Tortured Soul

She was a tortured soul.

In spite of all the medical interventions and having a supportive family, she still was always extremely depressed. It seems that she cannot get rid of her demons and the tormenting voices in her head. The desire to kill or hurt herself consumed her every day.

She has been on different anti-depressive medications and was regularly being followed by her psychiatrist. She even had several admissions to the inpatient psych unit. Yet nothing really alleviated her condition. For a person who is barely in her 30’s, she already had a fair share of misery.


She has attempted suicide a number of times in the past. Though all of those times it was not serious, resulting no grave medical consequences. It was mostly cries for help.

But this time, it’s different.

Her family found her unresponsive in her room after presumably overdosing on a bunch of different pills. Emergency responders were called and upon their arrival, CPR was performed. They were able to establish a stable heart rhythm and patient was brought to the hospital where she was subsequently admitted to the ICU.

She laid there in our ICU, hooked to several monitors and life support. Her chest would rise and fall as the ventilator bellows air into her lungs.

Three days have passed since her admission, yet she remained unresponsive. In addition she had this intermittent jerking-like activity, which I believe was an ominous sign of severe anoxic brain injury. I called the neurologist to assist in her care.

Then few hours ago, something happened.

Her vital signs became more labile. The continuous EEG monitoring which the neurologist requested showed a significant change. The jerking-like activity have quit. Her pupils were now fixed and dilated.

My suspicion was that she now is brain-dead.

Brain death is a complete and irreversible loss of brain function. Unlike in a vegetative state which could have some autonomic or brain stem functions left, brain dead means cessation of all brain activity.

I updated her family of this recent development. Then I proceeded to do my confirmatory exam for brain death per protocol.

After my evaluation, I determined that all her neurologic functions were gone. I even performed an apnea test, which involves taking the patient off the ventilator for 8 full minutes, while providing oxygen through the endotracheal tube. If there was no respiratory motion for the entire time, and this is associated with an appropriate rise in the blood carbon dioxide level, then this is one verification that someone is indeed brain-dead.

The neurologist independently performed her evaluation as well, and also arrived at the same conclusion.

When one is declared brain-dead, it is an indicator of legal death. Different from a person who is in a continued vegetative state, who can be sustained on life support indefinitely (which is controversial in so many levels), a person who is declared brain-dead is officially dead. All life support should be discontinued. Even if the heart is still beating. No argument. No controversy.

I gathered the family and told them of my findings. They were obviously distraught, but accepted the news without any questions.

I also told them, that based on the patient’s driver’s license, she indicated that she was an organ donor. I asked the family if they would like to honor the patient’s wishes.

The family said, that they totally agree to donate the patient’s organs per her wishes. That despite of the patient’s several mistakes in her life, this may be the best decision she have ever made, according to them. And despite of her cloudy and troubled mind, she have decided on this selfless act.

I called the donor network.

I know that somewhere out there, another person will be set free from the shackles of dialysis as he or she would receive a long-awaited kidney. Another person will be given a new breath of life as he or she would receive a new set of lungs. And another person out there will be given a new lease of life, as he or she would receive a new heart.

All because of the gift of a tortured soul.

That’s Entertainment

I would say in advance that this post has nothing to do with the defunct youth-oriented variety TV show with that title, that was hosted by the late German Moreno, aired in the 80’s – 90’s.

But that’s entertainment!

No, not that show. I was pertaining to the current best entertainment in the Philippines.

Who could guess that this will be more fun that any TV show, tele-serye, or even kalye-serye? I can say that we Filipinos can only provide this level of showmanship.

There’s drama, action, and fiction – all rolled into one. Maybe next time they will add some musical as well. Oh I forgot, there’s already that. Remember, may “kumakanta,” di ba?

But before you surf crazy the entire TV channels searching for it, or go into expedition to the movie theaters or broadways, I was just alluding to the Philippine senate proceedings.

Best entertainment ever. And this is “real” life.

Witness: Pinagbabaril na po naming yung lalaki, pero buhay pa.

Senator: Ilan kayong  bumaril?

Witness: Marami po kami, nasa 30.

Senator: 30 kayong bumaril, pero buhay pa? Ano nga ulit pangalan ng pinagbabaril ninyo?

