Field of Dreams

A couple of nights ago I watched a rerun of the 1989 film “Field of Dreams” on television. My daughter watched it with me too. It’s been quite a while since I saw that movie. In fact the last time I watched it was when I was still in the Philippines. I had no clue at that time that one day this film would parallel my life story.

As you all probably know it, that movie was filmed in Iowa. It’s about a farmer who turned part of his cornfields plot into a baseball field. Many of his friends and family thought he was going insane converting a profitable agricultural land into a playing field that nobody would come to as it was in the middle of nowhere. Then to his surprise, famous dead baseball players came to play on his field.

MLB Confirms Field of Dreams Game Pushed to 2021 – KCHA News
scene from the movie Field of Dreams

The site where it was filmed which is in Dyersville, Iowa, was preserved just like it was in that movie and it remains a popular tourist attraction to this day.

The film starred Kevin Costner, Earl James Jones, Ray Liotta, and Burt Lancaster in his final film role. It was interesting that both then-teenagers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, were extras in one of the scene at Fenway baseball stadium.

The movie featured Iowa cornfields and baseball but I believe it is more than that. Honestly, when I first watched it years ago when I was still a smog-inhaling, jeepney-riding inhabitant of Manila, I did not really dig it. However, after living in the US for more than 25 years now and understanding more the American way of living including baseball which is ingrained to this culture, I have a better appreciation of the film.

The movie though has a lot of symbolism that went beyond baseball. I believe one of the takeaway from the film is about pursuing your passion and your dreams even though how unreasonable it may seems to other people that they might think you are losing your mind. And this to me, took a somewhat personal connection.

One of the iconic scenes of the movie is when Ray, the main character who built the baseball field, and who had regrets that he did not spend much time playing baseball with his father who played for the Minor League, saw a younger version of his departed father, John, who came to play baseball on his field. The scene had these lines:

John Kinsella: “Is this heaven?”

Ray Kinsella: “It’s Iowa.”

John Kinsella: “Iowa? I could have sworn this is heaven.”

Ray Kinsella: “Is there a heaven?”

John Kinsella: “Oh yeah. It’s a place where dreams come true.”

Ray looked around at his field and at his home nearby where he saw his wife and his daughter happily playing at the porch, finally answered back:

Ray Kinsella: “Maybe this is heaven.”

When we moved here to Iowa, after residing in America for 10 years, and living in New Jersey, New York City, California and Florida, some thought we were making a wrong decision. Why move to an “obscure” land of cornfields? We were asked questions that went like this:

Iowa? Where is Iowa? Why Iowa? Are you thinking right?

But after living here for 16 years and counting, and having my dreams come into fruition here, maybe this is really heaven.

photo taken at Selfie Museum in Des Moines, Iowa

Dearly Departed

I was standing in a small countryside cemetery. With me were seven other people, and we were hovering around a newly covered grave. It did not even have a tombstone or a headstone yet, just a temporary marker placed on its foot end.

It was a beautiful, warm summer day. Nice day to be out, though I’m not sure if there’s really a good day to visit a grave site. Near the cemetery was a small country church. Surrounding the graveyard which was on top of a small hill were endless fields of corn whose stalks were swaying gently with the breeze. Once in a while a car or a truck would whiz by the country road where the cemetery was located.


Buried in the grave we were visiting was a work partner of mine. He was a little past the traditional retirement age but chose to continue working, although in a slower pace. Yes, he was working until the time of his sudden death.

Due to this age of COVID pandemic and physical distancing, we were not able to attend his wake nor his funeral, as his funeral was a family-only affair. Visiting his grave was the closest way to say goodbye to him formally.

I know he chose this small country cemetery which was off the beaten path because not too far from here was a farm that he bought. But instead of making it into an agricultural farm he planted trees and turned it into a little forest. He even had his colonies of honey bees in that patch of land. This is were he escaped to, which was about 45 minutes drive from the city, when he was not doing doctor duties.

He had a brilliant mind, and he delved into different interests. Besides being an arboculturist (forestry expert) and a bee keeper, he was also a certified scuba diver. These were among other endeavors that he had dabbled into. But most of all, he was a diligent and dedicated physician. His patients vouched for his passionate work and many of them claimed that they were literally “saved” by him when their lives were on the line. He was a great teacher too. He encouraged me to pursue my certification in Sleep Medicine.

