Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Leprosy in the Philippines

Dr. Belen Dofitas, my mentor during medical school and a woman I'm proud and honored to know, talks about leprosy in the Philippines. She is featured in this month's issue of MIMS.

Aside from a leprosy patient’s continuous battle with the disease, they also experience social isolation and emotional distress—all because of the many misconceptions about the disease.

For example, many Filipinos still think leprosy is highly contagious: “Around 95% of the population has good resistance against the leprosy bacteria and can clear it when it enters the body.”

Another false belief about leprosy is that it causes certain body parts (fingers, toes, etc.) to fall off, for which Dr Lardizabal-Dofitas explained: “Leprosy invades and damages the nerves that supply our limbs. When the nerve damage is great, the tissues of the fingers and toes cannot grow normally anymore and sort of wither and shrink, much like a tree’s branches when the roots are damaged. The fingers and toes most certainly do not rot and fall off.

Read about the amazing efforts of the Philippine Leprosy Mission and what you can do to help. At the Philippine General Hospital, patients with Hansen's disease (the more technical term for leprosy) are members of the Hansen's Club, where they meet regularly.
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Ursula Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness.” She was brilliant.



I'm also reposting my Goodreads "Reading Progress" notes for the book. The entries are summarized in a timeline as soon as one is finished reading. It's a great feature, like a book diary. You should get a Goodreads account, if you haven't yet. I call it the Facebook for readers. Follow me there.

Giving birth in a Rohingya refugee camp



Rojinessa labored through the night and gave birth to a baby boy around dawn. Her mother delivered the baby. No doctors were present. No midwives. No beeping machines. Rojinessa became a mother in a tent with a bare concrete floor, a plastic sheet roof, and no running water. She is a Rohingya refugee, living in Ukhia, Bangladesh, with more than 650,000 other refugees who have fled the grotesque and incomprehensible genocide ravaging her people in Burma.

This was her third baby. She was accustomed to the harsh realities of motherhood in a life in poverty. But I wasn’t.

Firen Jones, a midwife from America, writes about the harsh realities of women giving birth in refugee camps.

In the Philippines, midwives constitute a major force in healthcare. Pregnant women who don't have access to a physician, let alone an obstetrician, are accorded medical care through the midwives. I can say this from experience because the midwives I've worked with in Maasim are great!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

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“Laban lang, Sir,” the barista told me.

“Laban lang, Sir,” the barista told me.

"Thanks," I said. When he handed me my espresso—which I always take in the afternoons when I resume my studying after a post-lunch nap—I checked my hair and realized I'd just gotten out of bed, and my hair looked like it could use some combing. I've grown my hair for more than two years, but I still keep forgetting all about it. I haven't spent this long in Koronadal for a very long time; I was hardly ever home when I started studying and training for Medicine. It's good to have comforts of home.

Monday, January 29, 2018

An objective way to measure adherence?

Adherence to medications is a hard but important thing to emphasize to patients. As an internist, I have patients with chronic illnesses that will likely be with them until their very last on earth. A valuable information I want, and need, is how adherent they've been as regards their medications and lifestyle.

A new development in medicine is the digital health feedback system (DHFS), a device "already being used in clinical trials to monitor adherence and will probably soon be combined with other chronic disease medications." For doctors, this means an objective way of knowing whether, say, a patient has been taking his/her antihypertensive medications daily. How DHFS ultimately affects adherence is still uncertain, but a small randomized controlled trial showed that patients with diabetes and hypertension in whom DHFS was used had better control of their conditions.

Read Swallowing a Spy — The Potential Uses of Digital Adherence Monitoring. An excerpt:

For those of us who struggle, the most effective adherence booster may be giving doctors and patients the time to explore the beliefs and attributions informing medication behaviors. These conversations can’t happen in a 15-minute visit. Given how little our health care system seems to value such interactions, it’s no wonder that skepticism often greets these new, unproven, and costly technologies. But though this skepticism may be warranted, it may also reflect a fear that the technology is intended to replace our efforts, rather than facilitate them. For technologies like digital adherence monitoring to do their jobs, we have to be willing to let them help us do ours.

The short of it is—sure, the device may be helpful, but let's not forget educating patients about their condition.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

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The beauty of short prayers

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Here's a wonderful piece by David Mathis to encourage you this Sunday.

