Showing posts from December, 2022


My heartfelt gratitude to Jeff T, schoolmate from Notre Dame, who fixed the old battery of my seven or eight-year old MacBook Air. Jeff delivered it to the house yesterday. He did a clean job and even went as far as ordering a new charger for me. I paid a fraction of the cost I'd normally shoulder if I had brought my device to the Apple Store. I highly recommend him. Although I have a new MacBook Air, I won't let go of the old one, which has been with me in so many reports, presentations, and blog posts. The Japanese philosophy wabi-sabi comes to mind:  From an engineering or design point of view, wabi may be interpreted as the imperfect quality of any object, due to inevitable limitations in design and construction/manufacture especially with respect to unpredictable or changing usage conditions; in this instance, sabi could be interpreted as the aspect of imperfect reliability, or the limited mortality of any object, hence the phonological and etymological co

Audrey Assad's music

Audrey Assad's Spirit of the Living God is in my head these days. It's one of the best music I've heard this year. The modern hymn is a prayer to God that is filled with expectation, faith, and hope. I love how the music illustrates the dynamics of Godhead: three Persons in one God.  O Spirit of the living God, thou Light and Fire Divine Descend upon Thy Church once more and make it truly Thine Fill it with love and joy and power, with righteousness and peace Till Christ shall dwell in human hearts, and sin and sorrow cease. Blow, wind of God, with wisdom blow until our minds are free From mists of error, clouds of doubt, which blind our eyes to Thee Burn, winged fire, inspire our lips with flaming love and zeal To preach to all Thy great good news, God’s glorious commonweal. So shall we know the power of Christ, who came this world to save So shall we rise with Him to life which soars beyond the grave And earth shall win true holiness which makes Thy children whole Till,

Read your Bible, and pray every day

David Mathis writes about his morning devotions and how it has changed him over time . He follows the Navigators Bible reading plan , similar to what I use .  Not that this habit of starting each day with open Bible (and coffee) is always clean and easy, but it’s far more automatic and enjoyable and fruitful now, twenty years later, than at the beginning. It’s amazing how a longstanding, daily habit can change you — not just in terms of psychological pathways and external actions, but also how a soul can be formed and conditioned. We tend to overestimate how much we can change in the short run, and underestimate how much we can change in the long run. Unlike Mathis, though, I still check the boxes before the passages. It is habit I will not likely break because the check marks help me keep track. I read the Bible early in the morning, with coffee, fountain pens in different inks or a Blackwing pencil, and a Midori Traveler's notebook (passport size). In my journal, I'd rewrite

Sing we the song of Emmanuel

  This is Keith and Kristyn Getty, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa's Sing We the Song of Emmanuel , a joyful, expectant, theologically-infused hymn played on loop in our home. Enjoy! Sing we the song of Emmanuel This the Christ who was long foretold  Lo in the shadows of Bethlehem  Promise of dawn now our eyes behold.  God Most High in a manger laid  Lift your voices and now proclaim  Great and glorious,  Love has come to us  Join now with the hosts of heaven

Not a groan, but a song

  De Witt Talmage's words and our happiness in the reality of Jesus Christ's birth ! The music that broke through the midnight heavens was not a dirge, but an anthem. It shook joy over the hills. It not only dropped upon the shepherds, but it sprang upward among the thrones. The robe of a Saviour’s righteousness is not black. The Christian life is not made up of weeping and cross-bearing and war-waging. Through the revelation of that Christmas night I find that religion is not a groan, but a song. In a world of sin, and sick beds, and sepulchres, we must have trouble; but in the darkest night the heavens part with angelic song. You may, like Paul, be shipwrecked, but I exhort you to be of good cheer, for you who are trusting on Christ shall all escape safe to the land.

The right word

Marilynne Robinson on finding the right word . Writing should always be exploratory. There shouldn’t be the assumption that you know ahead of time what you want to express. When you enter into the dance with language, you’ll begin to find that there’s something before, or behind, or more absolute than the thing you thought you wanted to express. And as you work, other kinds of meaning emerge than what you might have expected. It’s like wrestling with the angel: On the one hand you feel the constraints of what can be said, but on the other hand you feel the infinite potential. There’s nothing more interesting than language and the problem of trying to bend it to your will, which you can never quite do. You can only find what it contains, which is always a surprise. Ah, the joys of language!