He and I were the only Board-certified sleep experts in our group of 10 Pulmonary and Critical Care doctors. Perhaps we just love to sleep so we were both fascinated with the science of it. Now I am left to carry on.

We are missing him not just because we have become more busy and we’re down one body. It does not help that this COVID-19 is still running amok. In fact a week ago we were in the news as Iowa was the number one hotspot in the whole USA with the highest infection rate. We are missing him for his wisdom and advices from years of experience which we could use in this difficult time.

As I stood in that cemetery, I was thinking of my own mortality. What do I want to be remembered when I am gone? A bungling pianist? A slow but persistent runner? An amateurish writer? Or an OK (just OK) physician? Maybe a good father, I hope? Or a loving husband? Or a trust-worthy friend? How much time do I have to direct this narrative?

When I moved to Iowa and joined this group 16 years ago, I remember my first day at work. I was in the office and I finished early as I don’t have any established patients yet to see. I hang around in the clinic as in the last group I was a part of in Florida, they frown upon and make you feel guilty if you leave early, especially if the senior partner still have patients to see. So most of the time I would not go home until after 6 PM or even later.

But it was different in this new group that I joined. It was only about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, but I have nothing else to do on my first day. That’s when this partner found me still hanging around. He asked me if there’s any other patients I need to see. When I said no, he told me to go home and rest, and that I should spend time with my family.

My departed partner, it is my turn now to tell you that you can go home. Rest, and have a peaceful long night sleep.

(*photo is of a nearby cemetery where I live, not the site where my departed partner was buried)

Leksiyong Pang-Grade Two

Balik-eskwela na naman ang mga bata. Pero marami sa mga schools sa ngayon ay virtual class ang meeting dulot ng COVID-19 pandemic. At dahil po pasukan na naman, ay minarapat ko na muling sariwain ang mga leksiyong natutunan ko noong ako’y nasa mababang paaralan pa.

(Related previous posts Kwentong Kindergarten and Leksiyong Pang-Grade One.)

Photo by Skitterphoto on

Ako ay inilipat sa mas malaking paaralan nang ako’y mag-grade 2. Hindi tulad ng paaralan ko sa Kindergarten na nilalakad ko lang mula sa aming bahay, at ang eskwelahan ko ng Grade 1 na isang tricycle lang ang layo, ang bagong school na pinasukan ko noong grade 2 ay malaki ang inilayo nito: 2 sakay ng jeepney at 1 sakay ng tricycle. Lumipat ako doon dahil sa ito ay academy – elementary hanggang high school.

Bagong paaralan. Bagong lugar. Bagong uniporme. Bagong lunchbox. Bagong classroom. Bagong teacher. Bagong mga classmates. Bagong hamon.

Sa Grade 2, ako at iilan lang estudyante ang bagong lipat. Halos lahat ng mga classmates ko ay magkakakilala na dahil doon silang lahat nag-Grade 1. Buti pa sa Kindergarten o sa Grade 1, lahat kami ay bago. Sa Grade 2, ako lang ang bagong salta. Kumbaga ako’y “new kid in town.”

Hindi ko sasabihin na naging madali ang naging transisyon ko sa bagong paaralan. Pero alam kong kailangan itong mangyari. Kaya ang isa sa leksiyon na aking natutunan noong grade 2 ay ito:

Huwag matakot sa pagbabago. Dahil sa pagbabago tayo ay natututo at lumalago.

Sapagkat ako nga’y bago at wala pang kakilala, pag-recess na ay nasa isang sulok lang ako. Mahiyain ako at hindi naman ako ipinanganak na parang pulitiko na maboka at magaling makipagkaibigan. Buti na lang at may dalawang mag-pinsan na bagong salta ring katulad ko. Kinaibigan nila ako, o siguro naawa sila sa akin dahil mukha akong basang sisiw.

Mula noon kapag lunch break na, kahit may bitbit akong baon dahil nga malayo ang bahay namin, ay sumasama ako sa mag-pinsan kong kaeskwela, at doon sa bahay nila ako kumakain ng tanghalian. Kung alam lang ng nanay ko na kung saan-saang kalye at eskinita ng Pasay ako sumusuot at naglalakad ay siguradong mag-aalala ito. Nariyan ang mga maton at siga sa daan na aming nasasalubong. Mayroon din mga lasing at adik. Sa awa ng Diyos, wala namang nangyari sa akin.

