Showing posts from February, 2010

A foreign encounter

It's 10:30 pm, Saturday night, and the coffee shop is packed. Two tables away, girls in college uniforms are giggling, disrupting what should otherwise be a quiet evening. I wish I could shut them up—their high-pitched voices restrict the flow of information to my brain—but social grace tells me to leave them alone. To my right, a Caucasian man looks amused as he reads through his book, oblivious to the noise. All over the place, students bury their heads in books, plug white earphones into their external auditory canals, fixate their eyes onto their laptop monitors—and these they do for hours, only to be interrupted by occasional sips of Php 150 worth of coffee. Kids these days hardly apply for library permits; they just pop into the nearest Starbucks to prepare for their tests. As I'm engrossed in coloring my photocopied references with green highlights, a man who unmistakably looks Japanese comes near and stares at the notes sprawled on my table. I desperately hope h

UP Medicine Class of 2014 sweeps Mediscene 2010 awards

When it rains, it pours. My batch won all the awards, and everyone is beaming with pride and fulfillment at tonight's Mediscene. Mediscene is the yearly scriptwriting and acting competition organized by the Medicine Student Council (MSC). This year's theme is Greener Pastures which celebrates the Doctors To The Barrio program of the College. Cons Yu Chua won as Best Actor in a Lead Role for his heartfelt portrayal of Dr. dela Paz, the doctor who chose to serve the barrio. Everyone in the play was voted Best Actor in a Supporting Role, the first in history that this has happened. Congratulations are in order for Janna Olivera who spearheaded the Design/Props Committee, and the Technical Team for the orderly manipulation and set-up of the lights and music. Congratulations, too, to Ryan Magtibay for winning Best Director, an award he truly deserved. We also won the Best Script award. My contribution was rather minimal here, but I had the chance to work with a wonderful tea

Ceaseless praise

A new header is up, and the tagline, "In ceaseless praise" couldn't have been more appropriate. As I was praying last night, I was thinking of how good the Lord has been throughout my day. A delicious lunch. Great time with friends. Laughter. Rest. A family that loves me. The absence of worry or pain or disease. But while these were undeserved blessings in themselves, what was I most thankful of, really? And then the Lord caused me to be reminded of the cross, and there I saw Jesus, who knew no sin but became sin for me, so that I may become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is that thought, that blessed assurance, that has caused me to be enraptured in ceaseless praise to the Lord. I pray you find yourself singing to Him, too.


I had the scare when I learned that my mother was hospitalized last week. Her fever had been going on for weeks, and as a medical student, I knew that wasn't a good sign. She was still awaiting her X-ray when I phoned her, and a day after, I would learn she had bronchitis, and antibiotics would do just the trick. When I called her two days ago, she sounded a lot better. As I write this, I remember that it was during times when I was sick that I've seen much of my mother's tenderness. She had to leave many of her patients to accompany me to the lab to have me tested after Sean's wretched dog David bit me in the heel. There was something, too, in her voice that reassured me when I was suffering from high, recurring fever. Over the years, I've realized how bad a son I am, and how tender, gracious, and loving my mother has been to me. I like to joke around that I'm the prodigal son, the proverbial black sheep, because, when I think about it, I have received more

A life of drudgery is not a happy life

Central District, Quezon City

Links to presidential platforms

The race is on. Although hard (I don't have tv in my apartment), I've been trying to keep myself abreast with the current election issues. From how it looks, the presidential election will a battle against personalities, not really on platforms. It saddens me, for instance, to hear some people say they'll be voting for someone just because that candidate speaks well. We must vote based on a candidate's plans and stand on key issues because good diction can only go so far. Here technology creates the link between the candidates and the voters. A 30-second tv exposure doesn't allow a candidate to extensively comment on, say, the Reproductive Health Bill, but a website will. This bridge is, of course, limited, because majority of our people don't have computers in their homes. But anything—no matter how small—that educates voters towards the achievement of a stronger democracy must be a good thing. This morning I was looking at the websites of the presidentia

R.C. Sproul: The Soul's Quest for God. Reflections on satisfying the soul's hunger.

