Changed: landscape of the city, due to constructions of high rise buildings
No Change: plight of the poor
This somehow, need to change.
(*photo taken during my last home visit in Manila)
(**Entry for WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Change)
Changed: landscape of the city, due to constructions of high rise buildings
No Change: plight of the poor
This somehow, need to change.
(*photo taken during my last home visit in Manila)
(**Entry for WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Change)
I have spent my impressionable years in Manila, so there are images of the city that are forever etched in my mind. However, being away for long, those images of the city when I was growing up, may not be the same anymore.
Here are the images of the current Manila that I have witnessed, during my last visit home:
There are constructions everywhere I look. The old neighborhood has been changed with high-rise buildings and condominium complexes. This has altered the landscape of the city I used to know. You may argue that this is a sign of progress. Or is it?
Here is a ghostly image of the Manila skyline in the morning haze. Or in a more blunt term, in the polluted morning smog.
Believe it or not, this is Manila Bay. It looks pristine and inviting, at least from the distance. Though I wouldn’t dare take a dip on it still.
Many of the roads and passageways I used to go to, also looks different. Of course the traffic is the same if not even worse. But instead of posting a gnarled-up traffic scene, I decided to post a picture of a widely open road for a change. It is more refreshing, isn’t it?
Even my old stomping ground, shows signs of progress. Here is the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) station in front of SM City Santa Mesa. This mall, which is formerly known as SM Centerpoint, had just opened when I was in college. Having lived near Santa Mesa, I frequented this place a lot, though the MRT was not there yet at that time.
I got to experience to ride the MRT and the LRT during my last visit, which I believe is the best way to travel through the metro, as it is faster and mostly unaffected by the unpredictable Manila traffic. The trains can be very crowded though, especially during rush hours, that you can almost exchange faces with the passengers beside you.
Of course, I also rode the jeepney, and the tricycle once again, not just for the nostalgic feel, but that’s the only way of transportation where I needed to go.
I also visited places that have been a fond memory of my youth, like the Rizal Park or also known as Luneta. (See previous post about Luneta here.) Here’s the new dancing fountain of Luneta.
With all the new swanky shopping malls and eateries, there are even places in the metro that are pictures of opulence. Here’s a nice restaurant where my classmate from high school brought my wife and I out.
Even old establishments have been updated and improved. Here is the lobby of the Sofitel Manila, which was used to be known as Philippine Plaza.
It was in one of the ballrooms of this hotel that was converted into a testing center, where I took the United States Medical Licensure Exam (USMLE), about 20 years ago. Passing it was my ticket in obtaining post-graduate training in the US.
With the seeming images of changes, progress, and even luxury, it is hard to ignore the solemn part, that some facts have never changed. Like the state of the poor in the city.
Here is a scene I used to know, and sadly to say, still very much exists. If you note, the shanties are quite a stark contrast to the tall buildings in the distance in this photo.
Here is the paramount image of Manila for me: the street where I grew up in. This is where the dream started.
I may have lived in many places after I left the city, and I don’t know where else will this life’s journey will take me, but I will always be the boy from Manila.
Nakatayo ako sa bukana ng masikip na kalye sa Maynila. Mataimtim kong sinusuri ang pamilyar na lugar na ito, ngunit sa kabilang banda, ay para bagang nakakapanibago.
Sinimulan kong baybayin ang kalsadang iyon. Sa bawat hakbang ay pawang hinahanap ang mga iniwan kong bakas ng nakaraan. Naghahalong tuwa at lungkot ang aking nararamdaman. Mahigit sampung taon na rin ang nakalipas mula nang huli kong magisnan ang lugar na ito.
Ang kalyeng aking tinatahak ay ang kalye ng Norma. (see previous post about Norma)
Norma. Ito ang lugar na umaruga sa aking pagkabata. Dito ako naglaro at lumaboy-laboy ng malaya noong aking kamusmusan. Dito rin ako namulat sa payak na katotohanan na ang mundo ay malupit. Ngunit dito rin sa lugar na ito ako natutong mangarap, magmahal, at tumanaw nang may pag-asa.