Naging kaibigan ko ang mag-pinsan na ito, at mga ilang buwan din akong kaladkarin sa bahay nila. Nakatulong din na naging “in” ang aking bagong kaibigan dahil magaling siya sa sipa at pinakamabilis siyang tumakbo, kaya naman kahit sabit lang ako ay isinasali na rin ako pag-naglalaro na. Hindi na ako basang sisiw.

Isa pang leksiyong aking natutunan noong ako’y Grade 2:

Ang mga taong may kaparehas mong hamon sa buhay ang makakaunawa at makakatulong sa iyo. Ang mahirap na sitwasyon ang makakapagbuklod sa inyo.

Mga ilang taon ko rin naging kaibigan ang mag-pinsan na ito. Ngunit isang araw, lumipat na sila ng paaralan. Tunay na ikinalungkot ko iyon. Hindi man lang ako nakapagpaalam sa kanila. Salamat na lang at marami na akong mga kaibigan pa nang sila’y nawala.

Dahil ako ay baguhan nga, may isang bata rin ang nag-bully sa akin noong ako’y nasa Grade 2. Sabi niya isusumbong daw niya ako sa aming teacher kesyo hindi healthy ang aking baon at hindi raw ito ‘kosher.’ Isusumbong niya ako dahil may kulang daw sa aking uniporme. Isusumbong daw niya ako dahil hindi ako naggupit ng kuko. Isusumbong daw niya ako dahil masyado akong guwapo. At iba’t-iba pang walang katotohanang akusasyon, maliban sa huling paratang.

Tinanong ko ang aking nanay, at sabi niya baka raw inggit lang ang aking kaklaseng ito. O marahil nagugutom lang ito, kaya’t i-share ko na lang daw ang baon ko. Kaya nang sumunod na isusumbong na naman daw niya ako sa teacher, ay binigyan ko na lang siya ng kalahati ng sandwich ko. Masaya naman niyang tinanggap ang inalok kong pagkain. Mula noon, hindi na niya ako ginambala. Gutom nga lang pala.

Kaya isa pa sa leksiyong aking natutunan:

Sikaping intindihin ang gumagawa ng hindi mabuti sa iyo. At kung kaya mong gawin ay gantihan na lang ito ng mabuti.

Marami akong naging paboritong laro noong ako’y Grade 2. Tulad ng agawan base (also known as prisoner’s base), habulan, sipa, at jolens. Hindi naman sa pagyayabang, ay naging mahusay ako at kinilalang hustler sa sipa at asintado sa jolens.

Isang araw, matiwasay kaming naglalaro ng jolens. Ngunit may isang kaeskwela na nang-gugulo habang kami ay naglalaro. Tinitira niya ang aking jolens kahit hindi naman siya kasali. Sinabihan namin na tumigil na siya, ngunit tengang kawali lang siya. Napuno ako, kaya’t dinampot ko ang jolen niya at ibinalibag ito sa pader. Nag-arboroto siya at sinugod niya ako. Hindi ko siya inurungan. Nauwi ito sa suntukan.

Salamat na lang at maraming nakakatandang bata ang umawat sa amin. Hindi naman kami naging duguan. Damdamin lang ang naging sugatan. Hindi ko akalaing makikipag-away ako. Hindi ko rin akalaing may dugong Pacquiao pala ako.

Siyempre napagalitan kami ng aming teacher na si Mrs. de Vera. Pati magulang ko ay pinagalitan ako. Pero mula noon, wala nang gumagago sa akin. Siguro napagtanto nilang pumapalag pala ako kahit na ako ay patpatin. Natuto rin naman akong makisama, umiwas, at lumayo na sa mga away at basag-ulo.

Ito pa ang leksiyon kong natutunan sa Grade 2:

Umiwas sa mga away. Ngunit sa buhay, darating ang sitwasyon na kailangan mong lumaban at ipagtanggol ang iyong sarili.

