Showing posts from February, 2023

Tree 1

There's this tree in the hospital's parking lot that goes unnoticed. Its leaves are bright green. When they are about to fall off, the leaves turn into a yellowish color. The tree offers shade from heat. Because it's right smack in the middle, it runs the risk of being cut down, as people in my community often do to pave the way for "development." Like road-widening or the creation of a concrete parking lot.  Many trees—old acacia and narra trees—have been cut down in South Cotabato because of road-widening. The sight of fallen trees saddens me. Maybe I should take pictures of them before they are felled. Sounds like another blog project.


I read Alice Munro's Jakarta on this Saturday afternoon after my nap. It's the second story that appears in her collection, Family Furnishings (2014). As with most of her stories, a brief summary is difficult to formulate. There's the part where Kent—a pharmacist, who lives a normal life soaked in capitalism—visits Sonje, her ex-wife's bohemian friend many years later. Kent has a new wife, younger than his daughter, and together they drive across the country, visiting family and friends. Auntie Alice Munro's skill in storytelling is exceptional (I consider her to be in the same level as Tita Mavis Gallant, who writes shorter sentences), as she demonstrates in the insight she shares through Kent's experience.  With every visit he had made on this trip, there had come a moment of severe disappointment. The moment when he realized that the person he was talking to, the person he had made a point of seeking out, was not going to give him whatever it was he had come

Places where I eat

My friend Keth, fresh from fellowship training and who's about to start a nephrology practice in the city, gave me an idea: write about good food places.  Where to eat in town is a perpetual dilemma. I understand this issue comes with a lot of privilege because not everyone can afford to eat out, or even eat at all. But this problem resurfaces many times a week, and much more frequently during seasons when friends and family come over, or when people need to be met and fed, for work or pleasure or both. "Diin kita mag-meet man? Ano namit nga karan-an diri?" leave me dumbfounded. My personal default reply is to have lunch and dinner at home. Auntie Nanic's cooking is marvelous. She is a gift to our home. But she makes a truly good job in the kitchen that I now suspect that her main purpose in doing so is to ruin my diet. Although homecooked Ilonggo food is regenerative to the body and soul, I also enjoy variety. Recently there has been an explosion of new restaurants i

Devastated by the ending of The Mirror and the Light

Finished Hilary Mantel's The Mirror and the Light yesterday in a parking lot yesterday. Devastated by the ending, even if I knew—as history would have it—that Thomas Cromwell would die. Remembered that Mantel cried when she knew she had finished writing the books: Cromwell was a character so interesting you would remember him randomly. Skipped the second book in the series (Bring Up The Bodies); reserving it for long vacations when I could re-imagine the 1500s, undisturbed. 

Kindness and love of God

Working on my chapter title assignments for Titus for the New Testament survey class in a few hours.  Paul's reminder to young Titus, and to us, in chapter 3, verse 4, is my Saturday morning meditation.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (NIV). The "kindness and love of God our Savior," "not because of righteous things we had done," "mercy," "poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior," "justified by his grace," "heirs," and "hope of eternal life." These phrases, strung together, make my soul glad! Plants growing in Auntie Cecil's farm.

Long exposure

After bowling, my cousins and I had pork sisig in a restaurant at EMR, Morales, Koronadal. The band was good. My phone was in automatic long-exposure mode, and the result was surprising.  (I took bowling as my PE in 2004; I got a good enough grade that I was asked to represent my class in the inter-class finals in Diliman. I was okay, to be honest, but I wasn't as good as the other players. Even the bowling balls in university had minds of their own.)

