December 24, 2004

Word For the Day

It's funny to note when some person, particularly an icon like Imelda, has spawned a new word of its own. Take for example the word Imeldific which may mean extravagance to the point of madness, or may mean something gawdy and ostentatious that it already defies justification. With the recent demise of Ronnie Allan Poe, I hereby give tribute to his fame by spawning another neologism.

FPJ: [efff-'puhheeee-'dzhay]

1. to collapse into the ground and suddenly die due to excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages while indulging in artery-clogging lechon.
e.g. Don't eat too much pork during the Christmas season because baka ma-FPJ ka.

2. to be hospitalized in St. Luke's Hospital with all the media cameras anticipating your every pulse and breath.
e.g. Kris Aquino was relieved that she was not FPJayed when she was diagnosed to have Chlamydia thanks to Tito Joey Marquez.

3. to be adulated and idolized posthumously solely based on your movie persona
e.g. I don't think ma-FPJ din si Lito Lapid since he has been in hiatus with the movie industry.

1. pertaining to being uber-rich and famous yet still keeping a low profile
e.g. The Gokongweis are very FPJ ever since the recent spate of kidnappings in Binondo.

2. to have the quality of a dead fish
e.g. Na-FPJ na yang ulam mo kasi amoy bulok na.

Cheers! Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2004

You Better Not Cry...

This is the season where everyone, whether dead or alive, in sickness or in health, in hope or despair, must force themselves to smile and be joyous. It's sickening to note that because of cultural evolution, materialism has forced this Christmas holiday to be filled with pasted smiles and empty wallets. Well, not all of us lead a perfect sitcom life.

Good for those who have their families to count on- with daddy dearest, mother dearest, sis, bro and inday, to share in the happiness. Good for those whose grandfathers spawn a whole town of relatives whom they cherish for they are their source of security, comfort and companionship. Good for those who have unlimited wads of cash (think politicos) who can just spend their vacations in the white beaches of Boracay doing nothing but write lifestyle articles for the Inquirer. (think: wierd Tim Yap and wierder Tessa Prito-Valdes) Good for those whose jobs are not defined by 29 hour toxic duties. Count you blessings they say!

What about those who have been struck by the death of a loved one like the families of FPJ (God bless his soul) or KC de Venecia? What about those whose homes were turned upside down by typhoons like those in Real, Quezon, or those whose houses are in constant risk of being swept away like those shanties beneath some Manila bridges? What about those who are all alone this Christmas because of work or studies living in a small cold apartment or dormitory? How about those who shall work on this special occassion reminding themselves not to think about all those memories they're going to miss with their families? And what about those who were robbed, were snatched, were jailed, or were confined in the hospital? Surely, the only smile they can muster is if they're at home in the warm embrace of their children and spouses. ***Sigh. Life. Yeah, life is a bitch! When life gives you lemons, drink Cuervo! Connection? I absolutely have no f*%!^$ clue.

So, with such a load unburdened, I can feel my shoulders lightening, my muscles unknotting knowing that in this situation, I'm more fortunate than Mr. Speaker or Susan Roces regardless of the upcoming duty in the hospital come December 25th.

By the way, a great film this Christmas is Satoshi Kon's Tokyo Godfathers! It's a blast. Sporadically available at your nearest Muslim DVD vendor.

December 18, 2004

Deliver Us Some Evil

First, there was the Bangladesh-like flooding in Quezon. Then, FPJ dies of a stroke which was followed by mass hysteria. Next, the youngest daughter JDV was burnt to a crisp right inside their "mansion." After that, what else? Another earthquake?

When has December, the month of joy and hope, became the season of anguish and despair? Is this God's punishment on us? Or was this the result of man's folly? Perhaps they are indeed. The tragedy in Real, Quezon reminds us of man vs. nature wherein we have exceeded our abuses against Mother Nature the very which she tries to prevent in the first place. Second, the FPJ fracas reminds me of man vs. himself when we abuse ourselves by enriching our health with fat-laden calorific food coupled by a daily diet of alcohol to the point where our bodies can not compensate anymore, hence, pop goes the basilar artery. The third tragedy shows man vs. fate which means that even when we are insulated in the protection of our homes and "mansions" right inside one of the most exclusive snotty villages in urban Makati, it does not rule out that we might not die a tragic death. It's like that movie "Final Destination" wherein everyone dies a horrific death through the hands of Fate. In this case, a bit of extravagance might have done Kristina de Venecia in. If you have been reading the news, the culprit for her death was the Christmas lights that were never turned off (even in brightness of day.) So, with a little spark, grilled up bathroom windows, and no one in the house except the household help, it became the perfect recipe for death.

I empathize with those who have been close with FPJ or Ms. de Venecia for they truly are affected by the loss of a loved one. The bond has now been broken. But to see all those "fans" in hysterics over the death of FPJ is very amusing indeed. I admit Da King has a soft and humble heart to those he had helped and I admire him for that but what has he done for the public besides his B-movies, that merits acclaim and adulation? Was he as holy and ala peace-maker like the pope? Was he as vocal by current injustices like Chino Roces and Ninoy? Was he great in nation building like Magsaysay? Poe was a good man, but not a great man.

And as for JDV's daughter, she might have been one of those coño brats whose brains are made exclusively with shopping lists, charge slips, and gimmick lists and whose concept of Manila is limited by the bounderies of Glorietta, Rockwell and Greenbelt. Or she might have been that unreachable Starbucks-addict who only goes to art schools, ballet schools, who plays only with expensive dolls with daddy's bodyguards or with her IS classmates, who goes to HK or LA every weekend with Daddy dearest (or to Paris to meet up with KC Concepcion), and whose idea of the Philippines are limited to the news she sees in CNN. Or she may be just another you and me- rugged, cowboy, non-descript and level-headed. I don't know her, and she does not know me. All I know, the media is going ga-ga over her untimely death. The death of a politico's daughter. The death of "Manay" Gina's youngest. And as if putting her in the headlines for one week would make people stop and cry over it. What about some uknown beggar that was run over by a ten-wheeler last night? Doesn't it deserve the same attention as this brat?

These headline hoggers are just one in a hundred deaths that occur in our beleagered nation everyday. My patient died today in the wards and no GMA crew was there to record his demise. It just so happened that they were famous and we're not. And so the whole world weeps with them as if the globe has stopped turning on its axis. The sheer absurdity of it. Just like Princess Diana. You can just "admire" the veneration of countless fans who wept and laid flowers on the streets. At least Princess Di has something to prove to the world like campaigning against eating disorders and land mines. What about them? What have they proven? That alcohol must be taken in moderation? That Christmas lights should be turned off during the day? Perhaps only after their burial will the air become more still and calm.

After these terrible incidents, what next? The only thing I'm looking forward to is the death of a dwarfish character called Stitch sitting on a highchair in Malacañang Palace cackling in her seat thinking that the attention has somewhat shifted away from her poor performance. I keep my fingers crossed.

December 11, 2004

Tres Marias

Boil, boil and cauldron bubble...Posted by Hello

I met up with three of my old batchmates at Friday's one weekend afternoon. The sky was overcast and yet perhaps the heat of the the trapped Manila air was able to penetrate their skulls, hence, their spinster-like attitude. All of them are physicians in the own right for one is into pre-res in Pediatrics and another has just started her internship at JP, and the other is taking pre-res in an unrecalled health facility.

We were planning actually to eat at Cabalen so we could avail of their P75 merienda eat-all-you-can buffet (more like "carbo-all-you-want") but of course, they are ladies whose innate navigational compasses seem to be located at their lips and not in their eyes making them unable to find the restaurant. So they made me to settle for Friday's which I had to accept.

The prices in this themed restaurant was astronomical. I felt they converted dollars into pesos which is why per dish seems to cost about $6-8. I said to them to ditch this place, but of course, etiquette dictates that when presented a menu, the diner has sealed his or her fate in ordering a dish or two in that house. This is probably why some up-market restos (think Greenbelt) have their menus displayed near the door so the diner can peruse and cringe at the figures before making a huge embarrassment inside. But of course, the kitchen sink can always use another hand or two.

We ordered a big plate of Chicken carbonara and Cesar salad so the four of us could enjoy the afternoon. The talk revolved around work and the prospects of leaving this horrid country behind. I just realized that many of my original batchmates who passed the medical boards are taking KAPLAN and are persuing a career abroad. But fortunately, many too, are taking their residencies here in Manila which means there will be an ample supply of doctors in the near future. I hope this is true. It seems everyone who is taking a health-allied course, be it a doctor, nurse, med-tech, or pt, is planning to use his career as a one-way ticket out of the country. For me, seeing doctors opting to go nursing is an act of desperation especially for a race proud of their educational status. And most are reluctantly swallowing their pride just so they can attain a salary commensurate to their level.