Witness: Si Neo po, your honor. (*Matrix movie soundtrack plays in the background*)

Ghost of FPJ interrupts: Pinuno mo na ang salop. Isang bala ka lang!


I’m looking forward for more of this entertainment. Though I think it will become more fascinating, when the House will soon have their own “show.”

As our slogan says, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

I would like to end with a Filipino proverb:

Batobato sa langit, tamaan huwag magalit.

Or the new version:

Matobato sa langit, hindi matamaan kaya nagalit.

Lost in Spelling

Last week, when news from my country is making the rounds on the news networks, I even saw Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, made some digs at the Philippines. Of course he also made fun of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but that’s already old news.

In one of Colbert’s monologue, he questioned why is it that the Philippines is spelled with a Ph, while the word Filipinos, is spelled with an F? He then added, it is so Ph-up!

I have to admit, I also laughed at the joke. For I agree it does not make sense.

However, I would like to try to give an explanation for something that is totally not our own doing.

The Philippines was named after King Phillip II of Spain. The Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez Villalobos named our archipelago Los Islas Filipinas in 1543. After all, Phillip is Felipe in Spanish.

So the original name of our country is Filipinas. And that’s spelled with an F. So it makes more sense that we are Filipinos, at least by what we are called by our first colonizers, the Spaniards.

Thus it is the English language and the translation of our country’s name that made the confusion of why Ph is use in one, and F in the other. Blame it on the English-speaking people.

I think we can blame other things to the English language.

For instance, why is it that the French drinks a lot more alcohol, but their incidence of stroke is not as bad as the English people and the Americans. Also, why is it that the Japanese works much harder, but their rate of heart attack is not as high as the English and the Americans. And why is that the Filipinos eat more salty foods but again the prevalence of cardiovascular disease is not as high as the English and the Americans. Therefore, speaking English is the one that can kill you.

Sorry I digress. Back to the Ph and F.

To make it more confusing, in our native language, Tagalog or also now known as Pilipino, we spell our country’s name or the name of our people with neither Ph or F. Now that’s really Ph-up!

In our original alphabet, which has only 20 letters, we don’t even have the letter F, as it not needed in the phonology of our language. Though recently F has been added in the modern Filipino alphabet, with other letters, like C, J, Q, V, X and Z. We also have the letters Ñ and Ng in our alphabet, making for a 28-letter alphabet.

Therefore, when we speak in our native tongue, the name of our country is Pilipinas. And we the people are known as Pilipino. And both of them is spelled with a P!

Many times we confuse and interchange the use as well as the pronunciation of F and P. This has been a butt of jokes for us Filipinos. It hurts our peelings. We should not peel inferior just because we don’t speak ferpect English.

By the way, “Put@ng-ina,” our beloved president’s favorite battle cry, is also spelled with a P.

Proverbial Filipino

News from my country have been hugging the headlines lately and has been reverberating even to foreign and distant shores. Are you amused how interesting our nation is? Or you’re bemused and shaking your head that we’re just a bunch of clowns.

But perhaps if I present some of the old Filipino sayings or proverbs that are unique to our culture, and explain their meaning, hopefully this can help demystify us as a people.

For my non-Filipino readers out there, these proverbs may let you sneak at the Filipino psyche and understand our people better. For Filipinos like me, this will affirm what you already know and perhaps make more sense with regards to the current happenings in our country, especially in our political circus arena.

1.  Matalino man ang matsing, ay naiisahan din.

Loosely translated, “cunning may be the monkey, but it still can be tricked.”

This may give you an idea, why we fight cunning with cunning. Some even resort to trickery.  We even praise people with their “abilidad” of getting things done even if this does not follow the prevailing rules.

But there’s also a popular saying taken from the above proverb: Matalino man ang matsing, unggoy pa rin. Meaning, cunning or wise may be the monkey, it is still a monkey.

2.  Ang taong nagigipit, sa patalim kumakapit.

“A person in desperate need, will cling to the knife/sword.”

I understand that there are lots of circumstances that may be beyond our control that placed us in desperate situations. And desperate situations may need desperate measures. Even resorting to dangerous liaisons and means.

Though there are also circumstances that we are in, that is due to our own doing. Take the instance of the huge drug problem in our country, that no one can deny. People hooked on these illegal substances will do whatever means, even how dangerous they are, to feed their addiction. Sadly to say, those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

3. Walang naninira sa bakal kundi sariling kalawang.

“Nothing destroys iron but its own corrosion.”

