Sunday, January 29, 2023

Monogrammed pen case

Pen case - monogrammed

The pens I take for the day—usually a fountain pen plus a ball-point or pencil—are housed in an elegant leather pencil case, monogrammed with my initials. The gracious and kind Nikki Gonzales-Ho, my co-faculty in Biochemistry, gave this to me. Many thanks to you, dear Nikki! 



I praise God for Matt Redman, Matt Boswell, and Matt Papa—all Matts!—for composing this joyful anthem about God's lovingkindness! A blessed Sunday, dear friends. 

Let praises now awake the dawn
We’ll greet Your mercy with a song 
Your people stand and sing for all Your lovingkindness 
You’ve carried us in faithfulness 
Upon the paths of righteousness 
Our gracious King 
You’ve crowned us with Your lovingkindness


Friday, January 27, 2023

Wingsung 699

I ordered a Wingsung 699 through Amazon, hoping some parts could be replacements for my Pilot Custom 823 Amber. The Chinese pen closely resembles the Japanese Pilot: the same size, feel, and elegance. The main difference lies in the nib quality: Custom 823's gold nib is superior to the 699's steel. But I was surprised how fantastic the Wingsung is. It's worth every peso! A wet writer that carries a substantial amount of ink, I've decided to use it as an everyday pen. The nib glides smoothly, albeit with minimal friction on rough hospital paper. I don't mind that, at all. 

Because Wingsung 699 is a great pen on its own right, I've decided against swapping its parts with the Custom 823. (If you're curious: swapping is possible.)

Pilot Philippines hasn't responded to any of my emails. If I happen to be in Manila, I might drop by Cosmos Bazaar to check if my Custom 823 can still be repaired.

Wingsung 699

Wingsung 699

Here's how I write. This is the first "writing video" I'm sharing.

Wingsung 699


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Faber-Castell Loom

Fountain Pen Faber-Castell, loom, piano black
Grateful for the gift of my high school classmate Greggy Granado and his wife Joanne: a new fountain pen. It's Faber-Castell Loom, in medium nib. The piano black variant looks so elegant. 

It's a smooth writer, as most German pens are. The ink flow is perfect. I like how it fits perfectly in my hand. I'll include it in my every-day-pen rotation. 

(No response yet from Pilot regarding the Custom 823. I ordered a Wingsung 699 through Amazon. I'll try switching the barrels and see if Wingsung's can replacement the cracked 823 barrel.)

