Gintong Singsing

Ako’y isang magarang gintong singsing,

Mula sa Escoltang mamahalin,

At isang araw ako’y pinili,

Ng isang binatang masalapi.


Sa simbahan ako’y iminarcha,

Bitbit ng batang naka-Amerikana,

Inihatid sa harap ng dambana,

Isinuot kasabay ng pagsumpa.


Lumipas ang maraming mga araw,

Yaring pag-ibig hindi pala tunay,

Ako’y hinubad at kinalimutan,

Tambunting naging aking hantungan.

Vintage Driving

I was scooting from one patient’s room to another in our clinic the other day as it was a busy day for me. Our schedule was full and our clinic was busting at the seams with patients. I think that’s good. Not good that many people are sick, but good in the sense of job security.

Then in one stretch of time in the afternoon, I saw three nonagenarians (person in their 90’s) back to back, to back. They were there for asthma follow-up and regular check-up.

Two patients were both 94-year-old ladies, and one patient was a gentleman who was 93. If you don’t look at their records and peek at their birth dates, you would think they were much younger. Decades younger.

All of them were in remarkable shape despite their advanced age. They will put to shame some of my 40 or 50-year-old patients.

All of them still live independently. All of them were spry and sharp, and were still quite active. And all of them still drive. Not drive their family crazy. But they still drive a car! In my opinion, there’s no reason why they cannot.

I know that driving nowadays is getting easier and easier. With most of our cars with automatic transmission, it does not take a lot of skill to drive a car. And now with our advancing technology, there are “smart” cars that will automatically stop and avoid collision, or keep you in lane, or adjust your distance to the cars in front of you, or warn you of your blind spot, or cars that even park itself.

I know not very long from now, we will have self-driving cars, which are already being tested, cruising in all our highways. Then driving ability and skill will not even be necessary.

But still having a very old person at the back of a steering wheel can be a scary thought. If you think about a frail 90-year-old lady with failing eyesight, very poor reflexes and perhaps lapsing memory too, barreling down the road in a big Buick, and you’re in the crossroad, and you wonder if old grandma will be oriented enough to release her foot off the gas and step on the brake.  Will she be able to stop in time not to run you over?


(picture from

Back to my patients, out of curiosity I asked one of my 94-year-old lady patient what kind of car she drives. A vintage automobile perhaps?

She told me proudly that she drives a bright yellow, German-made, convertible with an accompanying vanity plate. I bet you with a car like that she does not drive slow like a grandma.

Great grandma was still driving in style!

When I came to examine the other 94-year-old lady, I was more than curious to ask what car she drives. As a jest I asked her if she also drives a convertible? Her answer blew me away.

She told me that she used to drive a convertible until 2 years ago, but traded it for a more subdued style of car. She does not care about convertible anymore as it just messes her hair.

Yet she said that she cannot give up though the type of car that she was used to drive, all these years. So even though it was not a convertible, it was still this kind. What kind?

She still drives a stick shift! Ageless indeed.





Gabi na naman, natutulog na ang araw,

Di magtatagal ako ri’y magpapahinga na,

Ngunit bago matulog, ako muna’y tatagay

Sa isang maliit na kupita, bago magpahingalay.


Mabagsik ang alkohol nitong aking tagay,

Sa bawat pagtutuos, milyon ang pinapatay,

Kahit gumuguhit at kumakagat sa lalamunan,

Tutunggain pa rin, pagka’y kinakailangan.


Huwag kang mabahala, sa aking adiksiyon,

Ang tagay kong tangan ay isang solusyon,

Ito’y imumumog muna at saka ko ibubuga,

Sa tagay kong mouthwash, tumba ang baktirya.


Still Water

During our recent trip to Poland I was asked a question that I have never encountered before.

We were in a restaurant when the waiter asked me what I wanted to drink. I then requested for water. To this the waiter further asked:

“Still or gassed?”

I looked at him intently and bid him to repeat the question, and he asked me again, “Still or gassed?”

Is he asking me if I wanted “distilled” water? But what about the gas? Does he know that I am feeling gassy? Will they gassed me or something?

Finally it dawned on me that he was asking if I wanted “regular” water or “carbonated” water! It’s just that I am not familiar with the term “still” or “gassed” water.

Realizing what his question was, I stated confidently, “Still water, please.”

