Suwail sa Pamahiin: Ikalimang Birit

Kamusta na mga kabayan? Akin pong muling tatalakayin ang ilang pamahiin na kinagisnan nating mga Pilipino. At gaya ng dati, humihingi ako ng abiso sa mga matatanda, at sa mga kababayang naniniwala sa mga pamahiing ito. Mawalang galang na lamang po.

1. Ang batang may dalawang puyo ay magiging makulit o matigas ang ulo.

Ang puyo (hair whorl) ay isang punto kung saan ang buhok ay tumutubong paikot. Nasa sinapupunan pa lang tayo ay mayroon na tayong puyo. Ang dami ng puyo o direksiyon ng ikot nito ay sang-ayon sa heredity o genetic make-up natin.

Alam ba ninyo na 90% ng mga kananete (hindi kaliwete), and ikot ng kanilang puyo ay clockwise, habang halos 50% ng mga kaliwete ang kanilang puyo ay counterclockwise?

Ngunit walang basehan sang-ayon sa siyensiya, na may kinalaman sa kulit o pagiging matigas ng ulo ang dami ng puyo.

Ang totoo lamang, ay mas mahirap ayusan ng buhok ang may dalawang puyo, dahil sa salu-salungat ang direksiyon ng kanilang buhok. Maaring pasaway ang kanilang buhok, ngunit hindi ang kanilang ugali.

2. Huwag buksan ang payong sa loob ng bahay, dahil ito raw ay malas,  o baka malalaglagan ka ng ahas o butiki.

Naranasan mo na bang buksan ang basang payong sa loob ng inyong bahay upang patuyuin, ngunit binawalan ka ng matatanda dahil sa malas daw ito? Kung may ahas na malalaglag sa loob ng iyong bahay, ay talagang malas ka nga, o dapat ka lang lumipat ng tirahan! Kung sa butiki lang naman ang malalaglag, ay OK lang naman siguro iyon.

Walang katotohanang malas ang magbukas ng payong sa loob ng bahay. Ang nakikita ko lang na hindi maganda ay kung maglalakad kang nakapayong sa loob ng iyong bahay, dahil maaring matabig mo ang mga babasagin sa inyong bahay.

Pero bakit ka nga naman magpapayong sa loob ng bahay? Maliban na lang kung may butas ang inyong bubong o may tumutulong tubig sa inyong kisame, ay OK lang na magpayong. Huwag mo ring tangkaing lumabas ng pinto na nakabukas ang payong. Hindi ka kakasya!


Malas bang makasalubong ng pusang itim na nasa ilalim ng bukas na payong sa loob ng bahay?

3. Huwag isukat ang damit pangkasal o trahe de boda, dahil ito ay malas, at hindi matutuloy ang iyong kasal.

Hindi lang mga Pilipino ang may paniniwala na malas ang isukat ang damit pang-kasal bago ka ikasal. Malas din daw kung mapunit ang damit. At huwag din daw susulsihin ng ikakasal ang napunit na damit.

Pero para sa akin ay mas malas kung hindi mo isinukat ang trahe de boda, at sa araw ng kasal mo lang malalaman na hindi pala kasya ang damit. At kung iyong pagpipilitang isuot ang napakasikip na damit, dahil hindi mo isinukat, ay baka lang lalo itong mapunit.

At kapag hindi nagkasya ang damit, hindi ka rin naman siguro papayagan ng Pari na maglakad sa simbahang belo at underwear lang ang iyong suot. Lalong hindi matutuloy ang kasal!

4. Kapag naliligaw, baliktarin ang damit, para hindi ka na maligaw.

Ano kamo? Maliban na lang kung ang suot mong damit ay may built-in na GPS na nakatago sa loob nito, o kaya nama’y may nakatatak na mapa sa loob ng iyong damit, ay kailangan mong baliktarin ang iyong damit, kapag ikaw ay naliligaw.

