Thursday, July 18, 2019

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

On religious liberty

Photo credit: Albert Mohler,

Thoughtful, well-written, and moving speech by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Eclipse of God, the Subversion of Truth, and the Assault Upon Religious Liberty:

We must defend the right to believe in enough theology to get us into trouble with anyone, anywhere, in a secular age. We must defend the right of Christians, along with all other believers, to be faithful in the public square as well as in the privacy of our own homes, hearts, and churches. We must defend the right to teach our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We must defend the rights of Christian schools to be Christian—and to order our institutions around the Word of God without fearing the crushing power of the state. We must defend the right of generations of those yet unborn, to know the liberties we have known and now defend.

Oddly enough, this will mean defending florists and cake bakers and fire chiefs, and pharmacists, and teachers, and preachers, and moms and dads who dare to resist the secular powers that be.

For Christians, eventually it all comes down to our faithfulness in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and nurturing biblical churches and raising our own children in the grace of God.

No God, no truth. No truths, no liberty. No liberty, and nothing remains but the heel of someone’s boot.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Congratulations are in order

Congratulations are in order for Drs. Bobby De Guzman, Norman Cabaya, Ozzie So, Crizel Uy, Paulo Vergara, and Ken Samala for making it to the written exams part of diplomate exam in Medical Oncology! I just had to write this down. The news made my day.

Monday, July 15, 2019




I'm happy to inform you that I've started swimming again. Knowing I need physical exercise and understanding that I have an aversion to the gym, I figured I should start playing a new sport (tennis or badminton—something non-contact and uses rackets) or resume swimming. I was largely encouraged by a sister from church, Ate Yvette, who started swimming to help with her back pain, and by a colleague from work, Harold, who said I should have a go at it. I wonder how long I can sustain this, but I already have the necessary equipment: swimming shorts, Speedo goggles na may grado (with prescription lenses), and a quick-dry towel. If you have books on swimming, or biographies of swimmers you can recommend—those would be great, too.

Things become more real to me when I read about them.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


Cherith is a brook in the Bible, mentioned in the account of the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17).

As an aside, the passage reminded me of Ma'am Cherith, who manages the Med Onco office’s front desk, and helps oversee all things academic and administrative. A kind and gracious lady, she also helps with our research documents and prepares, out of love, a fresh pot of brewed coffee daily. She hates it that my documents are crumpled; she hands me folders and envelopes to prevent that from happening.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

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The Giving Café and my second affogato

Found a comfortable, quiet café a couple of blocks away from home. I decided to work here for the afternoon, after a comforting Saturday nap.


The Giving Café (TGC): A Social Enterprise is surrounded by specialty coffee stores.



One gets the feeling that the management takes coffee seriously. But not too seriously: the place feels relaxed, almost like the cafés in Seoul, but more homey and familiar. The tables are long, there are plugs, and the internet is fast. The store offers free complimentary internet connection for an hour, and then it's Php 35 for each succeeding hour.

I'm surrounded by a couple who brought their charming daughter with them, working women deciding on a business plan, and friends who are catching up with life—it has a youthful, scholarly vibe, and it reminds me of old UP Diliman Main Library. My saucer features a quote by Steve Jobs.

Love what you do.

The store closes at 10 PM, which is just about right—it's the time of the day when my productivity is at its lowest.

Before closing time, I'm having my second affogato for the week. I'm getting to love this dessert more and more.


Sleep and burnout

Kaye and Tia, resident physicians from Psychiatry, visited the Medical Oncology office to continue their series on mental health. It's a big thing these days—and for good reason.

From left: Kaye, Rich (big head), and Karen

Roger, Nathant, and Mark Andō

Topics like physician burnout, caregiver fatigue, and depression in the workplace have gained traction, the subjects of many medical conferences and discussions across specialties.

Physician Burnout - Medscape
Credit: Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression, and Suicide Report (2019)

Kaye spoke about burnout and how to avoid it. Based on the routine diagnostic survey they conducted, many of us oncologists suffer from burnout. One of the ways to avoid burnout is adequate sleep. There's no actual defined time, but it should result to a relaxed, rejuvenated, and refreshed state. She shared tips for regular sleep.

Credit: Mervyn Leones (@louismervyn), screenshot of his Instagram story

I don't have problems with sleeping, but I've come to appreciate the value of good sleep. In fact, these past months, I've been reading and thinking a lot more about naps and sleep. I asked my brother Ralph to get me comfortable cotton elephant pants when he went to Bangkok. I bought a pair of pajamas from Uniqlo, which were on sale. I looked at duvet and duvet covers last night and ended the day by ordering online.

Credit: Pinterest

But nothing compares to peace of mind as key to good sleep. I remember Isaiah 26:3:

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

I hope you've had a good sleep last night!

