Dear Tomas

It started with a dream. The moment when my sister walked me around your ever noble grounds, I already fell in love with you. I tried to pursue you and you didn’t fail me. You called me to your arms. In your embrace was where I found myself next when I woke up. But no, it wasn’t a dream. It was a realization of a dream. I am eternally grateful.
In your balmy domain was where my dreams emerged. In your bosom was where some floundered. You nourished me and sustained me and sometimes struck me for my obstinacy. But hear me. There was never a time that you have abandoned me. For these, I am eternally grateful.
A few hours and I’ll be stepping out of your illustrious shadow. From Espana to Dapitan, Lacson to Noval, my heart bleeds ceaseless gratitude to you. You have raised me to what I am right now. Tomas, I am eternally grateful.
Thank you for everything. I’ll always be one of your thousands of valiant legions.

 

Love you always,
RA
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Table For One: Ooma BGC

Okay, folks. Since I live alone most of the time and I tend to prefer to be alone sometimes, I would like to drop the official maiden post in a new category on my blog at this moment:

TABLE FOR ONE.

This category will showcase everything about my curiosity on food offered by establishments all around the Metro (or country…or even the world, who knows?) be it old or new. I will try to feature at least one diner or carinderia or ristorante to as much as I can per month. Of course, I wouldn’t be devouring everything on their menu in one sitting. However, once I get a chance to return to a particular establishment and order something else other than what I’ve ordered before, I’ll try to update the previous post. This will be fun, people. Trust me. *winks

Continue reading “Table For One: Ooma BGC”

The Perilous Road to MD – Part One

Pa, I already thought about it. I want to become a doctor.” I told my father as my eyes were firmly stuck on the road as I drove us home from the airport. He was skeptical at first. “How would you survive medical school when you don’t even read your books?.” He asked. My parents were unfortunate to have witnessed all my “struggles” as a Nursing student back in college. Sarcasm? Yep. I never really liked studying. During those years, I was a cold-blooded slacker. Even if an examination is announced, I never studied. I was exceedingly dependent on the dubious game of chances and unmitigated luck. Sometimes I pass, sometimes I fail. Graduating on time was a huge matter to have a good muse on. It could be funny to some but no, I’m not proud of it.

Years went by and so did the good days of college. Spending four years of college in my dream university was the highlight of my life back then when medical school seemed to be found nowhere under a blanket of murky water. I met new friends — some were even really good ones that I still get in regular contact with in social media until today, seven years after.

I took a year off after college and started working for our family business back then regularly engaging in chatters with logistics and cargo boys at the airport whenever I ship electronic products to our small computer and electronics shop in the province. Having about a year to think about one of the biggest life decisions I had to make, 2011 felt like two years compressed in three hundred sixty-five days. I was able to convince my parents about entering medical school when I asked the Universe for “signs”. I’m not usually that kind person who depends on signs. But since luck and taking chances has always been my style of play, I didn’t have second thoughts in putting everything on the line.

A National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) percentile rank of at least 80th and qualifying for my dream medical school were among the first “signs” that I sought. For starters, NMAT is the first step that every aspiring Filipino doctor should make to become a physician. It’s an examination comparable to the United States’ Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), testing every aspirant’s knowledge on basic sciences, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Most medical schools in the Philippines has a cutoff percentile rank of their own. In my university, it was 80. I felt God’s grace when I saw the numbers 8 and 0 on my computer monitor upon checking the results online.

My alma mater, the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, has an idiosyncratic way of selecting their students. Annually, about 2,500 aspirants from different islands in the Philippine archipelago apply for admission and only less than 500 qualifies. The admission process itself is a challenge to every applicant’s patience. Letters of recommendation are sent to four different recipients: a college professor, your college guidance counselor, a psychology professor, and your community parish priest. Once you’re done with the letters, you’ll now proceed to psychological testing consisting of a 50-item written examination with practical situational questions that an applicant should answer depending on his own insight. Some people I knew who made it to the Dean’s list back in college did not qualify. However, some average (or even below average) students like me did. Like I said, nobody really knows how the board selects their roster of students for the academic year.

After all the hustles that I had to engage with during the application process, I qualified. I saw my name on the list pinned on a huge corkboard enclosed in a glass pane just beside the windows to the Dean’s office. The feeling was surreal. Who would ever think that someone like me, a student who almost didn’t care about studying back in college, would qualify to one of the country’s top-performing medical schools? Even I couldn’t believe it. Maybe God placed me there to change some things that should be changed. Like being too carefree. Or being too dependent on chances and luck. And I was not wrong. Medical school was life-changing.

I made a pact to be a good student and realize my dream of becoming a doctor when reality began to sink in. It was a huge step that I had to make. Some of our friends in the United States even started offering for help to land a job for me there. But nah, I never bought ’em. That time, I already knew what I really wanted. Folks, things never changed since Kindergarten. To become a doctor is what I want to be.

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This was me with my squad back in the good ol’ days of college.

 

Que Deus nos bendigo y nos proteja,
Robbie

 

The Barça Effect

To call me a “fan” would be an understatement. I’m like a football’s annoyingly creepy stalker. Like someone obsessed and die-hard, never missing any day without watching highlight videos or just taking a few minutes scrolling on football memes spread all around social media. But okay, fine. For the sake of a more prudent and convenient way of communicating, I’ll just call myself a “fan” just for today.

My heart broke last February 14. It’s not that didn’t have a date for Valentine’s day. Well, okay. I can probably give you that as a secondary reason to be heartbroken on Valentines Day. But it’s primarily because my team lost big time in the first leg of the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. Last Valentines Day, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) trounced my beloved FC Barcelona (FCB) at a score of 4-0.

If you’re not familiar with the format of the UEFA Champions League tournament, I will try my best to explain. In the tournament’s Round of 16, Quarter Finals, and Semifinals, the teams play 2 legs and the aggregate score of those will be the final score. For example, PSG defeated FCB at 4-0. It means that for FCB to advance to the next round, they should score 5-0 to make an aggregate score of 5-4. “Away goals” are also given importance. These are the high-yielding goals that the visiting team scores at their opponent’s home pitch. In the February 14 match, FCB wasn’t able to score a single away goal at PSG’s fortress. But if only we were able to score one to make it 4-1 that time, FCB would only need to tie the aggregate score to 4-4 to move to the next round because of the 1 away goal advantage. Since it’s 4-0, FCB needed at least 4-0 at home and prevent PSG from scoring an away goal to tie the aggregate and force extra time and penalty shootout if necessary, or 5-0 to knock PSG outright.

The second leg of the Round of 16 was played last March 9. Every Barça fan was hopeful though a comeback was deemed impossible by most experts and sports analysts. No other team in history has ever made a comeback from a 4-goal deficit in the Champions League. Let me remind you. This is the Champions League, where champions of different leagues from different European countries clash to take home the big silver cup. It means that every opponent is a tough contender. That includes Paris Saint Germain, the French champions.