I have junior anesthesiologist friend who is studying nursing and he says that many of his colleagues who had jumped ship have somewhat achieved their dreams of having big houses, cars and easier workloads. I can't help but empathize because if one works here for 29 hours per duty and only take about $40, you'll feel envious knowing your friends are working as nurse anesthetists there for just 8 hours while earning $80 an hour sans overtime. I can't blame him for taking the easier road. It's only in Catholic children's books and Filipino soap operas where everyone is a martyr of a lost cause. And in reality, being a martyr won't bring more people to your funeral nor bring more food to the table.

As we finished our luncheon and paid our separate bills, it dawned on me that if I was earning like $80 an hour abroad, paying food at Friday's won't be such a terrible experience. It won't make a big dent on one's wallet either. And with it, I have made my decision.

December 07, 2004

The Elevator

A few days ago, I wouldn't have believed it. The nurses were full of it. There were hushed stories about the elevator in our building being haunted. One of them even told us that one time while her friend was waiting on her floor, the elevator doors opened and in it were doctors and nurses doing the CPR on their carried patient- the trouble is, all of them were headless.

My friend, who thankfully is not a psychic, told me that a few weeks ago, she got the fright of her life. One evening, she, already tired from the fracas at the ER, was on her way to the department office in the 3rd floor when upon going towards the elevator (there were two), one of the units was descending to the ground floor and when it stopped, the doors opened and a tall dark man in a white shirt clutching a plastic bag walked out. The man spoke to her entreating her to use the elevator since he'll be going out. It was 1 am to begin with. She politely declined the invitation but the man kept entreating her to use the left-side elevator. The man eventually left. My friend seeing that the elevator which the man left was dark, unlit and remained open. That panel which tells if that elevator is in use was off. The other elevator which was running that time eventually reached my friend and ferried her off to her floor. The next day, she inquired to the elevator operator why somebody was able to used the other elevator indicating that both elevators were in use even in the witching hour. The operator who was then surprised told my friend that they routinely have only one unit in use for the evening so it was impossible that both elevators were in use because he personally locked the left-sided elevator. She insisted that there was a man who used it and she proceeded to describe him in detail, which the operator (who turned white) said that there was a ghost who fit that description. Yikes!

As for my case, last duty at around 2 am, I was at the 4th floor and I wanted to get to the 2nd floor so I could finish making chart rounds. I entered the elevator and pressed "2". Unfortunately the elevator, instead of going down, went up to the 5th floor. The 5th floor is where the meeting rooms are, so no one's there and the lights were off. It opened to my horror!!! My heart was pounding in anticipation of a "ringu" style apparition and I was looking for my rosary just in case another Sadako was on the loose. I panicly pressed the close button so I dont have to endure this excruciating experience. And instead of going down, it went up still to the 6th floor. This is were the gym is located and also no one is here since the lights were already off. My heart was racing for life and every second seems like eternity. It opened slowly and my hand was already stucked to the close button. I was praying like crazy. Sweat was forming in my forehead and my hands were clammy from fear. The door soon closed and thank God, it went immediately to the 2nd floor.

After what happened, I don't want to think about it, I want that damn memory to be buried into the deep recesses of my Hippocampus. I just pray that that was the last time that horrific experience will happen to me.

December 01, 2004

A Rainy Day Fantasy

Sometimes it takes a storm to remind me of the things I'm missing in this Manila hellhole. I keep seeing people with long harried faces always hurrying to go home or get to work; looking at the same greyish concrete roads and buildings and urban decay marinated in a thick brown polluted haze; inhaling the same polluted exhaust fumes and rancid body odors of sweaty people here; feeling the claustrophobic heat which one cannot escape wherever one hides; hearing the same jeepneys honking their horns while simultaneously blaring some idiotic Filipino crap-song like "Bulaklak"; and eating the same bland calorific fast food. It's really a life unjustified.

With that, I want to imagine just for once, that I was back at home- home in the province where life is languid and stress-free. I want to see myself relaxing in our butaka chair at the lanai only in shorts and sando looking out to the garden outfront listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops hitting the ara-al stones and the bromeliads wetting the limestone floor of the garden. I can see the moss green and glossy from the dampness of the afternoon shower and the ceramic chimes clanging itself a melodious tune. I can feel the stubby coat of Kitty (my mini-pinscher) as she curls herself in my lap lulling herself to sleep while I rub her back. I can hear the peals of laughter and shrieks of our driver's children as they streak naked into the rain playing hide-&-seek among my mom's orchid plants. I can smell the hot batchoy that had just arrived in a big tupperware from our suki- the aroma of toasted garlic and the broth, very exhilariting. Moments later, I can hear the footsteps of my mom and dad as they descended the stairs fully refreshed from their siesta. I can taste the batchoy, hot and savory, accompanied with crisp buttered toast which I dunk into the broth, and finished off with a ice-cold Coke. Ahhh....

But such a fantasy may never be repeated again for the only thing constant in the universe is change. And such a change is certainly now a rude awakening.

Just Shoot Me!

Last night, our whole building (where the service wards and the department offices are located) were all agog over the stirrings that were happening in the Holistic center building fronting ours. Because of the clear glass walls, we were treated to a night of pure entertainment. For the plebian in us, watching this was like viewing the bombing of the World Trade up close, we became witnesses to something out of the blue, to something surreal.

Kristala in the flesh.;Posted by Hello

What was it? It was the episode shooting of Kristala starring Judy Ann and her ilk. Yes, it's that same plump actress in metallic cape and bra who sports an unwashed wavy hair and a quasi Angelina Jolie pout. (On the side note, studies say that the more pouty a girl's mouth is, the more pouty is her *******.) And there was the sando-clad pot-bellied director who shooed us away from the balcony cuz we might ruin his take. Imagine if we wound up as far away "extras" in this episode. And there were countless (say, 50?) propmen, prompters, assistants, alalays, and fluffers who helped finish the job.

My spidy sense told me that this plebian activity of "star-watching" was merely a waste of time, but because of the novelty of the event, I stayed on. I was shoulder-to-shoulder with nurses, orderlies, patient's bantays, and my fellow intern craning our necks to get a better view. An orderly waved in her direction as she glanced towards us. Naturally, I should have waved too, but nevertheless, I gave the guy the Homer Simpson slap-in-the-forehead sign without the Doh!. Oh, he had Kleenex for his drool.

I gave up because I still have rounds to do and I realized there and then that the interval between takes is an hour or so. It's excruciating watching them doing nothing but preparing to do a take. It was like waiting for Godot. When I last peeked out of our office window like about 3 am, they were still filming.

So I left everyone and went inside to make rounds with the service patients. If there was a chase and bang-bang-aaagh!!, perhaps I would stick around. If Juday, confident of her aerodynamic prowess, jumped off from the balcony without any harness or safety cable thinking she will fly, I might linger on. If fire shoots out from her mouth, then, I will stay and finish the shooting. Since it was just only Juday romping around the hospital stairs and chasing starch-faced villains, I decided to let it go. I don't want nightmares when I doze off later on. Or maybe this was already "the" nightmare. I can't decide.

Where Have All the Cambios Gone?

Ever since the Asian financial crisis hit our shores last 1997, our monetary value has been spiraling into the drain. Well, it has been that way since... yes... the 1997 financial crisis. But besides that, I have noticed that as the years go by, the variety of monetary denominations of our country is getting a bit slim.

Long time ago, you can use 2P with that Cocos nucifera reverse, 50c with the Babalus mindorensis reverse, and so forth. There were a lot of combinations and shapes that the BSP decided to stop it once in for all. Good thing if they standardized the sizes of the loose change but no, they bastardized the whole concept by limiting our purchasing power to 25c, 1P and 5P. So, instead of having the convenience to pay only the lowest number of coins, we have to make do with assembling a coin collection just so the payment is just right. This goes too for our cambio (Ilonggo for barya) which means that instead of having a lighter load in your pocket, you have to be contented by having saddlebags full of coins because the cashier only has 25c in her care.