We are free to abandon our empty, evangelical stock-phrases, and free from needing many words, extending our requests to a certain length to impress, because in Christ, we already are known, loved, cherished, and secure. We are not unknown citizens approaching a distant dignitary, but children drawing near to “our Father.”

The collection of Puritan prayers by Arthur Bennett has been a blessing to me, too, and I turn to it when I don't feel like praying. An exerpt of "Worship":

Let me live wholly to my Saviour,
free from distractions,
from carking care,
from hindrances to the pursuit
of the narrow way.

I am pardoned through the blood of Jesus —
give me a new sense of it,
continue to pardon me by it,
may I come every day to the fountain,
and every day be washed anew,
that I may worship thee always
in spirit and truth.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

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"Forest bathing" may help with stress

Shinrin-yoku means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” The term was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982.

Does “forest bathing” impact health and wellness?

Some Japanese scientists—curious people who ask all sorts of questions and conduct all sorts of fascinating studies—did various field experiments in 24 forests across the country to determine if environment, in fact, plays a role in health.

How this study was designed is interesting:

In each experiment, 12 [normal male university] subjects (280 total; ages 21.7 ± 1.5 year) walked in and viewed a forest or city area. On the first day, six subjects were sent to a forest area, and the others to a city area. On the second day, each group was sent to the other area as a cross-check. Salivary cortisol, blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate variability were used as indices.

I would’ve enrolled in that study, if I had the chance.

But back to the results. The findings show that:

…Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.

The study has its limitations and flaws, of course. All studies do. One can argue that 12 subjects for each forest may not be sufficient. Or that only males with no co-morbidities were included—for females may have responded differently, and so on. One can argue, too, that while the decreases in cortisol and other objective parameters may be statistically significant, they remain surrogate markers for stress and do not directly measure it.

But the study interests me because of three things:

First, that it was done at all; second, that it points to the interplay between environment and health—something we already know based on observation (people in Manila are, for example, more prone to anger and exhaustion than those in Koronadal); and third, that I really like forests.

Yes, the forest more than the beach—and that's my segue to the next part of this post.

Japanese photographer Yoshinori Mizutani has made shinrin-yoku part of his daily life. He shares this calming, stress-relieving collection of photos in The New Yorker.

Throughout the series, Mizutani’s abstracted use of blur cushions his subjects, painting a simultaneously idyllic and voyeuristic scene. The viewer takes on the role of the forest itself, and of the creatures that live in it: we peer from behind, or from within, a bush as an oblivious couple strolls by, and we dip over a man’s shoulder as birds gather around his weathered palm.

A sampling:




One wonders where the nearest forest in Manila is—and if it's bathe-able.

Friday, January 26, 2018

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Do you call your AI a "he," "she," or "it"?

I agree with Tim Carmody on this.

This is one reason why I am at least partly in favor of what I just did: avoiding gendered pronouns for the voice assistant altogether, and treating the device and the voice interface as an “it.”

He continues.

An Echo or an iPhone is not a friend, and it is not a pet. It is an alarm clock that plays video games. It has no sentience. It has no personality. It’s a string of canned phrases that can’t understand what I’m saying unless I’m talking to it like I’m typing on the command line. It’s not genuinely interactive or conversational. Its name isn’t really a name so much as an opening command phrase. You could call one of these virtual assistants “sudo” and it would make about as much sense.

Many drivers I met referred to Waze as "siya," a Filipino pronoun used to refer to human beings. Situations like that make me want to remind them that they're taking orders from a phone app. Of course I don't bother with the correction and just pretend that I'm sleeping. Driving alone in the horrible Metro Manila traffic must be lonely, and listening to the Waze lady is likely the closest thing they have to a conversation.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Being alone is not painful at all



Haruki Murakami on solitude and introversion:

It might be a little silly for someone getting to be my age to put this into words, but I just want to make sure I get the facts down clearly: I'm the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put the finer point on it, I'm the type of person who doesn't find it painful to be alone. I find sending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring.

From an excerpt from his book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I sure can relate!*

Follow me on Goodreads. It's like Facebook for readers.


* It's not lost on me that friends refer to me (openly) as a "trying-hard introvert." My reply: "But I am!"

Social media is making us dumber

Jesse Singal writes about how social media twists our understanding of things. Case in point: Harvard professor and intellectual Steven Pinker who, in a clip, was shown to refer to “the often highly literate, highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right” as “internet savvy” and “media savvy.”