The match started at Barcelona’s home ground. With a defending mistake from PSG, they allowed Suarez (FCB) to score a header from inside the penalty box making it 1-0 (agg. 1-4)for Barcelona as early as the 3rd minute. An own-goal from Kurzawa (PSG) forced by Iniesta (FCB) made it 2-0 (agg. 2-4) thirty-seven minutes after. After half-time, a penalty was awarded to FCB after Neymar (FCB) was fouled inside the box. Messi (FCB) took the shot and puts Barca to 3-0 (agg. 3-4), a goal away from to equalize the aggregate score. However, at the 62nd minute, Cavani (PSG) scores a thundering strike for Paris, making it 3-1. All hopes died for Barcelona. The aggregate score is now 3-5, with an away goal advantage for PSG. It means that FCB can only win this by making the aggregate score 6-5. Three goals in 28 minutes. Impossible.

The match continued. Barcelona struggled to put the ball in in the next few minutes. On the 85th minute, the clock was ticking to the dying minutes of the game. Neymar was fouled near the corner of the penalty box. He took the free kick and puts it in making it 4-1 (agg. 4-5). A few minutes later, Suarez was fouled inside the box and Barcelona was awarded another penalty. Neymar took the kick and made it 5-1 (agg. 5-5), still in favor of PSG due to an away goal advantage. On the 95th minute Ter Stegen was fouled near mid line, providing FCB a free kick which was taken by Neymar. Neymar then sent an overhead through pass from to the inside box which was received by Sergi Roberto’s right foot volleying FCB’s 6th goal at the back of the net, making it 6-1 (agg. 6-5). There was no time left for PSG to redeem themselves. The referee whistled, signaling everyone of the end of the match. Camp Nou exploded with cheers, chants, and amazement from its 94,000 spectators. FC Barcelona just made history.

For most, football is just a game. But for many die-hard fans like me, it’s more than a beautiful game. It’s a sport that speaks to everyone of us. What I witnessed that night was spectacular and truly one of a kind. I’ve been a fan of football for quite some years now but I have never seen such stellar historical night unveil in front of my eyes. That’s why I have collected photos and quotations from the players which struck me.

And Neymar’s was my favorite. “Enquanto houver 1% de chance, teremos 99% fé.” (“As long as there’s 1% chance, then we will have 99% faith.”)

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Congratulations, Barcelona. We have defied statistics. We have defied history. We have made the impossible POSSIBLE. Visca Barca!

Que Deus nos bendigo y nos proteja!
RA

No dueño estas fotos. El crédito va al dueño/s.
I do not own any of the photos. Credit goes to the owner/s.

 

Today, I Had My First Surgery

When I was a boy, I had a dream.

Everybody was busy attending and monitoring their patients on that sunny morning. Left inside the Surgery quarters for interns was me and another member of the rank. Some of us were deployed in the out-patient department while others were inside the medical school building to attend a lecture conducted by a Japanese speaker. The senior interns had their own “interns’ hour”, leaving them no choice but to endorse their work to us, juniors. Indeed, if only the two of you are left inside the quarters, you’d surely feel the pressure and lack of manpower all around the place. Dr. C, one of the seniors, passed me the torch embellished with three tasks: One. A scheduled emergency appendectomy requires me to find three junior interns to send to the operating room. Two. Inform each junior resident about the whereabouts of the patient. Three. Keep calm and hope for everything to be okay.

I was lucky to immediately get two junior interns to scrub in after the lecture. To fill in for the third, I volunteered. We got inside the operating room around five in the afternoon. In my mind, I was expecting to be the circulating intern, the one who goes in and out of the operating suite to get extra sterile materials, sutures, do errands, and even take pictures of the specimen. However, with the green doors closed, air-conditioners buzzing, and every other human busy preparing the patient lying steadily supine on the operating table, the surgery resident swiftly tells me, “scrub” as he entered the suite passing right in front of me. I was startled for a few milliseconds causing me to have a brief hang time before finally storming out of the operating room to scrub on a nearby sink. I hurriedly scrubbed hard using the clean hard brush provided beside each sink together with a liquid antibacterial soap. I rushed back inside the suite and grabbed my sterile gown and gloves. A few minutes later, the operation started.

The patient was a 19-year-old male who came in with a chief complaint of right lower quadrant pain. He was scheduled for an emergency appendectomy a few hours after he was admitted in our institution.

The surgery progressed. The knife slid laterally from the skin of the medial abdomen. Upon reaching the deeper layers, Dr. U started using clamps to separate muscle fibers and fascial tissue. Finally, after about half an hour, we’re inside the peritoneal cavity. The surgeon meticulously looked for the inflamed appendix. He poked and pulled and pushed the gut in and out of the incision in desperate search for our specimen. Finally, after almost an hour, we found it. He started isolating our patient’s unusually long and thin appendix. Along its course, we started ligating and tying blood vessels that may bleed profusely if not done. When we reached its base, Dr. U placed two clamps, one at the immediate base and another one a centimeter above it. He asked the scrub nurse for the knife, which was soaked in povidone iodine. Moments later, he handed me the scalpel and told me to cut the appendix just below the upper clamp. I carefully started cutting the appendix until I reached the end point and finally hearing the words “specimen out” ring in the air.

When I was a boy, I had a dream.

Today, I had my first appendectomy. (technically)

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Take a look at that massive appendix. It’s almost the length of a scalpel!

Que Deus nos bendiga y nos proteja!
RA

The Mother’s 60th

A few reasons to thank God this week would include my mother’s 60th birthday and giving me the time and opportunity to celebrate it with her and my sister.

God, I thank you for my mother. Without her, I am nothing.

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These bluish-purple roses arranged in bundles while leaning on the store’s wall immediately caught my attention.
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The look on her face as she received these beautiful flowers was priceless.
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Ensalata. 
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Texas Roadhouse’s ribs were amazing. I’m confident to say that they have one of the best ribs in the Metro. Thank you, America.
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Their New York strip cut which weighed approx. 500g is enough to feed two to three streak-craving mouths.
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Everyone’s patiently waiting for the food to arrive.
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Lastly, here’s a mandatory photo of my mother holding the receipt of her first discounted meal as a senior citizen. Feliz cumple, Mami!

Que Deus nos bendiga y nos proteja!
R.A.

Cena Cita

One thing that I don’t like in being a rookie doctor is the inhumane hours spent inside the hospital. On average, we go on 24 or 30 or 36-hour shifts looking after our patients from time to time and carrying out orders from our senpai residents or consultants. Most of our free days are just spent on getting back the lost hours of sleep. That is if we’re not studying. A lot of times, it compromises the time for other things like family, friends, and leisure. It’s a sad fact of life but it’s for the dream.