Friday, July 12, 2019


Affogato is Italian for "drowned"


Tried my first affogato yesterday at a café along Scout Rallos called Goffa. Affogato, Italian for "drowned," is a coffee-based dessert prepared by pouring hot espresso to a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I honestly don't know what to make of it, actually. I enjoyed it for a time, but when my tummy grumbled a few minutes later—I am, after all, lactose intolerant—I started to question my decision.

Thursday, July 11, 2019


King Asa

Three days in a row of blog updates. I'm starting to get my groove back.

So allow me to share with you what I've been reading this morning. It's about King Asa of Judah (1 King 15 and 2 Chronicles 13–14) who is described as someone "who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord." The next passages described him thus: "...the heart of the Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days." He went on to remove pagan worship, put away the male prostitutes in the temples, and remove all the idols. No slip ups, no return to sin—just straight up obedience and devotion to the Lord. When he came to battle, King Asa cried out, "Help us, O Lord, for we rely on you..." This portion of the Bible documents in rise and fall of the kings of Judah and Israel. It's amazing how the Bible never shies away from talking about the sins and shortcoming of the leaders of the land. Ah, to be like King Asa, who loved the Lord and obeyed Him all his days.

I leave you with this—a kid in shorts, walking alone. What was going on in his mind?


Wednesday, July 10, 2019


Looking for fountain pens in Singapore

During our trip to Singapore for a pre-conference workshop on clinical trials, Fred and I looked for Overjoyed at Golden Wall Centre, Bain Street. My brothers got me the Diamine Chrome ink I still use for journalling from that store. We found the store, but it was closed. The website told us it was going to open the week after our visit, when we'd already be back in the Philippines.

We searched for other fountain pen places and found Fook Hing near Bras Basah.


I got a 1.1 mm nib for my Lamy Safari and my favorite purchase for that trip: a 100th anniversary limited edition Pilot Iroshizuku red/pink ink called Bishamonte.

Bishamonten Iroshizuku

I couldn't resist the urge to try it and even indoctrinated convinced Kuya JI, one of our hosts, to have a go at fountain pens. I think Kuya is buying his own fountain pen soon!

Days after the trip, I got a message from Overjoyed. A soft opening! We'll definitely come visit in next few months when we'll be back, God-willing.


Titus 2:11–13


My morning devotion in the New Testament today as I wait for the "blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." This is especially comforting as I prepare for the clinic where I meet people who grapple with impending death, present suffering, and excruciating pain.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


When I'm asked if I have any regrets growing up, I say that although I like how my life has turned out, I wish I had taken more naps.

Now that I'm writing about it, I wonder if it is only Filipino children who have mandatory afternoon siestas. As an adult, it is that sweet spot between dreamland and reality—the cool indoors juxtaposed against a sizzling tropical afternoon. As a kid, these naps felt like torture. Never mind if it was too hot to play outside; the thrill of hanging out with the neighbors was sufficient to make sleep impossible.

Did you fake-nap, too, just to please the adults, to kill the time so that when the clock struck 3:30 p.m., you'd be allowed to go out? I wish I had redeemed those moments: I wish I had truly drowned in refreshing sleep if I had know adult life would be so hectic and sleepless in the afternoons.

It's the afternoons, after all, that get me . . . that make me long for the cool indoors, fluffy pillows, and a billowing electric fan on number two, with Daisy Siete on Channel 7 playing in the distant background. Because I see patients in the afternoon, this isn't a possibility. But whenever I travel, I drag my friends to take naps with me before, say, we head to Myeongdong or the Champs-Elyseés, so we'd emerge refreshed for the night. They tell me they like traveling with me because it feels so relaxed. The secret is to take naps.

Naps are mind-spas spread throughout the day, whatever state in life you're in.



Monday, July 8, 2019

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Overly self-censored

It used to be that after a trip, or even a long day, I would compose in my head what I would blog about, almost as a reflex. This was the time when internet was not as accessible as it is now—that glorious, quiet, private era where the idea of smartphones was just beginning to gain traction. But these days, as in today, I would have to open with deliberate intent. I would reread the lines I've written, more as a scrupulous editor rather than a carefree writer. I suppose it comes with age. And experience. And wisdom. I keep reminding myself, in regards to keeping this personal space online—a personal blog that is, by human standards, already in its teenage years—that the things I put out here may only contribute to the noise and distraction that now plagues humanity. Perhaps I must cease this self-censorship, or ease out a bit on over-analysis. I've been guilty of these.

To glorify God through what I write, to edify and encourage others—these are the reasons why this blog exists. I realize that friends and some family members come to this site regularly, if only to check if I'm alive or not. It always warms my heart to hear them comment on my entries.

I write this today because I've missed the habit of blogging. And I should do it more often.

Before I leave for the clinics (I have a number of chemotherapy sessions scheduled this morning), I'll show you this photo taken by a friend during our Korean trip. During our tour of an ancient palace, I spoke with one of the Korean kids in English. I asked him if it was true, if the tree was really 700 years old as the sign said. He looked at me with surprise, smiled, and ran to his mother. He did not speak the language. Ah, kids.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Thursday, July 4, 2019

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