We may have been colonized by other nations before, but we cannot blame all our ills to them. Hard to admit, it is our own fraudulence and corruption that send us where we are now. It is deeply ingrained in our systems and government, that it will be very hard to purge them out.

Though I still believe that we are a strong and resilient people. Yes, as strong as iron. But I guess we are not stainless or rust-proof.

4. Sa lahat ng gubat, may ahas.

“In every forest, there’s snake.”

This again reflects our long history and past experiences of being abused and betrayed. It is then understandable that it is hard for us to trust so easily, nor give our confidence freely. Because we believe, somewhere a snake is lurking.

5.  Ang punong maraming bunga, binabato.

A tree with many fruits, is being stoned.

Maybe this is peculiar to our culture. That is we have many tall fruit-bearing trees that are difficult to climb. So to get the fruit, we try to throw stones to it, so the fruits would fall.

So when people criticize or try to put you down, maybe because you have something that they don’t have. Maybe you should console yourself that when people try to throw stones at you, figuratively, it is because you have lots of fruits.

6.  Kung sinong unang pumutak, siya ang nangitlog.

“The one who cackle first, is the one who laid egg.”

If you go to a poultry house, you would observe that the chicken that cackles and is noisy, is the one who laid egg. This means that people who usually are complaining and accusing, are the ones who are guilty.

But there are also instances that people who are loud and noisy are the ones who don’t accomplish much.  They are sometimes the ones that have no guts to do things. So I believe the opposite can also be true:

“Ang putak nang putak, walang itlog.”

That I’ll leave for you to figure out.

7.  Ang araw bago sumikat nakikita muna’y banaag.

Loosely translated, “early dawn precedes sunrise.”

Meaning that before we see the light, we may experience some darkness first. Yet even with the faintest of light, this still promises that surely the sun will rise.

The Filipinos are very patient people. We have experienced centuries of subjugation and oppression from other countries, and also decades upon decades of exploitation and injustice even from own people. Yet the Filipinos are still hopeful, that soon the sun will rise.

Now that we are seeing a little light, please give us the time and the opportunity, as well as the benefit of the doubt, that we can rise from our darkest nights.




Balita Mula Sa Bayan Ko

Lapit mga kaibigan at makinig kayo,
Ako’y may dala dalang balita galing sa bayan ko,
Nais kong ipamahagi ang mga kwento at,
Ang mga pangyayaring nagaganap sa lupang ipinangako. 

(lyrics from the song Balita by Asin)

Kasama ako sa mga milyon-milyong Pilipino na wala sa ating bansa, ngunit lagi pa ring nakatutok sa mga balitang nanggagaling sa bayan ko. Masasabi ko rin na ang mga balita mula sa ating bayan ay umaalingawngaw hanggang sa iba’t ibang sulok ng mundo.

Hindi lang mga Pilipino ang mga nagdadala ng balita. Kahit ibang tao sa ibang bansa ay pawang interesado sa mga pangyayari sa ating bayan. Marami rin namang mga kritiko. Maging ibang lahi na wala naman mismo sa ating bansa. Pero ito lang ang masasabi ko sa kanila, hindi ba mga Pilipino rin ang mas nakakaalam kung ano ang mas makabubuti sa bansang Pilipinas?

Ako ay lumaki sa panahon ng Martial Law. Tuwing flag ceremony noong ako’y nag-aaral pa sa elementarya ay inaawit namin ang Bagong Lipunan. Sa katunayan, saulado ko pa rin ang kantang ito:

May bagong silang,

May bago nang buhay,

Bagong bansa,

Bagong galaw,

Sa Bagong Lipunan.

Magbabago ang lahat,

Tungo sa pag-unlad,

at ating itanghal,

Bagong lipunan!

Ngunit matapos ang maraming taon, hinangad din ng mga mamamayan ang tunay na pagbabago, hindi lamang sa isang kanta. Hindi napakali ang mamamayan, kaya’t sa isang pag-aalsa, ang pamunuan na nasa likod ng awit ng Bagong Lipunan ay napalitan.

