Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pining for pines


These remind of childhood. Taken at my late grandmother's backyard at Polomolok, South Cotabato.


Media diet for Christmas 2016 up to February 2017

Short notes about things that have kept me entertained for the past months, inspired largely by Jason Kottke. Scores are largely subjective and absolutely not replicable. I watched most of them in Netflix at my parents' flat screen TV.

One of Us. Stirring account of a closed, secretive ultra-orthodox community told from the viewpoint of three ex-Hasidic Jews. One marvels at this community’s seclusion from the strong, secular influences of America. Left me wondering how we may share the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. (B+)

A Series of Unfortunate Events, season 1. Haven’t read Lemony Snicket’s book series, but I hear it’s great. Enjoyed Patrick Waarburton’s narration—full of cynicism and irony, delivered in a deep male voice. And I loved the kids, especially Sunny! (B+)

The Good Wife, season 1 (rewatched). One of the few TV series that bear re-watching. (A)

Mad Men, season 1 - 4. One of my favorites. Complicated characters, excellent writing. And I’m always interested in advertising. (A+)

Planet Earth, season 1. David Attenborough’s narration is the best! All scenes reminded me of God’s genius displayed in His creation. (A)

Whitney: Can I Be Me. Heartbreaking. I still wish Whitney were alive. (B+)

Dix pour cent. Call My Agent!, season 1 and 2. I enjoyed this very much. Juliette Binoche in the final episode was a thrill! (A-)

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, on-going. I enjoyed the episodes with former President Obama and George Clooney. (B)

Au service de la France. A Very Secret Service, season 1. Agents of the French secret service want to reassert France’s world domination. Crazy funny. Can’t wait for season 2. (A)

Kramer vs Kramer. Watched this with my parents. Saw my father get teary eyed. (A+)

The End of the F***ing World. A different kind of romance—two anti-social kids get involved in what seemed like a murder. (A)

The Meyerowritz Stories (New and Selected), rewatched. I like films with a lot of talking. (A)

The Same Sky, season 1. A spy story, in the background of the growing tensions between East and West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. (B+)

Black Mirror, season 4, USS Callister. I love watching Black Mirror. Each episode is like a short movie. Unfortunately, the themes are so rich and complex that that I can’t bear to watch everything all at once. (B+)

The Good Witch, season 3, on-going. Great feel-good series. I enjoy watching scenes of suburban America in perpetual fall season. (B+)

In-Lawfully Yours. I wonder if the pastor was ever disciplined for his behavior. (B-)

A Christmas Prince. Funny but pointless. (A)

Doctor Who, season 5 on-going. (B+)

Gaga: Five Foot Two. So much pain happens behind the persona. Moving. (A)

The Post. Great movie to watch in this age of disinformation. (A)

Lady Bird. Ambition, mothers, adolescence. Bravo. (A)

Productive months.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I like sports, so I read books

Barnabas Piper has listed books on sports, mostly biographies, available for Kindle.

I'm going to read Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution by Jonathan Adams.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis seems interesting, too.

I've been looking to read about basketball in order to understand it better. I imagine it would help me relate more to my athletic Bible study group during our Thursday meetings.

I like reading about sports and sportsmen. I treated myself to David Remnick's King of the World, which was about Muhammad Ali, right after my pre-residency in Internal Medicine. I didn't understand boxing—why not read about it? Tim Tebow's autobiography, Through My Eyes, was also a treat. To understand some of friends' fascination with surfing, I read William Finnegan's Barbarian Days, which was an intimate account of a man who drawn to the sea.

King of the World by David Remnick

Any books on sports you can recommend?


Monday, February 26, 2018

The woman who sued McDonald's because of hot coffee

Context is key to correct understanding. This applies to Scripture, to medicine, and to news. We've heard about the American woman who sued McDonald's for millions of dollars because she got burned by the coffee she had ordered, but what really happened there? This New York Times mini-documentary is a revelation.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Lord's Day—a Puritan prayer

My father's farm.

From the Valley of Vision.

Give me in rich abundance
the blessings the Lord’s Day was designed
to impart;
May my heart be fast bound against worldly
thoughts or cares;
Flood my mind with peace
beyond understanding;
may my meditations be sweet,
my acts of worship life, liberty, joy,
my drink the streams that flow
from thy throne,
my food the precious Word,
my defence the shield of faith,
and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.