Today is a new year for our Chinese brothers and sisters. Since my current status for today falls under pre-duty, I didn’t have to come to the hospital and do my everyday thing. As interns, we’re required to go to the hospital on holidays only if we’re on duty. That’s why as a temporarily free person for today, I didn’t waste a second on having thoughts on spending the whole day with mi madre.

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Mi madre is quite easy to please. She never wanted any other fancier maki sushi than California maki rolls.
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This artery-clogging skewer of azura bacon is amazing.
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Chashu ramen for a hot slurp.
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And. D*mn it. This amazing spicy sake (salmon) donburi.

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I hate Japanese food so much that I eat a lot of it so it could disappear forever in this world. Kidding.

See you next time, mother. Have a safe flight.

Que Deus nos bendiga y nos proteja.
RA

Luna (2017)

This is a portrait of the same exact feeling that I experience when I get home from duty. Even if it’s just 2 in the afternoon, it always feels like midnight.

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Luna (2017) 1512 x 2040 px
~6 hours completion time
Digital painting

Morning After

One day, I took a stroll around the deserted streets of my Alma Mater while meandering through my usual way home. For months, I’ve been suppressing the urge of bringing my camera in and around the university to take photos and do one of that things I love doing most. The feeling was unquenchable. The rare montage of empty roads and foliage of yellow and green scattered all around the university greatly amplified that elated feel.

Folks, after a 24-hour duty at the hospital, probably one of the best perks of it is the warm, sunny embrace of the morning after. Nothing compares.

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Que Dios nos bendigo y nos proteja.
RA

First Thoughts for ’17

It’s been a while. The last time that I posted here was a day after Christmas. The days were cold and sad and busy and everybody was bustling around buying gifts, food, and rounded fruits for New Year’s Eve. A week was left before we said goodbye to Pediatrics. Now, we’re off to Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Have I told you how much I hated Obstetrics and Gynecology since…I was in my mother’s womb? Exaggeration aside, yeap, I’ve been on a hatin’ streak with OB-Gyn since Nursing school and it never changed since then. I barely had a complete grasp of everything that one needs to learn on these sh**load of a subspecialty. (No offense to our great OB-Gynecologists. I know you have that one subspecialty that you also hate the most). However, to become a doctor, it would take about 4 months of OB-Gyn rotation in 2 years of internship. No matter how much I hate it, I’m left with no choice but to do it.

The previous year was a bona fide…thing that you see inside an infant’s diaper. I’ve been dragged to the deepest depths of the fiery trenches of hell last year. So would it be fair to the universe if I set my expectations to as high as possible for 2017? I’m claiming a lot of victories for this year. Restoration. Travels. That MD. New experiences. New patients and cases. First surgery. And probably a whole lot more. Just promise to make it good, 2017. Just make it good.

Okay. Let’s open the year with high-cholesterol food like chicharon and steak. What’s the use of synthesizing HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors if you don’t indulge yourself in fatty food, right? Nahh, I’m just kidding. Kids, always love your liver and gallbladder.

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Anyway. It’s 2017 and I’m still addicted to FIFA ’14.

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Cheers to a victorious 2017!

Que Dios nos bendigo y nos proteja.
RA

Sith Lord Cooking Series: How to Turn Your Leftover Bulalo to an Appetizing Lunch

A few nights prior to Christmas, a few colleagues and I made a spontaneous trip to Tagaytay. How spontaneous? We left Manila around 6pm and arrived at the mountain city around 8pm. We had a quick dinner at a Manila-based restaurant which exclusively serves Bulalo (beef shank and bone marrow soup) at their branch in Tagaytay. Ordering a bit too much for four hungry male stomachs, we were left with no choice but to take the leftovers home.

Living alone in a penthouse apartment in the Sampaloc district of Manila for a few years now, I have mastered the art of cooking and saving the leftovers throughout those years to avoid spoilage of food. This time, I was left with a bag of Bulalo. So, what should I do with this?

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Fried Bulalo Flakes

You will need:

Leftover bulalo
1/4 cup cooking oil (I used canola oil on this)
Salt to taste
Pinch of cracked or ground pepper
Pinch of dashi granules/monosodium glutamate
3-4 pcs star anise
Sesame oil (optional)

Beef shanks have a lot of tendons embedded randomly between strands of meat. It also has occasional fat. If you’re not fond of eating the chewy, rubbery texture of tendons, prepare to get messy on the first step.

  1. Shred the meat using your bare hands. Trust me, using anything else other than your hands would just make this step difficult. So just use your hands.
  2. Let the salt, cracked peppers, and dashi/MSG join the party. Mix thoroughly.
  3. In a hot skillet, preheat your cooking oil until smoke starts to rise up.
  4. Toss in your star anise and “fry” it.
  5. Now start frying your bulalo flakes. Let it stand there for about 4-5 minutes until it appears dry and crispy. Do not overcook. Overcooking will totally dry up your flakes and may affect the flavor.
  6. Splash a few drops of sesame oil (optional) just to get a hint of the Orient on your taste buds.
  7. Enjoy with a cup of brown unpolished rice!

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Que Dios nos bendigo y nos proteja.
RA

 

 

 

White Christmas

To be deployed in the hospital to function as a doctor is a whole lot of a different experience than how it was almost a decade ago when I worked in the wards as a student nurse. From the number of hours per shift to the overall role in the work place, the difference is a thousand miles apart.

This year, I got to experience my first birthday inside the hospital. Honestly, it wasn’t the schedule that I wanted. I would prefer to have a day off or from-duty post on my birthday but I didn’t bother to switch schedules with other members of the team since, let’s be honest, one would have thought about it as a fun new experience.

A few days after came Christmas eve. Everyone in the ward suddenly became extra busy last December 24 trying to balance the time for each admitted patient and decorating the Pedia Clerks’ Work Room for Noche Buena. To put it simply, “Noche Buena” literally translates to “(the) Good Night” where families and friends gather together a few minutes before 12 midnight of Christmas Day to dine and celebrate. It’s a common tradition among Spanish-influenced countries such as the Philippines, Mexico, and most of the Latin American nations. On that day, I was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) attending to a preterm newborn patient delivered via Cesarean Section. The three of us assigned there only had intermittent chances to go to the ward where our Christmas dinner was prepared. Nope, that wasn’t fun at all. Imagine everyone else in the ward having fun taking a break from the everyday scenes inside the hospital while the three of us downstairs had to keep a patient inside the NICU alive and thermoregulated. Not. Fun. At. All.

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When I went upstairs, I was surprised to see the effort of all the ward people scattered all over the place. From the Christmas decors to the food in the table, it’s safe to say that the Christmas dinner that we had in the hospital was a good one. Though all of us weren’t with our families for Christmas, the team didn’t fail to somehow let us feel the spirit of Christmas inside the hospital.