Hindi mga tao o dating kakilala ang unang sumalubong sa akin sa aking paglalakad, kundi dalawang asong kalye (askal) ang nakapuna sa aking presensiya. Marahil ay naamoy nila agad na ako’y dayuhan na sa kalsadang aking tinutuntungan.
Sa aking pagmamasid ay natunghayan ko ang marami nang pagbabago ng Norma. Wala na pala ang maliit na tindahan ni Aleng Poleng. Napagalaman ko na pumanaw na rin pala si Aleng Poleng. Nagtataasang bakod at matatayog na apartment building na ang nakatirik sa mga dating simpleng bahay noon. Pawang tahimik na ang lugar, at wala nang masyadong batang paslit ang naglipana at gagala-gala sa kalsadang ito.
Sa patuloy kong pagtahak ay palakas nang palakas ang kabog sa aking dibdib. Papalapit na ako sa lugar na aking tinuturing na pinagpala. Hindi nagtagal ay tumambad sa aking paningin ang tahanan na aking pinaglakihan. Bahay na aking pinanggalingan.
Wala pa rin itong masyadong pinagbago. Bakas pa ang pangalan ng aking ama na nakaukit sa batong poste sa tabi ng gate. Pareho pa rin ang tabas ng mga pader at hugis ng mga bintana. Pati kulay ng pintura ay pawang hindi rin nila pinalitan. Walang ring pinagbago ang kapirasong silid sa gilid ng bahay kung saan ko sinasaksihan noon ang pag-ikot ng munti kong mundo. Bakante pa rin ang lupa na nasa tabi ng aming bahay.
Ngunit mayroon rin namang nagbago. Wala na ang puno ng bayabas sa tabi na aking inaakyat noon. Wala na rin ang malaking puno ng Chinese Dama de Noche na tumatabing sa harap ng bahay. Iba na ang mga palamuting nakasabit, at mga nakasampay na mga damit na lamang ang pawang tumatakip sa nakalantad na harapan nito.
Mayroon pang malaking pinagbago: iba na ang pamilyang naninirahan dito, at iba na ang batang nakadungaw doon sa may veranda.
Matagal-tagal din akong nakatindig sa labas ng aming dating bahay. Tila baga tumigil ang pagtakbo ng oras at pumihit pabalik ang panahon. Umaapaw ang mga alaala sa aking isipan habang ako’y nakamasid. Umaapaw din ang halo-halong damdamin sa aking puso. Hindi ko na mapigil…….
Ako ay kumatok sa pintuan. Sa kabutihang palad ako ay pinagbuksan. Ako ay malugod na nagpakilala. Ngumiti ang tadhana, at ako ay pinaunlakan pang makapasok sa loob ng bahay na aking kinagisnan.
Muli akong tumapak sa sagradong lugar – sa bahay doon sa Norma.
Nuong isang linggo ay bumaha sa aming basement. Pumalya ang aming sump pump, at kahit hindi malakas ang ulan ay lumubog sa tubig (hanggang sakong ang lalim) ang silong ng aming bahay. Hindi ko akalaing susundan pa rin ako ng baha, kahit wala na ako sa Maynila.
Dahil nakulob ang tubig at nababad sa tubig ang carpet, ay naging masangsang at nag-amoy basang sapatos ang aming bahay. Nagsimula nang amagin ang carpet at dingding. Akala ba ninyo, hopia lang ang inaamag? Kaya tinuklap ang carpet, at binakbak ang mga dingding at drywall sa aming basement. Isang malaking abala. At siyempre, gastos!
Ngunit matapos ang lahat, at akin itong mapagisip-isip, ay nagpapasalamat pa rin ako, hindi dahil sa baha, kundi sa aral na maaring maidulot ng karanasang ito. Basement lang ang inilubog ng baha, hindi ang aking pananaw. Meron nga bang leksiyon sa baha?