Kung walang mapa o GPS sa loob ng iyong damit, huwag mo nang baliktarin pa ang suot mo. Dahil kung hindi, ligaw ka na nga, mukha ka pang tanga dahil sa baliktad pa ang iyong damit!

Buti pa, humanap ka na lang ng mapagtatanungan.

5. Huwag mag-regalo ng sapatos o tsinelas. Aapakan o sisispain ka ng iyong niregaluhan.

Sasabihin kong mahirap magregalo ng sapatos o tsinelas, dahil dapat alam mo ang eksaktong sukat ng paa ng iyong reregaluhan, at baka hindi ito magkasya. Dapat alam mo rin ang kanilang gustong moda at style. Dahil baka rinegaluhan mo ng cowboy boots, e combat boots pala ang kanyang hilig.

Pero gayun pa man, siguro ay pasasalamatan ka pa rin naman nila kahit hindi nila masyadong gusto ang bigay mong sapatos o tsinelas, at hindi ka nila aapakan o sisipain. Walang katotohanan ito.

Totoo lang ang kasabihang ito kung ang regalo mong sapatos ay parehong kaliwa. Talagang sipa ang aabutin mo.

(*photo from the net) 

Church on a Rock

During our trip to Sedona last summer, we visited an interesting structure in the midst of a desert.


It is located in a rugged, yet beautiful terrain, perched among the red rocks.


This building is the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona. The church was designed by Marguerite Bruswig Staude, a student of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The chapel was completed in 1956, built on two pinnacled spur rocks about 250 feet high.


The structure is a testimony of great architectural achievement and an impressive monument of faith.



It is also a great place of meditation, where weary pilgrims can find rest and renew their faith.


Hanging up my running shoes

Yes, you read the title right. I’m hanging up my running shoes.

Though it does not mean I am done with running. What I mean is I am retiring my old beat-up running shoes.

I got this particular running shoes about 2 years ago, and I even wrote about it (see post Heart and Sole here).


from my post: Heart and Sole

After only a couple of months of having it, my new running shoes was stolen. Somebody swiped it, right in my garage! We had different service crew and repairmen visit our home that day, and I don’t know what happened. But the next thing I know, my shoes were gone. I just hope that whoever it was, he had put it to good use.

I like that shoes very much that I replaced it with exactly the same kind. Since then, that shoes had taken me to many places.


Iowa State Fair, while riding the sky lift


Badlands, South Dakota


Vail, Colorado


Grand Teton, Wyoming


Sedona, Arizona


Chicago, Illinois


Boston, Massachusetts


Hamilton, New Jersey


Arches National Park, Utah


Grand Canyon


Metro Manila, Philippines 2014

It also served its purpose, as I used it for my regular morning runs. It even let me finish not just one, but two half marathons. Is that equivalent to doing the full marathon?


Des Moines Marathon 2012

“Hindi lang pang-pamilya, pang-sports pa!”


Des Moines Marathon 2013

Now the shoes has way more than 500 miles under its belt. Experts on running recommends replacing your shoes after 300 to 400 miles of running. This is to prevent injury, as old shoes loses its stability and support.

Over the past two years, it gotten worn-out, got dusty from running on the dirt road, and even got muddy. Though taking me to the above places and finishing marathons were not the only accomplishment of these shoes.

These shoes got seriously dirty when they walked the muddy streets of Tacloban, and gave service to people affected by the typhoon Haiyan (local name:Yolanda) in the Philippines.


Tacloban airport, after typhoon Haiyan


ACTS World Relief Team, Tacloban 2013

In that regard, it went beyond it’s purpose of a running shoes.

I’m hanging you up now, my old and faithful running shoes.


A Perfect Day

I was on-call last weekend. It was not particularly busy that I was drowning in work, but enough to keep me occupied in the hospital most of the days during the weekend. I had more toxic calls before, so I really cannot complain.

