Thursday, May 28, 2020

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Journal of a Lockdown No. 77

Wife-Wooing by John Updike. Parker Duofold Slimfold, inked with J. Herbie “Verte Empire”

There are days when the right words escape me.

This is from a line in "Wife-Wooing" by John Updike. Another vintage pen is featured here: a Parker Duofold Slimfold, inked with J. Herbin “Verte Empire.”

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I know of two people who have the right words to say.

Dr. Elvie Razon-Gonzalez, who holds clinics in Iloilo, writes about the barter system in this personal blog entry.

In three hours, I am about to meet a stranger to trade my aloe vera on a Groot pot for a signed copy of F. Sionil Jose’s “Poon."

Last week, I traded Lang Leav and Michael Faudet for a copy of Mary Oliver’s elusive “A Thousand Mornings.” Two days before that, I exchanged my son’s extra copies of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books for alcohol and other protective essentials.

This ancient barter system was recently revived by Ilonggos through the Iloilo Barter Community (IbaCo) page in Facebook. With this platform, one can trade anything for another without having to spend: a cashless, non-cryptocurrent transaction. One uploads a picture of the item he wishes to barter, with a detailed description of it and the list of things he wants to swap the item for. In the comments section, people then offer their items and the person who uploaded will then choose from the various offers. Once a deal has been sealed, the barteristas will then proceed to sending each other private messages and to meet in person.

Here are the lessons she has learned through participating in the barter.

The community quarantine binds us to our homes and brings us simple sources of joy that need not require a lot of cash: reading poetry, planting vegetables in our backyards, baking banana bread. Their restorative and transformative power in our lives is beyond measure. Suddenly, the world is ruled by bakers, gardeners and readers from all walks of life.

I met Dr. Elvie online, during an informal course on creative non-fiction organized by Joti Tabula (himself a physician-poet, who included my short piece in his heartwarming book, From the Eyes of a Healer). I'm glad to have stumbled in her blog. I will definitely subscribe to this!

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Fred's essay appears in this issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology's Art of Oncology.

This was when I met Rose, a 32-year-old mother of three with stage IV breast cancer. Her breast mass had started as a coin-sized lump 6 years earlier. Why did she seek assistance only now when she was so short of breath and unable to sleep as a result of generalized pain? It turns out she lives on a remote island, 18 hours from my clinic by boat and by land, a place where people live a simple life: no restaurants, no malls, no movie theaters, no cell phone service. Unfortunately, this isolation also meant no access to local or regional health care.


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