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Monday, January 16, 2023

A pestilential presence in your library

David Bentley Hart, in The Lamp Magazine, writes about the elegance and evolution of language and, in doing so, offers a tongue-in-cheek, hilarious critique of Strunk and White and George Orwell, known to many of us as the go-to book references for English grammar and style. (In the blockquotes below, the emphases are mine.)
In fact, if you own a copy of The Elements of Style, just destroy the damned thing. It is a pestilential presence in your library. Most of the rules of style it contains are vacuous, arbitrary, or impossible to obey, and you are better off without them in your life. And the materials on grammar and usage are frequently something worse. Some of them are simply inherited fake rubrics—“however” must always be a postpositive, “which” must not be used for a restrictive relative clause, and other nonsense of that kind—all of which are belied by the whole canon of English literature. Others, however, are evidence of surprising ignorance. It is bad enough that the manual insists that one must on principle prefer the passive to the active voice; but it is far worse that it then adduces several supposed examples of sentences in the passive voice that are in fact nothing of the sort. One of them—“There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground”—seems to have been chosen simply because “lying” about sounds like a passive sort of thing to do. That neither Strunk nor White knew the difference between a passive construction and an active intransitive verb in the imperfect past tense—or, as the book also demonstrates, the difference between the passive and an active past perfect, or the difference between the passive and an adjectival past participle without an auxiliary verb—is genuinely shocking. It does, however, impart a useful lesson: never mistake a tone of authority for evidence of actual expertise.
You can either agree or disagree with Hart, but his essay is a delight to read. Consider his defense of semicolons.
A writer who disdains the semicolon is a fool. In fact, hostility to this most delicate and lyrical of punctuation marks is a sure sign of a deformed soul and a savage sensibility. Conscious life is not a brute concatenation of discrete units of experience; it is often fluid, resistant to strict divisions and impermeable partitions, punctuated by moments of transition that are neither exactly terminal nor exactly continuous in character. Meaning, moreover, is often held together by elusive connections, ambiguous shifts of reference, mysterious coherences. And art should use whatever instruments it has at its disposal to express these ambiguous eventualities and perplexing alternations. To master the semicolon is to master prose. To master the semicolon is to master language’s miraculous capacity for capturing the shape of reality.
I remember a piece of advice given during a writing workshop: write for a 12-year old. This, we were told, was the secret of success behind Times Magazine and Reader's Digest. The articles should be accessible to anyone. The advice made me uncomfortable. David Bentley Hart writes a searing and, once again, hilarious, rebuke:
Do not write down to what you presume to be the level of your readers (unless you are writing specifically for very small children). To do so is an injustice both to them and to you. Even if your suppositions regarding them are correct, you should do them the honor of assuming they know what you know, or can learn it, or are at least willing to try. True, some readers become indignant at their own inability to follow prose of any complexity or to recognize words any more obscure than those they are accustomed to using when talking to their dogs. Invariably they will blame the author rather than themselves. You owe them absolutely nothing. If you attempt always to descend to the lowest common denominator, you will never hit bottom, but you will certainly end up losing the interest of better readers. Ours is, sadly, an age of declining literacy and attention spans, and the situation grows worse by the year. You simply must not make any concessions to that reality, unless you are prepared in the end to give up on writing altogether.
The essay ends with a celebration of language. This part is my favorite.
Language is magic. It is invocation and conjuration. With words, we summon the seas and the forests, the stars and distant galaxies, the past and the future and the fabulous, the real and the unreal, the possible and the impossible. With words, we create worlds—in imagination, in the realm of ideas, in the arena of history. With words, we disclose things otherwise hidden, including even our inward selves. And so on. When you write, attempt to weave a spell. If this is not your intention, do not write.

Read the entire thing


Saturday, January 14, 2023

Reflective Writing for Internists

If you're an internist and have some time to kill this weekend, join us for a few hours via Zoom. I'll be with Dr. Joti Tabula, poet, author, and publisher. It's going to be fun and worth your while. 

I don't know how to divide myself because there's a university research workshop that will happen simultaneously, as well. Ah, the things I get myself into!
 55-word story flash workshop

You are invited to a Virtual Workshop!

The Philippine College of Physicians in cooperation with the PCP Medical Humanities presents:
Reflective Writing for Internist: A 55-Word Story Writing Flash Workshop (Session 5)
When: 14 January 2023, Saturday @ 10:00 AM
Via Zoom meetings

Register for free:


Monday, January 9, 2023

Hairline fracture

I refilled my Pilot Custom 823 (Amber) with ink early this morning, but I noted that the ink wasn't seeping through. On close inspection, there's a hairline fracture in the barrel, likely causing the problem with the piston-filling mechanism. I'm reaching out to Pilot Philippines for this. This is an on-going saga. I really love this pen and hope it gets repaired.


Saturday, January 7, 2023

"I dream of letting the wind / accede to my whims..."

I celebrate the start of the weekend by reading Dr. Elvie Razon-Gonzalez's poem, Toxic Positivity, which appears on her collection, Vignette of voyages by Kasingkasing Press. Her words take me to a quiet, meditative place. 

Here's an excerpt. 

I dream of letting the wind
accede to my whims, to take me
out of this disquietude

nestle in the warmth of the Alps
into her maternal expanse
that lead to praying hands.


Friendships and getting older

On friendships and getting older, an excerpt from Rethink Ageing: Lessons In Ageing From the Bolder and Older Generation by Nidhi Chawla and Reshmi Chakraborty, a book I hope to read soon.