I was making my rounds in the hospital and making headway on my long list of patients to see. I have seen all the ICU patients and working on the rest of the patients in the hospital. On my way to the other side of the hospital, I passed the crossway that overlooks the center garden of the hospital.

I stopped for a while and gazed longingly at the garden.

our hospital's central garden

our hospital’s central garden

It was already early in the afternoon. It was sunny, but the temperature outside was not hot, nor was it cold. It was just right. It was early September after all, when summer and autumn are in their crossroads.

It was a perfect day to be outside.

I could have been outside. I could have been sitting outside in that garden with the beautiful flowers in bloom. I could have been outside shooting hoops with my son. Or could have been outside having barbecue with my friends. Or could have been outside riding my bike on some engaging bike trail. Or could have been outside just lying on a hammock under a tree. I could have been outside……

Instead, I was inside the hospital walls. Working.

The next stop on my rounds was the Oncology floor. I entered the room of our patient who has history of rectal cancer and was treated several years ago. But now found to have his cancer come back with vengeance, spreading to his lungs. I was suddenly reminded of my mother who has the same circumstances.

My patient was having difficulty breathing. It was quite obvious that even with high flow oxygen he was struggling. Every movement was an effort. He has been hospitalized for some time now, with no clear indication of when he can go home. Or will he ever?

As I entered his room, he was looking at the window. He was looking at the same central garden that I was looking at, a little while ago. Perhaps he had the same thoughts that I had: I could have been outside enjoying this beautiful day.

But he can’t. And perhaps he never will.

That’s when a thought dawned on me. There’s a reason why I am not outside. I was placed here inside these hospital walls, for a sacred duty to care and give comfort for people who cannot enjoy a beautiful day outside, just like today.

It was a perfect day indeed.


(*photo taken with an iPhone)


Santa Fe, A Historic Destination

About a month ago we went for a long road trip that took us to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. After spending several days in the Grand Canyon and Arizona, we retreated to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Santa Fe is nestled at the foot of Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has an elevation of about 7000 feet above sea level.


We stayed at a rustic lodge, just at the outskirt of the town proper.


Here we spent a couple of relaxing days together, including quiet dinners under the soft light of Santa Fe sky.


Though that sky can turn turbulent in no time.


view from our room

It was in 1610 that the Spanish founded this town, that is now known as Santa Fe. Come to think of it, it was 10 years before the Pilgrims even landed in New England. Santa Fe is an eclectic mix of something old and something new.


The iconic Route 66 passes through the heart of this town. What better photo to represent this mixture of old and new than the picture below.


Road sign of historic Route 66, with a vintage Chevy truck and a relatively new Corvette.

With the name Santa Fe or “Holy Faith” (it was named originally as La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís, the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi), it is quite obvious that this town has a rich religious history.

Below is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Assisi which was built in 1869.


Not too far from the cathedral is the Loretto Chapel which was built in 1872.


This chapel is known for its “miraculous” stairway. The staircase is an impressive work of carpentry, and is built without attachment to a wall or pole.


However, the real life of today’s Santa Fe, is after the church mass and is outside the cathedral and chapel, when the whole downtown is turned into one big marketplace.



See the bursting colors of the marketplace.




We were even fortunate to witness a group of young Spanish dancers performing live and for free, at the center of the town. An old tradition that is handed down to the new generation.


Below is a photo of different “dancers” that I saw in Santa Fe, hovering among the flowers. Initially I thought they were hummingbirds as I heard a certain “buzz” when they were flying. But actually they are a type of moth.


For some reason, this town like chili peppers. Not just in their food, but also in their art.


Bunch of peppers being sold in the sidewalk.


String of peppers hanging as ornaments.



We also sampled some of its unique cuisine. It was more than just peppers.


one of the restaurants we dined in

Visiting Santa Fe was a memorable experience for us. It left quite an impression on me.


I think I like our visit so much that I even brought a token home from our stay there.

Yes, that is a traffic ticket. And I admit, it was all my fault.