But this wasn't actually the case. Singal argues:

The idea that Mr. Pinker, a liberal, Jewish psychology professor, is a fan of a racist, anti-Semitic online movement is absurd on its face, so it might be tempting to roll your eyes and dismiss this blowup as just another instance of social media doing what it does best: generating outrage.

He unpacks his observation:

But it’s actually a worthwhile episode to unpack, because it highlights a disturbing, worsening tendency in social media in which tribal allegiances are replacing shared empirical understandings of the world. Or maybe “subtribal” is the more precise, fitting term to use here. It’s one thing to say that left and right disagree on simple facts about the world — this sort of informational Balkanization has been going on for a while and long predates Twitter. What social media is doing is slicing the salami thinner and thinner, as it were, making it harder even for people who are otherwise in general ideological agreement to agree on basic facts about news events.

That’s because the pernicious social dynamics of these online spaces hammer home the idea that anyone who disagrees with you on any controversial subject, even a little bit, is incorrigibly dumb or evil or suspect. On a wide and expanding range of issues, there’s no such thing as good-faith disagreement.

This phenomenon isn't unique to America.

The last time I logged on to Facebook—something I do more often these days because it's the only way to get in touch with friends from high school (they've changed phone numbers since our graduation)—I saw angry posts about Mocha Uson receiving an award from a UST alumni body. The comments were degrading, the attacks personal. I read posts on the contrary, too—people cheering for Mocha but with the occasional deluge of hateful remarks about veteran journalist Karen Davila who had suggested that Mocha should consider giving the award back—a suggestion which, to me, sounded considerate, respectful, and in good faith.

Whatever happened to disagreeing agreeably?

A helpful rule a colleague told me was: don't write anything on social media what you can't say to another in his face. Philippians 4:8 is also instructive—just replace "think" with "post."

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Social media carries with it anonymity, the steroid that enables cowards to spread their hate and ignorance. When we're at the point where we can no longer distinguish the good from the bad, the truth from the lies, we must consider leaving.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Waiting for my bus along the National Highway in Maasim, Sarangani

Maasim, Sarangani

After my shift at Maasim Municipal Hospital, where I attended to all sorts of patients and functioned as a community doctor—as an obstetrician, pediatrician, surgeon, and internist, all in one—it was time to go home. My patients were fishermen and farmers who lived in distant barrios. Most of them belonged to the indigenous people (IP) groups, and I had to have the nurses beside me to translate their complaints to Bisaya. My bus arrived an hour after this was taken, and I slept through the entire ride, tired and fulfilled.

The last time I'd been here was in 2014, a fresh graduate, and I had just finished my pre-residency in Internal Medicine. The hospital staff's reaction when I came back three years later: "Tambok na ka!" (You've gotten fat!). They said I looked better, too.
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Ursula Le Guin has died at 88, and the meaning of refusing and receiving awards

Urusula K. Le Guin has died. She was 88. From the New York Times:

Ms. Le Guin’s fictions range from young-adult adventures to wry philosophical fables. They combine compelling stories, rigorous narrative logic and a lean but lyrical style to draw readers into what she called the “inner lands” of the imagination. Such writing, she believed, could be a moral force.

“If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly,” she told The Guardian in an interview in 2005.

One of these days, I'll reward myself by reading The Left Hand of Darkness (published in 1969).



Le Guin received many awards in her lifetime, but she wrote about refusing a prize once, which speaks a lot about her principles.

I refused a prize once . . . It was in the coldest, insanest days of the Cold War, when even the little planet Esseff was politically divided against itself. My novelette The Diary of the Rose was awarded the Nebula Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America. At about the same time, the same organization deprived the Polish novelist Stanislaw Lem of his honorary membership. There was a sizable contingent of Cold Warrior members who felt that a man who lived behind the iron curtain and was rude about American science fiction must be a Commie rat who had no business in the SFWA. They invoked a technicality to deprive him of his membership and insisted on applying it. Lem was a difficult, arrogant, sometimes insufferable man, but a courageous one and a first-rate author, writing with more independence of mind than would seem possible in Poland under the Soviet regime. I was very angry at the injustice of the crass and petty insult offered him by the SFWA. I dropped my membership and, feeling it would be shameless to accept an award for a story about political intolerance from a group that had just displayed political intolerance, took my entry out of the Nebula competition shortly before the winners were to be announced. The SFWA called me to plead with me not to withdraw it, since it had, in fact, won. I couldn’t do that.

