Monday, July 31, 2017

Pambansang photobomb

Pambansang photobomb

I saw this poster at the PGH seventh floor, featuring Dr. Jose Rizal and the National Photobomb, a testament that in this country, anything is made possible.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Weight loss

Ang Payat Mong Tingnan

Books—digital or otherwise

The only time I regret owning many books is when I move out of a place. Books and other reading materials—but mostly books—constitute majority of my material possessions, a humbling testament to my current net worth.

I still get the childlike wonder of leafing through physical pages; of going to bookstores to while away time; of wandering inside cold, dark, and damp libraries. The physical presence of tangible books reassures me that I won’t go idle for many days. A stack of books sits beside my call room table, as if to remind me that I have friends who can take my mind off death and dying and clinical dilemmas. Another stack of books lies on my bedside desk, so I can pull out a story to keep me entertained for the night just before I sleep.

But I’ve cut back on my book spending, a moratorium I intermittently violate whenever I find rare titles, as if leaving them un-bought were a crime. This weekend I shipped my books to the province, a tedious task that entailed a lot of carrying and packing and sweating. I’m glad to have my brother Ralph, who owns ten times as much reading material as I do, accommodate my collection in the cargo that’s on its way to my aunt’s Court Library in General Santos. My brother Sean will get them and drive them back to our house in Marbel in a pick up truck.

“What will we do with them at home?” my mother asked—she who used to be a rabid book collector herself but who had lost track of her Ayn Rands (yes, she recommended “Atlas Shrugged” to me when I was in elementary) because she didn’t make a list of people who borrowed them from her.

I said she may need to have new book shelves constructed, maybe inside the empty room that now serves as a storage facility.

For the past three years I’ve mostly done my reading through my iPad’s Kindle and iBook apps. Since this year I’ve only read Tim Keller’s “Walking With God Through Pain And Suffering,” portions of Eleanor Catton’s “The Luminaries,” and the first third of Adam Johnson’s “The Orphan Master’s Son” as physically printed books. I’ve transitioned—slowly and painfully—into the electronic. I’ve gotten over the longing (well, most times) of smelling ink on paper. Owning a tablet has effectively reduced my material properties to a bare minimum.

I was encouraged by Tim Challies’s powerful arguments for owning a digital library. He even went as far as writing, “I am selling my library. At least, I think I am. I’ve made the decision. Almost. It feels just a little too final to actually say it like that. But I’ve got a big library and a small house and something has got to give.”

Professor Jeff Straub has a helpful series on building a (digital and physical) theological library, but mostly for the digital—something we can all learn from, whether we’re pastors or not.

As for me, I’ll probably get a hardbound copy of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology when I see one, but I won't mind reading it in a tablet. I’ll keep on reading using an electronic device. I’m also super excited to get a new Kindle Paperwhite this month. The Amazon website says, “Lose yourself in a book. By design, Kindle is purpose-built for reading and creates a sanctuary so you can lose yourself in a book. Unlike tablets and phones, Kindle doesn’t distract you with social media, emails, and text messages.”

I can’t wait.


Thursday, July 27, 2017


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.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Morning persons

"It's still too early," I tell Tatay.

He disagrees with me, "No. Alas singko na."

Tatay and Nanay have their early morning chats at 4 am these days. This is why I'm a morning person.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

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 do 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.




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!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

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.


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.


Bluer than blue

Metro Manila


Monday, July 17, 2017

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.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

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!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

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.


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.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Millennial problems—and funny causes of death


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).


Why exercise isn't the best way to lose weight

Interesting take on weight loss.


Friday, July 7, 2017

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.

Keep Reading


Monday, July 3, 2017

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.
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I will rejoice in my Redeemer

During communion service yesterday, we sang “My Worth Is Not My Own,” a song that lifted our spirits, reminding us to rejoice in Jesus Christ, “greatest treasure, wellspring of [our] soul(s).”