We'll celebrate the 25th anniversary of our local church here in Koronadal. I'm excited!


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Postcard from Heather Champ, photographer, founder of Flickr

Sent to me by Heather Champ in 2013, part of her Postcard 365 project.

I found this tucked neatly in one of my old books, a postcard sent to me by Heather Champ for her Postcard 365 Project. Thanks, Heather!


Friday, February 23, 2018

Reflections on Billy Graham, 99

Dr. Al Mohler

Billy Graham died yesterday at the age of 99. Graham was one of the titanic figures of American evangelicalism and his life spanned some of the interesting and tumultuous years of world history. We cannot even speak about 20th-century evangelicalism without referencing the impact of the ministry of Billy Graham and the movement he led. Born to a farmer in North Carolina in 1918, Graham lived a rather traditional childhood in rural America and he also experienced the tumult of adolescence, describing himself in retrospect as rebellious, though it was a rather quiet and uneventful rebellion.

He continues:

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of Graham’s life and most commendable is his sterling moral character. One of the things we must observe on the day after the death of Billy Graham, is that during his lifetime there was never even a hint of moral scandal in his ministry.

John Piper reflects on Billy Graham's life and death:

While only God can rightly assess the ripple effect of a person’s life in all the ways it has influence, my own judgment would be that Billy Graham’s greatest impact is the eternal difference he made in leading countless persons, from all over the world, out of destruction into everlasting joy and love. This was his primary mission. “Because God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Nine Things You Should Know About Billy Graham, via The Gospel Coalition. A sampling:

No other American has slept in the White House Lincoln Bedroom more than Graham, who was often referred to as the “pastor to the presidents.” Graham had a relationship or personal audience with every U.S. president from Truman to Obama. He was particularly close with Eisenhower, who asked for Graham while on his deathbed, and Nixon. He presided over the graveside services for president Lyndon Johnson in 1973 and spoke at the funeral of president Richard Nixon in 1994. The only president who didn’t like Graham, as the evangelist frequently noted, was Truman. Truman called Graham a “counterfeit” and said “he was never a friend of mine when I was President.”

Photo credit: Desiring God


A non-Christian before coffee


What can I say? I'd rather that people don't see me (especially my patients!) before I have coffee.

IRVINE, CA—According to sources close to local man Alan Carter, the believer in Christ exhibits absolutely no evidence of being saved, from the time he wakes up each morning until the moment he has his morning cup of coffee at his local coffee shop.

Observers claim the committed Christian is totally unrecognizable as a follower of Jesus throughout his morning routine and commute down the 405 freeway, right up until he begins sipping his favorite coffee beverage at the Starbucks near his work.

“He’s angry, bitter, impatient, unkind—he displays absolutely no fruit of the Spirit until he gets some caffeine in his system,” a co-worker told reporters. “He’s like a completely different person.”

More here.

The Babylon Bee gives me my dose of daily humor!

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Got this from Austin Kleon, who inspires me to bring a notebook all the time (download it here). He reasons that the best time to keep a resolution is on February, the shortest month. I figured I should at least study all the time. I've had intermittent breaks once or twice a week when I'd be immersed in a book or, better yet, in Netflix.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

To post or not to post

Jon Bloom writes:

Christians should be the most careful speakers in the world. We ought to be characterized by two kinds of trembling when it comes to words: we should tremble at the words God speaks and we should tremble at the words we speak.

I'm rebuked by this:

There really is a time to keep silent. And that time comes more often than most of us are conditioned to think.

We live in an age of unceasing talk. Never in human history has the noise of human communication been so constant. Even when we are quiet we are not silent, as we receive and dispense talk through our digital media. Our culture does not believe that “a fool multiplies words” (Ecclesiastes 10:14).

Then, he strikes a balance.

But Christians must not always keep silence. There is a time to speak and there are things we must say. Our God is a speaking God and we know he most definitely wants us to speak (Matthew 24:14; 28:19–20).

But when God speaks, he speaks very intentionally and, considering his omniscience, he speaks with tremendous restraint. And that’s the way he wants us to speak, as his exceedingly non-omniscient children and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20): intentionally and with restraint. He wants us to learn to speak like Jesus.

Read the rest here.