Receiving and refusing awards—and handing them to someone—mean so much more than what meets the eye.

Julie Phillips's profile of Le Guin in The New Yorker October 2016 issue is wonderful.

I often find myself wallowing in regret whenever famous writers die before I even had the chance to read them. Sayang, di ko man lang siya nakilala. This happened with John Updike and so on. I know, I know, it's never too late, but still . . . .

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I listen to this Wes Anderson playlist on Spotify as I review for the diplomate exam


Photo credit: IMDB


I'm always on the lookout for good music while I read or study. I like the songs subdued and not too distracting. Depending on my mood, I may prefer songs with or without words. There are days when I'd rather not listen to anything. These past days I've been listening to "From Bottle Rocket to The Grand Budapest Hotel," a Spotify playlist created by Michael Park . . .

bringing together 172 of the songs included in Anderson's eight features so far, coming to over nine and a half hours of immaculately curated, 20th century counterculture-rooted music, from not just the Stones and Bowie-via-Seu Jorge but Horace Silver, the Kinks, the Vince Guaraldi Trio, Elliott Smith, Yves Montand, Nick Drake, and the Velvet Underground. (via Open Culture)

You'll need to download and register for Spotify (and you should, if you haven't yet. The free account, which I have, dishes the occasional ads which don't bother me at all. In fact, they remind me that 30 minutes or so have passed, and I should hurry.)

I'm a huge fan of Wes Anderson and should make time to finish watching all his films. Ha! But first: this voluminous unit on infectious diseases!

Monday, January 22, 2018

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Patronize locally grown coffee

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I've been able to score good coffee in Soccsksargen. In Koronadal alone, where business is booming, cafés have opened, some of them owned by people from my childhood! In fact, a new coffee shop has opened near the house, and that's where I plan to spend most afternoons as I study for my diplomate exam. The espresso is good, the airconditioning is sufficient, and the place is quiet but gets a bit crowded in the evenings. I bring earphones just in case it gets noisy, and I plan to go home early anyway.

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At home my kid brother Sean has a steady supply of Kulaman coffee. The flavors are rich, a little nutty, with hardly any acidity. He gets it from a person he knows at a discount, likely one of his patients.

Last week an aunt gave me Mt. Matutum coffee (Greentropics), which is slightly acidic, less nutty, and stimulating: it keeps my mind from getting headaches in the morning.

Greentropics is a local company that trades, processes and markets coffee sustainably harvested by the B’laan tribe, an indigenous peoples (IP) group living in the slopes of Mt. Matutum in South Cotabato.

More on Agricultural engineer Fred Fredeluces here, and the efforts he's put up to further the coffee industry in the region.

Clearly the coffee industry is growing in Mindanao.

Coffee is mainly grown in Mindanao with the island producing some 71 percent of the country’s total production volume. Sultan Kudarat is Mindanao’s number one source of coffee, having 15,500 hectares devoted to production of the crop.

Maybe it's just me, but as a coffee drinker I patronize local coffee shops more. I only order basic coffee: an espresso if I feel sleepy or an americano if I have the time for a leisurely sip. I like the bitterness. The prices are reasonable. It helps that I'm not the biggest fan of Starbucks, whose coffee tastes burnt. I still like the smell of a Starbucks store, which floods my memory with friends, good conversation, and reviewing for my board exams.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Sunday mornings are for church

Sunday mornings are the busiest in the household. We wake up early to prepare for Sunday worship service. We're not allowed to stay up late on Saturday nights. We're reminded that our clothes should have been set aside the night before; our shoes should have been polished by then. (I've been guilty many times of not obeying these instructions.) My father reprimands us if we dilly-dally. Still sleeping at 7 am is almost unthinkable. At this time we should be taking a shower or eating breakfast already because the worship service begins at 9 am—and we shouldn't be late. My father used to remind us that we should give the Lord the best of our everything; if we arrive at our meetings for work on time, we should do the same—or even better—for when we meet with the Lord and His people.

