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

Of Hawks and Turkeys

Last Saturday was gray, damp and cold. It was windy too with strong wind gusts all day. It was a dreary day. I hope Thanksgiving would be a better day as it may be hard to be in a thankful spirit when you’re freezing, fighting fierce winds and just trying to hold on to your hat.

As we were going out, I noticed a large bird hovering high above a field. It could be an eagle as we have eagles in Iowa, though rare. But I believe it was a hawk, as they are so many here in our area. Hawks and strong gusts of wind are what we have in abundance here in Iowa, so no wonder our two big State Universities’ sport teams are called Hawkeyes and Cyclones.

I know hawks or even eagles may not be the right bird to talk about during this occasion. We should be discussing turkeys, right? By the way, wild turkeys abound in our area as well. You can spot them just hanging out in the empty corn fields. Perhaps we can skip the grocery and just capture one of them and make it our dinner for the Thanksgiving.

Enough of the turkey, and back to the flying hawk that I saw. Maybe flying was not the right term, for it was barely flapping its wings. It had its wings open, and like a big kite, it was effortlessly gliding in the sky. It did not seem to mind the strong gusts of wind, and may even be thankful for it. For the stronger the wind, the higher it soared.

Sometimes the strong winds in our lives, those gusts that we think will shred our plans, and those storms that can blast our dreams away, may just be helping us soar to higher heights.

Last week, the lady in the gym’s reception desk, the one who greets me cheerily every time I come in, gave me a book. The book was entitled “Praise God for Tattered Dreams.”

I have observed this lady as always upbeat and has a sunny disposition in life, day in and day out. I am impressed on how she remembers all the names of the gym goers, as she greets everyone by name. And I mean everyone.

Few months ago this lady, after greeting me for years since I have been coming to this particular gym, learned that I am an ICU doctor. She then told me that she was a patient many years ago, in the hospital where I work, and even stayed in the ICU. But that was a couple of years before I came to Iowa.

Since then whenever she sees me, she would always try to convince me to write a journal about my experiences as an ICU physician. She said that it may be interesting to share those stories, and I may even make some money from it.

Last week, after coaxing me to write a journal every time we meet, I finally told her, that I was indeed already writing a journal. Well, sort of. I told her about ‘this’ blog. I rarely tell people I know, that I blog. Why? So I could write about them!

After learning that I write, she went to the back, retrieved a book from a drawer and handed it to me. She told me that she wrote and published this book, and it’s about her trying experience. She added that I can borrow and read it, but if I spill coffee on it, then I have to buy it.

She narrated in the book that she was a vibrant mother with two young boys, and with a promising career, when out of the blue, she suffered a near-fatal stroke. It was a large bleed in the head. She was only 33 years old at that time.

She was close to death when she was brought to the hospital. The doctors, including the neurosurgeon, gave her only 10% chance to live.

But she lived!

She was comatose for several days and spent 3 weeks in the ICU, and a total of 3 long months in the hospital. This does not include several more months of rehabilitation after being discharged from the hospital.

She described that half of her body was paralyzed and was unable to speak for a while. In that dark moment of her life, she found God and discovered a new purpose in life. When she felt that her dreams have ended, God showed her that she was only beginning to live a more meaningful life, for which she was very thankful for.

Now she is speaking and walking with almost unnoticeable residual of her stroke. She is happily working in the gym and encouraging people to be healthy and happy. She definitely has a story to tell. From tattered dreams to an inspirational life.

As we gather around our dinner table this Thanksgiving, with our roasted holiday bird, (the turkey, not the hawk), let’s thank God for everything. Including our trials and disappointments. For storms and strong winds can make us soar higher.

Happy Thanksgiving!

IMG_5638(*photo taken with an iPhone)


Fields of Gold

A few weeks ago, we visited a friend’s farm where they are experimenting if they can grow rice here in Iowa. In case you don’t know, we don’t plant rice here. The farms here in Iowa are mostly corn and soybeans. Though rice is grown in a few southern states of the US.

The rice that they are trying to grow here in Iowa is a different type of rice though. As you can see in the picture below, it is not growing in paddies that we Filipinos are more familiar with. This variety of rice is more sturdy to the cold weather and does not need irrigation or much water. Of course the part owner of this farm is a Filipino. As we Filipinos loves rice, where ever part of the world we are.