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The career path that we chose is a perilous one. I’m aware that these firsts will have succeeding sequels. Despite the tight schedules that usually lead to occasional disorientation to time and date, the most important thing to consider here is the fact that I am enjoying what I’m doing. Celebrating a white Christmas (Christmas inside the white walls of the hospital) wasn’t bad at all. In fact, everyone had fun and got a click of revitalization, leaving the stresses and all the sleepless nights in temporary oblivion. It was Christmas away from home but near the company of great friends and mentors. I think I could get used to this. At the end of the day, no material thing would top a former patient’s Christmas greeting and endless gratitude.

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Feliz Navidad para todos.

Que Dios nos bendiga y nos proteja.
RA

Mystery Blogger Award

Thank you to Eris of erisgoesto.com for nominating my blog for the Mystery Blogger Award! 🙂

WHAT IS MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD?

Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma

RULES

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Things about Myself 

  1. I secretly wanted to be a Dark Lord of the Sith someday. Okay, seems like this one’s not a secret anymore.
  2. During my kindergarten graduation, I told the spectators that I wanted to be a doctor. In college, however, I tried pursuing architecture due to my fondness of art and skylines. Good thing I didn’t make it to architecture school. Perhaps I would have regretted that decision today if it happened. 🙂
  3. Cat person right here, ladies and gentlemen

Here are my answers to Eris’s questions :

  1. A book you’re reading right now.

I just received Neil Gaiman’s Coraline for Christmas! But I have a strong feeling that I might not be able to read it for the next few weeks. So right now, I’m reading the 2016 First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. :))

2. What is your spirit animal?

I never thought about this yet actually. But I’d go with a cat. A black cat specifically. Cats are shy, timorous, and most of the time unpredictable. Sometimes they’d greet you bearing a good mood while sometimes they just want to be alone in a corner. Okay, I just specified the color because black is one of my two favorite colors.

3. One thing you hope to achieve in 2017.

That Medicinae Doctor (M.D.) after my name!

4. If you had one superpower what would it be?

Invisibility. I think I can do a lot more with invisibility. I can travel, sneak in prohibited buildings that I always wished to explore, get free unlimited passes to all of the world’s wonders, rob banks without anyone noticing or getting hurt (kidding), and surely a whole lot more.

5. A person you look up to and why.

Dr. José Rizal. He’s one of the reasons why I wanted to become a doctor. He’s a doctor. Multilingual. Polymath. Poet. Painter. Most importantly, he has blazing love for his family and country.

 

Answers to Kriztin’s questions:

1. What’s you favorite kind of music? If you’re not the picky type, then what’s your current favorite?

I listen to almost anything but I have the least preference on EDM and hip-hop. Incubus and Coldplay are always on my roadtrip and airplane playlist.

2. What movie speaks to you the most?

(MINI-SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t watched any Star Wars film, do not proceed)
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Simply because I’m one with the Dark Side of the Force. LOL. Kidding aside, Episode VI is a movie that made a promise that anyone could return to the light after being soaked in darkness. It’s a story of an undying hope which started on the scene when Padme was muttering her final words to Obi-Wan about her feeling towards Vader’s “inner good” despite turning to the Dark Side a few moments after her death in Episode III.

3. What’s one positive though you have for 2017?

The year 2016 was a hell of a windswept bleak. Since it’s already negative, I’m expecting 2017 to be an extreme opposite for all of us who were hurt and strangulated by the previous year. Let’s just think positive!

4. What line of a book, song or poem resonates with you? Why?

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.

Honestly, I am essentially weak. I get discouraged and depressed for the very minute reasons. Whenever I’m feeling down and murky, I just look up to Him and remember His promises. Joshua 1:9 is just one from His boxes of promises.

I nominate:

Errr. I don’t know who to tag since most of the blogs I follow already did this Mystery Blogger Award thing. So I prepared five questions for those who would like to do or re-do this post instead. 🙂

Here are my five questions: 

  1. How do you see yourself 10 years from now?
  2. Tell me about your favorite line/quote from a book or movie.
  3. What are your greatest pet peeves?
  4. If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be and why?
  5. Who do you think defines what is good and what is evil?

Happy Holidays, dear friends! 🙂

The First Step to #Adulting

So this is what my parents would repeatedly tell me before. In reality, life could be really hard. One does not need to live in poverty to say that life is a bummer. Sometimes, just because of the big decisions and responsibilities, one could already say that it’s actually an obstacle course.

You know that you’re on your way to adulthood when little by little, big things like long-term decisions that one cannot simply make in a fraction of a second start piling up. That one decision that a tiny mistake would potentially make a huge difference and spark thoughts of regrets and frustration. I realized that what’s happening today cannot be compared your graduation day in Kindergarten where you’re tasked to simply share to your ambitions to the spectators, where you can say whatever you want as of that moment. Or to that moment where you’re asked by Professor Oak to choose which Pokemon would you take as a starter. Now, it’s time to settle things. It’s time to finalize the future.

Of course I’m aware that I am a long overdue adult. It’s been almost a decade since I first stepped on the age of being a “legal adult” in our country. But I think this is the biggest decision yet to make so far in my twenty…uhmm. Twenty-something years of existence.

December 7, 2016. This was the last day that our medical school had to set to submit all necessary documents for all internship applicants from our institution. At first, I though I was already sure about the hospital that I already had in mind. But the more seniors I chat with, the more options came popping up like stealthy assassins terminally blowing up their cover in the woods. I reconsidered. Right now, I may say that adulthood has started.

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So, there you go. I sent an application to just one hospital. No backup. No whatever.  I dreamed of becoming a surgeon and I think this is the best option for me to become a great one. Wherever God would take me, there I’d go. I already did my best. The rest is all up to Him now.

Que Deus nos abençoe y nos proteja!

The Ghost (2016)

Whenever I’m out of the hospital or I feel like doing nothing, I try to calm my nerves by painting. So here’s my most recent work that I did for about 4 hours using my Samsung device. Folks, the new Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes — my new favorite character from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Ghost
~ 4 hours painting time, ~5 days to complete
Digital painting
Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Don’t Go Down

Time seems to zoom by so fast when you’re too preoccupied with your priorities. The moment that the bluish flame started to refuse exuding its warmth, it felt like everything has changed. It seemed like a big chunk was taken away from the huge pile of reasons to wake up in the morning. Like I said, I was left with no choice but to feel the changes. If previously I was able to wake up with my hands tightly grasped on the promises and the unending hope that someday, the two planets that once was held together by a strong gravitational force will again be within close proximity. Now, it feels like oblivion. It’s like entering a bog surrounded by a thick blanket of mist making every traveler who goes through it feel lost and weary.