I associate Sunday mornings with church. While I'm thankful for afternoon services (during residency, I had to report to work until 12 noon to do rounds on patients or had to stay for 24 hours if I was on duty—one of the most painful things I had to deal with during training), I still prefer going to church in the morning.

I hope you're up and about to prepare for church, too. Here's a beautiful Puritan prayer before going to church. An excerpt:

O Maker and Upholder of all things, 
Day and night are thine; they are also
mine from thee —
the night to rid me of the cares of the day,
to refresh my weary body,
to renew my natural strength;
the day to summon me to new activities,
to give me opportunity to glorify thee,
to serve my generation,
to acquire knowledge, holiness, eternal life.

But one day above all days is made especially
for thy honour and my improvement;
The sabbath reminds me
of thy rest from creation,
of the resurrection of my Saviour,
of his entering into repose.
Thy house is mine,
but I am unworthy to meet thee there,
and am unfit for spiritual service.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Couchsurfers' stories

Gabriele Galimberti features 100 stories of couchsurfers he has met for two years.

CouchSurfing is the act of trading hospitality, practiced by the over 14 million members of the CouchSurfing network present in 230 countries worldwide.

He continues:

I traveled around the world with CouchSurfing for more than two years in order to discover this young, diverse, multicultural, multiracial global community. I have CouchSurfed on all the five continents and has hosted dozens of CouchSurfers in his house in Tuscany. I have slept on a bed worthy of a 5-star hotel in a fairytale villa in Texas and in a room ten square meters in Sichuan, which he shared with 3 generations of a Chinese farmer family. In Ukraine I was hosted by a couple that welcomed him naked, informing him they are “house nudists” and in Botswana by a young man training to become an evangelical pastor. 



Olena, 22 years old, is a committed naturist. "I don't like to wear masks or, when I can avoid it, clothing – especially not in my own home," she tells me. She and her boyfriend Igor often walk around the apartment – which consists of a living room (where I slept on a yoga mat during my stay), kitchen, bedroom and bathroom – naked. They do it so naturally that I quickly get used to it.

Lots of Filipinos are featured in this project, too. I haven't tried couchsurfing myself, but it sounds interesting.

Friday, January 19, 2018

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Cimetière de Montmarte, a good place to think and rest while in Paris

Graveyards are peaceful places to visit.

I went to Cimetière de Montmartre the last time I visited Paris. I was tired from all the walking and decided to go to a quiet spot. Famous people buried there include the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, the founder of modern neurology who discovered Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and Charcot disease; Dalida, the famous singer; Alexandre Dumas, the novelist and playwright; Jacques Offenbach, the composer; Émile Zola, the writer; Georges-Fernand-Isidor Widal, bacteriologist who invented the Widal test for typhoid; and François Roland Truffaut, the filmmaker who ushered in the French New Wave. [(Read my ruminations on Les Quatres Cinq Coups (translated The 400 Blows.)]

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I wrote about graveyards because, by the time you read this, we will have buried Lola Gló. The cemetery is nowhere near as beautiful as this, of course—just a patch of land with green grass and a small tombstone—but Lola has gone home to be with the Lord, rejoicing and praising her Maker and Redeemer. Job 1:21 resonates with me:

He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."

Thanks for your prayers.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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Precogs, telepaths, and the reversal of time


Ubik 

By Philip K. Dick

Published 1969, Doubleday


The first Philip K. Dick novel Iv'e read is Ubikfirst published in 1969. The story is set in 1992. Special powers exist. Technology has advanced such that the dead can be put in a state of half-life; they can communicate with the living until the signal dies. (I wonder if that's a good thing.)

A group of inertials—men and women who have the special ability to negate powers of precogs and telepaths—is killed by a blast. The survivors go through a time warp and are subjected to rapid deterioration themselves. The panacea is a special spray called Ubik.

I admit I'm not the biggest fan of science fiction, but I was so drawn by this story that I'm resolved to read one of Mr. Dick's novels soon. 

Here's Mr. Dick describing how longing feels like: 

He [the protagonist Joe Chip] gazed at the girl Pat, with her black, strong hair and her sensual mouth; in him he felt unhappy cravings arise, cloudy and pointless wants that led nowhere, that returned to him empty, as in a completion of a geometrically perfect circle.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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How Uber evades the authorities

Uber’s Secret Tool for Keeping the Cops in the Dark, published in Bloomberg. An excerpt.