Sanay ako sa baha. Lumaki akong lumulusong at nagtatampisaw sa tubig baha ng Maynila. Konting ulan lang ay baha na sa aming lugar sa Sampaloc. Dahilan na rin sa ating kapabayaan at sa mga tinapong basurang bumabara sa mga kanal at estero kaya tayo binabaha. Sabi nga nila, “ang basurang itinapon mo, ay babalik sa iyo.” Dahil din sa patong-patong na pagtatambak at pag-eespalto sa kalsada, ay naging mas mataas na ang aming kalsada kaysa garahe at silong ng aming bahay. Kaya’t lalo nang pinapasok ng tubig ang mga bahay sa aming kalye.
Kahit hindi bagyo, mapalakas lang ng konti ang ulan, ay kadalasan hanggang binti o tuhod ang lalim ng baha sa amin. Minsan nga ay naging hanggang baywang pa ang lalim. Dapat sana ay nag-alaga na lang kami ng dalag o tilapia sa silong ng aming bahay, at pinagkakitaan pa namin.
Nuong ako’y nag-aaral na, ay masaya ako kapag baha na. Hindi sa dahil masaya ako kapag may inaanod na bahay, kundi dahil sa walang pasok ang eskwela. Kahit nuong ako’y nasa kolehiyo na, parating walang klase kami sa UST dahil madaling bahain ang Espanya. Sa katunayan, tawag namin kapag baha na ito ay Espanya river. May pagkakataon pang ako’y naglakad sa mga bahang kalsada mula UST hanggang sa amin sa Balik-Balik, dahil walang masakyang jeepney. (Wala ring bangka!) Buti naman at hindi ako nahulog sa mga walang takip na imburnal.
Nuong ako’y natutong mag-drive na ay tinangka ko rin gawing submarine ang kotse ng aking tatay. Ngunit ako’y itinirik nito sa gitna ng baha. Pumasok ang tubig sa loob ng kotse. Buti na lang at may mga mamang nagtulak sa aking lumubog na kotse. Ang pinagkaiba ko lang kay Christopher Lao, ay walang TV News crew na nakakita sa aking kabobohan.
Alam kong hindi lang mga maliliit na perwisyo ang sanhi ng baha. Maraming mga tao ang napipinsala nito. Inaanod ang mga ari-arian, pati na mga pangarap. Minsan pati buhay ay tinatangay nito.
Ilang taon lang ang nakakalipas nuong kasagsagan ng bagyong Ondoy, ilan sa aming kamag-anak ang nakasama sa mga binaha. Isa sa aking tiyahin na nasa Marikina, ang kanilang buong bahay, hanggang bubong, ay lumubog sa tubig. Lumutang ang kanilang mga kasangkapan at wala silang gamit na naisalba. Ngunit sa kabila nito’y nagpapasalamat pa rin sila, dahil sila ay ligtas at buhay. Ito lang ay nagpapatunay na may mas mahalaga kaysa ating mga ari-arian. At tulad ng maraming taong nasakuna ng baha, sa kanilang patuloy na pagpupursigi at pagsisikap, sila ay muling nakaahon. Maraming dayuhan ang namangha na tayong mga Pinoy ay patuloy pa ring nakangiti sa kabila ng baha.
Oo nga, ang baha ay pumipinsala at nagpapahina sa mga haligi ng ating mga bahay at gusali, ngunit ito naman ay maaring magpatatag sa saligan ng ating pagtatalaga at determinasyon. Ito man ay nagtatangay ng ating mga yaman at pag-aari, ngunit ito rin ay maaring magpunla at mag-ugat sa ating pagtitiwala at pananampalatayang tayo ay babangon muli.
Hindi kayang ilubog ng baha ang lumulutang na pag-asa.
January 1994. New Jersey, USA. In one of the hospital affiliates of Columbia University.