The ghosts of the past are omnipresent. Casting my eyes to the view of my kitchen from where I mostly lie, to the roads that would remind me of the undeniably simpler unadulterated past, sometimes I wish returning back to the time where everything seems so strangely quiet is possible. There was this thing that I wrote back in college. Life back then was full of misery. Just like a normal teenager, everything came up with a complaint. I tend to rant on things that shouldn’t even be given too much attention. However, all I wanted was simple.

All I wanted was to be happy.

A dear friend of mine shares this same exact feeling. Whenever we talk, we seem like normal people enjoying the things that we would talk about. But deep inside is the exact opposite. Sometimes, I think happiness is a matter of perspective. However, I think of it most of the time as something that you’re born with. Like a curse or a congenital anomaly. Some people tend to be happy at the simplest things. No, they’re not shallow. They just chose to be happy at the sight of their beloved cat welcoming them as they arrive home from work despite being alone. Me? I already told you. There’s nothing more in life that I would like to be but be contagiously happy.

No matter how everything adds up to the weight and burdens of everyday life, I know I’m still obliged to be thankful for everything. For the air that I breathe. Be thankful that I woke up today. Or I ate something today. I may have failed a lot of times but I’m still alive. Everyday is a chance to correct every mistake that we have committed. When life pulls us down, we should not go down. At the end of the day, we’re all left with no choice but to be grateful for the tiniest details that make our lives up.

As I end this post, I would like to share this sports drink advertisement which starred my favorite football player, Lionel Messi. This ad taught me to stay up despite life’s everyday challenges. Take a couple of minutes to watch and digest every statement in this ad.

“When you have every reason to go down, do not go down.”

Força, Chapecoense

Today is a tragic day for football fans all over the world as LaMia Airlines Flight 2933 carrying 81 passengers including journalists and players from the Brazilian football club Associação Chapecoense de Futebol crashed on the Colombian soil last 11/29. The team was bound for Medellin, Colombia to play in the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Finals, which is considered one of the biggest matches in the club’s history.

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Photo from mirror.co.uk

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Photo from mirror.co.uk

Força, Chapecoense. Que Deus te abençoe.

Self-Portrait (2016)

Since I was a kid, a lot of people would notice the baffling expression on my face in photos. ‘Smile naman d’yan” (“Give us a smile”), they’d say. However, I’d still choose to go poker all the way. That’s the reason why I opted to attempt painting Grumpy Cat, the character that I deem as a perfect projection of my inner (and outer) self.

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Digital Painting: Deadpool (2016)

Now that I was able to confirm my clumsiness when it comes to cleaning my phone’s system storage, I felt the need to make a back up of all my artworks using this blog. Earlier today, I accidentally cleared my painting app’s cache which included my past and current digital drawings and paintings. I was lucky enough to save some through my Instagram.

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Deadpool
~ 5 hours painting time; ~4 months to complete
Digital painting
Samsung Galaxy Note 3

 

Satisfied Crave

DISCLAIMER:

Okay. First of all, I would like to remind you people that this isn’t a review blog. If you’re looking for in-depth reviews of the places that I’ve been to or I will be posting here, well I’m sorry to tell you but you came to the wrong blog. I suggest that you make a more thorough research. To inform you, this blog only contains entries about nearly nothing else but stories about the rarity of my days of “adventures” in the outside world as a detained hospital doctor. Please be guided accordingly.

Sunday night. Fourth month of clinical clerkship. It’s the second consecutive month that I am enjoying weekends. A couple of weeks from now, I will be back in disorientation on how weekends actually feel like.

It was already dark when we came out from the church. During these months, one can witness the metropolitan night sky engulf the day as early as 6 o’clock in the evening. I never noticed that it was just a few minutes past six. All I thought was it is about to turn eight. We cruised along the wide roads in Ortigas where we used to go before. “It feels like it’s been years since I last went here.” I said. In all honesty, I disliked going to places that would remind me of the good, happy life before. But because I insisted to bring mother to a sushi place that I’ve been wanting to try since last year, it left me no choice.

We arrived at the place just about 20 minutes after leaving the church. Immediately, we approached the elevator and proceeded to the second floor. As we entered Genki, we were ushered to a table with empty seats just near the corner glass pane. Dining in pairs or maybe a smaller group of three or four has it obvious perks.

Installed beside us was a tablet, strategically located just above what seems to be a “track” configured in two levels. One on top, and another below. It was held securely by metallic arm which one can flex and swivel to their field of vision. Posted on the walls of the tracks were photos of the food on their menu.

We started browsing the tablet for their menu and prices. Then, one by one, we began to place our orders.

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The yellow light beside us started to blink and make an alarming noise. That would notify every customer that a car is incoming and that no body part or any article should be placed near or on the tracks. Only a few minutes have passed when our orders started arriving aboard a car that ran through the “tracks” that sat beside us.

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“The experience was one of a kind.” These words came from my mother who apparently had fun dining at a Japanese sushi chain that serves their food via conveyor belts and cars. For me, it’s not the best sushi in the metro but it deserves to be revisited over and over and over again. “Kaya pala gustung-gusto mo i-try ‘to dati pa, ha?” (“So this is why you’re so eager to try this place even before, huh?” She said. Mother, you should always trust my instincts. Some may be peculiar but I guarantee you that it’ll always be awesome.

Where Were We?

Mornings are the best time to write. For me, it’s the time when your brain juices flow the most. Comparing it to writing prime time or late night thoughts, thoughts in the morning, in my opinion, are the happiest. I’m not sure if it’s the effects of daylight since I haven’t read anything yet about their correlation. But you agree with me, right? Don’t get me wrong though, I’m never a morning person. But today, I’m writing this as I see the sun from my apartment window as it shines brightly.

As much as I want to keep this online journal aflame, the increasing demand for time inside the hospital keeps me from doing it. For the past two months, we, with all my comrades and future colleagues, all felt like slaves of our ambitions. It’s every damn day that I’ll be spending the most of it either beside my patients or reporting to medical residents or facing an Internal Medicine book. Work for ten hours. The next day, you’re on duty. Thirty-six freakin’ hours. Why wouldn’t I pack everything from my apartment and just live inside the hospital?  It’s actually possible. Anyone, provided that you’re weird, crazy, and so much willing, could live inside the quarters. I mean, come on. We have comfy beds. We have clean bathrooms and toilets. Food is essentially everywhere. You may just make a quick sneak in your apartment if you need to iron your clothes or replenish your supplies. Damn it. I wonder how much my utility bills would decline after two months.

Now where were we?