From San Francisco, Uber routinely protected foreign offices from police raids by rendering computers unusable, often shielding evidence from warranted officials.

This method is called Ripley. It sounds like those things we see in the movies.

When I'm in Manila, I prefer Grab than Uber. The cars arrive earlier, and the fares are generally lower. When I'm running late, or if I have a plane to catch, I hail the regular cab.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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Background on The Crown, especially if you're a fan of the show



The Crown is the most expensive Netflix series to make. My family and friends love it, even those who don't care much for royalty. Prince Philip is, of course, my favorite character in the show—I find his political incorrectness hilarious. Who's yours?

Anyway, what will interest you is the BBC documentary, "The Coronation," which features a rare interview with Queen Elizabeth, now longest running monarch in history, whose recollection of her coronation was the fact that the crown was very heavy indeed.



The Crown Jewels, which is also shown in the documentary, is the only working European coronation regalia, and is considered the largest in the world.

Colour photo of the regalia published in 1952
Photo credit: United Kingdom Government - Illustrated magazine, 13 December 1952, p. 14 (via Wikipedia)

Update. The Youtube video is now blocked. Sorry.

Monday, January 15, 2018

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Gloria Catedral, 90

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Lola and Lolo, circa 1980s.

Gloria Catedral, Lola Gló to us, has come home to be with the Lord in heaven. She was 90. She was hospitalized the day I got home. She died peacefully tonight.

We visited her most times of the week, singing her favorite hymns, especially "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." She battled severe infection in her lungs. Prior to that she has had a stroke and has mostly been wheelchair bound.

I'm comforted with Resurrection, one of the Puritan prayers in the Valley of Vision, compiled by Arthur Bennett.

O God of my exodus,
Great was the joy of Israel’s sons
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust!

Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives forever.

He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.

Show me the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s scepter is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is leveled.

Give me the assurance that in Christ I died,
in him I rose,
in his life I live,
in his victory I triumph,
in his ascension I shall be glorified.


We'll miss you, La.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Chapter by chapter, text by text

Why We Believe In Systematic Expository Preaching, a beautiful essay by Andrew Roycroft. An excerpt:

I believe that the Bible is not a metal-tweezered promise box from which we can select our favourite passages and promises at random.
I believe that the pulpit is not a stable in which I get to show off my favourite hobby horses to a weary congregation.
I believe that the authority of the preacher is always secondary to the authority of Scripture as revealed by God.
I believe that the Scriptures are God breathed in their entirety, and that their structural integrity is part and parcel of how we come into contact with what God has said, and how God has said it.
I remember listening to Sunday preaching on the Gospel of John for all of my college life. What a feast for the soul it has been.

May the Lord prepare your hearts and minds for His Word faithfully preached this Sunday.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Brighter side of 2017: a list

To most of us, 2017 has been dismal, but there have been great developments in public health and medicine that we haven't heard of. Angus Hervey listed 99 Reasons 2017 Was A Great Year.

A few resonate with me.

2. Cancer deaths have dropped by 25% in the United States since 1991, saving more than 2 million lives. Breast cancer deaths have fallen by 39%, saving the lives of 322,600 women. 
10. In July, UNAIDS, revealed that for the first time in history, half of all people on the planet with HIV are now getting treatment, and that AIDS deaths have dropped by half since 2005. 
13. Thanks to better access to clean water and sanitation, the number of children around the world who are dying from diarrhoea has fallen by a third since 2005. 
14. Leprosy is now easily treatable. The number of worldwide cases has dropped by 97% since 1985, and a new plan has set 2020 as the target for the end of the disease. 
16. And on the 17th November, the WHO said that global deaths from tuberculosis have fallen by 37% since 2000, saving an estimated 53 million lives. These astonishing achievements were of course, reported by every media outlet on the planet.

How was your 2017? I suppose it always pays to look on the bright side of life.

Redesign 2018, version 1

I'm pleased with the website's new look, thanks to this interesting repository of Blogger templates. I picked tdSimple, designed by Taras Dashkevych, for its elegance. It has a minimalistic design: single column, with a readable serif font.




The side bar can be accessed through the "+" sign on the upper right hand corner.







Its blockquotes are indented, in italics, in a gray background, just the way I want them to be.



There's a new About Me page, featuring a photo of myself taken by my friend Racquel during a trip to Taiwan.