With Ted Chiang for the holidays

Ted Chiang's collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, is enjoyable. Always on the lookout for science fiction, I've heard about Ted Chiang's brilliance and gift from podcasts and friends. I'm more than halfway through the collection. Story of Your Life , from which the title of the collection, is as good as people say it is. I made the connection right away that this was the basis for the film adaptation, Arrival, which stars Amy Adams. What surprised me was The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate, where a merchant named Fuwaad ibn Abbas retells the story of how he discovered a passageway to the future in a humble shop of Bashaarat, located in the City of Peace. It's a series of smaller stories that prove to be interconnected in the end. I love the story's last lines, and I'm sharing it here. Nothing erases the past. There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness. That is all, but that is enough. Here's LeVar Burton , reading t

We crave for Your return

We continued our Christmas Eve tradition of sleeping early and waking up fresh to a new day. Later today, after Sunday worship service, we are hosting our mother's side of the family at home. The cakes are baked, the food prepared, and tables set. In the midst of the preparations, Scotty Smith's prayer for December 24 is an example of how we can be more heavenward in our celebrations . Lord Jesus… As the Last Adam, you obeyed and fulfilled the law for us. As the Lamb of God, you bore our sin, and took our judgment. As the Grave Robber, you conquered death and arose to give us life. As the Lord of Lords, you are sovereign over kings, people, and places. As our Great High Priest, you advocate, care, and pray for us constantly. As our Loving Bridegroom, you are coming back for us with great delight. As the Grace Giver, you take on “the hopes and fears of all the years” (ours too). Hallelujah, and thank you. Jesus, as you lavish your love

Coastal roads

Postcript by Seamus Heaney, from the The Spirit Level (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996), captures what I feel about driving. It is a solitary, meditative exercise and a skill I have been mastering. The poem reminds me of my rides along the coastal roads of Sarangani, heading to the quiet towns of Maasim, where, fresh from medical school, I worked for a few nights as a doctor-on-call, and to Kiamba, where our church friend hosts the family for gatherings by the shore. And some time make the time to drive out west Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore, In September or October, when the wind And the light are working off each other So that the ocean on one side is wild With foam and glitter, and inland among stones The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans, Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white, Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads Tucked or cresting or busy underwater. Useless to think

Carlos in Paris

I dreamt of my friend Carlos two nights ago. In the dream, it was springtime in Paris. The sun was up, but there were a few people, without masks, riding their bicycles, along Rue de Rivoli. I was walking with him on the way to his apartment; I suppose, in my dream, I had lived a few blocks away from his home, and we were neighbors. Outside his building, I realized I hadn't eaten yet, so I invited him to lunch. It was something I would do in real life: Carlos always made time, and if he couldn't join me, he'd make the best excuses. I suppose it was 1 or 2 o'clock, just the right time to have le déjeuner. I suggested that we eat salmon with a glass of white wine in my favorite restaurant, Café Le Sélect, in Montparnasse, where my favorite short story writer Mavis Gallant once lived and dined. He would love it, I told him. We would take the Métro to Vavin Station, and walk from there. As we began our journey, he remembered that he had a repor

Do you think I am saved?

I spotted Hilary Mantel's The Mirror and the Light, the third novel in her historical fiction trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, from a pile of books on sale at National Bookstore, SM Gensan. I didn't mind that I'd only read Wolf Hall (the first) and hadn't even gotten started on Bring Up the Bodies (the second). There's no method, other than my mood, that governs my choice of the next reading material—a novel, a short story, a poetry collection, a book of essays, a theological discourse, a biochemistry textbook. I started reading the novel right away. On page 223, Thomas Cromwell—now Lord Thomas Cromwell, Master Secretary to the King Henry VIII, Lord Privy Seal—talks to Robert Barnes, a Lutheran cleric. Hilary Mantel, one of my greatest discoveries this year, reimagines the internal struggle of Cromwell about his Protestant faith in the passage below.  It is difficult to be at ease, [Cromwell] thinks,

Bear witness

I've been using  The Advent Project  of Biola University as my devotional for November and December. I learned about it through Paradox Uganda . The project draws from Scripture and supplements each passage with a music, a painting/graphic art, a short meditation, and a prayer. These artistic meditations, posted daily, stir the imagination and prepare the heart for Christmas. For December 22, the Scripture passage is Matthew 2:9-11. And behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. William Carlos Williams's poem, The Gift, and Mercedes Dorame's sculptural "star map" (Orion’s Belt—Paahe’ Sheshiiyot) are also featured. Professor Luke Alecson writes: The Magi provide a map of so

"You know not how soon you must die, and therefore had need to be always ready"

Jonathan Edwards writes a letter to his 10-year old son . It is dated May 27, 1755. Edwards shares the news of the death of a boy named David, who probably lived with the family.  The week before last, on Thursday, David died; whom you knew and used to play with, and who used to live at our house. His soul is gone into the eternal world. Whether he was prepared for death, we don't know. This is a loud call of God to you to prepare for death. You see that they that are young die, as well as those that are old: David was not very much older than you. Remember what Christ has said, that you must be born again, or you never can see the kingdom of God. Never give yourself any rest, unless you have good evidence that you are converted and become a new creature. We hope that God will preserve your life and health, and return you to Stockbridge again in safety; but always remember that life is uncertain: you know not how soon you must die, and therefore had need to be always ready. 