In a span of two months, it felt like Internal Medicine pulled everything away from me. It ate my social life, if there’s any. It took the time that I used to spend with my family. It took away my time with Berna. It transiently carried my passion for cooking and photography away from me. Even the minutest time that I give for reading literature and comic books was compromised. Son of a… Good thing IM took away my interest in pursuing the field and becoming a cardiologist as well . IM is exhausting, folks. Now that it’s over, it’s finally over. I guess I’ll just see IM again in a few months in my senior internship…probably for the last time. Ever.

Some days of internship would be really heartbreaking. Father was really concerned about me. One day, Mother told me that Father had a really heavy heart as he left for his job abroad. It was because of me, as he consistently saw me leave the house early in the morning when the sun’s still down and return home next day when it has already set. “Kawawa naman ang anak ko,” (“My poor son.“) he always told me as I arrive home. I’m okay, Father. I am happy.

Good thing that chapter in my clerkship already lies deep in the grave. I enjoyed it. I learned a lot. But it was tiring and troublesome, especially if you feel that you weren’t made for IM. I don’t know. Maybe it’s is just not for me. This rotation however proved and further fueled my passion for Surgery. Thanks to all the challenging IM days!

These photos showcase the highlights of my two-month stay inside the walls of Internal Medicine. (Click on each photo to enlarge)

Maybe you’re wondering how I managed to spend some time writing today. If you’d see me a few weeks ago, it looked and felt like I already live in the hospital. Today, believe it or not, my beloved weekends came back.

Chasing Lightning

It’s been months since I last held my camera. To blame is either the time that I mostly spend in school or watching TV or because of the excessive laziness to go out and shoot. But last night, from the moment that I saw the neighboring buildings around brighten up as the night sky flickered with every strike of the lightning outside, I didn’t waste a second and immediately grabbed on my gear and stationed myself in our building’s roof deck and waited.

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Masturdate: A Chronology of Events

Masturdate/ˈmæs·tədeɪt/

When a man dresses up, treats himself to a nice dinner on the town, then goes home and watches a movie, and if he plays his cards right gets a little jerk action at the end of the night.

May 13, 2016

Manila, Philippines

6:30 PM
My mind speaks. “Should I go? I feel like not going because, damn. The traffic.” That conversation with my inner self persisted until I was done in the shower and finally got off the slippery floor of my bathroom. “Okay, perhaps I’ll go after the news. I’ll start studying thoroughly tomorrow.” I know. Tengo el hábito mañana.

7:45 PM
Okay. I’m done with the news and it’s time to leave my apartment. Hung on my shoulder is a red bag which houses my trusty ol’ camera because I was expecting to arrive in Global City around 9:00 PM, about an hour and a half early before the movie starts. I thought about grabbing some sushi first a few meters near Uptown Place before I go to the cinemas. You know, I find pleasure in taking photos of Japanese food before mercilessly devouring them, specially sushi. 

9:20 PM
Manila traffic is morbid. I arrived 20 mins past my approximated time of arrival. In this city’s “payday Friday” traffic brawl, even traffic helper apps like Waze is no match. It’s a good decision that I chose to just get Uptown’s last full show at 10:30 so I would bypass the metro rush hour. By the time the movie ends, the drive home will just be a hush.

9:30 PM
Since I arrived later than expected (thanks, Manila traffic), I just decided to proceed directly to the mall thinking optimistically that there might be sushi bars near or around the area. Good thing that I was able to park right away. I wasted no time and went directly to the lift that would bring me to the cinemas on the third floor. I approached the ticket booth and bought a ticket for one. I wondered what the booth lady thinks about me. “Maybe he’s a loner. Maybe he doesn’t have any friends. Maybe he’s a creep. Maybe he has attitude problems.” I even asked for the price of the tickets to their VIP cinema, where seats are intimately configured for couples to snuggle up while watching a movie. Who am I with? The air beside me. Why would you ask for the VIP tickets, you stupid?

After dropping by the ticket booth, I went to the rooftop to check out a branch of a Japanese restaurant that Berna and I ate at ages ago at the Mall of Asia. “Table for…one please.” Damn. I felt exactly how Marshall Eriksen must have felt when he asked for a table for one for a brunch. The waiter immediately handed me their menu and a glass of ice cold water. My diet requires at least four pieces of sushi per week…and I just made that up. So I ordered two pieces each of uni (sea urchin) and ebi (shrimp) nigiri sushis to accompany my bowl of gyudon (beef rice toppings). I have never gotten some sea urchin in my palate for years. In fact, I already forgot how it tastes like. I was lucky that uni, one of their seasonal sushis, was available that night. As I continued to raid my way to the bottom of my bowl, a thought suddenly popped out of my mind. Am I carrying enough cash to pay for my dinner? I requested to see the menu again so I could check. Fortunately, I had just enough to pay for it. Crazy.

10:30 PM
I got out of the sushi bar at exactly 10:30 PM since the ticket booth lady told me that trailers will just start playing at 10:30. On my way to the floor below, I asked a security guard that I met along the way, “Manong Guard, do you know if this mall’s parking facility has an overnight parking fee? A few months ago, I was charged Php 300 (approx. US$ 6.50) for parking my car overnight. They said that parking up to past 12 midnight is already considered ‘overnight parking’ in their facility.” I asked him in Filipino. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure. Of course, stupid. He isn’t assigned to watch and secure the parking area. He’s inside the mall as you see. Why would you ask him? Still clueless, I just thanked the manong and he gladly replied “you’re welcome po, sir!”.

Around two minutes past 10:30, I proceeded to Cinema 1. An usher prompted me to a small black table where several bags of flavored popcorn sit. I grabbed one and went straight to my seat. Seated immediately beside me, both on my left and on my right, is air.

May 14, 2016

1:40 AM
It was awesome! I immediately texted Berna and we had a quick post-movie discussion as I walk my way down to the basement parking area. But as I descend, an earlier complication struck me back. Damn it. I still don’t know how much I have to pay for the parking. In my wallet were two twenty-peso bills and one fifty-peso bill (approx. US$ 2.00). To be sure, I had to go to the machine that gives out money. I was fortunate to find one a floor just above where I was parked.

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The movie ticket on the night that I masterdated.

While driving my way out, I pulled over the parking booth and immediately handed the booth lady my parking access card. From my window, I can see her computer monitor projecting an amount. My heart jumped when I saw Php 50 (approx. US$ 1.00) on her screen. Who wouldn’t be happy to see just a sixth of the price that you were expecting?

2:10 AM
See? The traffic is all gone. What’s left on the streets are cars of the party-goers, drunk idiots, and some cabs. I arrived home safely within less than 30 minutes. But folks, I tell you, it’s been fun masterdating. While driving home, I made a decision to do this again whenever a big film comes up. Promise.

3:20 AM
Beep. Shut down.

May 14, 2016

8:00 PM.
I still haven’t studied yet.

Year-End Musings

The academic year is about to close and internship is just a few weeks ahead. Sometimes, I just turn into an unstoppable thinking machine and think about the decisions that I made years ago.