Saksi ako sa mga laksa-laksang tao na nagtungo at nagkampo sa EDSA, na nagsusumamo sa isang pagbabago. Nakigulo rin ako kasama ng aking mga kaklase doon sa EDSA, ngunit pumunta kami noong umalis na ang mga tangke. Ang tanong ko, nagkamali ba ang laksa-laksang mga Pilipino?

Aaminin ko, hindi ako kasama sa mga bumoto kay Cory, hindi sa dahil sa ayaw ko sa Aquino, o dahil sa ako’y maka-Marcos. Hindi ako nakaboto dahil, kulang ako sa edad na bumoto, noong panahon ng rehistro.

Sa katunayan kung may sasama ang loob na napaalis si Marcos ay dapat ang aming sambayanan. Ang aking nanay ay tubong Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. Ilang bahay lang mula sa bahay nila, ang bahay kung saan ipinanganak ang dating Presidente Marcos. Ang bahay na iyon ay naging museo na, at amin itong pinupuntahan kapag kami’y bumibisita sa Sarrat noon.

Ilokano nak met.

Taga Ilocos Norte din si General Fabian Ver na dating kanang-kamay ni Marcos. At ang nanay ni General Ver at ang aking lola ay naging magkaibigan. Madalas ko pa itong nakikita na bumibisita sa bahay ng aking lola kapag kami’y nagbabakasyon sa Ilocos.

Pero dahil sa ngalan ng pagbabago, ay aming tinanggap at yinakap ang naging bagong pamunuan. Kasama ako sa mga nangarap at umasa sa isang pagbabago at mas maunlad na Pilipinas.

Lumipas pa ang mga taon, nang panahon uli ng botohan ng bagong presidente, ay nagkaroon na rin ako ng pagkakataong bumoto. Si Fidel Ramos ang aking napusuan at siya rin ang sumunod na pangulo ng ating bansa. Siya na rin ang huling presidente na aking nagisnan, dahil ako’y tumulak na at lumabas ng Pilipinas matapos niyang manungkulan.

Mula noon, ay naging tahimik na lang akong saksi sa mga kaganapan sa ating bansa. Isa na lang akong tagamasid sa labas ng bansa. Ngunit parati pa ring akong sabik sa mga balita sa ating bayan. At bilang isang Pilipino, ay lagi pa ring nag-aasam para sa kabutihan ng lupang sinilangan.

Ilang mga administrasyon pa ang lumutang at lumubog. Ngunit ang aking bayan ay parang nalulunod at naghihikahos pa rin sa paglangoy laban sa alon ng progreso. Lagi pa ring uhaw ang mga Pilipino sa mga pinangakong pagbabago. Ngunit hanggang sa ngayo’y hindi pa rin maisakatuparan.

May isa akong obserbasyon: bakit yata ang mga dating namumuno sa ating bansa, ay dinadakip at pinapakulong pagkatapos ng kanilang termino?

Ngayon, may bagong upo na namang pamunuan sa ating bansa. Bagong kulay. Bagong pangalan.

Sasabihin ko na may mga pangalan na tila mabango noong nakaraan, ay naging masangsang na sa opinion ng bayan. At mayroon din naman na ang dating dangal ay nabuwal, ngunit ngayo’y  unti-unting ibinabangon muli.

Kahit ako’y nasa labas na ng ating bansa, ay mayroon pa akong isang naobserbahan: ang katapatan ng mga mamamayan ay wala sa pangalan o apelyido ng isang pulitiko. Hindi rin ito nakasalalay sa kulay ng partido. Ang katapatan ng mga Pilipino ay sa ngalan ng tunay na pagbabago. Hanggat hindi ito nakakamit, mananatiling ligalig ang sambayanang Pilipino.

Sa lahat ng mga nag-aalinlangan sa bagong pamunuan, bigyan po naman sana natin sila ng panahon at pagkakataon upang patunayan ang pagbabagong kanilang gustong ihatid. Siguro naman, bawat mamamayan, ang hangad lamang ay para sa kabutihan ng ating bayan.

Patuloy po akong mag-aabang sa mga bali-balita galing sa bayan ko.


P.S. Nakikiramay po ako sa lahat ng naapektuhan ng pagsabog sa Davao.

(*image from here)


Nothing To Do In Iowa

Summer here is on its last leg, and autumn is knocking on our doors. Yet we are still trying to squeeze out the fun of what’s left of this summer.

