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Showing posts from February, 2020

Southeast Asian cuisine is my top favorite

Bangkok, Thailand

"Now Here" with Fred

Gyedong, Seoul, South Korea

Street food, Pratunam, Bangkok, Thailand

Baby, Tamarama, New South Wales

Successful surgery

In my line of work, I get both the good and bad news. Today was good news-day. A dear friend, who had been diagnosed to have breast cancer a decade ago, ovarian cancer a year ago, and ovarian cancer recurrence  three months ago, emerged out of a successful surgery last weekend. The little lymph node that lighted up in the scan was taken out. It was a cause for rejoicing and thanksgiving. Before her surgery, she asked me over lunch what I thought of her case. She listened to me as if she had already accepted what would happen. Her calm was palpable. Her grief was tempered with sure hope. She held on to the Lord's promises. She told me that it was a privilege to be inconvenienced in this way. It was a privilege to suffer. I have loved talking to her: someone whose thought-life is immersed in the wellsprings of God's Word, whose ambitions are aligned toward the Kingdom of God, whose eyes are set on eternity. I remembered this friend while I studied ovarian cancer for an exam t

Noël aux Bastion, Geneva, Switzerland

Super cool selfie with my good friend Harold when we visited the Christmas market last December. We were in Geneva to present a paper on tumor infiltrating lymphocytes in pancreatic cancer at a big immuno-oncology convention.  Pretty much bumped into the festivities. Had hot sweet wine, sausages, and lots and lots of potatoes. "Daming patatas dito, 'no?" he said. Good times.

Brick buildings, Sydney

Rose in Katoomba, New South Wales

Pre-nup shots, Hoehyeon-dong, Seoul, South Korea

The Cost of Living

I don't quite yet know what to make of Mavis Gallant's The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories , except that I loved it, truly loved it with a kind of respect and admiration for a writing talent so formidable but tender, intelligent but entertaining.

Park bench, Sydney, Australia

True story

Yesterday, on my early morning train ride to work.

About to begin

With tons of academic reading material to plow through, I'm thinking of reading John Updike's The Early Stories. An update (22 Feb 2020): The first story, "You'll Never Know, Dear, How Much I Love You," is about Ben who goes to the carnival. He takes his chances but doesn't win. Somewhere in the story are feelings of disappointment and hope, pity and compassion, cruelty and kindness. Made me remember the carnivals in Marbel. The story ends with a punch: Thus the world, like a jaded coquette, spurns our attempts to give ourselves to her wholly. I'm loving this.

Old house, Katoomba, New South Wales

Walking around the quiet neighborhood was fun thing to do.

Neil Gaiman and fountain pens

In an interview with Tim Ferris, Neil Gaiman talks "dreamily" about his writing process and his use of fountain pens . Neil seems like a really gracious man who loves what he does! Tim Ferriss : Are there any other rules or practices that you also hold sacred or important for your writing process? Neil Gaiman : Some of them are just things for me. For example, most of the time, not always, I will do my first draft in fountain pen, because I actually enjoy the process of writing with a fountain pen. I like the feeling of fountain pen. I like uncapping it. I like the weight of it in my hand. I like that thing, so I’ll have a notebook, I’ll have a fountain pen, and I’ll write. If I’m doing anything long, if I’m working on a novel, for example, I will always have two fountain pens on the go, at least, with two different colored inks, at least, because that way I can see at a glance, how much work I did that day. I can just look down and go, “Look at that! Five pages in brown

Roses in Katoomba, New South Wales

Water lilies, Banga, South Cotabato

Kalachuchi, Mandaluyong City

Serenading at night, Zambales

The interview

Jhumpa Lahiri interviews Mavis Gallant . At eighty-six, Mavis remains an elegant woman. Each day she was impeccably dressed in a woollen skirt, sweater, scarf, stockings and square-heeled pumps. A medium-length coat of black wool protected her from the Paris chill and beautiful rings, an opal one among them, adorned her fingers. Her accent, soft but proper in the English manner, evoked, to my ear, the graceful and sophisticated speech of 1940s cinema. Her laughter, less formal, erupts frequently as a hearty expulsion of breath. French, the language that has surrounded her for over half a lifetime, occasionally adorns and accompanies her English. She is a spirited and agile interlocuter who tells stories as she writes them: bristling with drama, thick with dialogue, vividly rendered and studded with astringent aperçus. I wish I could have met Mavis Gallant in this lifetime, but she lives in her stories, which I read and re-read once in a while. Each time, these tales enrich my exis

Public transportation, Sydney

Inks, variations

Scribbling on pen and paper is how I sometimes spend my downtime.