This blog may be older than many kids running around these days, but for me the struggle to choose which to post and not to post hasn't abated. Perpetual questions that (should) hover over my head: will this encourage others? Will this teach them something or make them smile or help them see the grace and sovereignty of God over their lives?

I'm thankful for this essay by Jon Bloom. If you haven't read his book, Not By Sight (read my thoughts on it here), then you may want to check it out.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

On a mission for the Ekumen!

Valerie Stivers imagines the food described in The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and concocts what looks like a cookbook. I'm fascinated: I loved the characters of Genly Ai, a human male, and Estraven, an ambisexual (male and female, alternating depending on the time), but I can't, for the love of me, cook anything more than instant pancit canton.

Here's a sampling.

Karhide Hot-Shop Soup with Mussels and Buddha Lemon

2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped
handful of green beans, chopped
2 lb bag of mussels, washed and debearded if need be
1/2 Buddha lemon, chopped (alternatively, 1/2 ordinary lemon, cut into wedges)
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped


Monday, February 19, 2018

Doubly exposed

via Instagram

My new pastime: double exposures, inspired largely by British photographer Kevin Meredith who recommended the iOS free app, Dubble. There you can "collaborate" with other photographers—you contribute one photo, which will be superimposed on a photo (called a "single") taken by someone else. Here's my cookie photo superimposed on hkdonnie's building. My TWSBI Eco floats in the background.


If you want to generate double exposures using both your photos, use Studio MX. The free version doesn't let you save photos, but you can export or upload them to social media, notably Instagram. Here are some of mine.

Flowers along Diversion Road to General Santos City Airport + clouds over Sarangani Bay taken from a Cebu Pacific airplane.


Decrepit bahay kubo + wild grass, General Santos City.


Tatay at a flower farm in Tupi, South Cotabato + sunset in Maasim, Sarangani


Myself, swimming in Glan, Sarangani + shoreline


The final photo shows me floating just near the shore, when I'm so far from it.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Let me know if you have a copy of America Is Not the Heart

I'd like to get a copy of Elaine Castillo's America Is Not the Heart, her first novel.

When Hero De Vera arrives in America–haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents–she’s already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn’t ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter–the first American-born daughter in the family–can’t resist asking Hero about her damaged hands.

An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history.

Eleanor Pritchett, writing for The Paris Review, smiled after reading it.

This is Castillo’s first novel, and it is masterful. It has drama and tragedy in spades, but it also has so much love of every kind spilling out of its pages that I closed it each night with a huge, warm smile. I might go home and read it again.

I think it was the writer Miguel Syjuco who said that we're not a reading nation—we don't have a reading culture. Novels and books don't figure into our every day, and they're not strong enough to be the subjects of conversation—a baffling phenomenon, considering this country has Jose Rizal's novels at the heart of her history. A chicken-and-egg problem, whose solution escapes us: writers are not writing enough because nobody's reading them; they're not being read because books by Filipinos are hard to come by.

This is why I'm on the lookout for things written by Filipinos. Castillo was born and raised in America, but her story seems like something that's closer to home, too.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

"On my own..."

Dr. Roni Baticulon writes about the challenges of being a first-generation doctor. If you're in the medical field, you should really bookmark his site.

Being a first-generation doctor, I had to start from scratch. My parents are not doctors. No one among my immediate maternal and paternal relatives is a doctor. My family cannot afford to buy shares of stocks in private hospitals. After finishing specialty and subspecialty training, I did not have a clinic to take over and neither did I have practice privileges waiting to be used. As to which course my neurosurgical career would take, whether things would pan out after I obtained my diplomate certificate at the end of last year, there was no way to be certain. Where to begin? How to begin? I was on my own.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Cancer and art: a marriage

Cancer and art don't always go together, but a scientist has found a way to marry them.

By day, Dhruba Deb studies lung cancer. A postdoctoral researcher at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Deb puzzles over disease-causing genes and the scores of signaling pathways in which they act. Searching through this sea of data, he often has trouble deciding where to focus or how to push forward.

In the evenings, Deb leaves the microscope and pipettes and enters a different world—his home studio—where canvas and paint brushes await.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Kottke on blogging

Jason Kottke's interview on The Nieman Journalism Lab makes me long for the internet of days past. As his site celebrates its 20th year, Jason talks about blogging, social media, and what has changed since then.