In another light, have you noticed as our crummy money gets crummier, the lowest value in paper has been gradually replaced by a non-descript washer called coins as seen in the P5 and P10 units. I miss that paper money with Aquino and the declaration of independence in the back. And now, I'm beginning to miss the Barasoain church on the P10 where everyone knows there's a "Where's Waldo?" in that picture. "Where's Waldo?" is a book of puzzles where one has to find Waldo or a specific object of interest hidden in the picture. In other words, it's finding a needle in a haystack, and in this case of the P10, it a *** in the roof of the church. But alas, now, the only thing great about the new coin is its durability.

What will they sacrifice next? The P20? P100? Who knows?

November 20, 2004

Tempus Fugit

Hmmm. Tempus Fugit. Time flies. I feel I am in a race with an invisible enemy who holds the shots in either extending or crunching my available minutes. It's as if Father Time is dangling his stop watch in front of my face like that carrot on a stick routine reassuring me that I have still 5 minutes but actually I'm already late. Procastination sucks terribly I hate to admit.

Others call it lack of time management, but when you can already feel that there's some form of cosmic conspiracy for you not to be on time, then, it's something else. This time, it's not the Filipino factor of being perennially late, but perhaps more of a collaboration of all the Murphisms in the universe conspired that moment of your morning to make sure you will never arrive on your "expected time of arrival."

Most of us in this hellhole called Manila blame traffic as the number one cause of tardiness. For instance, I left my apartment about 25 minutes before endorsements thinking that I have made an effort to be on time, but alas, the whole stretch of Roxas boulevard was closed by the MMDA (Manila's Most Dysfunctional Authority) just so that a few pesky pot-bellied joggers can make an oblation run through the strip. It's irritating to note that your effort has been shot down like a hot potato. So I arrived at the office without a credible excuse except a quick haggard response of, "the joggers did it!"

I thank God that my current department is not a stickler for punctuality because for them, as long as the job gets done without encountering trouble either for the department or to the consultants or to the operations, then all is well. But then the fact remains that I am late. No amount of excuse can change that. This is somewhat shameful on my part, but what must I do to avoid such eventuality? Hmmm... simple time management? Ohhh.. yeah... Why haven't I thought of that? Doh! Well, I tried and still try to get up but if your bed is as comfortable as your future coffin, then it's really really difficult to open your eyes.

Oh well, back to square one.

November 17, 2004


PDI's Nov.6 editorial by Jess Abrera. Posted by Hello

Jess Abrera's editorial cartoon last November 6 really got my goat. Why? For all the unjustified invasion of Iraq and America's arrogance to the world, Dubious Dubya still was painted as a savior of deteriorating moral values in the States. This theory that the American evangelicals (composed of right-leaning White males and Born-agains) was the big electoral chunk that propelled Bush to the White house is mere speculation. Anyone can claim to be a born-again bible-thumping moralist for goodness sake.

What I cannot understand is why the cartoonist, Jess Abrera, has to be so blind as to solely portray the Great Satan as a last savior for moral values. Well, as we all know, Lucifer was indeed an angel prior to his fall. I agree with moral values and respect for the family, but with Bush's record of treachery, stupidity and uncreativity, those two issues seem to be off-tangent with his agenda. It's either he has seen the light on his way to Damascus (Saul's conversion) or this is just a mean cheap trick to further bait the right-leaning hill-billiesque still-stuck-in-the-70s Midwest. In fact, it's absurd to see how "faithful" and "church-going" he is while knowing that he has no qualms as to how many Iraqis have been blown up or killed. The sheer hypocrisy!

Again, back to Abrera... It's also ironic that he painted Bush as such while discounting all the misery and arrogance Bush paraded through his previous four-year term. And what's with all the crap like that Filipino family in the background jumping for joy as if Bush is our messiah. The one who drew this is a moralist Pharisaical pig whose views are so blatantly partial and right-leaning that it has come to the point that it's already disgusting, especially in a daily broadsheet. This cartoonist is a sycophant of Medieval "moral views" regardless of all the human rights it has stepped upon. If I am not mistaken, he will gladly paint Torquemada of the torturous Spanish Inquisition fame as the saint who saved Spain from heresy!! And of course he'll just sweep under the rug all those Moriscos (Spanish moors) and those Jews who have been tortured and killed during that period.

Editorial cartoons should be sarcastic to government policies and world views as a means of criticism in the hope of change, but not being a mouthpiece to right-wing bible-thumping propagandists whose agenda are left to be desired. Patriotic editorials are great because we really need it, but so-called "Christian" tripe is certainly (for me) not for editorial consumption because: one, not everyone shares the same view since morality is relative; second, other religions comprise 10% of our population; third, there's the separation of church & state (which is virtually non-existent here anyway).

I am not a moralist, but I know when sheer hypocrisy is being shoved into my face in the form of an editorial cartoon. I don't need that crap in the morning. And certainly never while I'm taking my morning coffee.

November 12, 2004

Arafat Is Dead

At last, the great old lion bows,
its eyes now bleak and gray
its jaws shut tight, saliva drooling,
still as the hot desert day.

Farewell, farewell, old warrior
whose flame has burnt its oil
but tis a light in the darkest night
that painted red your Arab soil.

And David's sons shall never sleep
til the night of your last embrace,
no olive branch, no requiem,
for only death has earned their praise.

But worry not, your passing's not
the curtain of your people's peace.
Ideals true, its seeds now borne
the fury of your liberty increase.

And with God's grace, your destiny
that Palestine be soon restored
for all good things are possible
through the blessing of the sword.

October 30, 2004


Can you still remember the last time somebody borrowed from you? Did you not feel a bit reluctant to part away with your possession knowing that in our culture, when you say "borrow" it's already the equivalent of asking for that object. It's like saying good-bye already to your precioussss. Perhaps it's our "polite" way of asking that such has become a euphimism for "can I have it?" And since we're a people who have a hard time saying "no", "borrowing" always do the trick.

I mean, it's OK to borrow because that person might really need it, as in really really need it. Books I can understand, Cds can tolerate but DVD players and other non-essentials I consider it taboo. For me, borrowing is not a problem just as long you tell me when you shall return that object in question. That's because the mere fact that one is borrowing means that that person needs it only for a limited span of time, so he or she doesn't need it for eternity. Keeping it forever is indicative of theft and betreyal of trust.

This is where all problems arise. Filipinos are not very good in returning things. You have to prod them incessantly just to return some of your stuff that you may have forgotten already. Stuff like tupperware, kitchenware, cds, programs, books and clothes make the bulk. And sometimes, when they return it, they sport an indignant harrassed look as if you have made a huge social faux pas in asking them to return what they have borrowed. Does it mean that when asked to return our borrowed objects, we tend to lose face? I don't think so. It's a natural tendency to actively retrieve our possessions back- especially from those whose reputation are not that bright in the "return" department.

So, what have you borrowed lately?

October 29, 2004

Mass Starvation

Unidentified Feeding Objects Posted by Hello

The unevitable happened. The only sound I was able to hear at this point was, "Chomp! Chomp! Gobble Gobble! Mmmm... Slurp! Slurp!" as the OB residents were wolfing down the spaghetti Nana cooked for them. It was a babel of gastronomic onomatopeic grunts of oohs and ahhs. The tupperware was raped to no end by spoons and forks penetrating its very core. I can't help but think how banal our pleasures have become- especially for those whose forte are in the cerebellar fields of medicine. To think that all those technical procedures and esoteric medical terms can be easily trumped up by the mere sight of food.

In the world of internship, there's an unspoken rule which is handed down from generation to generation whereby any merit or incentive given to an intern (whether be it a complicated case or a procedure), such must be reciprocated in terms of gastronomic treats. Think of the carrot-on-the-stick principle. So, I was given a case, hence, I must deliver the goods. My two other partners already delivered theirs, so I was next on the list. In any event that such an intern fails to dole out his share, the residents of that department will pester the poor soul to no end. So, to quote Bush, this is what I call, "preemptive strike"

And so, I expected that with three large tupperwares of creamy spaghetti and garlic bread the supply will last the day, but alas, it was not to be. After the morning endorsement, only one-half of the third container was left and by noon, it was all gone. All were satisfied and contented that they were wary of going down to the E.R. or to the labor room.

And with a smile, I thought, that if I was vindictive enough, I could have infused several brands of rat powder to the food and no one will know. And probably none will live to tell the tale. Isn't that food for thought?

October 17, 2004

The Sea of Smiles

Today I watched the Masskara Festival on Channel 23 for an hour before my infernal friend texted me that she needed me to meet her at Robinson's the soonest so that she can have her dinner- a dinner at 4:30 p.m. Who the hell eats dinner that early? Eskimos? Though I promised her that we'll enjoy a nice meal together after dusk, I wasn't counting on the fact that her colon which breeds eight species of anacondas would demand to be fed at that very moment. And so I missed the rest of the show. Demmit.