Siyempre marami pa akong natutunan sa loob ng classroom, tulad ng calculus, biochemistry, at geopolitics. Teka, teka….. hindi yata sa Grade 2 ko natutunan ang mga ‘yon. Ngunit may mahahalagang leksiyon mula sa labas ng classroom na ang naging guro ko ay karanasan.

Oo nga at hindi na ako magaling mag-sipa at wala na ang husay ko sa jolens, pero ang mga aral na napulot ko noong Grade 2 ay bitbit ko pa rin hanggang sa ngayon.

September Morning: Reloaded

It is September once again. I would like to re-post an entry I wrote 8 years ago.


The cool air is moving in, heralding that the days of summer are numbered. It is not that cold yet that it is freezing, but just enough to make the mornings cool and crisp. The night temperature falls usually meeting the dew point  (as if I know what I am talking about) and this forms a thin wisp of fog above the ground in the mornings like a floating white blanket. The days are getting shorter too. And the Iowa cornfields are turning into golden-yellow. It is indeed September.

September. There is something about this month that brings about a certain sentimentality. Some kind of nostalgia if you will. Just the number of songs that I know that have September in its title proves this point. From “See You in September” (The Happenings), “September” (Earth, Wind and Fire), “September Morn”  (Neil Diamond),  and “September of my Years” (Frank Sinatra), all from yesteryear, to the more recent songs like “The Late September Dogs” (Melissa Etheridge), “Wake Me Up When September Ends” (Greenday) and “September” (Daughtry). I know you can name a few (or a lot) more songs than these. Perhaps you can sing them all too.

To me though, September ushers a certain kind of sadness. I know September marks the end of summer, but that’s not why I feel this way. You see, I grew up in the Philippines, a tropical country, where we have summer-like days the whole year through, so I don’t associate this month to the gloom of approaching autumn and winter. In fact in the Philippines, September marks the unofficial start of the long joyous Christmas celebration. Christmas songs (especially Jose Marie Chan’s) can be played and Christmas decorations can be displayed as soon as the months ending with “ber” rolls in.

To me this melancholic feeling about September has a deeper personal meaning. Painfully personal.

It was one day in September, twenty-five years ago that my life’s boyhood summer came to an end. That was when my father passed away at a premature age and we were left to carry on. My sheltered and carefree innocent living came to a screeching halt.  And I became a man overnight, burdened with the huge responsibility passed on to me.

hazy morning sun over golden field of corn ready for harvest

Though September morning just like today, also attests that we can rise up to the challenges of life. We, like the sun can continue to ascend and claim our rightful place in the sky. Soon enough the fog of uncertainties and doubts will burn away in the warmth of the day. The golden fields of harvest will be ours for the taking. And our commitment to reach our dreams will be fortified to face even the harshest days of the coming winter.

September morning. Let the cold wind blow.

Idadaan Na Lang Sa Gitara

Noong makalawang araw ay nakikinig ako ng mga tugtuging Pilipino sa Spotify nang sumalang ang kanta ng Parokya ni Edgar:

Hahayaan na lang silang
Magkandarapa na manligaw sa 'yo,
Idadaan na lang kita
Sa awitin kong ito,
Sabay ang tugtog ng gitara,
Idadaan na lang sa gitara.
Idadaan na lang sa gitara.

Biglang sumagi sa aking isipan ang mga alaala ng ako’y kabataan pa at ang aking mga kabarkada na mahilig mag-gitara.

Hindi ako natutong mag-gitara. Alam ko lang tipahin ang chord na C, D, at A. Pero kapag mahirap na, gaya ng Badd9 o C#sus, ay naku Bad talaga, o sus as in susmaryosep na!

Kahit hindi ako marunong mag-gitara, marami akong naging kaibigan na mga gitarista. Noong nasa high school kami, ilan sa mga kabarkada ko ay mahuhusay mag-gitara. Sabit na lang ako sa kanila kapag kantahan na. Mga paborito naming awitin ang mga kanta ng Eagles, America, at Bread. Sa mga Pilipinong grupo naman ay ang Asin at Apo Hiking Society. Hindi pa pinapanganak ang Eraserheads noong high school kami. Kahit mahirap tugtugin ay kayang-kaya ng mga kaibigan ko, tulad ng mga kanta ni Jim Croce – sabi nila sobrang hirap daw gitarahin ang mga kanta niya.