I don’t really think of myself as being a writer; I think that’s a label reserved for people who actually know how to write better than I do. How I think of my job is: I sit down and I’m lucky enough to read about interesting stuff all day, and to try and figure it out enough that I can tell other people about it. You can take that and do it in a number of different jobs: It’s what a teacher does, it’s what a journalist does, it’s widely applicable. When I talk about what I do with my kids, it’s in the context of that. I went to a small liberal arts college and I feel like I’m still kind of in college, in a way. I write about science, art, psychology, photography, and I can’t imagine a better way to spend my time.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

First deep snorkel

For Valentine's Day, here's Seamus Heaney's "The Conway Stewart," which appears in his collection, Human Chain. Ah, fountain pens and parting.

Seamus Heaney, "Human Chain"

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Changed by reading

Ursula K. Le Guin on reading novels.

In reading a novel, any novel, we have to know perfectly well that the whole thing is nonsense, and then, while reading, believe every word of it. Finally, when we're done with it, we may find—if it's a good novel—that we're a bit different from what we were before we read it, that we have been changed a little, as if by having met a new face, crossed a street we never crossed before. But it's very hard just to say just what we learned, how we were changed.

From the Prologue of The Left Hand of Darkness.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I’ll miss seeing patients here.

During my 24-hour shift at Howard Hubbard Hospital, just right across my grandmother's backyard in the quaint Polomolok town, I was able to reconnect with nurses who, when they met me, exclaimed, "Ay, ikaw na gali si Lance! Kadako-dako na gid sa imo. Ginakarga ka pa namon sang gamay ka." I even met a nurse who knew my parents' love story. My mother used to work as the hospital dentist, single, nearing her thirties. She would later marry my father, who was waiting for someone else in the hospital lobby. He had set his eyes on a physician but was eventually dissuaded from doing so when he met the petite dentist from Banga. My mother was in a hurry to get married. Tatay passed her stringent standards: he had clean fingernails. She married Tatay "by faith." Tatay claimed the marriage was out "of love." It's a boring story for what is clearly a match made in heaven.

The hospital packs so much personal history. Being one of the physicians working there, albeit temporarily, I felt the closing of a full circle. I enjoyed my time with the kind nurses, efficient staff, and the patients who wanted to get admitted for the most trivial of complaints—a three-hour history of cough, a lacerated pointing finger after manipulating heavy machinery, a snake bite from a cobra lurking in the pineapple plantation. We gave the anti-venom, and the lady was able to go home alive–that, after a brief stint at the ICU.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Espresso on a lazy Sunday afternoon


This has to be the most hipster photo on this website ever.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Mula sa puso.

I found this flyer in front of the house a couple of days ago.

Who watched the soap opera of the same name? I did. It starred Rico Yan (Gabriel) and Claudine Barretto (Via) and the villain Celina Matias (played by the excellent Princess Punzalan) who may have caused the death of some elderly people who died hating her.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Defending the role of libraries in society

Alberto Manguel, the Director of the National Library of Argentina, unpacks his thoughts about books and libraries.

I would argue that public libraries, holding both virtual and material texts, are an essential instrument to counter loneliness. I would defend their place as society’s memory and experience. I would say that without public libraries, and without a conscious understanding of their role, a society of the written word is doomed to oblivion. I realize how petty, how egotistical it seems, this longing to own the books I borrow. I believe that theft is reprehensible, and yet countless times I’ve had to dredge up all the moral stamina I could find not to pocket a desired volume. Polonius echoed my thoughts precisely when he told his son, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” My own library carried this reminder clearly posted.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Swatting mosquitoes may fend them off for good, a new study reports

I’m the default prey of mosquitoes—this I realized as we were growing up. I’d end up the one with the most bites, and there seemed to be no escaping it. My mother complains that she goes through the same thing.

Which has made me wonder if mosquitoes bite preferentially. (This break has given me time to wonder about a lot of things!) I read somewhere, in a kids’ magazine that likely didn’t do aggressive fact-checking, that mosquitoes bite people who wear blue (I have a couple of blue shirts—too bad) and that they like children who haven’t showered (I took showering seriously when I was young—ok, not so seriously during summers when I didn’t have 7 am classes to catch!).