This redesign also comes with a new direction for this blog.

For this year, I want to talk about myself less (a resolution that's probably antithetical to the new tagline, "Minutiae of my every day since 2014 2004") and therefore become more curatorial. I hope to feature links and stories that interest me and you—topics along the lines of evangelical Christianity, literature and books, medicine and technology, language, and coffee. The Web features many good things, despite the many bad that have come with it.

Thanks for always dropping by.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

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To the beach!

Gumasa, an area in the coastal town of Glan, Sarangani, is two hours away from Koronadal. This was the first place that came to mind when I asked my family if we could go to the beach. Sean had to go to his clinic and didn't go with us.

Much of the town's land area is considered protected area by DENR.

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We reached Gumasa just before sunset. The drive was scenic.

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At Isla Jardin Resort.
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View of Sarangani Bay.

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The waters were clear.

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We woke up early to have our morning stroll and swim. We were warned that the waves could get brutal and strong, but we were greeted with calm waters. Praise God!

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Auntie Net, our family's version of the Khaleesi.

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It was Auntie Bebet's first time in the area. This was my second. I still remember the first time we went here: dirt roads, no electricity, but, ah, white sand! The star fish we caught! The sea urchins that stung us! Great memories of childhood.

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Tatay and Nanay.

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Our hearts were full.

Friday, January 5, 2018

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Broken

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The coffee machine at Isla Jardin Resort wasn't functional. The manager emphasized it by using "N/A," i.e., not applicable, and gubá, which is Bisaya for broken. I opted for three-in-one Nescafé—just enough caffeine to keep me headache-free until lunch time.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

"Feelings women rarely share"

Women

I found this book in my grandmother's house in Banga. What might be these feelings she's hesitating to tell us?

Lola, Nanay's mother, is 80-plus but still has good memory. She recounts stories of childhood, family, and romance when we drop by. She relates these stories in Kinaray-a, which is similar to Hiligaynon but the vowels are more constricted and the intonation less sonorous. She complains that she falls asleep after TV Patrol, only to wake up at 1 AM, then unable to sleep afterwards. We assure her that's normal for people her age.

From her room, one can see the basketball court, formerly the "dryer" where palay and mais were sun-dried after the harvest. The bathroom beside her room has been renovated to make it easier for her. Her room smells of old furniture, its walls decorated with old calendars she doesn't want to take down. These remind me of my childhood, when my brothers and I came over during summers.

She used to have a sari-sari store to pass time (her lot was a prime spot for potential buyers)—this tindahan we ransacked to our hearts' content. She eventually closed it down after declaring what could be considered bankruptcy, thanks to her apos.

Our cousins hadn't been born yet, so we had the ancestral Banga house all to ourselves, then with its Beta-max and VHS players, our aunts and uncles doting on us like their own. These days, my parents come over to visit her at least once weekly. It's a quiet home that makes me sleepy all the time.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

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One second every day in 2017

I had a lot of fun with this project. I took one second of every single day of 2017 (I started in December 2016, when my friend David Francisco installed the app in my phone). I published a monthly clip of videos and photos—most of them taken at the very last minute—in Instagram. Things happen quickly, and I'm quick to forget them. My poor ability to recall of events is why I document my life. So many things, in fact, happened in 2017: this is a snapshot.

Monday, January 1, 2018

On the first day of 2018: lunch at the farm

On the first day of 2018, we had lunch at the farm with my mother's side of the family. This farm is located in Surallah town, some 15- to 20-minute drive from Banga. The roads are paved for about three-fourths of the way. As one reaches New Antique, one encounters the dirt road: dusty, bumpy, but full of greenery on both sides.

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I haven't been in this farm for about a decade. Everything looked smaller.

Our potluck lunch was beside the fishpond where my cousins attempted to get a decent number of tilapia.

My brothers and I went along with Tatay to visit the mahogany he'd planted years before. He was hoping to grow them for the time when we'd need wood for furniture, should we have houses of our own.

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I don't really buy corn in Manila because we plant them right here.

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Bamboo.

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Durian.

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Marang.

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We saw ripe banana hanging from the plant and decided to harvest it by cutting the stem to bring the fruit down to the ground.

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We took home with us many fruit, most of which we left in Lola's house in Banga. Ah, the joys of provincial life.
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