Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

Broken. A term that we can apply to a structure ravaged by time.


(photo taken at Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

Or to a place ravaged by the forces of nature.


(photo taken at Tacloban, after the typhoon Haiyan)

Or a societal state ravaged by a corrupt system, where the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer.



Or it can even be applied to a perfect picture of opulence….


….when we are oblivious to the sufferings of the poor just outside our deaf walls.



(*This post is a response to WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge on the theme, Broken.)

(**All photos taken with an iPhone.)

Mile-High Adventure

I regularly attend conferences, so I can be updated on the latest practice trends, new researches and studies, breakthrough treatments, and recent technologies.

In these meetings, I have the chance to meet and listen to very smart people. But in the same time, it gives me the feeling of how inadequate and ignorant I am compared to them.


ATS (American Thoracic Society)

This conventions also give me the opportunity to travel and see other places. This year brought me to Denver, Colorado.


Denver is also known as the Mile-High City, for the obvious reason that it has an elevation of 5,278 feet above the sea level, or about 1 mile. It was the capital and the most populous municipality in the state of Colorado. It was founded in 1858 as a mining town during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.

Since the school is out, I brought my whole family along with me. It was a business and a leisure trip, at the same time. We also have some really good friends that lives near Denver, so we had the chance to visit with them.

We stayed in an old hotel, and I mean really old. The hotel was built in 1892. Stepping inside is like going back in time.


Atrium of the Brown Palace Hotel

This hotel also pride itself that every U.S. president has visited it since Teddy Roosevelt (1905), with the exception of Calvin Coolidge. Now they can add that Pinoytransplant was a guest of them too!


Back to the conference, the meeting was a 6-day affair and was held in Colorado Convention Center. This center is unofficially known as the Big Blue Bear Convention Center. Why?


Here’s why.


This art piece is a 40-foot steel sculpture and officially called “I See What You Mean.”


The big blue bear peeks at the lobby of the convention center. Now I see what they mean!


Besides very smart people, I also met this fellow.


This is what they do to you if you sleep in the meeting. Just kidding!

It is not a real cadaver but a synthetic one. It is called “syndaver.” I met him in the post-graduate course I attended, where we placed catheters on him to learn ECMO*.

I walked from the hotel to the convention center, as it was just a few blocks away. Here are some photos I took on my daily walk.




There are even pianos in the middle of the street that anybody can play. My daughter found it irresistible not to tinker with.


Our friends brought us to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. This is where I met big creatures.



Their current special exhibition is about mythic creatures. So I encountered a dragon…..


And a unicorn. For real!


The only downside on our visit to Denver was that during our stay there the weather was not so cooperative. It was raining 5 out of the 7 days we were there. It was even snowing in the mountains.

But on the day it was not raining, we escaped into the mountains.


We drove to the Rocky Mountain National Park, which was about an hour and a half drive from Denver.


Since it still has deep snow on the top of the mountain, we were not able to reach the peak, due to road closure.


But the trip was worth it. We even spotted a young grizzly bear.


For sure, it was a mile-high experience for us. I hope you enjoy the photos of our trip. And speaking of photos, though I am not fond of taking selfie, I cannot resist this.

Here’s my very hot selfie!


Infrared photo (thermal imaging). Taken at Denver museum.

From Denver,



* ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation): a technique to deliver both cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange to sustain life.

Kilig at Sayaw

Kay sarap gumising nang may kasama,

Hindi tulad noong ako’y nag-iisa,

Ngunit ‘di inakalang magkakaganito,

Mundo’y bumalikwas nang dahil sa ‘yo.


Umagang-umaga’y ‘di mapakali,

Ako’y kinikilig at nakikiliti,

Pilit pinipigil damdaming umaapaw,

Dahil nariyan ka’y napapasayaw.


Matagal ka pa ba, o aking mahal?

Mataimtim akong sa ‘yo’y naghihintay,

Sana ay pagbigyan, dahil ‘di ko na kaya,

Pakiusap lang naman, ako’y sasabog na!


Hoy! bilisan mo diyan sa banyo!

Ihing-ihi na ako!

(Ang tulang ito ay handog sa lahat ng napapasayaw sa makapigil-ihing pagmamahal.)





Chasing Rainbows

I went out this morning to run. Just before I head out the door, I checked the weather forecast on my phone and it was a balmy 70º F. That’s kind of warm for an early May morning where it usually in the 40-50’sº.

The forecast also called for 60% chance of rain at that time, and 80% chance in the next hour. But I still took my chances. And ran.

Besides the sun was shining. At least partly.


And on the other side of the horizon, there were nimbus clouds. In other words, rain clouds. Nothing scary though. No lightning flashing. No thunder rolling. No tornadoes forming.