Where have all the smiles gone? Posted by Hello

The gist of the festival is this: a mardigras inspired festival full of colorful smiling papier mache masks celebrating man's resilience over adversity and hope against despair. It was borne out of the misery Bacolod was in during 1980 where there were the MV Don Juan disaster, plummeting of world sugar prices, the widespread famine in Negros and the NPA insurgency in the hinterlands. No one really thought that there would be light at the end of the tunnel. But fortunately, some of the artist-friends in Bacolod (like Peque Gallaga and Mayor Bing Leonardia) decided that there should be a celebration to give the people something to hope for even in that time of economic and social desperation. Thus, Masskara came to be.

It's not like one of those run-off-the-mill idol-worshipping, faux-ethnic, historically-unconnected, street parades that characterize every no-name town festival in this archipelago.
Rather, it's a true celebration of life, the living for the moment, to remind us of our strength against overwhelming odds. It is why Masskara continues to be one of the main crowd drawer among Philippine celebrations. It is also why it is the perpetual poster-boy for all tourist brochures and advertisements. It encapsulates the essence of being a Filipino: "full of life."

What Masskara means is fun, fun, fun. At the event itself, it means eating all those Chicken Inasals at Manokan Country, watching the parade, watching the people you know, mingling with the natural odors of everyone, watching those COD-like floats pass by, watch how stupid the contestants are in the Q&A portion of the Miss Masskara pageant, or going to the "perya-han" in slippers with it's leaning Ferris wheel and small-time gambling tents. After soaking up the culture, we usually end up meeting up with long lost high school barkada, going to bars all night long, getting drunk till dawn at a bar in the middle of a sugarcane field, food tripping from Dampa-like Pala-pala to nostalgic Bob's, joy riding through the city, and much more. Ahhh, the memories.

And this whole shebang is something the whole country must take notice. Why? We must emulate what the Negrenses have been doing for the past 25 years, and that is taking every adversity with a smile. It is not merely sugar-coating reality or being deluded to a fool's paradise, but rather this Masskara shows us that we can choose not to be pulled down by the heavy weight of the current problems besetting our nation today. We cannot afford to lose our compass and our senses just because our economy is teetering to the brink of an Argentina-like disaster. We must still find the goodness in living and celebrate it with a festival like no other. What this gives us is optimism that there is hope for our country and countrymen.

Look at Negros 25 years since Masskara was first held. Just by looking how well the province has grown and developed, it's no wonder why people still celebrate Masskara full of pride and fervor. Like a Phoenix, it has risen from the ashes and will continue to fly high towards greater glory.

October 14, 2004

Fahrenhype 9/11

After watching a crisp original copy of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 on pirated DVD, I am now convinced that Bush used all he can to protect his oil businesses which the Bin Ladens are major investors, and that his horrific occupation of Iraq has brought more misery and headaches rather than liberation. Also, I come to the conclusion that he is one lazy president using his time pre-9/11 on vacations on his Texas ranch and when asked what was he doing there, his simple reply was :"You know, doing stuff." If we lambast GMA for her wily shrewd "trapo" tactics, Bush deserves to be condemned and criticized more for his stupidity and collusion in bringing the whole world into a "siege mentality"

The video is well shot, full of archival footages, interviews (that didn't make it to the news) and incriminating evidences that connects everyone (from Foxx news, to Dick Cheney to Condyloma Rice) in a grand conspiracy to justify the Iraq war. Though I know we are not directly involved into the Iraq thing, we have now become complicit allies for Bush's experiment as seen in our willing (more like salivating) participation in the coalition of the willing.

As for the features, everything you can think of is there. From the previews, to more archival footages like the one where Condyloma Rice admitted to the investigative committee that they have indeed received a specific report on the planned 9/11 attack but chose to ignore it because "the title was not specific." Duh! How stupid can she get. Well, obviously she has been prepared to do damage control for this administration.

The question now is, "Will this video sway the undecided voters away from Bush?" Well, I do hope so.

**This video is now available at your nearest Muslim dvd hawker.


Why must we suffer because this vestigial organ gets infected? It's nothing more but lymphoid tissue acting as a sentinel for our trachea and esophagus. But once it gets infected (usually by the strep family), damn, your entire day and entire mood has gone down the drain. Its constellation of symptoms which can range from body malaise, to loss of appetite or easy fatiguability really gets into one's nerves.

I went home from the hospital with only one thing in mind: to sleep. My body's well being was preparing to shut down, my eyes were heavy and my throat felt as if Vesuvius was scratching its walls. When I reached my room, time and space became a blur as I dozed off into la-la-land.

But the good thing is, Azithromycin is there to save the day. I took my first dose already. Although the effects are not primarily for tonsillitis, its effects are really astounding. You only need to take in one tablet once a day for three days. And that's it. Instant cure! Many of my co-interns take it, and it really is a life-saver, because if you work in a profession where it's "Bawal magkasakit" having this drug at hand is really a must.

Pandora's Box

Today, I had the shock of my life. I got a call from the OB office saying nice things about my writing, which I never ever displayed in public, for in a field where knowledge is paramount and creativity is rubbish, I have to suppress any inclinations to the latter. It seems that one of the residents while surfing the net, accidentally managed to click on a stored entry at the browser's status bar causing my page to be downloaded. For me, it was a horrific epiphany. Though flattered because of their affectionate praises, it disturbed me to no end that my alcove of stress, my hideaway from the daily grind, has been found out with all its skeletons. I felt naked.

What consequences this would bring? Surely, having people read your entries can bring a certain satisfaction. But having people which unconcsiously might be characters in your entries scrutinizing it only brings a tip-toe approach to everything I write. Call it a repression of thought or gagging of free speech, but when the hand that rocks your cradle is busily perusing your blog, one has no choice but to take the easy way out. It's idiotic to stoke the embers of hate in an environment where stress is being eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, where one needleprick can bring the whole balloon to a burst. Right now, it's best to sit on high fences.

The whole issue brings to mind China's policy on the press. To summarize it in one word: "Pragmatism."

(And probably the people concerned are reading this too.)

October 08, 2004


As I was typing this entry, comfortable as I could ever be with my legs splayed to the other chair eating dulce gatas, a strong jolt shook my senses. A fucking (pardon the expletive) strong earthquake shook the building furiously with the floor moving back and forth, the hanging lamp swinging round and round and the electric cables were dancing ala jumprope. My heart immediately went to my throat as I was seized by the sheer terror of being buried alive. I remembered the Baguio Hilton? of 1990 and it somewhat has imparted a fear of dying slowly in a dark claustrophobic space. I panicked to see that this was no ordinary earthquake for it was long and unforgiving. I shouted to my mom (who was visiting from Bacolod) and her tita-tita friend and to the helper to duck for cover under the dining table. I meanwhile went down beneath the sidetable. We quickly prayed for divine intervention invoking God's infinited protection and mercy, and that whatever will happen, into His hands we commend our souls. It's quite amazing how people's faith is rejuvenated in a split-second time whenever there is a life-threatening crisis such as 9/11 and this earthquake.

After about a minute of being petrified under the table, I shouted to them to quickly rush down the stairs to the main door which is three flights down. Quickly sensing the urgency (for possible aftershocks), we flew downstairs. Our helper who's into her twilight years, went back pa to get the flashlight. And ultimately forgot to close the door on the way out. Oh, well. During time of panic, you forget everything.

The funny thing was that by the time we reached the door, the sight outside was as if nothing had ever happened. No distressed mothers or people milling around to talk about Mother Nature's fury. It was just like any ordinary Friday night with prostitutes clinging to white caucasian trash and street urchins loitering the dirty streets of Ermita.

After surviving two earthquakes for the past four years, I have developed an acute post-traumatic stress syndrome wherein any jolt or shake from the ground will trigger a rapid rise in adrenaline and a quick blurring of any rational thought. Only the goal of self-preservation prevails. It's embarrassing to panickly shout in the top of my voice to evacuate the unit. Call it a hyperactive sense of anxiety or what, the fact remains that during earthquakes, the only goal in my mind is to look for an opening. The last earthquake that happened about a month ago made me go down halfway through the stairs with nothing on but my boxers. It was embarrassing, I know. But hey, once you're trapped, you're trapped.

