Sunday, April 29, 2018

How to be a perfect Christian

Babylon Bee is releasing a new book, "How to Be a Perfect Christian."

From the blurb:

By the time you finish the book, you will be talking the Christian talk, which is even better than walking the Christian walk.

I've linked to this website many times, and it's on my The Old Reader RSS feed. This brand of Christian satire is hilarious.

It goes without saying that I'm thankful for my intelligent readers, whose existence does not complel me to explain satire.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Basement Boys!

At Clint's wedding, I met Kuya Mike and Paul. Kuya Mike was my RA in Basement, Kalayaan Hall, where I lived during my freshman year of college. They did not age; if anything, they looked younger! Kuya Mike is now with the British Council, while Paul is based in New Zealand. During the program, Paul and I were "handpicked" to join a charade about films. We answered most questions and got a thousand pesos each as reward. Clint (not shown here) was my roommate in Yakal Dorm, and I hadn't seen him in years—until last night.


Three responses

Dr. Albert Mohler, a Christian teacher I'm thankful for, writes about evangelism in a post-Christian world.

In our culture, people who think themselves autonomous will claim the right to define all meaning for themselves. Any truth claim they reject or resist is simply ruled out of bounds by society at large. We will make our own world of meaning and dare anyone to violate our autonomy.

This is why evangelism is often perceived as insensitive or even threatening in our culture. Evangelism demands that we press the authority of Scripture and the claims of Christ on sinners as we invite them to the free gift of salvation provided through Christ’s atoning work.

In a post-Christian age, evangelism will be met with one of three responses. First, evangelism will be met with hostility. This will not necessarily take the form of overt action. But, at least in the immediate future, much of this hostility will look like cultural marginalization. Anyone caught inviting sinners to repent of their sin and turn to Christ will be seen as backward or even culturally subversive.

Second, evangelism will also often be met with befuddlement. In a world that has lost fundamental Christian presuppositions about the holiness of God and human accountability, the call of the gospel will more often perplex than infuriate. The plausibility structures of society are so different from our own that many people simply cannot understand us.

Finally, we will find that we will not only be met with hostility and befuddlement, but also indifference. Many in our society will not even care enough about our message to spend their energies either in hostility or befuddlement.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Stay humble, stay passionate, don't mind the grades

Dr. Leonard Pascual, my professor in neuroanatomy, delivered the keynote during the UP College of Medicine Students Convocation. An excerpt:

Lastly, we must always remember to be humble. It is easy to get carried away and think we know more and feel superior to other people, including colleagues and co-workers in the College of Medicine and in the Hospital. We do not know everything. The moment we think we know it all, we stop learning.

We were all once medical students. We all crawled our way from our first days in Anatomy. We all slaved away as clerks and interns in the hospital. Look at these grades. They do not make me feel small, nor do they define who I am. I display them proudly as I would any medal. This is where I came from. I would like to thank the Department of Anatomy for accepting me into their fold despite my not-so-stellar grades in Anatomy. It’s too late to kick me out now, I have a permanent appointment, I have tenure.

I did not look back on my transcript of records when I applied for residency in Adult Neurology. I knew what I could see myself doing in the future, dealing with life and death situations, solving difficult medical mysteries. If I could go on and be where I could be now, so can you. You will all surpass me in the future. I am comfortable knowing that I may sometimes be more up to date than those who are my senior, just as I appreciate and admire that my students know more than me. I am happy with that. It’s for the good of our patients.

Just remember to keep grounded. With all your achievements, remember to be humble, be compassionate as you pursue your passion, and know that being resilient will get you to wherever you may want to go.

For someone who did not get the highest grades in class and who had to take the finals in Anatomy, this speech resonates with me. Thank you, Sir Leonard.

Read the entire speech here.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Japanese men, overheard.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Christian blogs a thing of the past?

Tim Challies remembers:

At one time, it seemed like almost every Christian had a blog. Back in the early days of blogging, just about everybody went to Blogger or WordPress, began a free account, and tapped out their first few articles. Some quickly realized it wasn’t for them, but many others stuck it out for months or years. Those were fun days! It was a joy to “meet” new people through their writing and to be challenged by ordinary believers who felt a burden to tap out their reflections on Christian doctrine and living. A movement was afoot and everyone wanted to be part of it. 