Something I learned in Poland was, first, they don’t offer tap water in restaurants. Water is always bottled so you have to pay for it. Secondly, they like carbonated water, for some reason or another. And thirdly, they really call the carbonated water, “gassed” water. I think technically it is more accurate than the term sparkling water.

During the rest of our stay there, I was requesting for “still water.”


Polish still water

Perhaps I am not the only one who wants to drink still water. I was reminded of a popular text in the Bible in Psalms 23, “He leadeth me besides the still waters.”

Apparently sheep cannot drink from a rushing water. So the shepherd has to bring them to a spring or brook with quiet water, or he has to make a small dam for the water to be still, and only then can his herd of sheep drink the water.

But maybe it is not only our drinking water that we wanted to be still.

Last summer, in our home trip to the Philippines, we were able to visit Palawan, and we spent a few days beside the ocean. We rode boats when we went island hopping, did some swimming and snorkeling, and enjoyed some time kayaking.

During those water activities, you want the ocean to be still. We would not dare sail in a turbulent sea or when the waves are raging. So we want the water where we are treading, to be still waters, as well.


photo taken at Sabang, Palawan

However the waters where we tread, are not always still. It can be stormy at times.

Two years ago, the waters near Tacloban, Philippines became turbulent. So turbulent that it caused 15 to 20-foot-high storm surges during the super typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda). It caused terrific devastation not just near the coast but even spanning to several kilometers inland.

I witnessed this devastation first hand, and it’s not easy to forget such horrendous tragedy . Sadly to say, thousands of lives were lost, with millions more affected. I can only pray for the continuous healing and recovery of those survivors.

(video taken during one of our helicopter medical tour, Tacloban, November 2013)

We may like to have still waters all the time, but you and I know that angry waters is part of our lives. And I am not only talking about drinking water or sailing water for that matter. I think you know what I mean.

You may have not experienced stormy waters before and I hope you won’t ever go through them. Or you may have gone through some rough waters before, and glad that you’re over it. Or you may be going through raging waters right now, that you are desperately asking when will the waters go still.

My friends, we are not promised that we will only go through still waters. But even when I cross through turbulent waters, God has promised that He will be with me, “yea, even though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.”

And when the storm clears, He will lead me besides the still waters, and He will restore my soul.


(*post dedicated to the people of Tacloban, in this 2nd year anniversary of the tragedy brought in by Yolanda)

A Palace to Remember

There is a magnificent palace in the heart of the city of Lodz, Poland. Built at the turn of the 20th century, it was the former residence of textile magnate Izrael Poznanski which now house the Museum of History of Lodz.


The Poznanski palace is a neo-Baroque edifice that is richly decorated with architectural and sculptural details.


Equally splendid are the interiors, as seen with these photos.



For some reason while inside this old house I felt like I was in the house of the fictional character Bruce Wayne, the alter ego of Batman. I should have looked for the secret passage way to the Bat Cave.


The photo above and the one below, is the impressive dining hall. Note all the “unclothed” sculptures high above the walls. Should entering this room be PG-13?


Below is a large auditorium where the guests of the previous resident of this palace where entertained. I would say that even if the events that occurred here were ordinary, the hall in itself is imposing.


Below is the view to the outer court of the palace from one of the windows.


Besides the palace which is already something to behold, the visitors of this museum will see exhibits tracing the history, people and culture of the city.



As you can see, it also exhibit articles that once were part of our lives but now are historical artifacts like the typewriter and the phonograph. You can even insert yourself in the history of this place. Well, sort of.


There are also rooms dedicated to the many former inhabitants of the city, including the world famous pianist, Artur Rubenstein. Note the Victorian furnitures and expensive porcelains. Can you spot the porcelain “arinola” (chamber pot)?




Also in exhibit is a collection of paintings and artworks.



My favorite art subject, anatomy.


The photo below is an example of a clash in time. Looking at the mirror you see the design of the storied history, while looking outside the window you see billboards of modern fashion.


Adjacent to this palace is a big shopping complex, named Manufaktura. Of course we visited it as well, as my wife find it irresistible not to wander there.


Manufaktura is the site of the old sprawling textile factory built in the late 19th century, at the height of “steam-engine” industrialization, and was owned by Poznanski. This is now converted and renovated to a modern shopping and entertainment haven with hosts of stores, cinemas, restaurants, cafes and pubs. It is one of the biggest shopping complex in Europe.