Anyway, no aftershocks yet. The helper had suddenly developed headache so I asked her to lie down and drink a glass of water just to soothe her nerves. I bet her BP rose up as well. My mom and her "tita-tita" friend stayed inside the bedroom and prayed the rosary. I, on the other hand, am finishing this entry. I just hope that come this morning, there won't be any aftershocks anymore. Ciao!

October 06, 2004

Autophobia Rex

What is it with us Filipinos? Are we indeed afraid of being alone? Why is it that in our culture, the bliss of solitude is never enjoyed? It is apparent that if one is alone, he or she is thought to be either a loner (which in some cases are true) or a sociopath.

When you enter a restaurant and you see someone eating all alone, or when you go into a theater and you pass by a movie-goer watching the flick alone, what do you feel? Are you moved by pity or by relief that you're not this person. Don't you feel good that you're more fortunate than that poor soul because on the other hand, you yourself has someone to accompany in your leisure activities? Even if that person is your driver, a maid, your neice or cousin, or co-worker, you subconsciously make sure that that person is with you when you go out. Basta meron lang. It's not even a result of the security-risk crime-infested environment we live in. This is simply a idiosyncratic curiosity of ours wherein we prefer never to be alone. Sometimes, women even cajole their friends to accompany them to the comfort room! I don't think she will be sucked into the bowl ala Titanic, right? Or how about that helper from the next unit who always asks someone to accompany her to throw the trash or buy food outside? It's somewhat disturbing and ridiculous really.

Is this the result of our native values of "pakikisama", "bayanihan", and extended family ties? Maybe. A bit? But not to the point that we become clingy to each other that one is stiffled from doing things alone- like doing the grocery or eating out. It is perhaps our collective consciousness that we brand those people who do things solitarily as loners, outcasts, and never fun to be with. It is this presumptuousness that perpetuates this loathing for others being by themselves. It is wrong, but hey, it's reality. You may not perceived it outright but the undercurrents there are strong- especially in restaurants.

But really, who cares? If one likes being alone or finds solace in doing stuff by himself or herself, it is her right. While others may steal glances or whisper discretely, the person involved doesn't give a horse's shit for the mere fact that he or she is doing it with no one around can be a sign that that soul is practically savoring the moment. It may be moment away from a busy schedule or from a mad-house family or from a clingy dependent loved one. Whatever the reason and however the feeling, the fact remains that doing things alone is looked down upon by our present Filipino society.
This may mean that many Filipinos have been afflicted by the disease known as Autophobia Rex. (No such disease entity exists, just in the author's mind)

October 05, 2004

Forty Winks

Every night, from duty, I feel as if my sole purpose of going home is to sleep. And only to sleep. The sensation of which has paralyzed my function for anything else, like socializing, eating, or even studying. You become so tired that only the bed and the pillow have now transformed into your new best friends. Sometimes, I'd give anything to sleep for at least half a day and wake up not palpitating or having anxiety attacks because of the possibility of tardiness for the next duty.

And tomorrow IS duty once more. This is a never ending cycle. And so goes to all doctors, residents, interns and clerks all over the country. The day is now marked neither by the calendar nor the clock but by the three day fest of preduty, duty and postduty. It's funny to note that those non-doctors who have intimate relationships with physicians make do only during post-duty afternoons (which is practically used to sleep) and pre-duty afternoons. And funnier still to see that most of the time, these relationships do not last long- primarily because the non-med partner demands for more time which the doctor cannot give, hence, the break-up. That is probably why most doctors end up marrying fellow doctors too.

So, now I break this entry for the comfort of the smooth satin-like bed embracing every contour of my body lulling me to la-la-land, is fast calling me.

October 01, 2004

Forced Feeding

One of the perks of being in Medicine is actually the continuous barrage of food into your gut. There are grateful patients who bring Red Ribbon cakes and pastries, pancit from the bilao, Gonuts Donuts, lanzones and seasonal fruits. It's a constant blessing and reminder that all these stressful work has borne gustatory delights albeit a superficial joy. We're humbled that there are really people who seek you out just to give you a farewell gift.

What hunger can do to some doctors. Posted by Hello

And not only that, the MedReps would cater our lunches so that many will come and hear about their product launch. What a very crafty strategy! They know that in order to lure Filipino doctors into the open, food is needed. Perhaps it's only food that delivers an instant warm feeling to the soul and an instant zap of energy for the upcoming lecture, presentation or conference.

This afternoon, our residents had to present their census for the month in a conference where all the consultants and clinicians will attend it and scrutinize the hits and misses of the residents' clinical practice, in the hope that they will improve their protocols in the future. Each case will be dissected with a fine hair comb of criticisms and violent reactions. But to ease the stomach aches that can trigger a feeding frenzy against the residents, the department (as a norm) decided to feed the sharks with a catered feast. There was chopped lechon with delectable liver sauce, braised beef in tomato-barbecue sauce, palm-sized fish fillets with tartar sauce, steamed rice and for dessert, buko lychee. Yum! Yum! I had seconds, no, thirds! It was perfect! So perfect that I dozed off the entire lecture.

And with that, everyone in the department always look forward to each Friday because it's forced feeding day. No exceptions. No excuses. No escape.

September 25, 2004

Friendster Fiendster

Filipinos are simply suckers for new (and free) tools aimed at connecting people. That's why we're suckers for Nokia. At first we're suckers for the beepers, then the email, then the texting, then the phonecam, and now, we have another way of keeping us in contact with our friends and beyond. And that is Friendster.

Friendster is fast replacing the current mode of emailing. More than just sending messages, this internet tool has the capability and culpability of spying and snooping around your friends' current pictures and also searching the countless email possibilities of anonymous users. Before, emails tend to be impersonal and detached, now with this freebie, writing mails now have become virtually interactive as if the other person is actually on the other line waiting for your reply. It's great to have a personal face to a somewhat static feature, but sometimes having one takes away the privacy and discretion of the whole practice. Though it depends on your level of exhibitionism, having your personal photo runs the risk being taken advantage out there. It's a double-edged sword which neither one can extricate the good results with the bad possibilities of posting personal items.

Friendster Online...Posted by Hello

Eventually, such a feature gives rise to a plethora of alternative entertainment such as voyeurism, cyberdating and cyberprostitution. Undersirable as they are or seem to be (according to the norms of idol-worshipping Catholics of the Philippines), they are some of the possibilites that we can think of as a direct result of our innate nature- nature which according to Plato is evil. Yes, man is evil according to the philosopher. Who am I to object?? That fact that we, as Pinoys, are always tempted to abuse and pervert the original cause of Friendster just shows that being evil is in our blood. But guilt aside, this just shows that we are capable of stretching the possible to near-impossible, which is good in a way. We make use of what we have. Innovate!

Though those are some of its peripheral uses, its main purpose is to reconnect. You reconnect with your old high school friends, your college colleagues, your coworkers, your boss, and your family. You keep them in one tangible box where they can be just a click away. The whole thing brings back nostalgia, all those memorable persons who strike a chord in your heart. You'll see your barkada have grown fat, or with children or with flashy cars or with a new beau. The joys of learning that some of your friends have reached the top or have transfered to the US is exhilarating, and the cruelty of realizing that some of those who tormented you in the past are getting their just rewards now is very very satisfying. And contacting them is so easy.

Instead of keeping folders of impersonal emails, you have rather the faces of those whom you consider an important part of your life. The drawback is that people do not check their Friendsters as freqently as they would do to an ordinary email account, so updates and replies can be pretty erratic and unpredictable. It's because for some this is just a fad. But for many, this has become an extension of their persona in cyberspace.

So, is this tool just a passing game of kings and fools? Or will this gambit become a permanent face in the net? Perhaps only time will tell.

September 22, 2004

Toxic Tuesday

Obgyne as a specialty is simply not my cup of tea. Tough I somewhat enjoy the rotation (rather more like got the hang of it), I hate the waiting and the anticipating. It's like doing Beckett's play, "Waiting for Godot," over a span of 36 hours doing nothing but engaging in belly rubbing sessions known as "labor watch".

It's one of the laborious and most inefficient medical methods of assessing uterine contractions. I feel you're being chained to the patient 24/7 as if in only 5 seconds, the mother's womb will blow up like Mission Impossible. It's as if that that person is the only patient in the whole ward. It's not only a waste of precious time but also shows how primitive and left behind is our medical field. The equipment needed is a tocometer, but if there is none, all you have to rely is on one's sense of touch. Simple but really impractical. Especially during the peak season.

Speaking of peak season, yesterday I got the taste of blood. In quick successions, mothers in the throw of giving birth were being rushed one by one like an assembly plant of human fetuses into the labor room then to the delivery room. It's a madhouse. Government hospitals must have double the trouble. It's adrenaline rush indeed, to see that after waiting hand and foot for a very long time the patient suddenly shifts to high gear with all the residents and intern involved in alert mode.