In my first few days in medical school, included in my procrastination time is reading thoughts and comments of doctors and senpais about their chosen field and the topsy-turvy experiences they had in med school. I’ve read blogs, entered forums, and even infiltrated a few “hospital lounge” groups on Facebook in search for stories that would further ignite my interest in my chosen path. But of all the things that I read during those days, one particular thought made a permanent etch on my mind:

during your stay in medical school, you’ll repeatedly think that medicine is not for you.

Becoming a doctor is hard. But being a doctor is surely harder. For a person like me who invests a lot of time in procrastination and other hideous delaying tactics, my stay in medical school has been the toughest chapter in my life so far. It’s tougher than my days in college where I used to detest almost every day because I never really liked the course that I’m taking up until later. It’s definitely harder than my emo days back then when I experienced consecutive heartbreaks. At some point, I have thought that maybe God gave me this because life has been so easy for me ever since. I mean, come on. The college drama and the dark days of consecutive heartbreaks that I had are absolutely nothing compared to what some of our unfortunate brethren in the streets have to face every single day. I finished college without giving my parents a single headache. I’m blessed to have them who supports me and were able to send me to a good school. Without hardships and sacrifices, I won’t be successful. Without failures, I won’t endure the challenges of life.

I failed a lot of times. If in your life you have never ever felt dumb and stupid, try going to medical school. It’s a place of enlightenment and transcendence. There, you’ll realize that you’re not as bright and intelligent as you think. Sometimes, no matter how hard you study for an exam and how much time you put into it, you still don’t get reciprocated. You still end up with an average score. Worse, a failure.

I’m tired. B always reminds me that tougher days are ahead of me when I reach residency and fellowship. “Ginusto mo ‘yan eh.” (“You wanted that.”), she tells me. A lot of times I thought if medicine really was for me. A lot of times, I thought about quitting. What if I just used my license to practice nursing? Maybe I’m with her right now in Canada. Life would definitely be a lot less complicated. “What ifs.” Life’s toughest questions.

No matter how close I think I am to giving up, I just think further and realize that I am also that close to getting there. Whenever it becomes even tougher, I pray and I just remember why I started.

Day Zero

DISCLAIMER: Sad entry. Read at your own risk. For a sadder reading experience, play THIS while reading.

The sun shone brightly outside as I woke up to the hustling of things around their house in Laguna. I woke up to the sight of her dressed in her usual house clothes rummaging for things to put in her luggage inside the room where I spent the night. A few hours ago, just before I closed my eyes and decided to call it a day, we were seated on the same bed where I was lying carefully scanning over the “books” that each of us authored back in college for a project. We blithely exchanged smiles whenever we found anything hilarious written in those hard-bound books. Back in those days, things seem to be a lot simpler than it is right now.

For a relationship that has raced through really long, winding miles, saying “goodbye” would definitely top the list of the most heart-shattering events. Especially when a couple has been through almost everything that life could throw at them but still always ends up standing tall and proud together, side by side, holding each other’s hands tightly as they brace for the charges of everyday battles, there’s no doubt about it. Through ups and downs, moments of defeats and victories, and endless blissful memories, we have always been together. Eight years was a long run. However, in this world where “change” is the only thing that’s constant, some things need to comply.

Day Zero

I knew that this day would come. Everyday since she submitted her application for a school in Canada, I would always try to convince myself that the days of us being physically together now has an expiration date…and it’s not getting farther away. Like a wick. Or a time bomb. Or seeing yourself as a pirate’s captive slowly walking towards the far edge of a wooden panel that leads to nothing but the air above the surface of the sea. Hands tied, blindfolds on, forcefully prodded behind by a razor sharp cutlass. That, you’ll never know that you’re gone until you feel the dark cold sea engulf you all over. Every night for more than two months, she would always end the day with an SMS that states “T minus (days left)”. Sometimes I ask her not to do that. Even just a piece of a thought of it stings me.

Airport scenes are always the saddest. Whenever my father leaves the country for his job abroad, I would always see my mother turn red and eventually burst into tears as they bid goodbye to each other. It’s always been the same, like a two-hour sad movie put into loop. Now I understand what my mother’s crimsoning and tear-popping frenzy is all about. I have felt it myself. Honestly, the exact moments of farewell weren’t that sad. With the help of her family’s presence, I was able to successfully hold my tears back. But boy, the minute that she entered the terminal gradually disappearing from anywhere within my field of vision was really heartbreaking. It felt like a javelin piercing right through me in the chest, compromising my airway and immobilizing my heart. In that moment starts to enter the thoughts that I may not be able to see and hold her for a long span of time…that we wouldn’t be able to share special moments of our lives together for quite a long time. But you know what’s the most most painful part of the scene? It was when you realize that you were together just a few hours ago seated happily inside the car en route to the airport. A few hours later, you’re going home alone.

Goodbyes are never really meant when they are said. A real goodbye is when silence does all the talking. That moment when she turned her back to us as she approached the glass doors leading to the airport terminal, I realized how blessed I am to have someone who makes saying goodbye so damn hard. With my knapsack and a small sling bag, I rode a cab home. Quiet. Alone.

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Distance means so little when someone means so much.

The Streets of Manila

Manila may be dirty and congested but in my opinion, its streets are picturesque. Every person and every scene tells different stories.

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Canon AE-1 Program x Fujifilm C200
Yashica Electro 35 GSN x Kodak Ultramax 400 (exp)
Manila, Philippines
2015

Fade

A few days ago, I dropped by my favorite photo lab located just a few kilometers from where I live. Panning on the direction of their glass cabinet just behind the woman operating the cash register, I was surprised to see a new variety of film rolls besides the usual C200’s and Neopans. The sight of new stacks of small green and yellow boxes, arranged meticulously forming a wide base to a pointed top like a pyramid, made me cast a gentle smirk as I approached their glass counter.

What if film manufacturers like Fujifilm and Kodak cease their production of fresh rolls anytime from now?

I had thoughts. Nothing lasts forever. One day, film manufacturers would actually cease their productions specially when sales start to significantly decline. A reason why I had to temporarily put down my digital SLR and shoot using my trusty ol’ film cameras for a while.

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Canon AE-1 Program x Fujifilm C200
Puerto Princesa City, Philippines; Manila, Philippines
January 2016

The Dreamcatcher

Most people say that when you start dreaming about something, you don’t just simply let it pass by and do nothing. It’s a vicious cycle, spinning to and fro like a beach ball bouncing and rolling down a steep pavement. When you start dreaming, you would suddenly start to find yourself inside a confinement doing everything to make those dreams a reality. Stop dreaming and you’d resemble a shriveling raisin under the scorching sun.