Have you heard of the avid suitor who said: “I’ll give you the moon and the stars if you asked me, my love. And I’ll come back tomorrow night. If it does not rain.” Such a fickle dedication.

But not me. It takes more than nimbus clouds to intimidate me.

Not long after I started my run, the rain came. These meteorologists were really accurate in their weather forecasting!


see the rain drops in the water?

Anyway, it was light rain only. I am water-proof. My dedication is water-proof. Even my running apparel are water-wicking. I would be alright.


The rain may have dampened the road, but not my spirit. I’ll just sing “I do my running in the rain.”


At least this lonely gravel road would not be so dusty. Not muddy. But the rain moistened it just enough that I would not be eating billows of dust if ever a lost car pass by me.


The rain did not really get more than a pitter-patter. And I finished my run without really getting soaked. Though I still broke out a sweat.

Would I catch pneumonia. Nah!

But I caught this.


full arc rainbow

If the looming clouds deterred me from going out, I would have missed the rainbow.

Just like in life. Sometimes we need to go out of our comfort zones. Take our chances even if the odds is against us. And chase our rainbows.

Maybe next time I would also catch the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.


(photos taken with an iPhone)



Lumang El Bimbo

Hinintay ko nang matagal,

Gabi ng ating pagkikita,

Ngunit ako’y naimbiyerna,

Sa pagganap mong ipinakita.


Ang yakap mo ay kay higpit,

Braso ko ay iyong iniipit,

Bitiwan mo na ang aking kamay,

Pagka’t hindi naman tayo bagay.


Ipagpatawad mo aking kapusukan,

Sa husay mong sumayaw di abutan,

Kasi El Bimbo lang aking alam,

Naiwanan tuloy sa takbuhan.


Ano ba! Ikaw ba ay lalaban,

O tayo’y magsasayawan na lang?

Kung akin lamang alam,

Sana tayo’y nagkantahan na lang.


(*For all the frustrated boxing fans who expected more.)

Running of the Bulldogs

I went to the annual Drake Relays last weekend and ran the 10K road race. I can say, I ran like a Bulldog*. Or more accurately, I panted like a Bulldog.


The inaugural Drake Relays was held in 1910. So this was the 106th year of this event. It was a 5-day meet with competition in track and fields.

Over the years, hundreds of Olympic medalist have competed in the Drake Relays, like Bruce Jenner (yes, that’s him or now her?), Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, and Jesse Owens to name a few.

By the way, if you don’t know, Bruce Jenner is a former track and field athlete, and won a gold medal in Decathlon in 1976 summer olympics. So he (or she) was already famous before the Kardashian’s fame and way before the sex change.

Bulldogs stadium or also known as the Blue Stadium

Drake Stadium, home of the Bulldogs

Back to the Drake Relays, due to good sponsorships, it is also one of the richest athletic event in the US. For example, the winner of the half marathon was awarded $70,000 prize money, while the winner of the 10K was given $40,000. But I would never get that. Maybe if they have a prize for the slowest?

Even though these events attract elite athletes, it was also open for wannabe athletes like me, especially the road races. After all, if anybody can get an athlete’s foot, then anybody can be an athlete, right?


For the past five consecutive years I have participated in the Des Moines Marathon (I ran the half-marathon, 21K) which is held every fall. But this was my first time to join the Drake Relays. And also the first time to run the 10K.


As I came a little early, I had time to take some pictures. Then when it was time to line up, I had to find my place in the starting line.


Oh, that’s the elite runners group, with the 5-minute-per-mile pace. That’s not running, that’s flying. I don’t belong there!

I had to find my place at the back. Way, way at back of the line, with the more than 10-minute-per-mile pace.


Then I found this line. Oh, that’s not it too. That’s the line for the portable toilet!


Finally, it was time to start. The half-marathoners were given a head start, while we, 10K runners were released 30 minutes later.

There they go!


The first half of the course was a piece of cake. No, I am not gloating. It was due to the fact that it was mostly downhill. And of course, I took photos while I ran, so I can blog about it.

Here’s a photo of the course going downhill with some of Des Moines skyline in the distance.


Here’s one as we pass by a sculpture park.


But like the reverse of the law of gravity, what goes down, will go up.  So on the final half of the course, it was mostly uphill. That’s what took my breath away. Especially the dreaded and infamous “Bulldog Hill.”

The Bulldog Hill may have chased my breath away, but never my will.


We had plenty of cheerers along the way. We even had a marching band inspiring us to push forward on the steepest climb of the course.


After the hills, finally the stadium was in sight. I gave my final push.

When we enter the Bulldog Stadium, there was a crowd of people to witness as we finish. It does not matter if you were the first finisher or among the last, they cheer you on just the same.