They would say, "Ok! put in 8 units Syntocinon to present IV, stat!", "Prep (means to scrub up) na, people! Lalabas na yan!", "Misis, pagtumigas ang tiyan, huminga nang malalim, pigil, and push!! One! Two! Three!... Ten!", "Mali pag-iri mo misis! Magconcentrate ka!" .... it was really a mad mad night.

And when the baby's head is already jutting out the canal, the resident is ready to catch it while I have to clamp, milk and cut the cord quickly and cleanly as possible. After baby's dreadful exit, it's down to the expulsion of the placenta, cleaning of the uterus, and suturing of the vaginal lacerations.

But even though it's a chop-chop timed regimen, the amount of patients pouring in is really nerve wrecking. I just wish my next duty is benign. I wish. I wish!!

September 20, 2004

The Eagle has Landed

The ever famous Go Nuts Donuts! has arrived in Robinson's Ermita. I was surprised a while ago that a lady was carrying a 6-piece box with the donut label on it. I literally accosted her where she bought them. She said they opened a branch outside Robinson's located at Padre Faura Street right beside Cinnzeo. Wow! It's true!! Now everyone can get their donut fix!!

September 16, 2004

Pachelbel Rocks!

I was and am still blown away by Pachelbel's Canon in D. He may not be the brightest star of the Classical world where such composers such as Beethoven and Mozart have perpetually carved their fame and fortune but his single, "Canon in D" has won millions around the globe. It is only this melody which made him famous the world over, even if he did compose many Protestant pieces during his lifetime.

Johann Pachelbel (1653 - 1706) lived in Germany during the time of the Age of Enlightenment when Europeans wore wigs and cravats and did not take baths. It was a time of Louis XIV, the sun-king who famously said, "I am the state!" and also the time when the Vermeer painted his Girl with a Pearl Earring. That was the age of Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. The music, arts and architecture of this era was molded by the Church and nobility whose patronage lifted the humanities to its pinnacle as seen in the lavish and ornate Baroque and Rococo architecture, the rich, realistic and dark colors of Van Dyke and Gainsborough, and the uplifting Baroque music of Vivaldi, Handel and Bach. Unfortunately, Pachelbel was just one speck in that topsy-turvy world where his brilliance was not readily recognized unlike some of his contemporaries who in their lifetime had achieved vast fame and wealth.

Even in today's cynical society still lies the appreciation for the old and classical, and thankfully, Pachelbel lives on. Not many know it but his music has been the inspiration of current bestsellers like that R&B song, "I'll see you when you get there" by Coolio and the "Graduation Song" by pop icon Vitamin C. His Canon in D has also been infused into commercials and wedding marches. In the internet, this is one of the most famous singles and so far it has been transcribed, rerecorded, remixed and jazzed up so many times that there are already lots of variance but the main strain still remains.

Why is this melody so successful? Because of its simplicity. It has been once compared to "Flower Duet" in Delibes' opera, Lakme, the tune of which is fairly familiar with many who have heard it during Olympic commercials and Yanni recordings. But it pales in comparison with the orgasmic and heavenly quality of Canon in D. The tempo is mellowed, more with the objective to lull the listener but the quality of the music uplifts the soul many times over. A perfect anti-depression remedy. Stefan Helander
said it more clearly:

I listen to it when I'm happy and I listen to it when I feel sad. It touches my soul and sends shivers down my spine. And it still does, even though I've listened to it thousands of times.

Enough said. Go and listen to this wonderful music. It's included by the way, in a track in Bond's new cd entitled, "Classified."

The Hand

Ever wonder why almost all doctors have terrible handwriting? It's especially evident in the way prescriptions are written. It's so bad that only the pharmacist can decipher it. By the way, how could Mercury Drug Store clerks ever understand those illegible scripts which even academicians might mistake it with Sanskrit or Mandarin?

It happened to me yesterday when it was so toxic (med lingo for being busy) that I assisted my consultant from 10am until 5pm without any lunch break. My feet were already tired and livid from standing up and going to and fro. Anyway, the doctor on hand assigned me to type a medical referral for a patient in waiting. She was blurting out paragraphs while my mind was merely latching just to some phrases of it. I am not sure if it was just me being slow in memorization or she was too fast in her instructions. To help me in typing it, she scribbled the important points to be included into the certificate. I tried recognizing the familiar letters but her handwriting was soooooo bad that it looked more terrible than the worst Arabic steno ever found. Anyway, I had to waste a long time deciphering it but fortunately, the staff in the rehab have already grown accustomed to her scratchy script that upon presenting the draft, they were able to comprehend and translate it for me. It was lost in translation, indeed! But seriously, it was really a pain trying to understand all the unintelligible squiggly lines and loop-d-loops.

It comes to the point where I began to reflect on the effects of being a doctor. Does this mean that being one, one is predisposed to develop "malgraphicus medicus"? It must be attributed to the tight and toxic schedule of a clinician whose mind works faster than his hand. So, in the effort to catch up the physician's train of thought, the hand has lost its ability to punctuate its sentences. But logically, who wants to have bad handwriting skills, huh? In fact, no one. It just so happens that physicians use their writing faculties mostly to write abbrevations, short cuts, orders, etc, and not wordy technical essays. All things must be brief, short and straight to the point.

Rationalization aside, the repercussions of having bad handwriting is huge. Columnist Michael Tan, said it plainly:
"The physician may have prescribed Losec, an anti-ulcer drug, but careless dispensing could mean Lasix being given to the patient, which makes a world of a difference because Lasix is a drug to induce urination."
A bad stroke can make a big difference- some deadly. That's why doctors take time to explain everything that's written on the prescription sheet, which he assumes that the patient understands the name of the drug.

So, on your next visit to the clinic. Be sure to check on the handwriting of your doctor. The worse it is, the better that doctor is, because it just means that there are more patients who come for consultation, which after the doctor has written countless amount of prescriptions, his handwriting is sure to deteriorate.

September 12, 2004

Kama Sutra Therapy

What's that thing dangling from the lady? Posted by Hello

I thought Physical Therapy (PT) was just about flexing muscles and trying to reach the full range of motion of the affected muscle groups. I also thought it was just limited to... you know, weights, treadmills, steppers, hydromachines, parrafin wax treatments, electrostimulations, but No! It did not stop there.

While I was perusing this three-inch thick textbook on physical therapy which I got from their mini-library, I chanced upon pg.197 which, lo and behold, in full illustration, was the Kama Sutra of PT. I know it's not my place to pass judgement over what these therapists learn in school, but sex therapy? Yes, that's the title of the chapter: "Sex Therapy" I cannot imagine these PTs having practical exams on this topic during their training years. Can you picture a love doll for a partner during a return demo? It's kinky, i know.

This is sick! Posted by Hello

Also, for me it's very very wierd to encourage couples to engage in sexual intercourse even if one of them is disabled. I don't prejudice those with handicaps because it's a fact that their sexual functions and appetites still exist whether we like it or not. Libido is still there, unless you wish to do a lobotomy. Some disabled are "capable of rape" daw, as seen in the newspapers and tv series. But perhaps it's not a very nice sight to see paraplegics engaging in foreplay where the muscle groups needed for sexual initiation and follow-through are disabled. The quadriceps, biceps, hamstrings, abdominals and others which come to play during sex are the same muscles that are weakened during strokes and accidents. Can you imagine fornicating with someone who has a colostomy bag in front? Could you imagine yourself having fun with a quadriplegic stroke patient? Can you imagine Stephen Hawkins having sex with his female colleague? It's possible but improbable. I think it's not only silly, it's absurd. But in this time of political correctness, I stand corrected.

They say stroke patient's are capable of rape? Please! Posted by Hello

The bottom line perhaps, is that as humans with sexual desires, we cannot limit others in persuing this lustful pleasure solely because of physical disability. It is probably a good thing to give them alternatives on how to engage in such activity while maximizing their remaining active muscle groups. But political blah-blah aside, it's a bit wierd and perverse, more to the taste of necrophilia perhaps?

But as they say, "you can't knock it 'til you try it."

September 09, 2004

Muy Sobresaliente!

Certified Chef d'Angelo Addict Posted by Hello

Chef d'Angelo is for me the epitome of cheap, sulit, gourmet food. Every time you eat here is always a pleasant discovery. And almost all foodlovers agree.