That seems a long time ago.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Missed a few days without an entry, but here's a quick note: I celebrated my 31st birthday. Praise be to God for His faithfulness. His mercies never fail.


Thursday, April 19, 2018


Some of the sweetest mangoes I’ve tasted, given to me by a patient going through chemo. I’m encouraged and humbled and honored to witness, through our patients from all over the country, this daily display of generosity of spirit. I pray God me the same heart, too.



I'm delivering a brief report at a small conference today on colorectal cancer. While preparing, I kept wondering if I was pronouncing the words properly.

Capecitabine is pronounced as:

Oxaliplatin's is more confusing, but I like the sound of this version:

These two drugs form the combination, CapOx (or CapeOx), which is pronounced as "kayp-oks."


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

French kids getting a tour of The Louvre


This reminded me of teachers, our modern day heroes. I wish we had more museum trips—and more museums!—in the Philippines. A lot of our problems are due to the fact that we forget our history. Taken in April 2017 at Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018


A poem by Jim Culleny, dedicated for someone named "Danny." An excerpt:

So my mind was no help in knowing you.
Conveniently hobbled I excused myself
from the work of understanding.
Now I see you were in no way slow but
full of crushing frustration, confined by your moat
at the center of your island inarticulate
to the point of slamming your head with a palm
to jar loose what you could not say,
not tongue-tied but mind-tied,
kept by genetic leash from joining
our world of connection, striving to snap it
so that you might join in our jokes
………………,…join in our sadness
or have us join with you in yours

One feels the struggle of understanding another human being.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

I'm a Bob Mueller fan


Saturday, April 14, 2018

A mathematical model that explains the sounds created by knuckle cracking

V. Chandran Suja and A. I. Barakat, writing for Nature Scientific Reports:

The articular release of the metacarpophalangeal joint produces a typical cracking sound, resulting in what is commonly referred to as the cracking of knuckles. Despite over sixty years of research, the source of the knuckle cracking sound continues to be debated due to inconclusive experimental evidence as a result of limitations in the temporal resolution of non-invasive physiological imaging techniques. To support the available experimental data and shed light onto the source of the cracking sound, we have developed a mathematical model of the events leading to the generation of the sound. The model resolves the dynamics of a collapsing cavitation bubble in the synovial fluid inside a metacarpophalangeal joint during an articular release.

I understand less than half of the article, but I'm quite fascinated because: (1) I cannot make make this kind of sound, and (2) There are scientists who spend time and resources to think about these problems.

Friday, April 13, 2018

An encouragement to those who labor for the Lord

The song is "Your Labor Is Not in Vain." (HT: Justin Taylor)

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Rely on the sufficiency of God's every day grace

Scotty Smith prays:

Heavenly Father, it’d be awesome not to have to perpetually relearn the same lesson, especially this one: Your grace is all we need, and Christ’s power is most fully released through our weakness. This way of life is counterintuitive, paradoxical, and humbling. But it is also stress-relieving and peace-giving. The pressure is off. We can leave being awesome to you.

We all look forward to the Day when we’ll never again crave competency and control, self-sufficiency or self-anything. We know that Day is coming, Father, but well before then, please free us to boast in (not bemoan) our weaknesses. Grant us faith (and joy) to accept our limitations and quirks; our body pains and heart wounds; the story you gave us and the grace you offer us.

Though we’d rather be swaggering vessels of togetherness and impressiveness, giftedness and smartness, help us delight in being fragile jars of clay—releasing the aroma of grace, the wonders of your love, and the beauty of your heart. Free us from comparing ourselves to anybody, and from envying some other story than our own. May Jesus increasingly be our treasure, the gospel our delight, and grace our sufficiency.

Scotty Smith's blog is like the modern-day version of the Valley of Vision, one of the treasured gems of Christian literature.