Over the weekend, I've been reading The Soul's Quest for God by R.C. Sproul, a respected evangelical theologian. The book's subtitle summarizes the subject of the 11 chapters: satisfying the hunger for spiritual communion with God. Sproul writes: "Something is missing . . . What is missing is a depth of spiritual communion with God . . . The Christian life is often marked more by a sense of the absence of God than a vital sense of His presence." Here, Sproul examines the biblical pattern for spiritual growth, looks at biblical models of spiritual maturity, explores the nature of the soul, its value, and how it's nurtured, considers barriers to the soul's quest, and explains the soul's ultimate destination. I've particularly enjoyed the chapters where he discusses the examples of Mary, Joseph, St. Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, and John Calvin. Looking at their lives refreshes the soul. Here's my favorite paragraph where Sproul writes ab

Long wait

It's Friday night, and the rest of kids my age are out partying or having dinner with friends or officemates. I am, however, detained in the lab, figuring out how to come up with decent experimental results that could potentially change the world. This part is hyperbole, of course. My being here is to make sure I get past first year medicine by finishing a scientific project. At this point, I don't know if we're ever going to generate results—I work with a group of 16—just in time for the deadline, but doesn't uncertainty make scientific pursuits more exciting? Here I am with Marvyn Chan and Lennie Chua. We stuffed ourselves with many packs of pancit canton while our experiments were cooking. It's great company that makes long hours in the lab memorable. Even in the troubling absence of useful results.


Next time, Gino, take our pictures while we drool.


The newly approved No ID, No Entry policy in the College makes me wonder why wearing a full-body uniform with a personalized name tag still isn't enough to discriminate medical students from the rest. For security purposes, yes, but it makes wearing a dangling ID redundant.

No one writes to the colonel

My room was so quiet it bordered on being suicidal. At the same time I figured studying for an upcoming exam was the least I had wanted to do, I went straight outside. After getting some things from school, I went strolling in the mall nearby. The throng of shoppers was overwhelming, so I retreated to Powerbooks where I surveyed books I'd probably read in the future. I had time to kill, I thought, so I grabbed No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's a novella—its length is halfway between a full-blown short novel and a long short story—and I figured I could finish it in no time. It's about a colonel, probably in his seventies, who lives with an asthmatic wife. He's been waiting for his pension which was supposed to have arrived some 15 years ago. Their current state is isang kahig, isang tuka . They have to sell heirlooms from their household just to get by. However, they have in their possession a fighting cock. It's famous in the entire p

The color of your skin

The Color Purple (Alice Walker) is a compilation of letters. It begins with note from Celie, a 14-year-old girl who narrates a rape incident that involves her and her stepfather. She writes, "He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it." The letters are addressed to God. In the next letters, Celie writes that her mother is dead, and now she wants to protect her younger sister Nettie from their stepfather. He has his eyes on the little kid. As they grow up, Celie does everything in her power to protect Nettie. When Celie is forced to marry, Nettie eventually escapes their stepfather and becomes a missionary in Africa. Years pass. Celie's husband prevents all form of communication between the sisters. Celie doesn't know Nettie has been writing her letters. They don't know if the other one is still alive. The book is beautifully imagined. It's painfully heart-wrenching. And it's exceptionally well-written. This is clearly Alic

Thinking out loud

I get the impression that Facebook and Twitter rarely encourage sharing of useful information but highlight the importance of endless self-promotion. Most of the time.

Resuming training

I've resumed playing tennis again. The last time I did was in 2007 , and going back to it—to actually hammering the ball to the other side of the court instead of simply watching Federer on tv—felt like a sweet reunion.  What's fun is that there are so many tennis enthusiasts in class. Some play really well. Others manage to do simple passes. But most are beginners. I place myself between the second and third categories: I can see and chase the ball as it approaches, but I need to improve my return. My forehand still needs a lot of tweaking. The idea of being good at sports is good practice. It amazes me how some of my classmates still manage to take time off their books to play balls. I should learn from their example. What encourages me even more—aside from the possibility of having hypertrophied muscles and better cardiovascular circulation at the end of it all—is the company of more experienced classmates who are ever so patient in teaching us, beginners. They don'

