Getting Around Getty

On our last California trip we visited the Getty Center. It is perched on top of a hill of the Santa Monica mountains in Los Angeles. This is one of the two campuses of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The other campus is called the Getty Villa.

Getty Center is a $1.3 billion project that opened to the public in 1997. Admission to the museum is free, though you have to pay for parking. It is like the dinner is free, but you have to pay for the fork and knife.

We parked at the designated parking area which is on the foot of the hill. Then we took a 1-mile tram ride up the hill to the museum. You can also walk from the parking area to the center, but it is a rather steep climb. IMG_5041 The building itself is a work of art. It was designed by architect Richard Meier. IMG_5048 IMG_5047 Below is the central garden of the Getty Center. IMG_5072 The museum houses priceless treasures of art. This includes European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, and decorative art. It also have 19th and 20th-century American and European photographs. IMG_5052 IMG_5051 Below is my favorite subject for paintings. IMG_5050 Nudes? No.The cornucopia of fruits! Silly. IMG_9496_2 The works are from famous artists. From Rembrandt’s portraits… IMG_5054 To Picasso’s abstracts… IMG_9537 To Monet’s impressions…. IMG_9535 And van Gogh’s paintings. IMG_9538 Even if you are not really into arts, you can still enjoy the museum just by looking outside the window, for there is more to see than paintings. IMG_5049 The view from the center is picturesque. From the bustling downtown LA…. IMG_5044 Up to the rugged Santa Monica mountains…. IMG_5042 And to the serene Pacific ocean. IMG_5057 It is also a beautiful location for a photo shoot. IMG_5065 I enjoyed our visit to the Getty Center. And to cap the experience, we skip the tram ride and instead briskly walked down the scenic path back to the parking area. It was breath-taking. Literally.IMG_5061

5 years of blogging

A few years ago, I started on a trip all by myself.


Then, a few of you followed.


Later on, several more joined in.


An adventure that has taken me to sail back to where I came from.


And to soar to places I thought I can only dreamed of.


After 5 years, and after more than 500 posts, and more than 130,000 visits, I am still enjoying this ride.


For all my readers, followers, and even for the chance passengers, thank you for joining me on this journey.

(*all photos taken with an iPhone)



Looking Beyond X-rays

I looked at her chest x-ray, and knew right there and then that she didn’t have a chance. I have seen bad chest x-rays before, but this time, it was different.

I look at chest x-rays and chest CT scans every day. I review 30 or more each day. It is part of what I do for a living. And it is something that I become good at.

Ever since German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen discovered what he dubbed as “x-radiation” in 1895 we have used this technology in analyzing bones, teeth, and other organs in the human body. It also used to detect cracks in metal in the industry. Now we even use them ubiquitously in all airports for luggage inspections. That’s why bag inspectors know you packed in dried fish without opening your luggage.

But do you know that x-rays can also look into the future? It has nothing to do with radiation-emiting crystal balls.


It was late August of last year when I went back to the Philippines, not for a vacation but for a medical emergency. The attending physician in the hospital, who knew that I am a doctor myself, led me to the radiology department to show me a chest x-ray of the patient.

It was also here in this same hospital, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay (UERM) Hospital, that 27 years ago, where I picked up a CT scan of the brain of another patient. But at that time I just started medical school. In fact I was only in my first month of my first year of medical school then. Yet even in my untrained eye, I knew that the word “tumor” is not good. Especially if it said it is in the brain.

Now I was back in that hospital, looking at a chest x-ray, one morning that August. I have gained more than 20 years of experience now as a physician. And interpreting chest x-rays has become my expertise.

The chest x-ray the doctor showed me revealed a large tumor, the size of a santol (wild mangosteen) fruit. Not just one, but three! A sign that cancer had spread. A sign of impending doom.

Somehow it felt like I was reading the patient’s obituary, way before her death.

The chest x-ray was my mother’s.

And the CT scan of the head that I picked up 27 years ago? That was my father’s. He died 3 months after I peeked on that head scan.

What is this that I was privileged to see the future through an x-ray, as it gave me an insight of what is to come? Is it a blessing, that I could have prepared for it? Or is it a curse, as I started mourning before everybody else did?