This prayer resonates with me, now that I'm beginning to learn the ropes of chemotherapy and the many peculiarities of oncology.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Preach the gospel in the pulpit

Dr. Steve Lawson writes:

No preacher can afford to be wrong at this point, as though the gospel can ever be adapted. To be wrong about the gospel is to be wrong everywhere else that truly matters. To be wrong here is to stand in opposition to the saving mission and sin-bearing death of Jesus Christ. To be wrong here is to contradict the meaning of the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ. To be wrong here is to divert souls away from the only way that leads to God and to usher them onto the broad path that leads to destruction.

The very essence of the gospel itself demands that every pulpit guard its exclusivity. When the message of the cross is rightly defined, the singularity of the saving purposes of God is automatically established. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone—period, end of paragraph, end of discussion. To this truth, the Bible has a “zero tolerance” policy for any equivocation outside of its borders.

I'm blessed to be part of a church that doesn't shy away from talking Jesus as the only way to salvation.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Why you should have an RSS reader

Brian Barrett, writing for Wired:

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary) and it was first stitched into the tapestry of the open web around the turn of the millennium. Its aim is straightforward: to make it easy to track updates to the content of a given website in a standardized format.

In practice, and for your purposes, that means it can give you a comprehensive, regularly updated look at all of the content your favorite sites publish throughout the day. Think of it as the ultimate aggregator; every morsel from every source you care about, fed directly to you. Or, more commonly, fed to you through an intermediary known as an RSS feed reader, software that helps you wrangle all of those disparate headlines into something remotely manageable.

After Google Reader was scrapped, I've since used The Old Reader, which I like for its simplicity, minimalism, and user-friendliness. The free account lets me subscribe to 100 websites and blogs, which is more than I can handle.

An RSS reader gives me the autonomy to curate the kinds of websites I only want to read. I check it once or twice a day, mostly after work, without the hassle of having to go through social media.  I hope you get to try it, too.

(You can subscribe to my blog by keying in "" in the search feature and clicking subscribe.)

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Monday, April 9, 2018


Koji and Risa, dear friends from church, got married today. The wedding was just as it should be: short and sweet, with a dash of sentimentality. Koji teared up while reciting his vows; Risa was able to hold hers back.

I love Christian weddings in that the main focus is Jesus as the source of and the prime example of the love that husband and wife should follow. Who can top giving up one's self for others? That's precisely what Jesus showed.

The ceremony was small, beautiful, and intimate. It was liturgical but also familiar.

In the days before the ceremony, I saw common friends from church who arranged the program, facilitated the march, finalized the guest list--everyone was helping and showing their love to this would-be couple.

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Koji and Risa Bulahan! The best is yet to come.

(Photo: Ate Jen A.)


What she has read so far

Fiction writer Jessica Zafra writes:
Travel and reading are always linked in my mind. When I visit another country, I have to read a book by a local writer (or a novel set in that country). When I went to Budapest I discovered Magda Szabo and Antal Szerb—I love them so much, I wanted to change my spelling to Szafra. Paris is Patrick Modiano (and Eric Rohmer movies). In three trips to Japan I’ve amassed a dozen books which I have just started going through.

She lists the books she has read thus far. I'm glad to see Kazuo Ishiguro in her list.

First I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World. Yeah, he’s really British, but his folks are Japanese and the novel is set in Japan. And when he acknowledged a Tom Waits song in his Nobel Prize speech, I thought, “I am going to read every word you write, even if I didn’t like The Buried Giant.” Holy crap, An Artist of the Floating World is a great book. I think of it as a rehearsal for The Remains of the Day, which is perfect. Both are about fundamentally decent men who do not rise above the narrow confines of their lives. Both are very quiet and calm until the author breaks your heart with a sentence.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Pinay scientists

The article, Six Filipino female scientists who are improving the way we live by Kit Singson (CNN Philippines), is a refreshing break from bad news.

Two of them were my mentors in molecular biology and residency training (Internal Medicine). I did a some research projects with them.

On Dr. Cynthia Saloma:

[She] is currently a professor of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and Principal Investigator at the Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology (LMCB) in the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP Diliman. She pursues research towards embryonic organ formation. She, together with three other women, established what is known today as the Philippine Genome Center.