The silent Valentine rush

I think it was last week when the subject of what-are-you-going-to-do-on-Valentine's-Day popped up over lunch. The guys eating with me on the table were at first hesitant to share their plans, but I was too stubborn to be stopped from asking. I had the impression, of course, that the reason why for the past few days we've been eating at our favorite carinderia , and not in more expensive fastfood restaurants at the mall, is mainly this: they're saving up. For roses. For a special date at some fine dining restaurant. You know, the drill. There had to be something going on in their testosterone-driven minds. They didn't go into specifics, but the general idea was that they would take their girlfriends out on a date. I could imagine they've already thought of where to get dinner reservations. One mentioned that he didn't want to eat out with the rest on the world on the 14th, so he's doing it a day earlier. I thought that was smart. This afternoon, I as


I've recently discovered the photography of Kevin Meredith from Brighton, England. He's popularly known as lomokev in Flickr. His work features bright colors and interesting subjects. He uses a lomo, an analog camera (which makes use of the good ol' film), most of the time. And he sounds really funny. He updates his Flickr many times a week, so check it out if you have time. This man reminds me of my classmate Carlos Cuano when he asks, "Talaga?"

Search on

The French have always fascinated me. HT: Kent Kawashima, via Twitter

Cravings and encounters at Robinson's Place Manila

On my way home, I had a craving for Jollibee's Barbecue Chicken. I headed to Robinson's Place Manila and ate to my heart's content. The chicken was so moist and tasty that I devoured it without the sauce. Way better than the famous Chicken Joy, if you ask me. As I was leaving, I had another craving for something cold and sweet. The last time this sweet spell had happened to me was on October-November of last year: I would go out of my apartment, leave my notes altogether, and grab a cheap ice cream from the nearest Mini Stop. This time I went to Dairy Queen and ordered Banana-Strawberry. As the lady was punching my orders in, I had a weird feeling: I felt that someone was sneaking glances at me. I grabbed a high chair and began eating, when a woman grabbed the chair beside mine. "Lance? Is that you?," she asked in Ilonggo. My memory was failing me; her face didn't register at all. "Yes," I said. "Oh . . . hello." "I went to K-N

He didn't mind the gigantic, pretty girls around him

Taken with a camera phone, this is one of my favorite shots.

A daily reminder

My friend Frances Bocobo recently gave this to me: a red wristband I occasionally wear in school, a conspicuous, tangible reminder to "Live For Him." According the note, "Live for Him" means "that your life is no longer your own; it belongs to Christ! Everything you do reflects on Him." The Red Wristband Project of Kerusso aims to donate $0.25 for every band sold to Compassion International , an organization committed to spreading the Gospel by helping thousands of children. Thanks, Frances!

Asking Prof. Wiesel

Yesterday I had the opportunity of asking Prof. Torsten Wiesel, Nobel Laureate for Medicine in 1981, what we still do not yet know about visual perception. Prof. Wiesel pioneered the work on the neural basis of neural perception, having traced the pathway from the retina to the visual cortex. Every medical school in the world studies his work. I don't recall the exact words, but his face lit up when he answered me. He said that his discovery is only a part of the puzzle. The brain is as complex as the universe itself, and, even if so many researches have been published on how it works, we still don't understand it enough. Here were the highlights of the open forum: A high school student asked him what he did with the Nobel prize money. Prof. Wiesel answered, "I used it for my daughter's education." A man asked a really long question on the role played by science in the destruction of the world—or something like that. It was so long we didn't get the d

A South African story

"For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well." Thus begins J.M. Coetze's Disgrace , which I had read over the weekend. Coetze is the 2003 Nobel Laureate for Literature. David Lurie is a professor of Romantic poetry at Cape Technical University, twice divorced, and spends his Thursday afternoons with prostitutes—one in particular, a woman named Soraya. But one day he sees her with her two sons, walking down the street. Things then begin to get awkward, and they stop seeing each other. The professor thinks he lives a typical life. He teaches his courses dutifully but without much passion. He lives within his means. He's not ecstatic; he's not unhappy either. A student, Melanie Isaacs, comes along. They have an affair. And when Melanie's parents and boyfriend pressure her into filing a complaint for sexual harassment, Lurie loses his job and retreats to the country side, in Salem, on the Grahamstown-