A study published in Current Biology, “Modulation of Host Leaning in Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes,” now shows evidence that mosquitoes don’t choose randomly. They, in fact, prefer some individuals in a host population over the others. The group of Dr. Clément Vinaguer showed that mosquitoes learn the scents of specific humans and odorants. They also avoid the scent of rats but not chickens.

Their experiments showed that mosquitoes perform “aversive learning.” They are able to associate the mechanical disturbance with the scent of the person who does the swatting and therefore avoid such a person.

By editing their genes, these scientists demonstrated that the gene that codes for a dopamine-1 receptor, suppressed this learning and therefore distorts the mosquitoes’ preferences. (See the illustration above).

The message is clear: keep swatting the mosquitoes away. If you don’t kill them, at least they’ll know you plan to do them harm and will find someone else to bug.

Image source

Thursday, February 8, 2018

December 2017.

Some days, I want to live like this.

I call it the laziest cat I've met—this in the hallway of the Surgery Ward of the Philippine General Hospital.





The iPad has Parkinson's

I love my iPad Mini, but it has slowed down through the years—noticeably, after a few updates. Its Parkinsonian listlessness becomes more pronounced when I have a number of tabs open in Safari. I thought it was the hardware, but it's only been three years since my mother handed it to me. This happens all the time, apparently.

John Han ponders the slow death of his iPad.

My old iPad just turned five, and it’s starting to die. If it could wonder about such things, it might question this prognosis. Its memory, after all, still retrieves information as quickly as it ever did. Its face hasn’t aged a day, projecting as vividly as it did in 2012, when Apple called it “stunning” and “gorgeous.” It hasn’t suffered vision loss; the camera still works. The touch-screen works. Buttons work. Speaker, headphone jack, charging port: All still do what I ask of them. On examination, almost nothing about the device seems to have changed. And yet it’s starting to give up, and so am I.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Resist these forces.

Even as a medical student, I've thought of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine as the best textbook we've had: well-written, organized, and funny. Have you read the Hematology chapters? A riot! I'm so glad Harrison's also main reference material for residency. I enjoyed reading much of it. There's no virtue in it from me (a phrase I'm adapting from Dr. Albert Mohler): I just like to read. I'm the type who learns a lot more from reading rather than doing or listening.

I was re-reading Oncology and stopped for a minute when I encountered the paragraph above—never have I encountered textbook medical writing so humane and emphatic.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The other Dr. Catedral, taken years ago with this old iPad Touch.

My old iPod Touch still works. I charged it and was able to open the photos folder. Voilá: my kid brother!


What we can learn from Rachel Denhollander

Rachel Denhollander is a former member of the US gymnastics team who, when she was 15, was sexually abused by Larry Nassar. In her full victim impact statement, she delivers an out-of-this-world response: she shares the gospel of Jesus Christ, and she forgives her abuser!

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.

The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God's wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me -- though I extend that to you as well.

Here's her interview with Christianity Today where we can learn so much as a church in addressing these issues.


Monday, February 5, 2018



I noticed today that my Kindle has a tiny scratch on the screen—nothing too serious, as it’s barely visible in most angles, but it reveals itself in various places, in the toilet, for example, where the external light casts a vague shadow over the print. I’m uneasy with its presence, like dust stuck in my eye. For a few minutes I chided myself for not getting a leather cover or a screen protector; most times, you see, I just shove my Kindle inside the satchel and grab it when I feel like reading. I tell myself the scratch is a battle scar, a testament to its utility and purpose. Now and then, as I lose myself in reading, I hardly notice the tiny scratch anyway, and when I do, I feel a certain connection to it—this device is mine! It's scarred forever. Now, with its scratches, nobody will probably bother to steal it and resell it as secondhand goods on eBay. There’s so much to be thankful for in this life, that God has provided me with earthly comforts, such as this device, which I do not deserve (and likely don't need).


Sunday, February 4, 2018


By American artist and designer Ari Weinkle.

In my work, I look to break apart and re-appropriate different forms such as the human figure, geometric and organic shapes, and typography. Through the process of fragmenting different entities, I am continually searching for new and unique juxtapositions between shapes, colors, and patterns. My work is mostly experimental, often digital, and usually weird.