I started dreaming of becoming a doctor when I was seven. Back in those years, I used to hang out in my uncle’s clinic. His clinic wasn’t grandiose. It was just a small office space just enough for an examination table, a cabinet where he kept an old microscope and a metal canister of alcohol swabs, and his personal table to fit inside. He’s a pediatrician. A really good one. Everyday, about fifty kids of different ages, held closely by their parents, goes in and out of his clinic to seek for his advice. His clinic was located just inside the four walls of our ancestral compound in the province. That is where I witnessed how his life went throughout the day, giving advices, interviewing patients or parents, administering drugs and vaccines, and so on. In those years, the dream started. In those years, I said to myself, “someday, I’m going to become just like him”.

Another dream unexpectedly came nearly a decade ago. Let me tell you a fact. As a person grows up, the items in his personal list of dreams will surely pile up. It’s utterly true. For me, this new dream was something else. It is something that would make one rally through the end no matter how hard or how long it would take like a triathlete running, swimming, and biking his way through the finish line. Everyday was a battle resembling the ones that I encounter everyday in medical school. There were fun days and there were days that exhausted me, leaving me helpless as a cowering prey. Through the ups and downs, I proved, however, that the everyday battles that I had for this dream to become a reality were all worth fighting for. Nope. I am still not talking about the path to becoming a physician. I’m talking about the girl that I met eight years ago.

Today, I’m standing on the edge of a cliff feeling the wind whip on my clothes as I enjoy the truly breathtaking hues of blues of the fair sky and the perfect horizon. The road behind me diverged into two separate paths, coercing me to choose one to take on the way home. Diverging roads taking on different paths. Bummer. If there’s one thing to hate about life, it’s choices. I always see it as unfair. I mean why do you have to choose if you can just have both? Or why can’t you just have both in the first place? Not fair. From this moment, however, I would just lift everything to the Universe. I know that someday, the diverging road behind me would soon converge a few yards just before reaching home. Whichever path I take, whichever dream I pursue, I know that fate has something really big in store for me. Someday, I will catch all my dreams. Someday, we will.

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A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream that you dream together is reality. 

– John Lennon

~ RA

First Thoughts for 2016

¡Feliz año nuevo! Happy new year! Manigong bagong taon!

I’m sorry if I haven’t been in here for quite a long time. You know, I used to tell people that I am a very busy person. There’s my family, an ill uncle in the hospital, some friends and relatives from my hometown, and my girlfriend. Since day one of my December break, most hours of the day were occupied spending every minute to them.

Life has been so tough for me this 2015. There were feuds between blood, uncertainties, failures, and relational instabilities. But all those obstacles that I had a collision course with subsequently transcended into objects that fueled me to become a better person that I am right now — a few months to a year after. I am aware that life would be tougher ahead because that’s how life goes for most. That’s how life goes. If you don’t brace yourself, you’ll lose. You’ll die.

Big disturbances in my life’s metaphorical circadian rhythm are happening this year. B is leaving for Canada early this year. My sister will be on the other side of the globe halfway this year as well. My father’s retiring after more than four decades of maritime career. Internship. Electives. Probably a lot more.

I don’t know how life would look like 366 days from now…or would I even still be alive by that time? No one knows. The future scares me. But for now, I’ll just go wherever life would take me. There are numerous reasons to be anxious about this year but nope, there are far more plentiful reasons to be thankful about and enjoy this 2016. Life is beautiful. I wouldn’t dare to waste a day of it sulking and fretting.

Cheers to a victorious 2016!

~ RA

A Valentine’s Day Post

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WARNING: Slightly sad post. Read at your own risk.

It was an ordinary day. The first few minutes upon arriving home from the hospital has become a routine. I’d remove my shoes and properly store them on a metal rack next to my apartment’s door, unload my things in the usual spot where I place them so I wouldn’t forget, undress myself, try to hoop everything in my laundry basket, and then take my usual post-hospital-exposure shower. After those, I dress up comfortably, turn my laptop on, prepare my lunch, and finally eat while I catch up on new episodes of my favorite TV shows. The sun casting its warmth through my apartment window greatly concealed any melancholic feel that I was mandated to experience today.

During the past years, I have learned to love that baffling feeling of seeing people happy by giving them what I think would make them happy. It’s been a constant source of that enigma. That’s a reason why a lot of times during the previous years as an actually caring adult, I tried planning on surprising my friends with simple gestures just to make them feel special on Valentine’s Day. Like giving them something cute or girly. Or maybe a stem of red rose. However, I would always succumb to failing to execute everything on time. I’m good at planning. But doing? Forget it.

I always told people that I’m contented with being alone. I’ve actually mastered the art of it. I can happily drive alone while listening on my favorite tracks on my phone. That never became too hard for me to do. I can go to the grocery and pick up food for me to prepare and cook. I can soil everything in my apartment and clean everything up by myself anytime or any day I want. Moreover, being alone also has this perk that most people living alone might not realize: whenever I do something colossally stupid, nobody has to know. If ever I accidentally slip on the floor, or unintentionally char my meal, nobody would know. Whenever I feel that there’s a need to sing, dance, and cry like crazy, no one would see.

Anyway, I’m already blabbering about random things. Maybe this is just a manifestation of loneliness. Kids, being alone would inevitably make you feel alone. As a human, whether we like it or not, we have evolved intellectually enough to develop an instinct to find a person who we can always talk to about anything, or care about, or share affections with. Unfortunately, I lost that person a few months ago. The past eight Valentine’s Day were great. Ecstatic. Euphoric. Happiness-inducing. Or any other adjective that would express extreme elation and contentment. This is the first Valentine’s Day in almost a decade that I’m celebrating it back with my family. To be honest, this year’s V-day sucked helium so hard that it went all the way to the stratosphere without me noticing. You know, when I get home from a 30-hour hospital duty, no matter how hard I try to fight it, I always end up sleeping throughout the day. But I think it greatly helped. Skipping almost half of the day in slumber to flush every Valentine’s crap I see on my Facebook feed into oblivion isn’t actually bad. Perk!

Not everything bad can be that bad. Sometimes, bad things happen to make way for great things. Like in my case, I somehow started to rekindle my relationship with my family. Things got shaky before when there existed numerous differences among every one of us. Our beliefs, our personalities, personal preferences, and probably a lot more that I couldn’t have known or even noticed. But it’s over now. I guess I’m left with no choice but to think about what the future holds for me. And I believe that it will be great.

It takes 10,000 shots of alcohol to move on from a breakup according to Robin Scherbatsky. If you think about it, that’s a lot to consume. Not to mention that fettered with those are the countless number of hours that one should spend to move on. It’s a cliché of life. Only time can heal shattered things. One day, I’ll be fine again. One day, Valentine’s Day will become a thing again.

Que Deus nos bendiga y nos proteja!
R.A.