Back in the Philippines, even though I grew up in the city, we went to my father’s province quite regularly when I was young. Their ancestral home was by the edge of a rice field. We spent many hours watching farmers work on those fields. We sometimes played in those fields too, hunted for palakang bukid (frogs) there, and even played tag with my cousins while running in the pilapil (dikes).

During harvest season, it was beautiful to see the palay (rice) with their golden grain swaying and dancing as the wind blows through them like the waves of the sea. I miss seeing those fields of palay.

In 1993, one of my favorite singers, Sting released the song “Fields of Gold.” The song opens and ends with these words:

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold.

Sting found inspiration to write that song as his house in England, a 16th century Wiltshire manor house, was surrounded by barley fields. Even though I am not familiar with fields of barley, I can somehow relate as I have seen “golden” fields of rice, which I believe has the same poetic appeal.

If Sting lived in the Philippines, he could have sung: “You’ll remember me when the west wind moves, upon the fields of palay.” And if he grew up in the Philippines, his name may not be Sting, but it could be Pagi (stingray), or Putakti (wasp), which we know can sting bad. Sorry I digress.

By the time the song Fields of Gold became popular, it was the time also that I left the Philippines. You could say that I left my native land in search of some greener pastures and in pursuit of “fields of gold.”

When I came to America, the first couple of CD’s I bought was albums of Sting. For several months, during my lonely moments, Sting kept me company. I listened to his melancholic songs of Fragile and They Dance Alone, and also sang along his upbeat songs like All This Time and If You Love Somebody Set Them Free. Sometimes he even serenaded me to sleep.

After living here in the US for some time, and after moving from New Jersey, then to New York, then to California, then to Florida, and finally settling here in Iowa, I believe I have found what I was looking for. I can even claim now that I am literally looking at fields of gold. With autumn season upon us and with changing fall colors, even the fields here are turning gold, signifying that harvest time is near.

Below is a picture of a ‘golden’ soybean field.


I may have traveled long and far in pursuit of my dreams, but at least I can say that it brought me to my own fields of gold. I am not saying that I own those soybean fields. I don’t own corn fields either. I am not even talking about the soybeans, or cornfields, or even those rice fields. What I’m saying is this – what I own, is the realization of my dreams.

As I was running the other morning near these golden fields, the song Fields of Gold was playing in my mind. And if I may borrow from the lyrics of Sting, albeit with some changes:

Many years have passed since those summer days among the fields of barley palay
See the children me as I run, as the sun goes down up among the fields of gold.


(*photos of soybean fields taken during my morning run)


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)

May Isang Batang Nangarap

(Ang tulang ito ay nahugot galing sa baul. Ito ay kinatha at isinulat mga ilang taon nang nakaraan bago pa isilang ang blog site na ito. Dito hango ang post na “Mula Palayan Hanggang Maisan.” Inilathala para sa Buwan ng Wika.)

Sa gitna ng ginintuang palayan,

Sa parang na malayo sa kabihasnan,

Habang pastol na kalabaw ay nakahingalay,

At sa pilapil magsasaka’y tumutulay;

Ay may isang batang nangarap,

Sa ilalaim ng kawayan at alapaap,

Makatapos ng kolehiyo’t sa Maynila manirahan,

Ang matayog na mithiin niyang tangan.

Lumipas ang maraming mga araw,

Yaring bata’y sa hangarin ‘di nagbitaw,

Tinumbasan ng sikap ang mga pangarap,

Hanggang ang panaginip ay lubusang natupad.


Sa gitna ng masalimuot na Maynila,

Sa makitid ngunit balisang kalsada,

Habang ibang bata’y pinupukol pitpit na lata,

At mga traysikel ay umaarangkada;

Ay may isang batang nangarap,

Sa lilim ng pader na malapad,

Magpakadalubhasa’t ibang bansa’y marating,

Ang tunay n’yang mataas na adhikain.

Lumipas din ang maraming araw,

Yaring musmos sa hangarin ‘di nagbitaw

Tinumbasan din ng sikap ang mga pangarap,

Hanggang kanyang panaginip din ay natupad.