This piece resonates with me because instant noodles are among the very few things in my culinary repertoire.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

On blogging almost every day

I've posted something almost every day since the second week of January, perhaps the most prolific of months since I decided to share a little of my life to this tiny, quiet, almost forgotten space in the web. Social media has been too noisy, angry, and alienating, but this spot here is just what it should be: a place that friends visit when they realize they haven’t dropped by for quite a while, or that strangers run into when Google answers their searches about med school, NMAT, and the UP College of Medicine. My inbox receives the occasional emails from hopeful students who want to become doctors, and I’m always happy to answer them when I have time. Which, in the past few weeks, I’ve had lots of.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me. I’ve resolved to not just blog more frequently, but to be more consistent in journaling. My ideas, dreams, and plans become clearer when they are laid out in words. I’ve found that writing my prayers as I pray them is beneficial to my soul, in that I am able to focus more on the glory and mercy of God and look back—days, weeks, or years later—at those prayers and realize that the God to whom I pray has answered all my cries, worries, and desires in the way He has deemed best.

January was over three days ago!

1SE January 2018

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Paradox Uganda is one of my favorite places in the web

The blog of Drs. Scott and Jennifer Mhyer is one of my happy places in the web—a paradox, in a sense, because not everything they write about are happy things. As Christian doctors, they've devoted their lives serving the underserved in Africa. They document their experiences in their website, Paradox Uganda.

They recently lost a patient to HIV. His name was A. They write about where the system failed and how A. could have been saved.

About halfway through the morning I walked into one of our isolation rooms and nearly stopped breathing. The 11 year-old boy I saw sitting there truly looked like a skeleton. His skin stretched taunt enough to see the shape of each bone. He greeted me in English and even smiled a little, and his mom said he'd had some mouth sores the last two weeks and lost a bit of weight because he wasn't eating, but now he was doing better. No one could look like that in two weeks. So over the next few days I learned his story.

More here.

Their lives are a source of encouragement to me. Let's pray for them and their ministry.

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Studying often works in a community.

I dropped by PGH briefly this morning for an exam. I was glad to catch up with my colleagues and friends, some of whom I had lunch with. We spent a few hours studying at a charming café along Adriatico Street called Café Esso. It was well ventilated, the chairs and tables were of the right height, and it had a distinctly Korean vibe, with the music and all.

A side note:

After three years, I finally took the time to retrieve my diploma from med school, the piece of paper that's framed and displayed inside one's clinic. Behind me in the queue was a lady whose son wanted to get into med school; the son was graduating senior high this year.

"Matagal-tagal pa po siyang matatapos," I said, explaining to her the number of years a person spends to study medicine—around ten years after high school, plus another three or five years, if he decides to go into a specialty. It can get overwhelming, I told her, unless her son really wants to pursue it. I wished her and her son well, and as I walked out of the lobby, I remembered I still haven't retrieved my undergrad diploma in Diliman!

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Inching my way through Metro Manila traffic


Nothing quite reminds me that I’m back to the old grind—temporarily, I should say—as the claustrophobic, purgatorial feeling of being stuck in Metro Manila traffic. (No, I don't believe in purgatory.) After forty minutes of inching out of the airport complex, the taxi driver is munching steamed corn he bought from a street vendor during the standstill. He is apologetic, but I tell him hypoglycemia will only make his life miserable. Go ahead. Eat.

At the airport I spoke with two French tourists who are spending a night in Manila before they head to Palawan for a 15-day vacation. I almost feel bad for them—that they have to endure one night here. The rest of the Philippines est magnifique. C'est une vue à couper le souffle. (It's the height of pretentiousness when I mumble something in French, regardless of how bad mine is.) Certainly not Manila. Claims that Manila is historical, cultural, and therefore beautiful sound desperate—but there must be truth to them, only that the good is camouflaged by the soot, noise, cars, and terrible urban planning.

But hope springs eternal. Maybe someday the city will become livable. I write this inside the taxi, where I've spent the past two hours—and most of that hope is dying.

So, yes, I'm back in the city for a few days to settle some things for future work. It's bad—city life—but it still feels like home here, too.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Valiant columnar notebook is my new study buddy

It helps me remember things I study if I write them down. I discovered that Valiant columnar notebook with four columns is a good notebook. The paper is of excellent quality, and the Lamy turquoise ink does not feather or bleed. (Dr. Butch Dalisay's writes about good paper.) The columns help when I create summary tables, and I trace the lines to keep them straight.

Any study tips you wish to share?