Medicine service are two or three first year residents, interns, and clerks, plus the second year residents who go on duty at the Emergency Room. The responsibilities are overwhelming. Aside from being a clinician, the Gen Med senior is also expected to take on administrative tasks, which include, among others, assuming primary care for patients previously handled by other specialties; providing clear-cut dispositions to patients; setting short- and long-term goals for problematic cases.

March is the first time I'm taking on the role of a Gen Med senior. I'm working with Drs. Nico Pajes (first year IM resident) and Clare Enriquez (our Neurology rotator), and it has been a pleasure to struggle with them thus far. Every night I ask the Lord for wisdom. I pray for my residents that God continually sustain them. I also pray for our students: that they become battle-tested, compassionate, competent physicians in the future.

We had a service dinner last night, something that has become a tradition during the Ward rotation. With us were our interns, Chacha Mercado, Gerald (Baby G) Mendoza, Jeff Manto, Marz Marquez, Athan Lozano, and Joan Lampac. Two of our bubbly clerks also joined us: Ichi Nakamura and Carl Marquez.



Onward, Service 4.

Abroad

The subject of my blog came up as we wrapped up our evening ER rounds—five patients so far; three we could potentially send home. But the night was young, and the ER has been notorious for getting jam-packed in the wee hours of the morning.

Our JAPOD, Chacha Mercado, whose voice resounded loud and clear at the Acute Care Unit, and the senior intern with her, Gerald Mendoza—someone we had taken to calling “Baby G,” because he does look pediatric, save for his small stubs of facial hair—asked me about my blog. I usually respond cautiously to these questions: a person having read my website must have already known a lot about me, and I must’ve overshared some points in my life during my more irresponsible, younger years.

I learned that one intern who grew up abroad had discovered UP because of my blog. At the time—and I haven’t checked it yet—there was probably no functioning website for the hospital, perhaps the least of the administration’s concern, given the other, more desperate problems in the health care system it was facing. While she was searching for “UP Medicine” online, my blog came up. She hasn’t confessed anything to me yet; she’s rotating with the Department this month.


Off to Guazon

It's a rainy morning today. I'm headed to Guazon Hall to spearhead the morning endorsements of the students. I spoke to some of them this morning as they were gathering at Ward 3: they were tired; their shift was eventful. As in: two simultaneous codes just as they were being endorsed to. My Vietnamese coffee[1] is warm, just the way I like it. Praise God for this day. Happy Saturday, dear reader!


[1] Many thanks to Bea Uy, who gave the beans to me last year.

Boring update of my monthly weekend off

COMING home late from Lea Salonga’s Songs from the Stage, I had a good rest, so good I had almost overslept—which means, I woke up at seven. My parents, hardly getting any shut-eye, rushed to the airport to catch their early morning flight. I wasn’t able to say my proper goodbyes, though I did feel Tatay kissing my head and fixing my blanket to make sure I was warm.

Tatay texted me at 10 am to tell me that they’d just landed; this, while I was sipping coffee. Sean would meet them at the airport. They’d have brunch at Auntie Net’s charming home in Gen San. The apartment seems quieter without them.

After his morning French class, Manong still hummed Hamilton’s “Burn,” which Lea sang so well last night. We all thoroughly enjoyed the show: a mix of the old and the new, the classic and the contemporary, but still the same Lea Salonga we’ve all, as a nation, loved and adored.

Our plan then was to eat seafood in one of the busy restaurants along Macapagal Boulevard, but it was nearing midnight, and Tatay, who, even in his drinking and smoking days, confessed to hating coming home late, would hear none of it.

Typing

I’m writing this piece using an old desktop, recently resurrected by the more technologically-minded among us. The computer has been lying around beside the call room’s front door. It’s immediately on my own desk’s posterior.

I like the staccato sound of the BenQ keyboard, still dusty after many months—probably years—of storage. The computer reminds me of my first desktop, the first one I’d ever owned, which I bought in 2005, cheaply at 25 thousand pesos at a store in Gilmore Street. My friend Luther, who would eventually graduate summa cum laude in electronics and electrical engineering, accompanied me that morning. I didn’t care what the specs were—processors and RAMs were his thing, and choosing the best one for me, at a price range I could afford, thrilled him. What I was really after was how the entire ensemble would look like. I wanted my keyboards to have a clean font.

At the time, all dorm rooms had actual desktops, with heavy monitors that had to be detached from the CPU box. Residents would assemble them at the beginning of the semester. They’d be dismantled during semestral or Christmas breaks, when the dorm would be closed. Only very few people owned laptops then.

I miss that desktop. I would eventually ship it back to Mindanao, where my brother Sean would use it as his own, mostly for gaming and playing music—things I didn’t have much interest in that the time.

These days I own a very slim laptop—an 11-inch Macbook Air—which is lighter than my Internal Medicine textbook. How technology has grown indeed. I place it inside my satchel and sometimes forget it’s there.