Walking shoes and socks in stripes

Alice Munro's A Trip to the Coast

In between chapters of oncology textbooks, I treat myself to fiction. Such was the case this morning. "A Trip to the Coast" by Alice Munro appears in her collection, Dance of the Happy Shades. I turn to Alice Munro when I want to escape to the country. In this story, we learn about the girl May who lives with her grandmother: a story of quiet rebellion and outspoken submission. [May] accepted the rule of her grandmother as she accepted a rain squall of a stomach ache, with a tough, basic certainty that such things would pass. May hangs out with her friend Eunie. They live in what can only be described as a dead town. With nothing much to do, they spend their time in the cemetery. "We go to the cemetery," May said flatly. They did, too. She and Eunie went and sat in the cemetery almost every afternoon because there was a shady corner there and no younger children bothered them and they could talk speculatively without any danger of being overheard. Read

Typical Tuesday

As I was having coffee, Fred asked if we'd like to attend a conference on cancer and aging. Our good friend, Rich, would be moderating. Of course, we said yes. Dr. Emmanuel Besa, who was visiting the UP College of Medicine, was inspiring. Having worked as a researcher and medical oncologist/hematologist in the United States, he spoke on his findings on vitamins and aging, focusing on telomere shortening as a central mechanism in carcinogenesis. What struck me was his encouragement to us to keep on learning even after we graduate. Rich did an amazing job: getting two questions then ending the program quickly. A reserved person who prizes his privacy and quiet, the limelight makes him uncomfortable. This morning, we added to his discomfort by cheering for him loudly, the good batch mates that we were. My batch mates! (Thanks to Fred for the photo). After clinic, we had a late lunch at a Chinese restaurant. (Save for Mark Ando, who dropped by the clinic, I didn't see


I remember my good friend and brother, Mike Tan, who took us walking around this scenic, sleepy, picturesque neighborhood.

Old people in the airport train, Singapore

MRT Taft Avenue, Pasay City

Still the best train station in the world.

Diamine Chrome and Platinum 3776 Bourgogne

Pudding, Leura, New South Wales

Sort of reminds me of the apple pie at Café Prückel in Vienna!

Mindanao, brick by brick

Clouds over General Santos City

Written book review by Kuya John

I'll do this for the printed books I read and own.

Gratitude, even in the death

I am often greeted by messages like this, like this SMS I received this morning: an update of a death, followed by a message of gratitude. My patient has died of complications from metastatic lung cancer. In my quiet time today, I read Job 3, where he wished he hadn't been born, if only to avoid the suffering in this world. The personal burning question of pain and suffering remains, but more and more I am convinced that unless I believe in a sovereign God who upholds the universe with his Word, who allows both bad and good things to happen, whose ways are not my ways, I have no choice but to despair. But the reality of God, who loves me and gave himself up for me, is the greatest comfort.

Bright lights in front of city hall, Sydney, Australia

Road and sky, Seoul, Korea


via Instagram Colophon: #pilotiroshizuku, #kaweco 70s Old Soul (broad). Dr. @danesacdalan reflects on his memories of fellowship training. This appears in page 20 of Bulawan: Interviews with Filipino Medical Oncologists, edited by Drs. Maria Belen Tamayo, Noel E. Pinoy, and @jatabula.

Closed café, Leura, New South Wales, Australia

This was taken after a half-day hike in Blue Mountains, Katoomba, New South Wales. Mike Tan took us to Leura, the neighboring town, which looked like the suburbia in The Good Witch, a favorite feel-good Netflix series. We walked around the neighborhood. Many houses looked empty. In other news: my cousin Kring and her husband JR joined us (Manong and me) for lunch and coffee today. I love how simple the pizza in Cibo, EDSA Shangri-La, tasted—there was a touch of elegance to it. Wildflour at Podium was where we had dessert and coffee. Today was the first time I tasted tonic espresso—literally, single-shot espresso diluted in tonic water. It was refreshing. I convinced Kring, already the mother of two charming girls, to try it, and she squirmed in disgust. She told JR the story of the afternoon when I scrubbed sili on her nose after convincing her that it would be fun. Ah, I've missed hanging out with Kring, my favorite childhood playmate.