Showing posts from February, 2021

Neighbors bearing gifts

Auntie Liling, our newest neighbor, drops by and gives Nanay fresh flowers. Auntie Liling lives in the lot next to ours. She is the sister and primary caretaker of her older brother, the retired priest, whom we refer to as Padre. Nothing thrills my mother like fresh flowers, so they're up on display at home.   Uncle Boy, dear brother from church, drops by to give us langka, freshly picked from his tree. People refer to seasons here by way of fruits—langka season, mango season, and so on.  What a blessing to have friends and neighbors!

The Vinta Sea Kelp (Leyte 1944)

Received what may easily be one of my favorite inks—the Vinta Sea Kelp (Leyte 1944) . The Battle of the Leyte Gulf is where the Japanese were ultimately defeated at the end of WWII. Leyte is also one of the biggest producers of Kelp. This gentle green ink evokes the color of kelp as it floats in the bright clear seawaters of Leyte. Never been to Leyte, but the green ink is a good shade, on the darker side. Not sure if it's dark enough to escape the notice of pharmacists and nurses. Whose idea was it to only use black and blue pens in medical charts anyway? For the meantime, Vinta Sea Kelp is a fine piece of work by Filipino ink makers. It will hold a special place in my private journals and notes—and, who knows, medical charts. 

Playing with my vintage Parker Vacumatic



Review for oral exam. Brothers, both extremely light sleepers, call me "abnormal" because I wake up at 3 am and turn on the lights in the living room. Can't quite explain why I'm a morning person, why my mind is at its sharpest in the wee hours of the morning. It's like asking why the grass is green, and so on. Sean says he thinks a thief has broken in because my footsteps are loud, and irritating noises emerge from the kitchen when I make a pour-over. I say, "If that happens, get out of bed, and make coffee for me." When my brothers wake up at six, they will complain of the same things. After a while, they regard me with pity—their 33-year old brother, still at his notes. 

Code switching

It's normal for people to talk in South Cotabato to answer in Hiligaynon when you ask them in Bisaya or Tagalog. I have Bisaya- and Hiligaynon-speaking cousins who perfectly understand Tagalog and English. As a doctor, it makes my patients comfortable if I speak to them in their lingua franca. I can barely scrape a workable Ilocano vocabulary, but my patients from Tantangan and some parts of Tacurong and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, are impressed that I can say that the weather outside is napudot . 

Plant hunting in Polomolok, South Cotabato

Friday with Sean and Hannah. Sat in the backseat and slept through the entire trip to Polomolok. Plan was to visit One Garden, which Hannah, a plant enthusiast, discovered through Facebook. Garden lady was accommodating, speaking in a charming Bisaya accent. Gave generous tips on soil formulations—mix pumice, lábhang (rice hulls), and soil in various proportions—which I barely understood. Kind lady and Hannah dropped scientific names in conversation. When they spoke of plants, you'd think they talked about people they knew. Visited the Strawberry-Guyabano Farm in Tupi town. Queue in the restaurant was long. Around this time, light rain greeted us and made us long for home, so we headed back to Marbel.

Ever receding, ever diminishing

Some notes on "Notes from a Native Daughter," which appears in Joan Didion’s collection, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem."  The trip to Sacramento is “one of those trips on which the destination flickers chimerically on the horizon, ever receding, ever diminishing.”  Beautiful essay about the Sacramento Valley, told from someone who has lived there, gone away, and come back.  So happy that I have discovered Joan Didion. Got myself a copy of “The Year of Magical Thinking”—which is about her husband’s death. 

How I celebrated World Cancer Day on February 4

After breakfast, a doctor-friend picks me up to bring me to a hospital not far from where I live. His sister has brain tumor. Since day one of chemo, she hasn’t had seizures or headaches. My heart rejoices, cautiously and prayerfully. When I come back to the city just before lunch time, I visit my high school classmate, admitted for another chemo cycle. She smiles, groggy from the sedatives. The breast mass is shrinking. Most of the day, she feels no pain. I caution about constipation, but she assures me she eats papaya as laxative. I say, See you in three weeks. In the clinic, my high school PE teacher—my elementary classmates’ mother, a church mate’s best friend, my colleague’s aunt—hands me her biopsy result, confirming that the tumor is malignant. I promise her I’d give her a dose of sedative to calm her nerves on her first chemo next week. At 5:30 PM, we head to Golden Valley. With me are my brothers and Hannah, Sean’s girlfriend. Sweaty and breathless after jogging along the peri

World Cancer Day


Overcast skies in Davao City



After reading anything by Marilynne Robinson, I feel enhanced by her language. Jack , her newest novel about a wayward bum, the son of a minister, brings us to the American era when interracial marriages were forbidden, even punishable by law. Jack falls in love with Della, an African-American schoolteacher, with whom he shares a fondness for poetry. But he realizes soon enough that to protect Della, he must distance himself from her. Proximity will cause pain and suffering, a ticket to a hard life ahead.  Exhausted after an exam over the weekend, I have turned to Tita Marilynne to help me pass the time. I finished the novel last night with the idea of rereading it sometime soon.