It's located at the heart of Robinson's Place - Ermita (and other Robinson malls) and there are plans to open another resto at Glorietta. That is a very terrific idea considering the purchasing power of the urbane yuppies hanging out there.

Good thing the line wasn't that long, so we got to order fast. I ordered Potato Cheese Choder (P52) and their P98 Sampler #1 consisting of a huge "Big Bird" chicken breast coated in batter, deepfried, with Caesar's salad, and a 9" Hawaiian Pizza. With a raspberry ice tea, the night was perfect. Enna on the other hand, ordered P78 Sampler #3 made up of soup and the same pizza while Mark got Spaghetti with Beer Sausage. He was so stuffed that he wasn't able to finish the rest of the pasta.

The servings are large and quite cheap when compared to the same food served in some restaurants. Their P145 9" Great White Pizza (Bacon, shrimps, mushrooms with garlic over rich and creamy Alfredo Sauce) is better and more satisfying than say, a P150+ Family Hawaiian Greenwich Pizza. The dough of the latter is more chewy and delectable to the palate while the former tastes like a stale uncooked bread stick or that sidewalk, 3M pizza.

The other great thing about Chef is the quality of food they serve. It's gourmet and at par with Don Henrico's or Italiani's in quality. They really know how to combine good ingredient to produce great shrimps and thick garlic Alfredo sauce... or different herbs and tomato sauce... teriyaki and pizza... you know, fusion stuff. Though the service needs improvement partly due to the fact that the place is always packed, it's better than the usual restaurants. It has that Italianni's personalized touch so to speak.

So, if you want to gorge down on great classy gourmet food that's easy on the budget, then, you must try Chef d'Angelo.

Rating: (Passing grade of 75%)

Food Content: 96%
Staff Projection: 82%
Price Impact: 90%
Audience Appeal: 94%
Ambience & Special Effects: 86%

Total Average Score of: 90%

September 07, 2004

Fragile Flame

The li'l cutiee! Posted by Hello

There was one patient at the Rehab clinic today who left an indelible print in my mind. She was just barely two years old and already she has been afflicted by a disease that only stubborn and sedentary people get- stroke. Yes, a child of two can have a stroke. It’s called “Stroke in the Young” and it’s quite a rare condition considering that the cause of this disease is not due to lifestyle factors. Many times it’s due to blood diseases wherein a blood clot forms and becomes dislodged into one of the many arteries of the brain, thus, causing a stroke.

Late in the afternoon she was playing with the Rehab’s toys and was enjoying herself with the company of the PT staff who were responsible for her therapy. She was being helped to walk since she was dragging her right foot. Her warm smile and energy made me suddenly realize that in life, no amount of tragedy can take away your ability to smile, more so, to love. Also I became acutely aware that anything can happen to anyone as if Fate was playing Russian roulette, that no amount of preparation or contingencies made can prevent a sudden twist of fate from happening. But on the other side of this seemingly futile notion, lies a silver lining which tells us that God is there and that no matter how heavy is our cross or how tragic is our loss, He will help us use our disabilities to be the instruments for his plans. It’s manifest destiny.

From what I saw at the reception area where this bubbly small girl was not really minding the difficulty of walking, I now know that all things happen for a reason, a certain reason, which sometimes its purpose is deeply hidden from sight as of the moment only to be revealed by God’s own time. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle- if the piece you’re holding does not fit into the pattern, get another one and try again, for in the end all the pieces will fall into their righteous place.


"Corruptissima republicae, plurimae leges."
-Tacitus, Roman historian

Is it true that MMDA has now implemented an order making guys without shirts unlawful? It's another manifestation of the stupidity that that department is very famous for. It's not only crazy but also a waste of budget and legal space. I guess GMA's austerity measure is being stictly implemented for Bayani Fernando with his cavalier approach to all things has show that his brain can produce miniscule impractical austere measures which doesn't make a dent into our daily lives. It's another useless law by a useless man for a useless cause. Tacitus aptly put it when he said that the more laws a country has, the more corrupt it is.

So what if one will take of his shirt in broad daylight? It's not as if our climate is a Russian winter where anyone with commonsense will be forced to cover themselves. With the humidity and heat of hell, it's just practical sometimes to disrobe our tops.

Look at the Americans. They take off their shirt in public parks, beaches, and streets so they could catch some rays and skin cancer. For them, it's their right if they want to have a shirt or not. I think they're right. It's enshrined in our bill of rights that we have the right to dress as we deem fit. If I'm an Igorot by heritage, is it unlawful if I exercise my culture in Luneta? It's ironic that this banal topic is even being exploited by our government just so they can rack up brownie points into their legislative portfolio. The sheer audacity of it is already disgusting.

What are we? Prudes? It's as if we're receding into the middle ages. Or into a despotic rule of a communist pig called Fernando. I can't believe that having a shirt off can strike malice into other people. This just shows that women are hornier than man for it is they who act like prudes and complain about immodesty but put malice into anything that's bare. I'm not a misogynist but this same applies to older males. As the Little Prince once said, "Malice is in the eyes of the beholder."

September 04, 2004

The Promise of Internal Life

My hiatus as a certified bum has officially ended. Today, I rejoined my co-interns in their daily grind at the San Juan de Dios Hospital. It's a feeling of anticipation (because of the new things I'll discover in the course of my training) and dread (because of the level of responsibility being expected at this time). Being in this profession is never routine work. Every patient presents a new page for learning. There is no flowchart to follow, just instincts and gutfeel. There is no assembly-line management, but case-to-case basis. It's indeed both a sense of wonder and dread when you restart internship. I kept asking myself, "Do I have what it takes to become a good doctor?" I pray to God to grant me the strength and endurance to master and apply all that I have.

My rotation (since I was on LOA) was a toss-up between Rehab Med and Radio. Both were pretty benign areas and one has the luxury to go home and sleep at the comfort of a bed. I was placed in the Rehab Medicine department where most of the patients there were post-CVDs (stroke) and people who have back pains due to work. The center looked like an air-conditioned work-out gym but instead of trainors, you have PTs and OTs as your gym buddy. I was surprised to note that there were a lot of seamen (no pun intended) who have lower back pains which according to my consultant was due to their occupation of lifting heavy equipment. What else were there? Osteoarthritis, scoliosis, stroke, stroke and more stroke. It's depressing to see people get sick, but what can I do? It's the fact of life, the circle of birth and death. And perhaps with physical therapy, it's not only their body that's being healed, but also their hurt and frustrations whose handicaps have incapacitated them from leading a full life. As they say, time heals all wounds, and perhaps in this way, we can help chip in.

September 03, 2004

My Milkshake Bringeth

Just can't resist putting this here. So, click it. Posted by Hello

Bulgogi Night

Tita Astrid (Tita Groovy) suddenly remembered the ongoing Midnight Madness sale in G4. Posted by Hello

It was my cousin's birthday, so he treated my aunt, his siblings and me to this obscure Korean restaurant called Bi-Won in Makati near Rockwell. It was a Friday night when yuppies become mananangals but to our surprise, the place was virtually to ourselves save for a couple of Koreans on the next table. We ordered bulgogi, smoked mackarel in Korean marinade, and Korean Bbq. Considering there were several mini-appetizers like Kimchi, century quail eggs, fried camote, spiced sayote, and seasoned tofu paste, it was like a mini-feast. But some of the appetizers were really acquired tastes. It was a really good meal- not that heavy but busog. We chowed down every morsel and relished every bite. And with Coke to round it all up, the night was perfect.

The thing I have observed is this: Are we gradually being invaded by Koreans? Unlike the Japanese who come here only for business trips and go home immediately, Koreans are slowly but gradually being assimilated into the Philippine social fabric. They're like the Chinese. They put up businesses here catering to Korean expats (restaurants, mom-&-pop stores, foot massages) and they eventually stay here for good. Sometimes they even marry Filipinos and have little Korinoys (Korean-Pinoys). If you go to Dasmariñas, Cavite, you will see that there is a strip in Manuelaville where everyone is Korean in ethnicity. It's not I have a bone to pick with them, it's just I am amazed at their assimilation rate. Actually, I hope this trend continues for this brings fresh air into the foreign community here in the country. Then this means more Bulgogi nights for me. =)

Suffer Little Ones

Why should we suffer in this God-forsaken metropolis? The more I live in this squalor, my hatred and loathing for Manila increases. It's not just the garbage and pollution, it's the system, the corrupt and inept government services, the bureaucracy of accomplishing things, the traffic, floods, poor health system, cynicism, greed & materialism, under-the-table dealings, crime, arrogance and lawlessness of the rich, etc.