(*some photos taken with DSLR and some with an iPhone)


Soaked from the Rain

During my recent short stint (only 7 days) in the Philippines, I have experienced once again the heavy rain showers of Manila. There were no typhoons, just run-of-the-mill soaking monsoon rains of the tropics.

In one instance while I was there, the heavy rains have caused flooding in Metro Manila that traffic crawled to a halt. I even heard in the evening news that my alma mater, University of Santo Tomas, was forced to close the school due to high floods in España. This brought a flood of memories as well, of my wading days in “water world” of Manila.

Our family have also experienced another type of rain. Rain that just not soak us wet but can bring us down to our knees. Yet these rains if we survive them, can make us strong.

I went home because my mother was not doing well. At one point she was even knocking on heaven’s doors.

I spent most of my stay in the Philippines inside the hospital, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay (UERM), where my mother was admitted. In fact, I slept a couple of nights in the hospital not as a doctor-on-call, but as a “bantay” or watcher of a patient. My mother must have appreciated that she have me as her bantay, not because I am a doctor, and an ICU specialist at that, but more so, that I was there as her son.

The system in the Philippines is kind of different that all patients have a family member, as a watcher, to attend to the patient’s need while they are in the hospital. In the US, rarely any patient have a watcher. They have a call light to summon the nurse if they need something. That’s it. No wonder, patients feel all alone.

One day while I was the watcher in the hospital, I went out to SM Santa Mesa mall, which was a couple of blocks away from UERM, to get lunch, as I was getting tired of the food from the hospital cafeteria. I have nothing against hospital food though.

Then it rained. Heavy downpour.

I got stranded at a waiting shed near SM during the rainfall. Of course I did not bring an umbrella. I think an umbrela will be useless in that heavy downpour anyway.

I was waiting for the rain to lighten up. But as I looked up in the sky it was getting even darker, and I may be waiting there for a long, long time. I knew I needed to get back to the hospital.

So I decided to run in the rain in full abandon.

I got wet. Though not really drenched. But to me the rain was refreshing as it cooled me off and washed away some of the afternoon heat.  It also helped clear my mind and realize what my real priorities in life were. Not getting wet was not one of them. Besides, why are we afraid to get soaked from the rain anyway?

We may prefer eternal blue skies and beautiful summer days. We don’t like the rain to spoil our fun. We don’t like the rain to wet our beautiful outfit. We don’t like the rain to ruin our perfect plans.

Yet, rain and clouds are part of our lives. I don’t mean just the weather.

I am back in Iowa now. And we are also getting unseasonable lots of rain here. We have plenty of rain that the grass here are still so green even if it’s almost end of summer. Usually by this time of year here, the grass has started to turn brown. But I’m not complaining.

This morning, I finally came out to run after fighting jet-lag for several days. I was trying to put back on track my training for the half marathon which is not too long from now, since my training was temporarily derailed by my emergent and unscheduled trip to the Philippines.

As I came out, the road was wet from the heavy rain last night. I have noticed thousands of earthworms scattered in the paved road. Why earthworms go out after the rain is not really clear. Some experts say the rain drive them out of their burrows so they will not drown, while other experts refute this, as earthworms don’t drown, and they can live totally submerged in water for few days.


earthworms out after the rain

In any case, these earthworms who are now on the road, will die and will get baked in the heat of the sun, unless they get back to the soil in time. Are they afraid to get soaked from the rain too? But trying to run away from getting soaked put them more in harm’s way.

While I was running, the dark rain clouds gathered around above me again, taunting to pour down its contents.

I’m not an earthworm. And I’m not afraid of the rain anymore.

Let it pour.


(*photo taken in our neighborhood, with an iPhone)





Duyan ng Aking Kabataan

Ako ay muling nagbalikbayan. Mga paa ko’y muling tumapak sa lupang hinirang. Tahanan ng mga mauusok na bus at jeepney. Muli akong nakipagsiksikan sa mga humahangos na pasahero ng Maynila.