I was sitting nervously in a brightly lit, plush, spacious waiting room, with a group of people. I was fighting off my jet-lag, as only a few days ago, I was still plying the streets of Manila, busy applying for my visa, and preparing the needed documents and paper works for this trip.
I was wearing a suit, the first ever suit I owned. It was midnight blue in color, made of wool cloth that I bought in Divisoria. It was a double-breasted style suit which was sewn by Mang Willie, a local tailor in Balik-Balik, near my home. I chose double-breasted because I thought it looks more stylish, though I have no idea it was a little out of fashion already at that time. At least my tie is not a foot-wide of the 70′s era.
My shoes were “state-side”. I bought it at Cartimar in Pasay, as I wanted it to be “US-style”. Plus I wanted sturdy shoes that can withstand the cold, and that I can use to walk in snow. But who knows, it could have been made from Marikina and was just exported to the US and then made its way back to the Philippines. I did not realize that my “snow-proof” shoes does not really go with my suit. But what the heck, it served its purpose, for it was snowing that day.
In my lap (not laptop, just lap!), rests a Manila envelope that has in it my curriculum vitae (CV). I even had my CV’s printed by “jet-printer” on nice thick paper at one of the printing shops in Recto, the copyright capital of Manila. Also inside the envelop is a copy of my diploma from University of Santo Tomas, College of Medicine and Surgery. Yes, it was a copy of a real and authentic diploma, and not a dubious certificate that you can avail in Recto.
It was the day of my interview. I was applying for a position for a post-graduate training in Internal Medicine. In the same room were other applicants. A few were graduates of other foreign countries like me. But mostly were graduates from medical schools here in the US. All of us were dressed formally, as if we were attending a funeral or like we were pallbearers. And we look somber too. Or maybe that was just the tension in the room.
Looking around the room, I felt uncomfortable in my seat. I felt I was out of my league, not on just how I dressed but where I came from – a halfway around the world. In my mind I thought, will my Recto-printed resume have the chance to compete and survive?
January 2011. Des Moines. In one of the hospital affiliates of University of Iowa.
I was sitting at ease in a softly lit, technologically modern, big auditorium. A senior Internal Medicine Resident whom I mentored, was presenting a case for the Grand Rounds. In the auditorium are other doctors – attending physicians of different subspecialties like me, medical residents, and some medical students.
I was in my usual everyday work clothes of khaki pants and white shirt, no tie, under my lab coat. A group of young men and women in one corner of the hall caught my eye. They were nicely and formally dressed, in their dark suits and ties. I figured that they were applicants for the Residency Training Program of this hospital where I work now. That day was their interview day.
It surely brought back memories of my own interview day. I am glad that they looked beyond the suit, the shoes, and the resume paper, and gave the boy from Sampaloc, Manila the opportunity to prove himself.
(*A long version of this article was published in Manila Standard Today)
I find it hard to believe that it has been 7 years since I moved here in Iowa. After leaving Manila, which had been the cradle of my childhood, and after short stints in New Jersey, New York, California and Florida, I now have settled here in Iowa and have accepted to call it home.
Truly, my world have changed from the one I was reared into. I transitioned from the congested streets of Manila to the wide open fields of Iowa. Our neighborhood in Sampaloc was so crowded that if I open my window and ask our neighbor to lend me some salt, they can literally hand it to me through the window. Now, where I live, if I open my window and shout to my neighbor to pass the salt, he should have a very good arm to throw it that strong so I can catch it. That is if he can hear me shouting for the salt first.
Consider this: the state of Iowa (145,000 sq. km.) is bigger than the total land area of Luzon (105,000 sq. km.). But the population of Iowa is only 3 million. Yes, 3 million! That’s only the population of Quezon City! Can you imagine scattering the people from Quezon City alone, throughout the whole island of Luzon, and that will still be more dense than Iowa.
