Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Mushrooms

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Mushrooms beside newly transplanted ferns. Took this photo in the morning. The mushrooms were wilted when I checked them again in the afternoon. The brevity of life. 

Monday, November 30, 2020

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Med school diaries

 

why interns are way better than clerks

Thrilled to know we have new doctors! Congratulations! I remember taking the road to that almost elusive medical diploma, a process that involved micro-naps to get us through the day.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Friday, November 27, 2020

Meeting friends from NDMU–Elementary Training Department

Met with Ronald and Althea yesterday. Ronald is a kind and brilliant internist who's deployed here for the meantime. We last met during Katrina's idyllic wedding, where he and John Mark left me at the reception area, leaving me no choice but to join in the games to represent the "friends of the bride." Well, anything for Kat. 

Thea is a nurse of the highest order; she is also a college professor, mother of two, and is working on her PhD. Her husband and I might be related. I hadn't seen her for 16 years. She messaged if I had free time for coffee. I had just woken up from a postprandial nap. A few minutes later, her car was in front of the gate. I was surprised that she remembered where I live. She said her kids went to daycare at St. Gabriel, in the next block. The kids would go around the neighborhood during mini-parades. I was surprised that there was a daycare center. 

We remembered Ronald, who I'd been meaning to meet. We used to ride the same sundô—the Tamaraw FX—on our way to school. Ronald arrived a few hours later; he had to take care of some matters in the hospital. 

It was such a joy to finally meet them. There's nothing quite like friends from way back to keep one grounded. I'm inspired and encouraged by their outlook and priorities. One thing we learned: spontaneous meet ups are more likely to push through. We might be cooking up the next meet up. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Clinic banter at ESMO Asia 2020

Congratulations to Rich and Roger

Around this time last year, we were in Singapore for ESMO Asia. Karen had to leave after the gastrointestinal cancer preceptorship, but Fred, Rich, Roger, and I stayed. This year, ESMO Asia 2020 has pushed through. True to form, our posters are up, albeit virtually. I have no first-author papers, but my friends—how I miss them—were gracious enough to include me in their research. Browsing through virtual platform, I read the banter between Roger and Rich. These appeared as comments below the e-poster, Utilization of on-site pathology evaluation for lung cancer diagnosis in the Philippines' national university, with Rich as the principal investigator. With my batch, nothing is ever taken too seriously. The guys know how to have serious fun—even in international meetings. Did I tell you I miss them dearly?

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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Children by the sea

Kids at flea market

While looking for vintage boxes to store my journals, I saw an album in a forgotten corner of the flea market. Black and white photos of a Japanese family on holiday were collated in its thick pages. This portrait of two children enjoying themselves at the beach struck me and made me long for the sand and sea. Here's to hoping that the Sarangani beaches open soon. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

At home

Fifteen minutes after the fact, a friend called me up to tell me that her mother has died. Her mother was my patient. Her parents—kind, gentle, and who at one point told me when their hospital discharge was delayed, "Okay lang kami ah; wala problema maghulat kay senior citizens na kami"—reminded me of my own, which made this death harder to bear. After a short word of condolences, my friend and I talked about specifics: the death certificate, the paperwork, and so on. The consoling will come later, after the embalming and the funeral preparations.

I told my mother the news. She knew them from her hometown. Nanay said, "There's a certain lightness to dying when you know the person was a Christian."

There is. 

And my patient is home with the Lord. I will tell my friend that.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Friday, November 20, 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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Writing letters

This is one of those days when I'd much rather be at home, writing letters to friends by mail, with a good bottle of oxblood ink and cream stationery. I am, of course, reading The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (George Allen & Unwin, Houghton Mifflin), which encourages this distraction. I might make physical letter-writing a habit soon, but whether this is sustainable is a different question. It is certainly not practical. It is easier to send emails; they also cost less. But I go out on a limb to say this: the comfort of convenience is over-exaggerated. I need to be inconvenienced once in a while: make time to compose my thoughts, write them by hand with a fountain pen, and deliver the envelopes in person to the post office. Now I'm beginning to understand why my med school friends AAce and Chevs (they are AA and Everly, if you're so curious; I have this strange habit of conferring unique and affectionate nicknames to friends) have taken particular pleasure in sending me letters and postcards from the States. I can't quite explain it, but receiving something by mail stirs up an element of childlike anticipation. Reading my friends' thoughts through their handwriting offers a strangely warmer consolation. The post office is just a few minutes away from the house. It is even within walking distance by my standards. And the thought of licking the stamps—how personal can one get!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Sunday, November 15, 2020

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JRR Tolkien on sex

Tolkien's letter to his son about sex, with commentary from Dr. Al Mohler.
The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favorite subject,” Tolkien insisted. “He is as good every bit at catching you through generous romantic or tender motives, as through baser or more animal ones.” Thus, Tolkien advised his young son, then 21, that the sexual fantasies of the 20th century were demonic lies, intended to ensnare human beings. Sex was a trap, Tolkien warned, because human beings are capable of almost infinite rationalization in terms of sexual motives. Romantic love is not sufficient as a justification for sex, Tolkien understood.
Fascinated by handwritten letters, I looked up JRR Tolkien's handwriting. He must have used a stub nib in this letter, sold for auction at 8000 dollars. I read in a forum that the English professor used dip pen and ball points. Tolkien's letter -- screenshot

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Filipino

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The script reads like textbook Filipino. I show this to Manong, "Daw hindi gid Tagalog ang nagsulat sini, no?" 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Knocked down

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Strong rain and winds knocked this bird's nest (Asplenium nidus) off its pedestal last month. "The queen fell!," Mother said, then proceeded to give instructions prop her—the fern—up amidst the pouring rain.  Now, the "queen" comes back with a beautiful vengeance. These new leaves make us forget her past humiliation. 

It's fascinating to hear my mother refer to her plants with a devoted familiarity. I have not heard her speak directly to them. But when talks about them, she resorts to anthromorphism. If you didn't know the context, you'd think she was talking about her friends. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Restoration

Pandemic 2020

Cast irons at a local flea market. Manong soaks them in 1 part water, 1 part vinegar, and scrubs them with detergent and baking soda. Impressed that the rust flakes off, he says, "See? I know chemistry." In third year high school, he represented the school in a chemistry quiz contest. Not sure if he won!
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