Like the summers before, we again had a few friends and relatives from out-of-state who visited and stayed with us here in Iowa. They came from New York, from Florida, and even from out of the country like Taiwan and the Philippines.

One friend who came from Florida, was told by her office mates when they learned that she was flying to Iowa, that there’s nothing to see and do in Iowa. Except if you’re a Presidential candidate and you’re campaigning.

True, Iowa is not a tourist destination, like California or Florida. There may not be much to see here. But for our friends, seeing us, maybe is reason enough for them to visit Iowa.

Yet we tried our best to show our visitors what is here to see. We toured them around the city of Des Moines, the covered bridges of Madison County, and the farm fields of Iowa. Some of them even had the chance to go to the annual Iowa State Fair.

They said that our state fair is truly part of Americana. For where else can you go around the fair grounds while chomping on a whole turkey leg or a pork chop on a stick? Or munch deep-fried Oreos or deep-fried Sneakers? Or see the biggest cow, or the biggest pumpkin? Or see the famed butter cow sculpture?

This summer, we also had the chance to visit other states, like Montana and California. We have a few relatives in California, including my mother-in-law, who sadly to say, got awfully sick and eventually passed away during our visit there. Thus our vacation had a sudden turn of sad events.

She was hospitalized in a small hospital in Hollywood. In fact, the hospital was a couple of blocks from Sunset Boulevard and all the touristy spots in Hollywood. But driving back and forth to the hospital and where we’re staying was not a pleasant trip, as we were most of the time stuck in terrible traffic in the Los Angeles area.

photo taken after we visited my mother-in-law at the hospital

My mother-in-law stayed in the ICU for a few days, and I had the chance to talk to her physician. I introduced myself as an ICU doctor as well, so we can have a direct talk about the nitty-gritty details involved, as well as management, and of course prognosis.

The ICU physician was nice to me. Though he was in a bit of disbelief that I am practicing in Iowa. Perhaps he, like many others, have the impression that there’s nothing but corn and cows in Iowa.

He even asked my kids what do they do for “fun” in Iowa. My kids just politely said “a lot” without giving much details. I’m sure the good doctor was expecting answers like going to Disney, or visiting a theme park (which we also have though not as famous), or going to the beach.

My kids could have answered, how about catching fireflies. Or riding ATV in the cornfields with our friends. Or riding bike in dirt trails. Or perhaps just watching the sunset, or counting the stars.

As he was leaving, my mother-in-law’s doctor told me that he felt “sorry” that I live in Iowa. I just smiled and did not answer. It was past eight in the evening, and I knew he was not even on-call that night for he told me so, and yet he was still making rounds and seeing patients.

Me in Iowa? If I’m not on-call, I’m done with work by five in the afternoon, and I’m doing something “fun” by that time. Or maybe I’m just home spending time with my family.

In reality, it was me, who felt sorry for him.

For somebody who have lived in Manila, New Jersey, New York City, California, and Florida, I know what I’m talking about. And that’s why I chose to live where I’m living now.

Yes, there’s nothing to do in Iowa.

me and the bike trail in the middle of cornfiels


Pagmumuni-muni sa Bubong na Yero

Umaakyat ka ba sa bubong ng inyong bahay upang doon tumambay? Sabi nila pusa at mga kalapati lang daw ang umuupo at lumalagi sa bubong. Pero bakit si Spiderman o si Batman, laging tumatambay sa bubong?


Hunyo, 1987.

Mahigit isang linggo pa lang nagsimula ang pasukan. Unang semestre at unang taon kong tumapak sa medical school. Masasabing punong-puno ng pag-asa ang aking hinaharap. At ako rin nama’y punong-puno ng pangarap.

Ngunit isang gabi, nang ako’y umuwi, ay mayroon kumosyon sa amin. Hindi lamang sa aming bahay, kundi sa aming magkakapit-bahay sa lugar namin sa Maynila.

Akin napag-alaman na may sunog daw sa malapit sa amin. Ngunit kahit sa kabilang kalye pa ang sunog, dahil sa dikit-dikit na parang mga posporo ang mga bahay doon sa amin sa Sampalok, ay madaling kumalat ang apoy.