Her proudest moment as a scientist is starting the DNA Sequence Core Facility where she, along with collaborators and students, successfully sequenced and analyzed hundreds of genomes of bacteria affecting shrimp health, soil quality of rice, and parasites affecting the Philippine carabao, among others. Having knowledge of these genome sequences can advance our understanding of animal diseases and plant development to help our fisheries and agriculture sectors using biomarkers and diagnostic tools.

On Dr. Regina Berba:

Her current work involves researches in tuberculosis, dengue, infection control, influenza, and HIV. She is writing a paper about a new dengue diagnostic test called dengue LAMP (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) invented by a group in the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP Manila NIH led by Dr. Raul Destura.

This test uses gene amplification to identify dengue early and at a low cost, with good accuracy measures. If dengue is diagnosed early, she says that “there is a better chance that complications are avoided, [there will be] less deaths and more lives saved.”

We should read more about scientists and artists.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

"Hanging out"

Uno Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City is one of my favorite places to hang out. By "hang out," I mean "spend time alone in a public space." It is quiet, devoid of noisy teenagers and large Filipino families whose habit is bringing their kids to cafés. The perfect spot is beside the windows, on the second floor that overlooks Amici restaurant, which is also empty at 4 pm. I order the flourless, moist chocolate cake that comes with cold cream. Taken with an americano, it makes for the ideal dessert for men in their early thirties.

I haven't dropped by for the past three months. On my last visit, the waiters, who by now already know me as the "young doctor" (they spotted me carrying a white coat a few years back), asked me how I was doing, inquired if I wanted another coffee refill, then left me to read David Sedaris's diary. Rarely does one see this familiarity--waiters recognizing customers and remembering what they had ordered the last time.



Friday, April 6, 2018


Roti, also called chapati, is a flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent made from stoneground wholemeal flour, traditionally known as atta, and water that is combined into a dough.


A quesadilla is a tortilla, usually a flour tortilla but also sometimes made with a corn tortilla, which is filled with cheese and then grilled.


They look the same from these angles.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dictionaries and national identity

The Merriam-Webster's dictionary and how words shape nationalism and politics.

“To diffuse an uniformity and purity of language in America, to destroy the provincial prejudices that originate in the trifling differences of dialect,” wrote Webster in the preface of the speller, “is the most ardent wish of the author.” By capturing language not as it was written in England but as it was spoken in the U.S., Webster hoped to lay the foundation for a uniform American speech that could supersede European linguistic traditions. Where other instructional texts might capture existing modes of speech, he sought to elevate a new way of speaking, and in some sections the speller reads more like a political treatise than a children’s schoolbook.

Webster’s motivations were in part commercial—the schoolteacher-turned-lexicographer needed cash—but they were also undeniably political. He longed to give the American public a language they could call their own. The spellings that Webster promoted have now become hallmarks of American English, including dropping the letter u in words like color, removing the k from mimic, and changing words like centre to center.

A memory: my high school classmate Willy L., fan of the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, referred to her as one of the smartest women to walk this earth, citing her greatest achievement--the "Miriam-Webster's" dictionary.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018



Taken at Camp Jabez, Cavite, during the church's youth camp, where I volunteered as one of the youth workers.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Street food pancakes


Koronadal City, South Cotabato, February 2018


Monday, April 2, 2018

An alternative icebreaker

I enjoy teambuilding activities. We should do this.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

The risen Christ

Youth Camp 2018

Dr. Albert Mohler writes about the Resurrection.

The secular world has done its best to make a mess of Christmas, but it has largely ignored our celebration of the Resurrection. Where commercialism intrudes, it comes in the forms of eggs and chicks and rabbits–none of which claim any connection with the Resurrection. The fact is, the secular world will attempt to domesticate, commercialize, and tame the babe in the manger–but it will run at breakneck speed from the cross and the empty tomb.

That cross stands as condemnation on all human attempts at self-righteousness, and the fallen world will do all within its power to hide the cross from sight. The empty tomb is the seal and confirmation of the cross, and the world will shield its eyes.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead separates Christianity from all mere religion–whatever its form. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain” [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Furthermore, “You are still in your sins!” [v. 17b]. Paul could not have chosen stronger language. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” [v. 19]

Happy Easter Sunday! Christ is risen. Christ is risen, indeed.