Muling tumahak sa masalimuot at magulong lugar ng Metro Manila at muli akong sumuot sa masisikip na kalye at mga eskinita.


Muli akong natulog sa maalinsangang sinapupunan ng siyudad ng Maynila. Muling naranasang dumungaw sa bintana na may mga palamuting pinatutuyong sinampay, at tumanaw sa ibabaw ng mga yerong dikit-dikit.


Ngunit sa kabila ng maikling panahon ng aking pagbisita, ay nagkaroon din naman ng pagkakataong makapagpalamig sa marangya’t mamahaling lugar ng Maynila. Hindi sa ospital ang tinutukoy ko, kahit apat na araw din ang ginugol ko so loob nito.


Sa maikling pagkakataon, ay akin muling natuklasan ang alindog ng siyudad na aking kinagisnan. Siyudad na sa akin ay umaruga mula ng ako’y musmos na bata.


Nagkaroon din ako ng pagkakataong masilayan muli ang naglalarong alon ng Manila Bay habang nananaog ang araw sa kanyang kinaluluklukan.

Tunay na ang lugar na ito ay duyan ng aking kabataan.


(*all photos taken with an iPhone)



Iyan ang aking nakita, sa pagdungaw ko sa bintana. Muli akong nasa himpapawid. Lumilipad. Naglalakbay. Pabalik sa aking lupang sinilangan.

Isip ko ay lumilipad at naglalakbay din. Ngunit hindi tulad ng eroplanong aking sinasakyan na mapayapang tumatahak sa mga alapaap, ang biyahe ng aking isip ay maligalig at matagtag.

Mula nang ako’y lumisan ng ating bansa, dalampung taon na ang nakalilipas, ay maraming beses na rin naman akong nakapagbalik-bayan. At lagi sa aking pagbabalik ay may bitbit itong galak at pananabik. Galak na muli akong tatapak sa lupang tinubuan. At pananabik na makita muli ang iniwang pamilya’t mga kaibigan.

Kahit nang ako’y umuwi noong nakaraang Nobyembre bilang isang medical volunteer para tumulong sa mga nasalanta ni Yolanda, ang naramdaman ko’y hamon na may kahalo pa ring pananabik. Pananabik na makapagbigay ng lunas at ginhawa sa mga kababayang nasakuna ng bagyo.

Ngunit kaka-iba ang pagkakataong ito ng aking pagbabalik. Walang galak. Walang panananabik. Kundi pagkabahala sa kakaibang bagyo na aming sasagupain.

May katiyakan naman ang aking patutunguhan. May katiyakan rin ang oras ng aking pagdating at paglapag sa Maynila. Ngunit hindi ko tiyak kung ano ang aking daratnan. Hindi ko rin tiyak kung gaanong kaikling panahon pa ang sa amin ay inilaan.

Pero ganyan daw talaga ang buhay. Walang katiyakan.

Hindi ko sasabihing hindi ko batid na darating din ang pagkakataong kagaya nito. Ngunit katulad ninyo, ako’y nagnanais at umaasa na sana ay malayo pa ang takipsilim. Sana ay magtagal pa ang tag-araw. Sana ay hindi pa matapos ang awit. Sana ay mahaba pa ang sayaw. Sana……..

Subalit tanggapin man natin o hindi, ang lahat ay may hangganan at may katapusan.

Maraming bagyo na rin naman ang aming pinagdaanan. At kahit gaano kalupit ang hagupit ng unos, ito ay nakakaya ring bunuin. At kahit dumadapa sa dumadaang delubyo ay muli rin namang nakakabangon.

Hindi lang bagyong kagaya ni Ondoy o Yolanda ang aking tinutukoy.

Ngunit kahit gaano pa kaitim ang mga ulap na kumumubli sa liwanag, at kahit gaano kalakas ang sigwa na yumayanig sa pagod na nating katauhan, at kahit gaano pa kahaba ang gabi, ay ating tatandaan na lagi pa ring may bukang-liwayway sa kabila ng mga alapaap.