Hindi ito ang unang sunog na aming naranasan. Mahigit isang taon lang ang lumipas bago ang sunog na ito, nang magkaroon ng sunog sa mismong kalye namin. Dalawang bahay lang ang layo mula sa amin. Lumikas na nga kami sa aming bahay. Buti na lamang at naagapan ng mga bumbero at hindi masyadong kumalat ang apoy. Gayon pa ma’y isang bata ang namatay noon, dahil hindi ito naitakas.

Kaya nang magkaroon ulit ng sunog sa aming lugar nang gabing iyon, hindi maiaalis ang takot sa aming puso. Ako’y inutusan ng aking nanay na tanawin kung gaanong kalayo ang sunog, upang malaman kung kailangan naming mag-alsa balutan.

Paano ko tatanawin ang sunog? Wala namang tore doon sa amin. Hindi rin naman pwedeng akyatin ang poste ng Meralco. Kaya’t walang pinakamagandang lugar para makita kundi sa bubong ng aming bahay. Kahit pa ba dalawang palapag lang ang aming bahay, kapag nasa bubong na, ay malayo na rin ang matatanaw.

Maraming beses na rin naman akong umakyat sa bubong ng aming bahay. Nariyan ‘nung mag-palipad ako ng saranggola kasama ng aking tiyuhin sa aming bubong. At minsan din ay tinulungan ko ang aking tatay na magpahid ng vulcaseal sa aming mga yero dahil tumutulo ito kapag umuulan.

Ngunit lahat ng pagkakataon noon ay sa araw ako umaakayat sa bubong. Ngayon lang ako umakyat nang gabi. Pero hindi ako miyembro ng “akyat-bahay.”

Matapos kong tanawin ang sunog, ay aking natanto na malayu-layo naman pala ito sa amin. Siguro, tatlong kalye ang layo. Akin ding naobserbahan na ang ningas ng malalaking dila ng apoy ay dahan-dahan nang humuhupa. Siguro dahil na rin sa pagsisikap ng mga bumbero.

Pagkatapos kong isigaw at ipaalam sa aking pamilya na malayo naman pala ang sunog at hindi naming kailangang lumikas, ay nanatili at tumambay pa muna ako sa bubong ng aming bahay. Habang ako’y nakatanaw sa nagliliyab na apoy, ay akin ding tinangkang tanawin kung ano ang bukas para sa amin.

Sa katunayan, galing lang ako sa ospital ng gabing iyon. Sa ospital kung saan nakaratay ang aking ama. Aking kinuha ang mga plaka ng kanyang CAT scan mula sa isang lugar kung saan ito isinagawa, at inihatid ito sa ospital kung saan siya ooperahan.

Isang malaking tumor sa utak ang hatol sa aking ama.

Mapanganib daw ang gagawing operasyon. Hindi rin kayang isiguro ng duktor kung magiging tagumpay ito. Ngunit operasyon lang ang tsansang meron kami, kung gusto pa naming madagdagan ang buhay ng aking tatay. Siya ay singkwenta anyos lamang.

Totoo, hindi ang tinatanaw na sunog ang pinakamalaking nagbabadyang panganib sa aming buhay noong gabing iyon. Hindi apoy na maaring tumupok sa aming bahay ang aking kinakatakutan, kundi isang sakuna na papatay sa apoy ng aming buhay at aming mga pangarap.

Paano kung hindi kayang lunasan ang sakit ng aking ama? Paano kung hindi magtagumpay ang operasyon? Buhay niya ang nakasalalay dito. At buhay rin naming pamilya ang magdudusa.

Ngunit habang ako’y nakamasid sa apoy na tumutupok sa mga bahay, ay isang katahimikan ang sa aki’y sumukob. Ang aking takot at pangangamba ay pawang inalis at isang kasiguraduhan ang aking nadama.

Hindi ko man batid kung ano ang hatid ng bukas, ay batid ko naman kung sino ang may hawak ng bukas. At ipinangako ko rin sa aking sarili, na anuman ang mangyari, ay hindi ako bibitaw sa aking mga pangarap.

Pagkalipas ng tatlong buwan matapos kong magmuni-muni sa bubong ng aming bahay, ay pumanaw ang aking ama.


Enero, 2016.

