Wednesday, January 31, 2024


Just this week, I saw two doctors wearing scrubs, which looked great on them. In both instances, the scrubs were made by Figs, a company made popular by social media. Their pants were tapered at the ankles. I complimented them. 

As I walked away in both instances, I remember that one time when wearing a "scrub suit" thrilled me. It was like buying my first stethoscope, a ritual of imbibing the proverbial doctor's life. I bought my scrubs from stores near UP Manila. They were cheaper. Now, I've sworn them away. The v-neckline creates an optical illusion of a deep cleavage.

I like to wear a pair of jeans and a shirt. Now I'm partial to wearing rubber shoes or sneakers. Also, I bring my backpack everywhere now. 


Friday, January 26, 2024

Shirt slogan of the lady in the motorcycle

The couple that fart together stay together.


Friday, January 19, 2024


My cousin RR is getting married today. As the oldest Garcenila cousin currently in the country, he has asked me to speak in behalf of the family during the reception later today. I suppose I'm going to quote something from Tim and Kathy Keller's book on marriage. I might even say something about the good example of marriage that his parents have shown him. Perhaps I might just wing it.


Saturday, January 13, 2024

Pharmacology small group discussion

week 45

University of the Philippines College of Medicine, Ermita, Manila, November 2011


Hong Kong

postcard scene


"Ambition was utterly conventional"

I thoroughly enjoyed Sam Fragoso's interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick. I listened to it yesterday during my drive to work. I was so glued to it that I stayed inside the car for a couple more minutes to finish the episode. 

I'm a huge fan of David Remnicks' writing. In 2018, I bought his  book on Muhammad Ali after my arduous pre-residency at PGH Internal Medicine. I listen to episodes of New Yorker Radio Hour, one of my favorite podcasts, which he hosts. (I use Apple Podcasts, which is terrific, but according to friends, you can tune in to Spotify, too, which is just as great.)

But Sam's interview with David was the first time I heard about the esteemed editor's personal life. I was so interested to hear him speak about his awareness that, as the older of two brothers, he would be taking care of his parents. His father was a dentist who would later suffer from Parkinson's; his mother was an art teacher who would have multiple sclerosis. He never doubted of his parents' love. He said that in his family of immigrants, "Ambition was utterly conventional." His parents wanted him to be a good boy and to do good for himself.

"They [his parents] are your children now," he said, relating to Sam the role he took on to care for his family. He also spoke about his daughter who had "profound autism."

I love how he describes his fanaticism for Bob Dylan as "six miles past embarrassment." He talks about the situation in Gaza. (Hours after listening to the interview, I received a text from my brother that my copies of the New Yorker magazine arrived in the mail. One of the three copies was the November 6 issue, which features David's article, In The Cities of Killing.)

Sam is a terrific interviewer. David is a brilliant man. Here are the show notes from Talk Easy, where the interview originally aired. Do listen.

In the cities of killing by David Remnick

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Afternoon hangout

dogs in conversation

Glan, Sarangani


Thursday, January 11, 2024


Lake Sebu with Uncle Boboy

Refreshed by my meditation this morning on Psalm 107, especially verse 9.

For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. 


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Paul is a writer

Paul the writer
Under the dining table, Paul imagines a scene for his short story collection called, "Canine Stories: My Daily Walks Around the Neighborhood." One of the stories is probably about Victor, who used to be his best friend but is now his nemesis.


Fried chicken on a Tuesday morning

After an early start last Tuesday, I had breakfast at the newly opened branch of fast food chain in the city called City Fry. It's right in front of the hospital. From the parking area, I had to cross the busy highway, mindful that I could be crushed by speeding vehicles. Pedestrians do not have rights in real life—only on paper. 

Sean told me that City Fry is a locally grown restaurant that had humble roots. The Marbel-based owners must have unlocked the secret taste to whet a huge craving for the fried chicken they cooked. New branches have been opened in the city. The first one I tried was in Arellano Street, during lunch time, where the place was packed with customers who were clearly enjoying their time despite the South Cotabato heat.

I ordered the "thigh part" and a cup of rice for Php 50. The restaurant served free water, which you can refill from the dispenser. There was no pretension. You go there to eat good chicken, not take selfies. The music playing was from a local radio station. Everything looked lean. There was no air-conditioning. The staff spoke loudly toward each other, in Hiligaynon. It felt very homey.


The chicken tasted wonderful. It had the perfect crispiness and juiciness. When paired with ketchup, it was divine. 

In an alternate world, I'd like to be a food critic. I love Hannah Goldfield's section in The New Yorker called Table for Two. I envy Julia Robert's job in the film, My Best Friend's Wedding. She writes food reviews. When she enters a restaurant, the chef and his staff are in a state of panic: what would she think of the food? 

When I entered City Fry, the cashier greeted me, asked for my orders, then said, "Amo lang ni, Sir?" to egg me, perhaps, to buy a bottle of soda.

I said, "Oo, amo lang ni anay, Te."


Tuesday, January 9, 2024



Tropical flowers are beautiful.