I really like the feeling as I sprinted to the finish line in those lined tracks inside the stadium. For a time, I felt like a real runner. This maybe the closest feeling I can get to being an Olympian.

Maybe I can be famous too like a Kardashian? Naaah!


(*Bulldogs is the athletic team of Drake University)

(**all photos taken with an iPhone) 

Foul Mouth

I would like to start this post with this presupposition: It is not our fault.

As a nation, we Filipinos pride ourselves that we are an English-speaking people. Or at least we think we are. Even though English is not our primary language.

But I know when we speak, we Filipinos are misunderstood sometimes. Alright, many times. And we have even been mocked for our English diction. But hear us out first.

In our mother tongue, we enunciate our vowels in only one way. Like e is always eh, and no other way it is pronounced. We don’t differentiate into short e, or long e, or short i.

Though some regions in the Philippines tend to interchange the pronunciation of e and i, but that’s another subject of its own.

Of course there are other quirky mistakes that we Filipinos are prone to make when we talk in English, like interchanging he and she, or his and her. Sorry if we confuse you, and you wonder if the person we are talking about suddenly got a sex transplant. But this is due to the fact that in our language our pronoun has no gender. It is the same for male or female.

Regarding our queer pronunciation, not too long ago, a friend of ours told us that when she first arrived here in the US, while they were driving in the midst of hundreds of acres of Iowa farm lands, she commented:

“I did not know that there are sheep here.”

She got a funny look and was told, “Honey, we are in a land lot. The ocean is thousands of miles away. We don’t have ships here.”

Learning to distinctively pronounce between a short i and a long e as ee when we speak in English is something we need to familiarize with. There’s nothing akin to this in our native language.

Consider this example:

What we said: There are lots of beautiful beaches in the Philippines.

What they heard: There are lots of beautiful bitches in the Philippines.

Can you imagine the glaring stares we got and the misconceptions we caused, stating a fact that we are proud of. Or so we thought.

Back to our friend here in Iowa, one day while at home, shortly from her arrival from the Philippines, she asked, “Where can I find clean (bed) sheet.”

To this she was told that there was no such thing. That’s not clean at all!

They must have thought she has a foul mouth or just plain crazy. By now, you must have deduced what they thought they heard.

Holy clean sh*t!

Life’s Worries

A couple of weeks ago, I took care of a patient who was admitted in the hospital for shortness of breath. She has COPD (CDOP if you’re obsessive-compulsive), a disease due to smoking, and went into acute respiratory failure.

The patient was really struggling to breathe thus the Emergency Room doctor placed her on a non-invasive positive pressure ventilator (NIPPV), a device similar to CPAP used by people with sleep apnea, to provide assistance in her respiration. She was then transferred to our ICU.

On the first day that I rounded on her she was still on the NIPPV and unable to talk much, as it was almost impossible to talk with that mask on, for it’s like having a blower in your face. I would not be able to hear her clearly anyway even if she wants to speak. Though I examined her thoroughly, I limited my history-taking to questions she can answer by yes or no.

The next day she was much better and we have weaned her off the NIPPV. She was sitting in a chair, breathing much easier and looking comfortable.

I pulled up a chair and sat beside her and talked. She admits she has been diagnosed with COPD for years, and has even been on oxygen at home. But sadly to say she continues to smoke. Damn cigarettes! I guess old habit never die.

I told her that it was vital that she quit smoking. Yet in the back of my mind, she has done quite good despite of her bad habits, for she was 84 years old after all, and she still lives independently, all by herself.

Then when I asked her how can I help her quit smoking, she relayed to me that she smoke because she was stressed out.

What? She was eighty-four years old and still stressed out? She should be relaxing and enjoying life, or whatever is left of it, at this age.

That was when she told me that she has not gotten over the death of her husband, whom she was married for sixty-one years. He died three years ago. I suppose the heartbreak never heals when you lose somebody you love and lived with, for that long.

If we only peel off our prejudgment and peer behind the puff of cigarette smoke, we will learn that these people are hurting inside.

Then she said that she was also worried about somebody she knew longer than her husband. She was worried about her mother.

Her mother? What?!!!

Wait a minute, was my patient confused? Too much medications maybe? Was she having ICU delirium? Or does she have the beginning of dementia perhaps?

But as I talked to her more, I ascertained that she was very lucid and of clear mind. She was indeed worried and stressed out about her mother, who has been in and out of the hospital for the past several months.

Her mother was 103 years old!

I came out of the ICU room with a smile. I was ever so determined to help my patient get well. And maybe if I can get her to relax and convince her to quit smoking, she will live more than 103.


view from the hospital’s corridor

(photo taken with an iPhone)