Ako ay muling nakatanaw mula sa isang mataas na lugar sa Maynila. Sasabihin kong mas mataas pa sa bubong ng aming bahay noon ang aking kinalalagyan. Muli akong tumanaw sa lugar ng Sampalok kung saan minsan isang gabi, maraming taon na ang nakaraan, ako ay tumanaw at nagmuni-muni.


overlooking Manila area and the Sampaloc PLDT tower

Ngunit walang nagliliyab na sunog akong tinatanaw. Wala ring nagbabadyang panganib akong binabantayan.

Kahit pumanaw ang aking ama, sa gabay naman ng Maykapal, at dahil na rin sa pagsusumikap, ay nakaraos din ang aming pamilya. Ako’y napagkalooban ng scholarship na siyang nagtuguyod na magtuloy ako sa aking pag-aaral. At kahit pa laging maliit at minsan ay kulang ang aking baon, ay naigapang naman at nakatapos rin.

Ngayon, ako’y  nanumbalik sa aking unibersidad doon sa Maynila, upang dumalo sa aming 25th graduation anniversary mula sa medical school.

Mula sa mataas na lugar na iyon, muling nagmuni-muni at nagpasalamat. Wala mang sunog akong tinatanaw, ang apoy naman ng mga pangarap ko’y patuloy pa ring nagliliyab.


(*Photo taken during my last visit to Manila, January 2016)


Empty Room

As parents, there are events in our child’s life that are happy moments, that we are proud of and we celebrate.

Events like their first spoken word, or their first step. Or maybe it is their first goal in the kids’ soccer league, or their first medal in the youth swim meet. Or maybe it is their first piano recital or perhaps their first role in their school play.

Or perhaps it is your child’s first visit to the principal’s office. What? Oh my mistake! We defintely are not proud of that, and don’t celebrate that event.

However, there are also events in our child’s life that are supposed to be milestone, but somehow we are sad that that day has come.

One of those events is when they enter college. Especially when the university they are going to is more than a hundred miles away, and that means they are leaving home.

So the day that we are preparing for, and also dreading for, but know that it is coming, has come.

Our little girl is off to college! Where did time go?

my daughter’s school bag evolution: from elementary, to high shcool, and college

As we sent her off to college the other day, I was having some difficulty bringing her stuff and things down the stairs to load in the car. It was not that her stuff was heavy, like her teddy bear. Or maybe a little bit, like her drawer. But it was more so that my heart was heavy. I can’t seem to let go.

We want her to stay home. Perhaps just to be with us for a little longer. But we also know that it is time. Time for her to pursue her chosen career. Time for her to follow her dreams. Time for her to go out there, and make her own mark in this world.

As I passed my daughter’s room this morning, something have drawn me to enter it. Perhaps I was hoping that she’s still there, sleeping in her bed. Perhaps I was wishing to find someone there that I would nudge out of bed, and tell her to go hop into the shower, for it is late. Perhaps I was just missing someone to greet good morning, and remind her that I love her.

We are definitely not washing our daughter’s bedsheet, pillow cases, and blanket. We will leave her bed as is, as she left it. Until she comes back home for a visit.



University by the Bay

My alma mater have seen renovation and updates in its structures and facilities over the years. After all, a more than 400-year-old establishment needs to keep up with the changes of time.

Earlier this year, when I revisted my school, I have noted some changes in the campus that were not present when I left its portals 25 years ago.


If you enter the campus through the España entrance, the first structure that will welcome you is the Arch of the Century.  Somehow adding this low wall bearing the university’s name (photo above) at the side of the arch, gives this archaic landmark a fresh look.


In front of the Main Building, which is arguably the most recognizable building on the campus, there is now the huge “UST” letters, as well as a growling tiger (above photo) prowling on the university’s grounds.

Even the plaza where the statue of Father Benavidez stands, got some modern framework around it giving it a contemporary look (photo below).


I believe many of the makeover and updates in the campus were constructed right before the 400th year celebration 5 years ago.

Below is the landmark commemorating that event.


Even the walkway that I passed everyday during my time in the university, has a different look. I don’t even remember that it was named Burgos Lane (photo below). I also like the “No Smoking” sign, which I hope is being followed and enforced.

Besides the changes inside the campus, there are also noticeable changes around and outside the campus. For sure the skyscrapers towering around the university campus were not there during my time.