You may be able to drive for miles after miles here without seeing people. But you cannot go very far without seeing the handiwork of people, as stretches of cornfields, soybean fields, cattle and hog farms are the constant scenery here. Only a very small portion of produced corn here is used for human consumption, as most of them are for processing ethanol for fuel and other industrial use. There’s so much corn, that it is just considered cattle and hog feeds. The cattle population (almost 4 million) is more than its people. And hogs? We have 20 million. There is plenty of steak and pork chop to go around.
(photo from here)
I remember when I told my friends that I will be moving from Florida to Iowa. Their first question was, “Where is Iowa?” The next question was, “Are you nuts?” And when I told my family in the Philippines that I will move to Iowa, their question was, “Is that still in the US?” Many people, even Americans cannot locate Iowa in the map. I admit that I had no idea where the heck Iowa was, or knew that it even exist, until a good friend of mine years ago invited me to consider moving here.
This friend is a classmate of mine from pre-med to medical school in Manila. Then we both did our post-graduate training in New York City. He moved to Iowa while I went to Florida, after our training. And for some reason he was very satisfied of the way of living and his practice in Iowa, while I was not in Florida. Besides, this is the man who was the best of our batch in medical school and was the top-notcher of the Philippines’ Medical Board of our time. If it was good enough for him, then there must be a very sound reason.
(photo from here)
As a matter of fact, Des Moines, Iowa is always in the top 10 cities in the US for raising family, for business and career, and a place to relocate. (No, I’m not making those up, but perhaps I need to hear those reports to convince myself that I made the right decision.) But what I like most here is its people. They are friendly, laid-back, simple and are family oriented. Moreover, people here still like their doctors, as the rate of medical malpractice lawsuits is not that high compared to other states. (The states where I lived before were among the high risk states for malpractice lawsuits.)
Seven years and counting. So far I have no regrets. Except when I am freezing while shoveling snow in my driveway, that moving somewhere warm (like the Bahamas) crosses my mind. But winter is almost gone now and spring is on its way. I will soon forget about the bone-chilling cold, at least until the next winter.
Will I stay here for good? Only time can tell. But for now, this wayfaring Pinoy transplant has found his home.
(The following article was published in Manila Standard Today, on February 11, 2011, in their Diaspora section.)
A few days ago my family and I shopped at Costco. Among the things we brought home for our own use included: rolls of toilet paper that would be several months’ supply, big bottles of ketchup that will last us a year, gallons of cooking oil enough to fill a small bathtub, cartons of toothpaste adequate for the use of a whole men’s dormitory (provided they brush their teeth), and bottles of shampoos plenty enough for a small hair saloon.
Popular now here in US, or perhaps in some other parts of the world as well, is wholesale or bulk buying. Stores like Costco, Sam’s Club and other warehouse-like stores caters to this practice and offer bargain sales of their products. I don’t know why we like to hoard so much stuff. Do we really save money if we buy things on bargain, but don’t really need them? When I look at our pantry and our garage where we store all the items we bought, I am struck by the realization that we would rival the stocks of a small sari-sari store in the Philippines. My mind flashed back to our “suking tindahan” (favorite store) of my neighborhood in Sampaloc, Manila.
Sari-sari store is unique to our culture and as Filipino as the jeepney. It is a result of our entrepreneurial ingenuity. It accommodates to the concept of able to buy “tingi” (units), instead of the whole package, so we get just what we need.
When I was a child, my mother sent me many times to the corner store. Empty bottle in hand, I had to buy 20 centavos worth of vinegar, or 50 centavos worth of cooking oil. Sometimes I was asked to buy two or three sachets of shampoo and a small tube of toothpaste. That store has everything a kid needed, too — from plastic balloon, marbles, Bazooka bubble gum, Choc-nut, to Mongol pencils, pad paper, cartolina and papel de hapon for my art project.
I remember that I could even buy 10 pieces (or even fewer) of lined paper, without the need to buy the whole pad. Or I can buy 3 or 4 pieces of coupon bond paper (I used to call it cocomban), just what I need for that day in school.
