Watching Cornfields Grow

There’s an English idiom that says “like watching grass grow,” which means something that is slow and boring. But that exactly what I did here.

Part of my morning running route is passing by a vast cornfield. And I chronicled its slow evolution during the whole growing season with these photos below – from a few days after being planted, to right before harvest.


Early May


Late May


Early June


Late June







Not everything in life is fast and exciting though. Sometimes life can be mundane. And there are things that needed time to develop and mature. We cannot hurry nor rush them. We just have to be patient and watch as they evolve in their own time.

I’m not just talking about growing grass or corn.

(*all photos taken with an iPhone)



Old Man Running

I ran the Des Moines half marathon (13.1 miles) this morning.

Compared to my previous runs (this is my 5th half marathon), this was my least prepared race. I usually start training around 3 months prior to the race. I gradually increase my run and by the time of the race, I should have at least run a 10-miler or more.

But due to interruptions in my training this year, like my unscheduled trip to the Philippines, my extra weekend calls, and other lame excuses, I never really had my training up to par. Though I don’t want to waste altogether the effort I placed on this for the past couple of months, so I still decided to participate anyway, and just have fun.

I never ran more than 7 miles this year. Well, until this morning.

While I was standing in the starting line among the throng of runners (it was estimated that there were about 10,000 participants – for the marathon, half marathon, and 5K), I saw a familiar face. It was one of the cardiothoracic surgeons whom I worked with in the hospital.

When I approached the surgeon, he told me that he was running the half-marathon as well. He asked me what pace I usually run, and I said to him that I’m just going to “go slow” this time, due to lack of preparedness. He then asked me if we can run together. Of course, I obliged.

I told him that I commend the fact that he as a heart surgeon, have the credibility to advise his patients that he performed cardiac bypass on, to live healthy and exercise, for he himself follows that advise. I wish we doctors will all practice what we preach.

So we ran together the whole 13.1 miles. As we ran, we shared stories of our lives and our families in between gasping breaths. It was my first time to run with somebody the entire race, and I enjoyed it. We even finished with a decent time: 2 hours and 35 minutes. Not bad. Not bad at all.

After crossing the finish line, and when I was walking back to my car, I suddenly felt my age. How many more years would I be doing this?


But did I tell you that the heart surgeon that I ran with was in his mid-60’s and has recently retired from his practice? He’s almost 20 years older than me but still in very good shape. I just wish I can still run when I’m his age.

After getting home and getting some rest, I felt good except for some soreness in my legs and feet. I just moved “slowly” the rest of the day. Just like an old man.


They said it is a landmark event. An occasion of historic proportion. Signaling the dawn of a new era.

Before you get too excited, perhaps I’m just getting overly dramatic. It just that it was the first time that I was sitting on the passenger seat of a car, and my daughter was on the driver’s seat. My little girl is driving!

My daughter who is now 16 years of age, has recently acquired a learner’s permit and can drive under adult supervision. She is also taking a driver’s education course (driver’s ed).

Completing a formal driver’s ed, is required here in Iowa for all who have learner’s permit before they can apply for a full driver’s license. This includes 30 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of laboratory instruction, including 3 hours behind the wheel. That’s an extensive driving lesson, more than all the driving tips I can provide. Plus I don’t want her to inherit my bad driving habits that I learned from driving in Manila.

In the meantime, this means my daughter can drive as long as an adult with a valid driver’s license, is with her inside the vehicle. In another year, she’ll be able to drive alone on her own altogether.

This is exciting because this means my daughter is now a young lady and driving must be a monumental experience for her. Isn’t it not too long ago that she was just sitting at the back, strapped on a child car seat, and kicking the back of my driver’s seat?

Yes exciting, but also scary.

Scary not because I’m afraid that she’ll drive recklessly and crash. She’s more “law-abiding” than any of us in the family. If the speed limit says 55 miles per hour, she will stay at 55. Not 65. Not 60. Not 58. But 55!

Scary not because I don’t trust her with this big responsibility signifying her independence. For I do trust her and I know that she is a responsible young lady.

It is scary because this means that as much as I want to be in control and protect her all the time, this time she has to do it on her own.


A couple of days ago, I let my daughter drive with all of us inside the car. I sat on the front passenger seat, while my wife and son were in the back seat. Not too long after we pulled out of our driveway, I got so tense and almost jump from my seat, as I thought she was driving too close to the curb and almost hit our neighbor’s mailbox.

After giving her more driving tips, I tried to relax, but I can’t. My feet every now and then, would unknowingly kick or step on the floor as if I have the gas pedal or brake pedal on my side. I remember my father doing this too when he let me drive for the first time. It is a parent’s reflex.

Many times as parents, due to our paternal or maternal instincts, we always have the feeling that our children are in harm’s way and we try to protect them and keep them always under our wings.

But there comes a time, that we should let go. And let them take flight.

After a few more miles, as my daughter have gained more confidence behind the wheel, without me overbearing on her every move, I was able to control my anxiety and settle down. I am not the driver anymore. I am now a mere passenger.

Several more minutes later, we arrived at our destination safely and with my sanity intact. I’m sure my wife was much relieved too. Though I would say, my daughter still need to work on her parking skills.

Maybe someday when she will be more masterful in her driving, I can sit in the back of the driver’s seat. And as an homage and payback, I’ll softly kick her seat.


Post Note: After publishing this piece, I received a notification that this is my 500th post. This is another landmark! Again, thank you for all you readers who make this all worthwhile.

Losing my Filipino-ness

After 20 years of living outside the Philippines, I can say that I’m losing some of my Filipino-ness. Filipino-ness? Is that even a word?