When I broke the news to my mother regarding the results of her chest x-ray, she was not surprised. It was as if she knew it already. She was serene and collected.

My mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer 5 years ago, and underwent surgery for it. We thought we got rid it. We thought we kick cancer in the butt (no pun intended)!

But we were wrong. It came back. And with a vengeance.

My mother decided to not pursue any further treatment, like chemotherapy or radiation. For there’s no guarantee anyway that it will matter. Somehow she accepted her fate and was at peace with it.

When we took her home from the hospital she even willed herself even though she was weak to accompany me to the airport in Manila when I flew back here to the US. When I embraced her goodbye, I knew it will be our last embrace. Yet she told me, “Anak hindi ako malungkot. Masaya ako dahil nagkita pa uli tayo” (Son, I’m not sad. I’m happy that we saw each other again). She even added that I need not return for her funeral, it was enough that I saw her alive.

A little more than two months after I saw that foretelling chest x-ray, my mother died.

But there are things that the x-ray did not show. It did not show the inner strength and grace that my mother displayed on her last days. It did not show the peace and faith she had even when facing death. It did not show the confidence and hope that she had, that we will see each other again someday, in a glorious place where there’s no more grief and x-rays.

Pinoytransplant Goes to Hollywood

There is no place on earth that is synonymous to red carpet, bright lights and stars than Hollywood. So during our recent holiday trip to California, we visited this district of Los Angeles, which is the center for the motion picture and entertainment industry.



Obviously we would like to walk where the stars have walked. But since we were not worthy of a red carpet, plus we cannot find a red carpet anyway, we settled to walk down Hollywood Walk of Fame.



This is the place where the stars left their mark. I mean, literally.


Since there were no stars to see in person while we were there, we did the next best thing. We visited their replicas at the Madame Tussauds.


Madame Tussauds is a wax museum founded by sculptor Marie Tussaud, with the original site in London. Now the museum has several branches in a number of major cities, including this one in Hollywood. Here we saw hot stars of today, as well as of yesteryear.


Contrary to what you’re thinking, the above sculpture is not of me and my wife. They just have some resemblance to us.



Above is not a sculpture. Well, Sir Elton John is, but the one on the piano is my daughter trying to strike a pose.

Below are Paul Newman and Robert Redford as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” The ones behind the jail bars are “pinoytransplant and his no-dance kid.”


There are other places to visit in Hollywood, like the Kodak Theater, the Chinese theater, and the one below, the Hollywood and Highland Center. It is a large shopping mall and entertainment complex.


If you look up into the mountains, besides the beautiful homes perched up on the hill, you will also see an iconic sign.


Here it is with magnification.


But we were not satisfied to see Hollywood from afar. We want to see it closer. I mean to see the “Hollywood” sign closer.

So my nephew who lives in LA, led us into a location, which is a far cry from an elegant red carpet walk. It was rather a rugged hike up the hills of Los Angeles.


It is also up in these hills where you can have a scenic view of downtown LA.


As I look into the Hollywood sign, I thought that maybe I can change career and pursue my luck here in Hollywood.


After all, Jack told me so.


But then again, my pretty face may just end up at the tip of Bruce Lee’s foot. In that case, I think I’ll pass.

From Hollywood,


yours truly,


(*all photos taken with iPhone)

Naaalala mo pa ba?

Gusto mo bang magbalik tanaw sa nakaraan? Halina’t sariwain natin ang mga karanasan noong tayo’y bata pa. Ilan kaya sa mga ito ang naaalala mo pa? Ang munting quiz na ito ay para sa mga bata noong dekada 70-80’s.