Recently here in Iowa, I needed Manila envelope, and I had to buy a whole, big box of it at a warehouse store. I got what would be a lifetime’s supply. I pondered: Did I really need all these? Maybe I can barter it for some pan de sals.
Ah, the pan de sal. In Sampaloc, we used to have a favorite bakery at the corner of the next street. On many mornings, I was sent there to buy P1.50 worth of pan de sal that was enough breakfast for our family of 5. (Maybe I’m showing my age with these reminiscences.) The still hot buns were placed inside a small brown paper sack, and during cold mornings, I will put them close to my chest to keep me warm, while the sweet aroma of newly baked bread filled my soul as I walked back home. That aroma, to me, is one of the most glorious memories up to this day.
There is packaged pan de sal in our Asian store in our locale here in the US. But they are not freshly baked; worse, sometimes they are even frozen. The bread most similar to pan de sal available in Costco is like a dinner roll. But it comes in a package as big as Santa’s sack, enough to feed a small platoon of soldiers. I heat them in the oven. With lots of imagination, I can convince myself that they taste like pan de sal.
Before Facebook, sari-sari stores in the Philippines are the real networking sites. The front of the stores are favorite hangouts for people in the community, where they exchange stories, gossips, news, and opinions, over a bottle of beer or a game of checkers. Most of the time, people just stayed there and watch the world go by. Sometimes, there will be heated arguments and fights in front of the store, especially when these “tambays” had too much to drink. Such were the perils that went with owning such a store.
One of our barkada’s favorite hangout was a sari-sari store in front of our church in Galas, Quezon city. There was a basketball half-court in front of our church, and after hours of playing, we trekked across the street to Aling Luring’s store. Here, we got our refreshments, sometimes with our shirts off, and spent time there just relaxing. My usual order was Sarsi and hopia. Sometimes we even did not have enough money to pay, and we would just ask Aling Luring if we could pay it next week. Since she knows us (and our parents), most of the time she let us.
About a year ago, after many years of living abroad, I went back home to the Philippines. I attended my childhood home church and saw familiar faces and some new faces. The basketball court was still there. The residential houses around the church had been replaced with commercial buildings. I looked for the familiar store across the street, but it was no longer there. In its site was a new business building. Not far in the area was a large supermarket.
Alas, Aling Luring’s store became a victim of progress. It was devoured by the same commercialism it represented. I was sad; the place that had formed part of my passage through teen years was gone. I would have liked to get Sarsi and hopia for me and my friends, for old time’s sake. As we ended up going to a nearby Chowking outlet, we consoled ourselves — at least we still had the memories.
(*photos from internet)
As summer is soon ending, we had a few things around the house that needs fixing before the snow flies. The roof needs complete re-roofing. The sidings needs to be replaced. The porch and the deck needs fixing. There is some water in the basement and perhaps my sump pump needs repair. Just thinking of all the expenses that goes with all of these makes me want to pull my hair. (I forgot I have no more to pull!)
I was grumbling until I placed my problems in perspective. I realized that there are many people in the world today whose concern is having no roof nor walls to shelter them tonight. And I’m griping for a roof that needs repair?
I am thankful for the roof over my head. Even if it leaks.
Habang ako’y nakadungaw sa bintana at nakatunganga sa magandang tanawin sa harap ng aming bahay, ay hindi maiwasang magliwaliw ang aking pag-iisip……..
Mag-lilimang taon na rin pala ang nakalilipas nang kami’y lumipat sa aming kasalukuyang tahanan. Matapos ang 16 na taon dito sa Estados Unidos, at 12 beses na pagpapalit-palit ng tirahan (mula New Jersey, New York City, LA, Florida, at Iowa), ay dito sa bahay na ito ang pinaka-matagal na naming paninirahan.
Ito rin ang kauna-unahang bahay na masasabing sariling amin, matapos ang 11 taon ng pangungupahan. Ito ang unang tahanan na ang titulo ay naglalaman ng aking pangalan. Bagama’t mahal ko ang tahanang ito, ito’y pangalawa lamang sa puso ko sa tahanang aking kinagisnan doon sa Norma.