No, it is not that I don’t eat tuyo anymore. Nor that I don’t point with my lips anymore. Nor did I lost my Filipino accent and speak with an American twang now. It’s not any of those.

What I lost are some traits that we Filipinos are known for, but I believe we would be better off without them. Here are the traits:

1. Filipino Time

This trait I have not really picked up, even when I was still in the Philippines. I hate to wait for people, as well as I don’t like people waiting up on me.

Why are we fashionably late anyway? If our appointed time is at 7 o’clock, we feel it’s OK if we come at 7:30 or 8:00, or even later than that. We justify that Filipino time is still better than Indian time, that is not showing up at all. (I have no clue why we Pinoy call it Indian time, and for my Indian friends, please forgive us.)

Even our salawikain gives an excuse for this: “Huli man at magaling naihahabol rin.” I think the better proverb for us would be: “Huli man at magaling, huli pa rin!

It is not good to be late, ever. In school, or in business world, or just even among friends.

2. Making “singit.”

No, it is not sing it. I know Filipino likes to sing, but this is something else. Singit means cutting in line. I would admit, I have done this before, when I was much younger. But not anymore.

We think it is “abilidad” if we can cut in line and make things faster for ourselves, not thinking of other people who lined up fair and square. Whether it is cutting in line at a check-out counter, or jostling in bus stop stations, or cutting lanes in traffic, these all boils down to our lack of self-discipline.

The only thing that I believe these people who likes to make “singit” deserves, is “kurot sa singit!”

3. Talangka mentality.

Filipinos love sea foods, including the crab. But this has nothing to do with our fondness of crabs. I have observed that we Filipinos like to pull down other people to elevate ourselves. Whether they are our office mates, neighbors, or “friends” (what a real friend we are).

Sadly to say, that even in our own Filipino organizations, outside the Philippines, I have witnessed humor-mongering and bickering among us kababayan. If we don’t like the leaders, we form our own organization to counter the other. “Pataasan ng ihi!”

It is not surprising then, why I am not a member of any Filipino organizations or clubs.


image from here

4. Kumpare system

There is nothing wrong with getting people that we like as our kumpare or kumadre. But many times we use this to get unfair advantage. We say, “kumpare ko si mayor,” or “kumpare ko si Kapitan (Baranggay Captain), and thus we can get away with what we want. We use even the faintest connection to an “authority” to get a pass. “Kumpare ko iyong pinsan ng kapitbahay ng querida ni General.”

We even flash a business card that is signed by a Police Chief or Vice Mayor, whom we say is our friend, when we are caught so we will not get a ticket for a traffic violation. I will not say that I don’t like to have a signed card like that, when I was still living in the Philippines. But it does not work here where I live now.

Why can’t we get our advantage fairly, through our hard work and by our own merits?

5.“Pwede na” and “Bahala na”

You have heard those terms and know them very well. I would be lying if I say that I have not used them before. But I have evolved.

We have the tendency to take short cuts if we can, and want the easy way out. We don’t strive hard enough to give our best, if there’s a less demanding way to do it, even if the result is sub par. “Pwede na ‘yan”“Pasado pa rin naman” we countered.

Or worse yet, we leave our destiny to luck. We are fatalistic – “Bahala na.” “Swerte swerte lang talaga,” we reasoned.

What I believe is that success is much more of “perspiration” rather than of good fortune.


So these are traits that I don’t want to be identified with. Don’t get me wrong, I love my heritage, and I am proud to be a Filipino. But there are certain Filipino-ness, or traits, just like the above, that we as a people, can shed, and not hurt our identity a bit.

Besides, I can still be identified as a Filipino by many other things, like when my clothes smells like piniritong isda, or when I blurt “Aray” when I bump my knee.

Summer is Gone

I woke up this morning to the sound of howling winds. I may have left one of the windows open. It rained all day yesterday and most through the night. At least the rain had stopped. But it was still overcast. It was a gloomy day.

The temperature also plummeted to 45º F (7º C) this morning and did not rise much above 50º F today. Though I heard it was above 100º F today in Los Angeles. But this is Iowa.

Tomorrow the forecast is that we will be in the 30’sº F in the early morning. This probably would be our first frost of the season. Time to bring in the outside pets and potted plants. Time to bring out the jackets. Maybe we also need to throw a blanket over our tomato plants in our garden tonight, which still is producing a lot of fruits, so it would not freeze.

We had a good summer though, and for the past few weeks we have experienced warm weather, even if it was already September. So we really cannot complain.

In fact last weekend my son went camping with other scouts, and he grumbled that he should have packed shorts instead of thick pants for it was hot. He said it was warm inside their tent that he did not zipped up his sleeping bag when he slept.

But it is October now. Almost overnight, the summer ended. Cold autumn is here to stay and bone-chilling winter is not very far behind.

The cold winds have blown off most of the leaves in our trees, and our yard is a scattered mess. Is it time for a fall clean up as well? Yet, I must confess that my kids like raking leaves and playing in the pile of leaves that they have gathered.


my son raking leaves (taken 2 autumns ago)

Fall can be a beautiful season though. With the bursting colors of the trees’ foliage, people wearing fashionable jackets and trendy boots, the farmers enjoying their bountiful harvest, and with the much celebrated Thanksgiving holiday and feasting, it is not hard to imagine why this time of year is the favorite of many people. Not to mention, it is also time for many bargain sales.

But not for me. I am kind of summer guy. I like wearing shorts and t-shirts. I may complain about the heat, but I can bear it. I grew up in a tropical country, for crying out loud!

Yes, I know that summer is gone. Yet in one last act of defiance, I refused to wear my jacket when I went out today.

Of course I was cold!



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)