But what really brought us to the Poznanski palace is that it was the place of the “Koncert Laureatow” (translation: Winners’ Concert), where the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd placers as well the honorable mentions of the 16th Milosz Magin International Piano Competition were invited to perform. The competition has 3 categories, the elementary level, the advanced, and the concert artists level.

The competition takes place every 2 years, and for the years past they were held in Paris, but this year it was moved to Lodz, the birthplace of the renowned pianist in whom the competition was named after.



Warming up on the piano before the concert starts.


As I am impressed with this beautiful place, I am equally impressed and proud of my kids who were privileged to be included in the Koncert Laureautow.


As the concert was going on, I felt happy and blessed. For a day, I was the owner of the palace. And much more.

(*most photos were taken with an iPhone while a few were with Nikon DSLR)


Phantom of Menace

Has a sturdy exoskeleton and yet can collapse and squeeze into tight spots and still maintain its form.

Has the ability to move through most difficult terrains, and even handle a 90 degree climb without a hitch.

It can tread on water, and can take flight instantly without a need of a runway.

Equipped with compound photosensors made up of thousands of lenses that can see from all directions.

Has mounted sensors that detect changes in air currents and can navigate even in total darkness.

Extremely fast and can accelerate rapidly with the ability to turn and change direction while in full stride.

It is radiation resistant and probably can withstand a nuclear fallout.

Fuel efficient, and can go into energy-saving mode when fuel source is scarce.

The mere sight of it can cause fear even among hardy men. And when it’s airborne, it’s utter terror.


You may be thinking that I am describing the most advanced weaponry of war. But I am not.

I am characterizing the………



the real Phantom Menace

(*This post is just in time for the Halloween. My apology to Star Wars for the title.)

(**photo from the web)

A Walk in Piotrkowska Street

It was cold and damp in Lodz, Poland during our visit. But it did not dampen our spirits to explore this place. It may not be as popular like other European cities such as Paris or Vienna, but we have not been to Poland before, or to Europe for that matter, so we were just as excited to be here.


Piotrkowska Street is the main thoroughfare of Lodz, Poland, and is one of the major attraction of the city. Stretching at about 5 kilometers long, it is one of the longest commercial avenue in Europe.


The street is known for its varied architecture, lined with beautiful 19th century palaces and houses as well as dainty shops, stores and restaurants. The street was remarkably damaged during World War II, but it was slowly revitalized and restored especially in the 1990’s.


one of the ornate buildings in Piotrkowska


coffee tables on the street, but it was too cold to sit outside


me checking the posted upcoming events while a pedicab passes by


view of the street below from a window


a charming bistro where we dined

This place is a combination of old and new. A contradiction if you will, where it is frozen in time…….


……and yet the world rushes by.


The street is furnished with modern lamp-posts, and adorned with a scattering of monuments and sculptures. It is paved with black cobblestone, imitating the old pavement.


The attractions of the street engages you to look ahead…..


Look down where you step on…….


their version of walk of fame

And look up.


There are also mural paintings that goes up the walls.




What brought us to Lodz Poland is another story. We traveled to Poland not primarily for tour or for a leisure trip. We went here for an international piano competition where my children were fortunate to join.

Why Poland you may ask? I would say that many great pianists, past and present, were from Poland, like Frederic Chopin, Arthur Rubenstein, Krystian Zimerman, and Milosz Magin to name a few. So they have a great heritage of pianists.


The first phase of the competition was held here in Piotrkowska street, in an old house (picture above) that was transformed into a small auditorium.


lobby of the auditorium


practicing on the old piano, while a poster of Milosz Magin contemplates and listens

The second phase of the competition and where the winners’ concert was performed was in a much grander place, a palace, a couple of streets from Piotrkowska.

So while I was in this place, I immersed myself with the music of young protégés and seasoned pianists alike.

Here am I listening to a maestro. O wait, it is a statue.


statue of Arthur Rubenstein

From Poland with love,


(* photos taken with an iPhone)


I went to see my doctor last week for a regular annual check-up. I know I see a doctor everyday when I look in the mirror, but I still need to see a “real” doctor once in a while. Someone who will assess my health objectively and truthfully tells me if there’s something wrong.

I don’t have any medical condition nor am I on any prescription medications. I am not having any symptoms either. Besides, I am doing my best to live healthily – I eat reasonably and I exercise regularly. In other words, I try to practice what I preach.