1. “Nasaan ang tibay mo?” Ito ay isang commercial tungkol sa:

A. semento

B. tsinelas

C. bangko

D. beer


2. Ang Bazooka na nabibili sa sari-sari store ay:

A. iniinom

B. ipinapahid

C. pinipiga

D. nginunguya


3. Sangyon sa kanta ni Dingdong Avanzado, magkano raw ang kailangan para makatawag sa telepono?

A. trenta sentimos

B. singkwenta sentimos

C. tatlong bente-singko

D. apat na bente-singko


4. Ano ang mga kailangan para makapaglaro ng tumbang preso?

A. lata at tsinelas

B. tsinelas at patpat

C. patpat at goma

D. lata at lubid


5. Ang laser sword ay ultimatong sandata ni:

A. Mazinger Z

B. Voltes V

C. Power Rangers

D. Voltron


6. Sino ang hindi kasama sa pelikulang Bagets?

A. William Martinez

B. Herbert Bautista

C. Aga Mulach

D. Richard Gomez


7. “Hindi lang pampamilya, pang sports pa!” Ito ay commercial ng:

A. sports bra

B. kotse

C. rubbing alcohol

D. gin


8. Ano ang hindi pelikula ni Fernando Poe Jr?

A. Umpisahan Mo, Tatapusin Ko

B. Anak ni Baby Ama

C. Ang Panday

D. Kapag Puno Na Ang Salop


9. Ano ang hindi laro sa Game and Watch?

A. Octopus

B. Egg

C. Space Invader

D. Chef


10. Saan mo narinig ito: “Boom tiyaya boom tiyaya boom tiyaya boom!”

A. isang Filipino rap song

B. isang commercial ng shampoo

C. sayaw sa Eat Bulaga

D. sa isang larong pambata


11. Sino ang gumanap na isa sa anak ni Dolphy sa show na “John en Marsha?”

A. Vandolph

B. Janice de Belen

C. Maricel Soriano

D. Niño Mulach


12. Sino ang hindi player ng Crispa?

A. Atoy Co

B. Manny Paner

C. Bogs Adornado

D. Philip Cesar


13. Alin ang hindi kanta ni Sharon Cuneta at Rey Valera?

A.  Kung Kailangan Mo Ako

B. Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko

C. Natutulog Ba Ang Diyos

D. Maging Sino Ka Man


14. Anong pangalan ng first airconditioned bus sa Metro Manila?

A. Love Bus

B. JD liner

C. BLTB transit

D. Philtranco


15. Anong department store ang may palabas na gumagalaw na mga mannequin tuwing Pasko noon?

A. Ali Mall

B. Harrison Plaza

C. C.O.D.

D. Rustan’s


16. Anong sagot sa bugtong na ito: “Isda ko sa mariveles, nasa loobs ang kaliskis.”

A. sili

B. galunggong

C. sardinas

D. atis


17. Noong martial law, tuwing flag ceremony, anong kanta ang inaawit pagkatapos ng “Lupang Hinirang?”

A. Bayan Ko

B. Bagong Lipunan

C. Leron Leron Sinta

D. Mga Kababayan Ko


18. Anong laro ang may kantang: “rikitik-kitik and a blue black sheep?”

A. shato

B. Chinese garter

C. Monkey, Annabelle

D. prisoner’s base


19. Ano ang “Student Canteen?”

A. karinderia sa Iskul Bukol

B. isang noontime TV show

C. isang bookstore

D. isang night club


20. Ang radio broadcaster na nagpasikat ng “toning water” ay si:

A. Joe Taruc

B. Rey Langit

C. Johnny Midnight

D. Brother Mike



(For correct answers please see comment section.)


16 or above: isa kang tunay na batang dekada 70-80’s.

8-15: maaaring hindi ka pa ipinanganak noong 70-80’s, pero may alam ka sa history.

7 or below: maaaring matanda ka na, at naguulianin ka na rin.

Busting the Sleep Myths

As a society, we are 24/7 and driven by productivity. With the night time being the new frontier, our culture just doesn’t want to go to sleep.

According to the documentary “Sleepless in America,” a collaboration by National Geographic, National Institute of Health and The Public Good Projects, 40% of American adults are sleep-deprived, and the average American sleeps less than 7 hours per night.

As a sleep specialist, I was interviewed by our city’s newspaper* last week, regarding sleep issues and pervading myths about them. Here are what we discussed.

Myth #1: Chronic sleep deprivation won’t dramatically harm health.

Fact: Not getting your ZZZZZs can cause obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, mental illness and depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and possibly even cancer, studies show.

When we don’t get enough sleep, our body releases a hormone that makes us feel hungry or not satisfied, so we’re likely to eat more. When this happens day after day it can lead to obesity.