Sa isang bahagi ng malawak na Amerika,

Kabila ng patuloy na ugong ng makinarya,

At kislap ng daan-daang ilaw at karatula,

Sa siyudad na walang gabi’t parating umaga;

Ay may isang batang nangarap,

Sa ilalim ng buwang maliwanag,

Sa “space shuttle” lumulan, sa himpapawid lumutang,

Ang mithiin n’yang nais makamtan.

“Bangon bunso, at sa’kiy makinig nang tapat,

Tulad ko at ng aking amang minsan ding nangarap,

Tumbasan ng sipag at pagsusumikap,

Iyong panaginip ay lubusan ding matutupad.”

Ang Paglipad ng Butiking Walang Dingding

Paano nga ba nakakagapang ang butiki sa dingding? Bakit kaya nitong maglakad ng patiwarik, kahit na sa kisame? Siguro hindi nila kilala si Isaac Newton at ang kanyang “Law of Gravity.” Hangga’t merong dingding, kaya nilang akyatin.

Ngunit paano kung wala nang dingding? Kaya ba nilang lumipad?

Naalala mo pa ba noong musmos ka pa? Tinanong mo ang mga tanong na ito. Marami ka pang ibang tanong, na hindi mo alam ang sagot, at hindi ka rin nila mabigyan ng sagot. Nagsawa na nga sila sa pagsagot sa makukulit mong tanong.

Naalala mo rin ba noong bata ka pa? May gusto kang maging, ngunit sabi ng iba ay imposibleng mangyari. May mga bagay na pinangarap mong gawin, ngunit sabi ng iba ay mahirap tuparin. May mga lugar na nais mong marating ngunit mahirap daw abutin.

Sa aking munting silid noon sa aming bahay sa Sampaloc Manila, ay maraming butiking bumibisita sa aking pag-iisa. Madalas ko silang pinapanood. Naaaliw at namamangha ako sa kanilang paglalakad sa dingding at kisame.

Doon din sa loob ng apat na dingding ng silid na iyon ay marami akong mga pangarap na hinabi. Ilan sa mga ito ay tunay na matayog. Hindi ko pinangarap na umakyat sa dingding. O sa kisame. Higit pa doon ang aking nais. Marami sa aking mga panaginip ay lagpas-lagpas sa hangganan ng aking maliit na kuwarto.

Isa sa mga poster na nakapaskil sa dingding ng aking silid noon ay ang larawan ng Grand Canyon ng Amerika. Sa larawan ay may isang tao na lumilipad (hang gliding) sa gitna ng kalawakan ng malalalim na bangin. Nakasulat sa poster na ito ay: You are only limited by the bounderies of your mind.

Ito ang naging hamon ng aking buhay. Walang kisame. Walang dingding.

Pagkaraan ng panahon, ay pinaglayag ko ang aking mga pangarap. Tunay nga na walang dingding ang hindi natin kayang buwagin. Walang kisameng hindi natin kayang abutin. Walang hangganan ang kaya nating marating.

Kaninang umaga, makalipas ang mahabang panahon ng paghahabol at pagsasakatuparan ng mga pangarap, at pagkalipas ng dalawampung taon kong paninirahan dito sa Amerika, ay narating ko rin sa wakas ang lugar na nagdulot sa akin ng malalim na inspirasyon.

Ako ay tumanaw sa kalawakan. Pumailanglang sa himpapawid. Walang kisame. Walang dingding.


photo taken while soaring at 6000 feet above the canyon

(* More photos and stories of my visit to the Grand Canyon will be on a separate post.)


Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

When I was a kid, I climbed up furnitures, trees and fences, much to my parent’s distress. And I had some scratches and even stitches along the way.

When I got older, I climbed up mountains and ladders of my dreams. I had a few slips and setbacks, but I reached my goal. I hope I made my parents proud.

A few weeks ago, my son and I went to a special gym and climbed up a 4-storey wall. With safety harness, of course. And we had a “wall” of fun.


That’s me up high, with my best impression of “spider on the wall.”

You would say that I am not fearful of heights. In fact, I love heights. But only when we overcome our fears that we can scale the mountains and walls of our dreams. And I am not speaking of fear of heights.

(*Entry for WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Up)