Yet despite of the things I can control, there are things I cannot. The track record of men in my family is dismal. My father died at the age of 50, my paternal grandfather not much older than that, and my maternal grandfather did not even reach 40. That’s the genetics I have to contend with. Therefore I need to be proactive.

After my doctor examined me thoroughly, including the dreaded digital exam up you know where, he commended me for staying healthy. All is well, or so I thought.

He also requested a number of blood tests which a couple of days later, he sent me the results. All of them were good, except for one.

My vitamin D level is low. What?! How? Why?

Vitamin D is most well-known as essential for strong bones, but research have found the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems as well, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, autoimmune diseases, infections, and even cognitive disorders.  Cognitive function? Is that why I am getting forgetful?

Major symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include bone pain and muscle weakness. I have none of those. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle.

What may be the cause of vitamin D deficiency? It can occur for a number of reasons.

If you follow a strict vegan diet, you may be predisposed for this, because most of the natural sources of food with vitamin D are animal-based, like fish, egg yolks, liver(ew!) and milk. I am not a vegan nor a strict vegetarian, but I admit we eat mostly plant-based food at home. Once in a while I splurge on hamburgers, especially if I’m tired from my call. I am not a fan of milk though.

However even if you’re a strict vegan, you can still get plenty of vitamin D if you have enough exposure to the sun. Our body makes vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. The rays of the sun, specifically the ultraviolet-B (UV-B) convert a chemical (7-dehydrocholesterol) in our skin, into vitamin D. If you live in northern latitude where UV-B rays are filtered from atmosphere, specially in the winter, then you may need longer sun exposure.

I admit, I am guilty of not much sun exposure. It’s not that I shun the sun for fear of getting dark. On the contrary, I don’t agree with many Filipinos trying so hard to be fair-skinned by avoiding the sun and using whitening products. Why can’t we be comfortable in our own skin?

I don’t get enough sunshine just because I spent most of my days indoors due to my long work hours. Even if I do run outside, I usually do it early in the morning just enough to see the sun peeking in the horizon. Plus if it is cold, I use running gears that mostly cover my body, long sleeves and all, to keep me warm, so not much skin are exposed to the sun.

Another predisposition for lack of vitamin D is if you’re dark-skinned, which I am. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Other predispositions for vitamin D deficiency are people with kidney disease as their kidney is less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, and people with digestive tract disorder that affect their intestine’s ability to absorb the vitamin from their food. I don’t think I have either of those.

So my doctor then prescribed me a hefty dose of vitamin D pill to be taken every week. But I wish he prescribed me something else instead, which I believe is what I really need.


This is what I will prescribe myself: morning walk on a beach and enjoy the tropical sun once a week.

If only I could.

(*shadow selfie photo taken at a beach in Palawan, Philippines)




Over the Hill

A few months ago we got our son a new bike. He is growing so fast that he has outgrown his kiddie bike. He’s undergoing a growth spurt like he’s being stretch, and probably grew a couple of inches this past year. He’ll outgrow a shoe size after only a few months.

And what size is his bike now? It’s a full size bike. Same as mine.

Gone are the days of kid trikes, or training wheels, or youth-size bikes. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was teaching him how to ride, and he won’t let me let go of his bike for fear that he would fall. It also took a lot of convincing before he allowed us to take off the training wheels. Now he’s fearless.

Last weekend, my son and I went out for a bike ride. It was the perfect weather for a ride, not hot, nor too cold, just cool enough to break a sweat under the sun. We rode for about an hour over several miles, through paved roads and dirt roads, and up and down some hills.

We have hybrid bikes – a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. Light and fast enough on paved roads, but sturdy enough to handle dirt and trail roads.

Before when we would go for a bike ride, I would have to slow down or even stop especially when we ride uphill. Or I will hear him call, “Dad, wait up!” His small legs just cannot pedal fast enough to keep up.


But this time, it was quite different. On two occasions, as we rode up a steep hill, it was him who had to slow down or even stop. Why? To wait for his old man. I am eating his dust!

What happened? Certainly the lots have changed.


I would like to think that it was his bike, which is newer, perhaps lighter, and with more gears than mine, that made the difference, that’s why I cannot keep up with him. But I know it’s more than that.

Or I can use the excuse that I have to stop to take pictures. Or perhaps I just want a slower ride. And maybe stop once in a while to smell the roses. Or sniff his dust?


My son is certainly ascending. While I may be over the hill, though I refuse to admit it. And I’m not even talking about biking.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)