Lack of sleep can cause insulin-resistance leading to diabetes. It can also impairs memory and many of the mental illness known includes sleep problems.

Myth #2: A nap disrupts sleep at night.

Fact: Short naps lasting 15 to 30 minutes are good for you.

Our normal circadian rhythm causes a dip (in energy) every afternoon sometime between noon and 3:00. A short nap, research shows, can improve functionality.

However, naps lasting more than 30 minutes produce a deeper level of sleep. Those are more difficult to awaken from, can leave you feeling groggy, and definitely make it harder to get to sleep at night.

nap at work

Myth #3: You have more important things to do than sleep.

Fact: In the 19th century people slept nine or 10 hours a night. Now we average just six or seven hours a night. Of course they don’t have television and internet in those days. Now we have developed this thinking that sleeping is a waste of time when that’s not true.

Adequate sleep benefits your mental sharpness and mood. It provides the energy that allows you to accomplish more during the day.

Myth #4: Some people do fine with less than 7 hours of sleep.

Fact: Most sleep experts agree that nearly everyone needs between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.

Some people may function well with fewer than 7 hours of sleep, but that’s not the norm. That said, studies indicate nearly 30 percent of Americans sleep less than six hours. That can increase risk of early death up to 12 percent.

If you fall asleep within five minutes after your head hits the pillow every single time, that may be a sign that you are sleep deprived. So unless you are a Giraffe, which only sleeps an average of 2 hours a day, you better get more hours of sleep.

Myth #5: You can catch up on sleep on weekends.

Fact: When you sleep deprive yourself, your sleep debt increases each day. You need to pay it back within the next day or so, not delay to the weekend.

The problem with “banking sleep” until the weekend is that sleeping in usually causes you to be awake later that night. Come Monday morning, you’re apt to start the week already sleep deprived, and the vicious cycle continues.

Myth #6: Driving when tired is okay as long as you drink plenty of caffeine.

Fact: Fatigue is the No. 1 cause of high-severity car crashes.

Although caffeine can help fight fatigue, it takes at least 30 minutes before it takes effect. If you’re awake for 17 or 18 hours straight, your reflexes are so slow it’s as if your blood alcohol level were .05 percent. You’re as good as drunk.

sleep pals

Myth #7: Teens don’t need to sleep in like they do.

Fact: Staying up late and then wanting to sleep in is really not teenagers’ fault entirely. Their physical-mental-behavioral “clocks” ― called circadian rhythms ― are to blame.

Teens’ circadian rhythms are delayed a bit, which is known as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. They don’t usually feel sleepy until midnight or later, but then they don’t want to get up in the morning. That’s not a problem until they need to follow society’s schedule for school or work.

According to “Sleepless in America,” teens who sleep more hours do better in school and has less rate of developing depression.

To help teens achieve wakefulness in the morning (which helps them fall asleep earlier at night), more exposure to sunlight or light therapy can be recommended. This helps reset their circadian rhythm to be more alert earlier in the day.

Myth #8: Shift workers adjust to their work schedules.

Fact: No one really gets used to shift work. Humans are diurnal creatures, meaning they are wired to be active in the daytime. Except Batman maybe.

But in our round-the-clock society, someone has to work the graveyard shift. For those who do, these tactics will help improve the quality and duration of sleep:

  • When going home from work in the morning, try to avoid light, which stimulates wakefulness. Put dark sunglasses on.
  • When sleeping during the day, make sure the bedroom is cool and dark. Turn off your phone. Minimize all the things that can disrupt sleep.
  • When working at night, make sure you’re exposed to light and that your work area is well lit.
  • If you’re sleepy when working, using your break for a quick nap can really help.

Myth #9: You just have to live with your current sleep habits.

Fact: Many people have had poor-quality sleep for so long they believe nothing can ever change it. Not true.

Poor sleep habits can be very hard to break, but they can be broken. It starts with educating ourselves on how important good sleep is, and how it will benefit us in the long run.

So there you go folks, unless you are a Christmas elf, you should not ditch sleep tonight.

sleeping hippo

(*photos taken from the web)

(**post note: above interview was published in The Des Moines Register on January 11, 2015)