Dahil mahilig kaming kumanta, pinakanta pa ang aking barkada sa Junior-Senior Prom. Maayos naman ang aming awit at hindi kami binato ng kamatis at hindi rin nabilaukan ang mga kumakain.

Tayong mga Pilipino ay mahilig kumanta at mag-gitara. Bago pa nauso ang mga Karaoke, Minus 1 at Magic Mic ay nagkakantahan na tayong mga Pinoy, basta mayroong nag-gigitara. Ang mga inuman sa kanto ay nagiging sing-along kapag mayroon ng nag-gigitara.

Uso rin noon ang mga harana. Ulit, kanta ng Parokya ni Edgar:

Uso pa ba ang harana?
Marahil ikaw ay nagtataka,
Sino ba 'tong mukhang gago?
Nagkandarapa sa pagkanta,
At nasisintunado sa kaba.

Bakit nga ba nawala na ang harana. Ngayon, sa Facebook messenger at text na lang ang ligawan, hindi tulad noong araw na tunay na umaakyat ng ligaw ang isang lalaki at kasama pa ang kanyang tropa at sila’y aawit ng mga harana. Siyempre may kasamang gitarista.

Maraming mga Pilipino ang natututong mag-gitara kahit walang pormal na guitar lessons. Nanonood lang sa mga nag-gigitara ay nahahawa na rin sila sa hilig at husay.

May kapatid ang aking misis, na bago pa raw ito makapagsalita ng tuwid ay marunong na itong mag-gitara dahil sa pagmamasid lang. Hindi pa siya pumapasok sa Kindergarten ay magaling nang tumugtog ng gitara. Ang paborito niyang tugtugin noon ay “Pordidem Deyms,” kasi hindi niya pa raw mabigkas ‘yung “Forbidden Games” (classical guitar piece also known as Jeux Interdits or Romance).

Kahit na nang nasa medical school na ako, may kaibigan ulit akong magaling mag-gitara. Minsan nuong 4th year medical student na kami at duty kami sa hospital, ay nagkantahan pa rin kami. May napagaling ba kaming mga pasyente sa aming kanta? “Utol” ang tawag ko sa kaibigan kong ito, dahil parehas kami ng apelyido. Minsan sabi sa amin ng isang Medical Resident ay magtayo raw kami ng banda. Siguro dahil mukha rin kaming mga punkista dahil sa aming buhok na spikey.

Matagal na panahon na nga ang lumipas. Nasaan na kaya ang dating barkada? Tulad ng kanta ng APO, namimiss ko ang mga panahong iyon:

Madalas ang istambay sa capetirya. Isang barkada na kay' saya,
Laging may hawak-hawak na gitara, konting udyok lamang kakanta na.....

Saan na nga ba, saan na nga ba?
Saan na napunta ang panahon.
Saan na nga ba, saan na nga ba?
Saan na napunta ang panahon.

Noong ako’y lumipad na papuntang Amerika at napadpad dito sa Iowa, ay nagkita muli kami ng isa sa aking kaeskwela noong kolehiyo na napadpad rin dito sa Iowa. Ang dating kaeskwela kong ito ay magaling din mag-gitara. Kaya ng magkatipon-tipon kami, inilabas ang mga lumang song hits at “jingle” na halos gula-gulanit na. Kami’y nagkantahang muli na parang mga kabataan ng mga awiting aming kinagisnan, hanggang sa lumalim na ang gabi.

Sana hanggang sa aking pagtanda ay may mga kaibigan pa rin akong nag-gigitara. At kahit laglag na ang mga ipin at kapos na ang hangin sa baga ay patuloy pa rin kaming magkakantahan. Sabi nga ng kanta ng Asin:

Mayro'n lang akong hinihiling,
Sa aking pagpanaw, sana ay tag-ulan,
Gitara ko ay aking dadalhin,
Upang sa ulap na lang tayo magkantahan.


Added Joke: Pinaiyak na Gitara

Jose: Ang tiyuhin ko ang galing mag-gitara. Pinaiiyak niya ‘yung gitara.

Juan: Uy magaling nga yung tiyuhin mo, pero mas magaling yung tiyuhin ko. Hindi lang gitara ang umiiyak, pati hinaharana niya ay napa-iyak din.