Atin na lang ding isipin na sa ibabaw ng mga alapaap ay palaging nakangiti ang araw. Sa ibabaw ng mga alapaap ay laging mapayapa. Sa ibabaw ng mga alapaap ay walang nang bagyo. Walang nang pagkakasakit. Walang nang paghihinagpis. Walang na ring pagtangis.

Malapit nang lumapag ang aking eroplanong linululanan. Malapit na rin akong humalik muli sa inang-lupa na aking sinilangan. Muli rin akong hahalik sa mukha ng aking ina na sa akin ay nagsilang.

Sana ay magkita pa kami. Sana ay abutan ko pa siya………..bago siya maglakbay sa ibabaw ng mga alapaap.


(*photo taken at 30,000 feet)

Post Note 1: nagpang-abot pa kami.

Post Note 2: delayed at on-hold ang kanyang “byahe.”


Fair and Flair

Recently we had guests again from out-of-state who came to visit us here in Iowa. And where did we take them? Bridges of Madison County? Iowa State Capitol? Wind turbines of Iowa? Lots and lots of Iowa cornfields? Seen that. Done that.

This time we brought them to the biggest Iowa attraction. No, not the Iowa Caucuses. But something similar with that flair of craziness. We brought them to the Iowa State Fair.


25-foot sculpture depicting Grant Wood’s famous “American Gothic.”

The Iowa State Fair is an 11-day event every August that attracts millions of visitors each year. There is something for all your fancies and interest in the fair.

Of course, since we are an agricultural state, it is hard to miss the sights and sounds of farming.


Farming equipment and tractors


More tractors

There’s also livestocks and produce that are showcased in the fair, like the heaviest pig or the biggest pumpkin. Below is the 1st price pumpkin.


How much pumpkin pie can you make out of this?

If you want to experience to milk a cow, you can do it at the milking parlor. And speaking of cow, one of the most iconic piece of the Iowa State Fair is the sculpted butter cow.


butter cow inside the refrigerated showroom

That cow is 600 pounds of butter. That can butter 19,200 slices of toast!

Do you know that the first sculpted fair’s cow was done in 1911? Since then every year a new butter cow is sculpted and graces the fair.

But do you know that since 1911, only 5 persons so far have done the sculpting? The latest butter cow sculptor apprenticed for 15 years to the previous sculptor, before she became the official sculptor starting in 2006. What a tradition!

There are also different shows and contests. From hog calling contest, to yodeling contest, to rooster crowing contest, to beard growing contest. You name it, it’s here.


There’s even a contest trying to get your votes,  as you can see political candidates – from presidential aspirants to local government candidates, especially if it is an election year – mingling with the crowds, among other clowns that can be seen in the fair. Did I just call them clowns?

There’s also concerts that are more “mainstream” if you will. The Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry, Lady Antebellum, Foreigner, and Styx are some of the big names that are performing this year at the state fair.

If it is the thrill of rides that you’re looking for, we have it as well.


riding the sky glider

From sky glider which is like a riding a ski lift, to ziplines, to giant slides, to roller coasters, to several storey-high slingshot. We have it here.


Lastly, the food at the fair is a different class of its own. They have everything on a stick. Corn-on-the-cob on a stick or hotdog on a stick? That’s too common. How about pork chop on a stick? Or funnel cake on a stick? Yes, they do have it.


And everything deep-fried. Like deep-fried Twinkies, or deep-fried Milky Way, or even deep-fried butter! You read it right. Deep-fried stick of butter on a stick! They might as well call it heart attack on a stick!

For me though, the most interesting show in the fair, are the people themselves.  With their different strangeness and idiosyncrasies, just watching the people is entertaining enough for me. I may be one of those bizarre ones. It’s way more than fun.


Come for a visit and see it for yourself. And bring your weirdness with you. It’s accepted here.

(*all photos taken with my iPhone)