Si Norma ay hindi isang babae. Ito ay pangalan ng kalye na aking kinalakihan sa Sampaloc, Manila. Dito itinirik ng aking mga magulang ang aming bahay, mula sa kanilang dugo at pawis. Sa bahay na iyon kung saan namulat ang aking mga mata sa mundong ito. Ang bahay na iyon ang naging saksi sa aking pagbabago; mula sa uhuging batang paslit hanggang sa maging paki-pakinabang na mamamayan ng lipunan (parang Panatang Makabayan ah).
Puro matatamis ang aking alaala doon sa bahay namin sa Norma. At kung may mangilan-ngilan mang hindi masasayang alaala (gaya ng ako’y makomang, o ilang beses na mapingot ng aking nanay, o masinturon ng aking tatay), ay nasasapawan ito ng magagandang karanasan sa tahanang ito. Sa bahay ring ito idinaos ang aking simpleng kasal. Marahil iyon na ang mga huling yugto ng aking buhay sa bahay na ito.
Pagkalipas ng mga ilang taon mula ng aking lisanin ang Norma upang makipagsapalaran sa Amerika, sa isang masalimuot na kasaysayan at mga pangyayari, ay binenta ang tahanan naming iyon. Isang malungkot na bahagi ng buhay. Ngunit kailangang mangyari.
Nang ako ay magbalik-bayan nuong nakaraang taon, ay maraming lugar ang aking binalikan upang sariwain ang mga nakaraan. Ngunit hindi ko pinangahasang lumakad muli sa kalye ng Norma. Hindi ko maatim na matanaw lamang ang bahay na kumupkop sa aking kamusmusan, at hindi mapasok iyon, dahil sa iba na ang nagma-mayari nito. Hindi ko pa matanggap na iba na ang nakatira at nakadungaw sa mga bintana nito. Tawagin na ninyo itong sentimyento ng baliw, ngunit ito ang aking “tunay na nararamdaman” (kanta yata ng Boyfriends yun).
Sana balang araw, ay makabalik muli ako sa Norma. Marahil, ay magkalakas loob pa akong kumatok sa bahay na iyon kahit alam kong iba na ang naninirahan doon. At sinong makapagsasabi, baka ako’y papasukin pa.
Ang Norma ay alaala ng nakalipas. Ngunit ngayon, sa kasalukuyan kong tahanan dito sa Iowa, panibagong kabanata ang isusulat sa aking alaala; kasaysayan ng aking pamilya’t mga anak, at ng kanilang magiging mga anak.
I woke up again this morning to a more-than-usual dark room. We had strong storms overnight which could have knocked the power out, again. It was the third blackout we had in our area in the past 10 days or so. This is becoming reminiscent of my Manila days.
Last week we had power outage in our clinic, and our generator was enough only to sustain minimal lighting. Since we have electronic medical records and we can only view our x-ray images through the computer screens, we were badly handicapped that we had no choice but to reschedule our patients and send them home. We cannot even practice basic medicine without electricity! We could have resorted back to paper and pens for recording, and relied more on our stethoscopes rather than on x-rays and CT scans on examining our patients.
As I sat in the dark this morning in my bathroom “throne”, I pondered (can you imagine The Thinker?) on how can mankind exist without electric power. I also reflected on how we survived through medical school in Manila during the height of the blackout season……..
I used to read my textbook by the candlelight for hours, because I had no choice, as there’s an exam the following day. We used to sit in a dark lecture hall, while our professor taught in the front, and he had no idea that half of the class was asleep. And when we were 4th year medical students, we would run to ventilator-dependent patients in the hospital during power failure, and ambubagged them by hand until the power was restored (that would be keeping the patient alive by every sense of the word)……..
I was in a deep thought when suddenly a lightbulb lit up. No, I did not have a bright idea, silly. The electricity came on.