When we ask Chandrika Desai how she stays connected to people, she has a hearty laugh. “It’s my personality,” she says. Desai is a jovial 74-year-old who epitomises how important social engagement could be. But like she tells us, passively becoming part of a group is not the only way to do it. You need to be active at your end, too. Every morning, Desai sits with a list. She has a large network of family and friends, and each morning she calls different people. “I make an effort to reach out,” says Desai who lives on her own, leads her own life but is deeply connected to her two children who live overseas.

This article cites the Hold-Lunstad study on the power of human relationships.

While pursuing a PhD in Health and Social Psychology. Holt-Lunstad tried to find the answer to the question, do social relationships reduce our risk of dying early? Her study published in July 2010 showed that people with strong social relationships are 50 per cent less likely to die prematurely than people with weak social relationships. The impact of poor social connection on reducing lifespan is equal to the risk of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and a risk that’s greater than the risk of obesity, excess alcohol, and lack of exercise.

My mother, 66, is a great example. Despite being an introverted person, she has found a way to redeem her retirement days. She has a small social circle outside of family. She tends to these deep and lasting friendships. At 3 am each morning, she connects with her friends for Bible study and prayer through Facebook Messenger. She finds time to visit friends, funerals, and parties; attends Bible study in church on Friday afternoons; and do short walks, usually to Auntie Badid's property. Auntie Badid had a stroke last year. 

These days, I've been thinking about how I'll be spending my days when I get older. 


Sunday, January 1, 2023

About me


I'm Lance Catedral. is my space in the web. I started blogging in 2004. I'm 34, and nobody reads blogs anymore. But because I've been blogging for so many years now, I couldn't let this space go. Writing about the minutiae—don't you love that word?—of my life has become a habit now, and, more than ever, a source of joy. 

I'm an internist (adult medicine) and medical oncologist (cancer specialist) in Southern Philippines. My private practice is based in Koronadal City, South Cotabato (the city of my birth) and General Santos City. I'm also a part-time consultant for an American healthcare firm that aims to improve the quality of medical care in various parts of the world.

I'm also an assistant professor in the College of Medicine of the Mindanao State University. I teach biochemistry in a class composed mostly of students from underprivileged backgrounds: those from indigenous and Muslim people groups in the Soccskargen region. It's a privilege I'm grateful for. 

I'm a doctor-writer. I'm a co-panelist in the Creative Nonfiction Writing Workshop for Doctors organized by the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center of De La Salle University. My creative works have been published in some books, anthologies, and literary journals.

I'm a researcher. Here's a list of my publications. My main research interests include improving access to cancer care and the use of social media/internet in cancer screening and prevention. I'm a part of the Research Committee of the Philippine College of Physicians and the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO). I'm also a member of the Multimedia Committee of the PSMO, where I write content directed to patients and their caregivers. Here are some of them.

Most of all, I'm a Christian—that means I follow Christ and live my life for Him. This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, and I implore you to read it:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Ephesians 2: 4–10

Thanks for visiting! Do email me at lance [at] I read every email and try my best to answer them all.

Find me on social media:

Updated: 19 March 2020. Some people said I look like a kid in the above photo. Here's a more mature version.

Oral presentation, Vienna, Austria

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Where do you find yourself today?

New Year 2023

Meditating on Luke 2:7-20, Dr. Berry Bishop invites us to quiet introspection.
Where do you find yourself today? Are you in a season of desperation or sadness? Or are you in an equally, if not more, vulnerable season of joy? What does worship look like for you? Is it loud and excitable like the song for today, or is it full of longing and wishing like the poetry reading for today? Is the season you are in inviting you to a posture like the images we are looking at? Or, is it moving you to your knees, or even a fetal position?

I ask (and will ask) myself the same question this year. I'm grateful to the Lord for so many things, and may the year 2023 be a year of worship and prayer.

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