Take care

Met and comforted several grieving families these past weeks. Death never comes easily. My job is made more difficult when I remember that entire families suffer after each loss, their lives changed, their homes bereft of familiar voices they had grown up with. Robert Bagg's poem, "Take Care," from Horsegod, iUniverse Inc, Bloomington Indiana, 2009, resonates deeply with me. 1975 After she’s spoken her last word my sister and I question Mom’s still-open eyes. One tear slides halfway down, waiting for us to notice before moving on. Mother had grown feather light. Two men from the funeral home carry her out …… on their aluminum gurney . . . . . each using two fingers of one hand. 1992 My father was still talking when he felt suddenly strange. He had just asked a question: “Son, what is happening to me?” Before I summoned the courage to lie or just tell him the truth, he was gone. So was my chance. Take care. Life goes so fast it makes what you’re composing yourself to say,

With Thoreau on weekends

I reserve Henry David Thoreau’s journals for quiet moments during the weekend, such as this afternoon, which finds me alone in the living room. The inverter air-conditioner is on full blast and hums with the reading voice in my brain, which is soaked in imagination, meandering, and travel.  Soon my cousin Hannah, who was up last night for online meetings, will emerge out of her nap, or Nanay will ask me to drive her to her friends’ houses, or Manong will get ready for his tennis sessions. (He has become a favorite in the city’s tennis club. They call him “attorney.”) The neighborhood is quiet. Paul is outside, enjoying the afternoon heat.   At 34 years old, Thoreau takes long walks. He “perambulates.” His diaries record what he sees: the willows, the red maples, the swamp white oak. It is like Instagram but without the temptation to impress and show off. As for me, I wish I could take on nature walking regularly. We have plenty of nature in South Cotabato. Yes, I can do that. Some doct


Wednesdays mark the mid-week for me. During moments of quiet, such as this morning, when everything is calm and my coffee is hot, I have the gift of a few precious minutes for reading and prayer. My meditation takes me to 1 Timothy, Paul's letter to a young man who is leading a new church. In chapter 3, Paul writes about qualifications for church leadership. Overseers and deacons have similar but distinct qualifications. As I ponder on the context and meaning of these passages, I remember and thank God for pastors and church leaders and Bible teachers who demonstrate the qualities Paul had outlined. Being above reproach, faithfulness to their spouses, being temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, gentle and not violent, not quarrelsome, not lovers of money, able to manage their families well, possessing good reputations, and have been long in the faith . Through their lives and teaching/preaching, our pastors and Bible teachers

Dog at Le Sélect, Montparnasse

I remind Paul to behave like this dog I saw in Paris last year. 


I'm enrolled in an online New Testament survey class which asks us to write paragraph titles for each book of the Bible. 1 and 2 Thessalonians were our assigned reading for the past two weeks. Here's a draft of my chapter title assignment, which I then encode in a Word file and post to the online learning portal. After I met a patient whose right arm had to be amputated because of a massive tumor, I've been practicing writing with my left hand. A Palomino Blackwing pencil is ideal for these writing assignments. 

Augustine's encouragement for accountability

Confessions by Augustine is one of my favorite books, recommended to me by an agnostic professor, but one that brings delight to my soul each time I read it. As with most great books, rereading allows me to learn something new I hadn't realized before. In the passage below, Augustine revisits his motive for testifying to the work of God in his life—a heartfelt and encouraging argument for church accountability. Would they share my joy when they hear how close, by your gift, I am lifted up to you, and share my prayer when they hear how far, by my own dead weight, I fall off from you? If so, to such I will open myself. For it is not a trivial help, God my Lord, to have "many give thanks for me or for many to pray for me.' I hope that a brother in spirit will love in me what you show him is lovable, lament in me what you show is lamentable—a brother, not a stranger, not 'a race of strangers, the speech of whose mouth is void of meaning, the work of whose strong hand is b


Repairs fascinate me. So do people who attempt them or make them possible. In his newest blog post, the writer of La Vie Graphite meditates on restoration . I read everything in this blog. I may disagree with his theology, but I love the elegance of his writing and the quietness of his life. I’ve always admired restorers of objects, structures, and historic artifacts. Gratefully, my speed-dial numbers include my typewriter repairer, fountain pen restorer, camera technician, and auto mechanic. These individuals are also esteemed friends. When any of us talk shop, we’ll often note the parallels between their crafts and mine as a bookbinder and conservator. The purposes of our respective restorative work is to keep things in fine operational order.  The part about pen repairs resonates me with me.  Pens present their own forms of mechanical puzzles. While rinsing a much-loved Reynolds fountain pen from one of my many sojourns in France, I watched the ring from the nib section roll across