Sunday, January 7, 2024

Off to the sea


Over the weekend we reconnected with my dear friend, Renan Laru-an, now director of Savvy Contemporary in Berlin. He's in town for the holiday but is flying out early next week. We lived, among other mostly Ilonggo-speaking friends, in the same Quezon City apartment for many years. He was the last to leave, when he decided in 2020 to pack his bags and return to his home in Sultan Kudarat. 

We've known him for so many years that, each time he comes for a sleepover (his ancestral house is about 45 minutes away from Marbel), I don't have to fuss over because he can help himself to the fridge or find fresh towels in the cabinet. He's part of our extended family. 

He'd be cold in Germany when he returns for work. I had the grand idea of taking Toto Renan to the beach. He said it was a great idea.

I hadn't seen the sea in a while. I can cite the busy-ness of my schedule, the fact that it's out of my way. But isn't that what vacations are for—going out of your way to carve a special time for rest? As I think about it more deeply, my hesitation has been largely due to the recent earthquake and after-shocks, and, therefore, the rare possibility of tsunamis. (Since a decade ago, I've had a recurring dream that a tsunami chases after me as I run to higher ground.) As kids who grew up in the valley, the sea was—and still is—a treat, the very definition of a holiday. 

After seeing patients on Friday morning, Manong, Toto Renan, and I had lunch at Robata and we drove to Glan in Sarangani Province. The drive was scenic. For me, driving past empty roads, with the glorious view of the coast to my right, is therapy. We brought Toto Ren to Anvy Resort. It was empty and sleepy.  We were practically the only ones in the resort, except for a family from Surallah. We asked where they came from because we overheard the mother say to her son, "Daw bakâ ka na maglakát kay katambok na sa imo. Grabe ka gid abi pakaunon mo!" The son scratched his head and ran happily anyway. In our culture, when friends and family make comments about your weight, it's not discrimination but love. 

The staff said they were up to their necks in December. "Daghan guests diri!" January was a downtime for them. We liked downtimes. 

The sea was still. We were not swallowed by a tsunami. There were hardly any waves that it felt like we were in Lake Sebu. Or, as we were soaking in the waters, "Daw ga-swimming lang ta sa labador ah."

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Friday, January 5, 2024

Tell them

My morning meditation takes me to Mark 5. Jesus heals a man with an unclean spirit. The man wants to go with Jesus' disciples. Jesus tells him (Mark 5:19):
"...'Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.'"


Thursday, January 4, 2024

By the Banga river, he sat down and smiled

Paul enjoyed his time in the river!


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Auntie Cecil's farm



Monday, January 1, 2024

Welcoming 2024

We welcomed the New Year the same way we've always done it: quietly, in bed, half-asleep while the neighborhood enjoyed the fireworks, firecrackers, and trumpets. 

We joined the Ebeos and Taburnals—our sister-in-law Hannah's side of the family—for dinner. A tent was pitched in the middle of their family compound in Bo. 8. Children played in parlor games and got gifts. The food was delicious. Manong and I drove home. On our way, we saw vehicles crowding along the high way. People were doing last minute purchases of palupok

We slept through it. Paul stayed in Manong's room, traumatized by the noise. But we all woke up early, I the earliest. I had my quiet time, where I started my Bible Reading Plan recommended by Tim Challies and downloaded The Reader's Companion written by Mark Roberts. 

The goal of The Reader’s Companion is to assist you in regularly studying the Bible. The Companion does this by making the Scriptures more understandable. Being able to “get it,” to comprehend the Scriptures, is of enormous value to every disciple. First, reading with understanding is essential if we are to live out what we read. The Bible’s goal is not simply to give us knowledge but instead to transform how we live (James 1:22). This is not possible if we do not first understand what is going on in the text, what it means, or what is being said. Secondly, when we understand the Scriptures, we are reading we are changed by them and that gives us incentive to continue and read more. All of us need self-discipline when it comes to Bible reading. Much vies for our time and attention today. With The Five Day Bible Reading Schedule you only need to read one chapter a day to complete the entire New Testament this year. If you add to that reading about four to five chapters a day in the Old Testament you can complete the entire Bible in a year. Reading all those chapters will require the self-discipline to put aside other matters and read God’s word. Yet when we see in our own lives the work of God through His word we are encouraged to keep it up and to do even more. In short, nothing succeeds like success, and when you have had success reading the Bible because you are understanding it you will want to read more.

This morning I read and meditated on Genesis 1-2; Psalm 19; Mark 1. To make Bible reading enjoyable, I made a fresh cup of coffee and typed my prayers and meditations on actual paper using an actual typewriter. I plan to do that for the rest of the year. I will rotate my typewriters monthly. For January, I'll be using the Underwood 1949. For February, it might be the Erika Weinrich. 

It's a quiet morning. We had breakfast in the porch. We're spending the rest of the day in Banga, in my aunt's house by the river. Auntie Cecil called, "Madayon kita? Kay kung madayon, mangdakop na kami sang native nga manok."

After breakfast, I did some light reading, catching up on old printed copies of The New Yorker. Rivka Galchen's Subtle Revolution, which is about multiple sclerosis, was an enjoyable read. She featured the work of Dr. Saud Sadiq, director and chief research scientist of the Tisch Multiple Sclerosis Research Center of New York. I like how Sadiq describes himself as a "very boring-in general guy" and "just an old man working." 

On Dr. Saud Sadiq

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