Pedro: Eh wala palang sinabi yung mga tiyuhin ninyo. Yung tiyuhin ko sa galing niyang magharana at mag-gitara, ‘yung hinaharana niya ay napaiyak at napasigaw pa.

Jose at Juan: O siya nga?

Pedro: Oo, napaiyak sa galit at sinigawan na siyang tumigil na!

(*image from the web)

May the Force be with You

Our daughter like Star Wars. As you already know, we homeschooled her until highschool. During our private highschool graduation ceremony she picked her own music for her graduation march. It was not the conventional “Pomp and Circumstance.” It was Star Wars’ “Throne Room” (song played when Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, and Hans Solo marched to received their heroes’ medal).

A couple of months ago she graduated from college (see previous post here). So our Padawan (apprentice) is aiming to be a Master. Yes, for real! She is pursuing a Master’s degree.

Were you thinking as a Jedi Master? Maybe that one too. Someday.

We are currently helping her move and settle to a galaxy, far far away. Well, not really for it is a city that’s only about 130 miles away. But to us it feels like that’s lightyears away.

So as a send off as she leaves once again for a higher school and training: May the force be with you.

(*photo taken after her college graduation pictorial. Her lightsaber is her cello bow.)


Post Note:

During the day we helped our daughter move to her new place, a fast moving storm (Derecho Storm) with high winds exceeding 100 miles per hour (equivalent to category 2 hurricane) plowed through the area. It came so sudden that one minute it was all sunny, then the next minute the U-haul truck was swaying that we have to stop unloading and run for shelter inside.

The strong storm downed many trees and blew off some roofs around the area. It knocked off the electricity too that we had to use the stairs instead of the elevators when we resume unloading, making it really labor intensive. On our way home, we even saw three 18-wheeler trucks on the highway that were overturned by the strong winds.

Be careful what you wish for. The “force” was with her alright.

Walking Sunflowers

This past weekend we visited the sunflower field in Belle Plaine, Iowa. We also went here last year but at that time the condition of the sunflowers were past their peak. So this year we made sure we see them in their prime.

We were not disappointed. They’re so beautiful.

Sunflowers are heliotropic plants. A hell…. what?

Heliotropism is an ability to move or turn in response to light. So sunflowers slowly track the motion of the sun across the sky during the day to face it and then drift back during the nighttime. Though mature sunflowers may lose this ability as their stalk gets stiff.

However, during our last visit I saw a different movement in some sunflowers. They were walking!

Or so I thought. It was just my wife harvesting some sunflowers.

(*photo and video taken with an iPhone)

Quirky Talk

Recently I read from a fellow Filipino blogger about how hard it is to learn Mandarin due to different intonations. She also mentioned that our own language has similar quirkiness. So I am re-posting a story I concocted 5 years ago. Besides, it is “Buwan ng Wika.”


A foreigner arrived in the Philippines and was observing how the locals talk.

After she checked-in in her hotel room, she planned to go outside, so she headed to the elevator. While waiting, a mother and her toddler son were also waiting for the elevator.

The toddler tugged on his mother and said:

Child: Dede!

Mother: Dedede?

Child: Dede.

Then the mother handed his son the milk bottle.

When the elevator door opened the mother asked the lady inside the elevator:

Mother: Bababa ba?

Lady: Bababa.

So the mother and her child hopped inside the elevator. The foreigner hopped in too.

The mother marveled at the lady’s colorful manicured nails in the elevator and wondered if it’s real. The lady seemed to understand her inquisitive look, and said with a smile:

Lady: Kuko ko.

The mother smiled back and replied: Oh, oo.

After a couple of floors down, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. A man outside asked:

Man: Bababa ba?

Bababa.” The two ladies inside chimed.

What a fascinating language these locals speak, the foreigner thought to herself. How can they communicate with each other by just repeating one syllable?

As the elevator doors closed, the toddler tugged again on his mother and whispered:

Son: Pupupu po.

Mother: Pupupu?

Son: Pupu.

Soon a certain smell reeked inside the elevator, luckily it reached the ground floor and the passengers hurried to go out. As the elevator door opened the foreigner tried to break the ice with the locals. She said to them with an amusing grin:

Foreigner: Dadadada.

The locals looked at her baffled? Of course they did not understand her. They just shook their heads and under their breath they uttered: Gaga.


(*image from the net)