Yiyun Li's Where Reasons End

I gave some friends copies of Yiyun Li's Where Reasons End, a novel in which the author reimagines a conversation with her 16-year old son who had committed suicide. I warned them that it could be a painful book to read, but the language is beautiful. I only finished it two days ago.  I love the mother-son conversation that happens in this page.  Yes, I said, but poems and stories are tying to speak what can't be spoken.  You always say words fall short, he said.  Words fall short, yes, but sometimes their shadows can reach the unspeakable.  Don't I sometimes imagine conversations with my department loved ones, too? These internal monologues dialogues happen randomly, and I welcome these quiet moments. People we love and remember seem to hover over us years after they have passed on. Their presence in our memories exist like photo filters of grief and longing. Then, we are able to see things with a bit more clarity.

Sailor Shikiori Sakura-mori

I am absolutely loving my new ink—a Shikiori ink manufactured by Sailor. The color in Sakura-mori, evocative of the cherry blossoms in Japan. I am fond of writing in pink. For some reason, my journals are in pink, as well as many unconvential colors, like moss green, oxblood, chrome, and gray.

Examination of the abdomen: slide set

Yesterday I delivered a lecture on the examination of the abdomen. The second year medical students were a fun group. You may download a copy of the slideset, but please link to this page if you plan to use it.  It was the first time I learned that bruit, which I pronounce as "BROO-wee," may also be pronounced as " BROOT ."


Looking at the rare plants my other patients had given me, Mrs. KR asked if I liked cross-stitch. Years of clinical practice have taught me that this is one way patients ask their doctors what kind of gifts they like to receive. Those experiences have also taught me to accept their presents gladly, because giving is therapeutic for them. It also gives them a sense of control over their lives. So I told her, "Yes, I love them. My mother likes them. We have many framed cross-stitch designs at home."  She admitted that she does cross-stitch to pass the time. "I can't keep still. My hands need to be working, or I'll go crazy." She enjoys it. I asked if she has considered selling her works online. There might be a huge market for it. "There aren't any buyers any more. Cross-stitch isn't popular these days," she said. She couldn't let go of her works; they're too precious to her. Her husband complains that they don't have room for the

Bordered Lives No More

I received the final manuscript draft of the book, "Bordered Lives No More: the Humanities and the Post-COVID-19 Recovery," edited by Prof. Dinah Roma and published by the DLSU Press. I co-wrote the chapter, "The Embattled Fontlines: Voices from the Field," with Drs. Dane Sacdalan, Elvie Victonette B. Razon-Gonzalez, and Joey A. Tabula. I wrote the essay, "The Evolving Ritual of the Physical Examination."  I'll let you know when the book is finally out, but I'm excited to read all the excellent pieces in the collection in print. 

Radio silence

Radio Silence , a beautiful essay in La Vie Graphite: The constant and compulsive clatter reminds me that many people are afraid of silence. And just as many are unaware of the existence of others in their midst. Aspiring to be compassionate, it is essential to be forgiving of the inconsiderate. After all, somebody needs to be aware of the unaware. As this life is in preparation for eternity, here is the time and place to refine the ability to forbear. But as a flawed mortal who finds forbearance unbearable, I try distracting with noise-canceling headphones (which I can hear through), listening to music, running a household fan, and turning to a lifelong friend: radio. As with any means or instrument, it is for each listener to discern and discover that which suits. Due to all the noise in the building, I’m applying a dulcet layer of classical music to try masking the din of disturbance. My less passive form of listening happens when I seek out noteworthy

A step in the right direction

During the closing program of the 3rd La Salle National Creative Non-fiction Workshop for Doctors last November 24, Dr. MJ Guazon Uy, speaking in behalf of the workshop fellows, said, This CNF Workshop felt like a pilgrimage to unknown territory, where we had to navigate the terrain with the craft of language and fresh perspective. As physicians, we are not strangers to rigorous training; we are actually comfortable with it. Will this workshop make us feel more comfortable now to call ourselves, ehem, writers? Who knows? Having been invited to share the company of physicians who write is a step in the right direction. But only until we continuously feed the unrelenting demands of this art, shall we be called its true followers. I spoke in behalf of my co-panelists, workshop director Prof. Marjorie Evasco and Dr. Joti Tabula.  I joined my first CNF workshop as a participant in 2020. It was the first real workshop I had attended, discounting the journalism seminars I used to attend in