Then a couple of days ago, somebody posted a photo of my alma mater. I would say that this is the most ambitious and spectacular update to date that I have ever seen.

They added an ocean to the campus!


Now it can claim to be called the University by the Bay.


P.S. On a serious note, I pray for the safety of all who are affected by the heavy rains and flooding in the Philippines.

(*Photos I took and processed with an iPhone, except for the last picture which was taken by Michael Angelo Reyes and I grabbed from the internet.)

Gunita Sa Makulimlim Na Umaga

Noong isang araw, ako ay lumabas para maghehersisyo. Makulimlim at mahamog ang umaga. At habang ako ay tumatakbo, ang gunita ko naman ay nagliliwaliw at tumatakbo rin. Ito ay napadpad sa isang nakaraan. Sa isa ring makulimlim na umaga………


Sariwa pa sa aking isip ang araw na iyon. Bagama’t tanghali na ay binabalot pa rin ng dilim ang umaga. Makapal at maiitim ang ulap na tumatabing sa sikat ng araw. Bumubuhos din ang napakalakas na ulan. Para bagang tumataghoy at tumatangis ang langit. Nakikiramay kaya ito sa aking nadarama?

Dahil sa kailangan naming dumalo sa isang tinakdang pagtitipon at dapat makarating sa tamang oras, ay napasabak kami sa napakalakas na ulan. Aming sinuong ang bumubuhos na delubyo. Nakarating naman kami sa aming paroroonan.

Matapos kaming makarating sa gusali ng pagtitipon, ay aking pinagmasdan ang mga taong pumapasok sa bulwagang iyon. Lahat sila ay pawang mga basang sisiw na nilublob sa tubig. Kulang na lang ay magsabon na rin sila. Pormal at magagara pa naman ang bihis nila. Buti na lamang at may dala kaming payong. Ngunit gayon pa man ay basang-basa pa rin ang aking sapatos at pantalon.

Kahit na makulimlim at bumabagyo noong araw na iyon, at kahit pa basang-basa ang karamihan dahil sa sinugod nilang lakas ng ulan, ay maaliwalas at maligaya ang napupulsong damdaming sa loob ng bulwagang iyon.

Hindi ko alam kung bakit ko piniling magsuot ng itim noong araw na iyon. Ako ba’y nagluluksa? Ako ba’y dadalo sa libing?

Sabi nila ang araw na iyon ay isang kaganapang tinatanaw.  Sabi nila ito raw ay kasagutan sa isang inaasam na pangarap. Pangarap na maraming tao sa iba’t-ibang lupalop ng mundo ang nagkakandarapa na makamit. Sabi nila ito raw ang katapusan ng mahabang paghihintay. Para sa akin, mahigit dalawampung taon ang inabot.

Sabi pa nila ito raw ay masayang okasyon. Ito raw ay araw ng pagdiriwang. Araw na dapat ipagbunyi. Ngunit bakit may kurot ng lungkot akong nararamdaman? Oo nga’t may tuwa sa aking puso ngunit bakit may bahid rin ito ng lumbay?

Matapos makapasok sa malaking bulwagang iyon ang lahat ng kinaukulan at maupo kami sa tinalagang upuan para sa amin, ay nagsimula na rin ang hinihintay naming seremonya. Tumahimik ang lahat, at kulog at ugong na lang ng malakas na ulan ang aming naririnig.

Pumasok na ang hukom. Ito’y nagbigay ng isang masayang pagbati.

Hindi na nagtagal kaming lahat ay pinatayo. Ako, kasama ng maraming tao, mula sa iba’t-ibang lahi at bansa. Ipinataas sa amin ang aming kanang kamay, at kami’y pinabigkas.

At habang ako’y nanunumpa sa harap ng dayuhang bandila, habang umiiyak ang mga alapaap, ay nangingilid naman sa aking mga mata ang luha………


Halos isang taon na rin pala ang lumipas mula nang aking ipagluksa ang aking inang bayan. Mag-iisang taon na pala ang nagdaan nang aking isuko ang aking pagkamamamayan sa lupa kong sinilangan.

Namatay at nalibing na nga ba ang aking pagiging isang Pilipino? Huwag naman sanang mangyari.


(*isinulat para sa pagunita ng buwan ng wika)

(**Photos taken with an iPhone, one foggy morning)