Manila-bashing is never anti-Filipino or unpatriotic. It's actually a sign that one's brain is not yet filled up with pollutants which convinces one to actually LIKE Manila. Being desensitized and tolerant does not equate to LIKING this shithole of a city. It's funny to hear people say that to bash Manila means bashing Filipinos too, because that person assumes and presumes that this shithole of 11 million rats comprises the whole Philippines disregarding all other provinces out there. Because of centralization, all other other cities outside NCR are beholden to the budget decisions, caprices, and procedural delays of the capital. It supposes too that this hell we're living is inherently "Filipino" and it's part of our "cultural identity". If so, I'd rather not be a part of it. Tinikling, yes; Traffic, no! Calesas, yes; Corruption, no!

Staying here is not a matter of choice. It's a matter of survival. I mean, going to work was never a pleasure. Dealing with the police or government lackeys were never fun. The price of commuting and eating out were never light-hearted. It always has been a struggle, a war for that delicate balance between reaching one's financial success and enjoying most about living. Money vs. Quality of Life. If it's not for the fast influx of profits and the good quality of professional training here, I would be already in the first plane out of here back to the provinces.

I am just finishing my training here, so after the boards, I can chuck all this up ala Gaugin and move to Tahiti... or some far flung idyllic paradise. When? When pa? I don't want to die in this dark shallow grave of the second most polluted city in the world. Oh well, another fools paradise.

September 01, 2004

Princess Diaries: The Royal Derangement

The Princess Diaries 2 movie trailer promised this was to be a better and more exciting sequel than the first. My friends and I bit the bait so to say. We classified this as a dum-dum movie which means this is a Hollywood fanfare that requires no brain frying and schematic analysis. The gist of this is that Princess Pizza Mia (Anne Hathaway) who just turned 21 must marry off within 30 days, or else, the crown will be given to Prince Charming. But due to "love", she delude herself into engaging with a British nobleman but her heart still beats for prince charming. awwww... gak!

Alas! Twas not to be so!

Where: The setting, if my friend would put it, "looks like it was plucked out from Enchanted Kingdom". The kingdom was too Disneyesque in character that everything looked fake as if they were made from plastic resin. And the so-called royal castle was nothing but a country manor. They could have at least rented a real castle for goodness sake. The interiors were not regal enough for Genovia for it looked like some noveau riche hotel room and lobby.

What: The princess finding her true love... awwww. Remind me to puke on the way out. I expected her to be more intelligent in the matters of love vs. duty since she already graduated from college and had outgrown her clumsy ways. But she still acts as if she was a 14-year old spoiled brat running around the castle breaking all forms of protocols, to the frustration of Queen Julie Andrews and the secret police. Well, she had her shining moments when she spoke with the wisdom and maturity of a queen-to-be. It just shows that Americans can break all the rules and have their cake too. Ugly Americans.

Who: The casting director was a complete idiot. Where in Europe can one find a noble member of parliament who's black? Where can you see a population like Genovia comprising of races ala United Colors of Benetton- White, Latin, Black and Asian? It's too Americanized. This is what you would see in a politically correct Disney Land where affirmative action is the law. And how can Europeans speak with an American twang, save for Julie Andrews? It grates into my ears to hear their pompous self-serving accents try to pass off as if from some small European state. Authenticity-wise, it bombed.

Plot: Well, I was hoping this would be like that 1991 film "King Ralph" starring John Goodman wherein he was trying the ropes to be new King of England but disaster after disaster threatened his ascendancy to the throne. Same villain as in the Princess Diaries where some noble relative wants to grab the throne for himself by orchestrating scandals and accidents against the protagonist whereby the villain was uncovered and all's well that end's well.

Comedy: Very Ok. A few laughs. Some giggles. Several smiles. Enough said.

Rating: One thumb up for concept and Julie Andrews, one thumb down on the casting, and two middle fingers up for any future trilogies of Princess Diaries. Sorry, pun intended.

August 31, 2004

A Bacolod Treat

A relative from Bacolod arrived in the apartment today bringing several goodies from Bacolod. There were homemade country sausages, and bangus, among others. But the treat I was excited for was the Dulce Gatas.

Dulce Gatas. Also known as Dulce de Leche among Latin American countries like Argentina and Peru, and also known as Caramel spread or Milk Jam in Europe, is a famous dessert in Negros. Most of the product is manufactured in the culinary heart of Silay City. It's made from fresh carabao's milk and sugar which is reduced to a caramel consistency. It is then poured into Tupperware-like pots and is immediately stored in the ref. It's eaten by spooning the sticky mess and licking it like crazy. Dulce Gatas stays for a long long time... more than a month, but due to insistent urge to dig in, it doesn't stay for more than two weeks.

Mmm... heaven. Posted by Hello

This is pure decadence. Mmmm...The texture is soft and slightly oily and it sticks to the tongue.It's like that taste of caramel but with a more "going-down-&-going-up" flavor. Dulce gatas is best eaten cold and in front of the TV after dinner. But it's advisable to treat yourself with a small amount cuz the calorie count and glucose amount is quite high. But with a dessert such as this, who cares?

August 30, 2004

Peque's Gone Korean

The cover of Summertime.

Yesterday was another treasure-hunting day in Quiapo. There were lots of Asian films especially from Korea and it seems that this country really has a lot to offer. So I went to my suki tindahan and picked up a couple of films. One of which was Jae-ho Park's "Summertime" which was released 2001. I thought for awhile it was standard Korean erotica but the moment the first scene unfolded, I was taken aback to see the stark similarities with this film and Peque's 1983 film, "Scorpio Nights."
Through the internet, it was known that Summertime was indeed the "official" remake of Scorpio Nights with the full blessing of Peque Gallaga.

To say that the film was a remake is an understatement. It's really a xerox copy- from start to finish albeit some insignificant details like the premise why the peeping tom is there and much more.

Looks familiar.

The film itself is filled to the brim with bump-&-grind sex scenes. Not that I enjoy watching it. ^_^wink ^_^wink It's quite graphic but not to the point of being pornographic. No frontal nudity. But to see the actress writhe in sweaty ecstasy is sheer delight. The plot is solid just like Peque's original. But the main selling point of this film is *****oooh.. sex. Nothing but pure adulterated sex.

It might be seen as a rip-off but to see that one of the top Korean directors took notice of our films (take note: by the Experimental Cinema of the Phils.) is already an acknowledgement of our expertise in this field and more importantly, an honor to the Filipino people.

August 29, 2004

A Dali Moment

I went to Robinson's Place yesterday to meet with a couple of friends for dinner when I saw this most surreal scene: a badminton competition right inside the mall. What thu? I know it's common to see a Catholic mass inside a mall, or a celebrity show, but a badminton tourney?? What gives? It's as if you had a basketball 3-on-3 inside Glorietta or a Wimbledon match inside Harrods. Well, I know for a fact that no one will get "hurt" from a shuttlecock to the head but it's just too close for comfort to see sporty players sweating, racing to the net and jumping up and down in the court.

I can't find where my shuttlecock has landed. Posted by Hello

However, I'm glad that this sport is fast gaining respect and support from Filipinos who are already brainwashed with basketball. At least in this way, everyone can play the game- young, old, short, fat, tall, ugly, etc. And the amount you need to spend for badminton is quite affordable- just a trusty racket and a shuttle cock. But the best advantage of this game is that you can play the game practically anywhere, from backyards, to the Baywalk, and yes, even inside a Robinson's mall.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

I can still remember those high school days of being assigned to read novels such as Iliad, J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye (which I got bored reading) and short stories by Guy de Maupassant. The material was scarce since we have to contend ourselves with xeroxed copies or have to fight among our classmates for the the limited supply of battered novels from the library. Thus, we were not really honed to appreciate thick written works much more read classical literature.

But if teachers and school administrators try to intensify their literacy campaign by assigning more book reports, initiating literature contests and procuring more novels and classical works, only then perhaps the students can have a more solid and meaningful foundation for their careers. Their vocabulary will expand, they will be able to engage in intelligent and impassioned conversation about history, politics and culture and they'll become aware of different idealogies that will mold their mental outlook. They will not become mere puppets of the media, the government or the church but they will form credible and rational opinions about relationships, justice and progress for which they shall apply later in life.

But alas, nothing like this happens. Not in a large scale. We see whiny students in endless conversations about mindless plots from telenovelas. We see narrow-minded politicians and housewives who cannot stomach anything that's not endorsed by their local priest. We see people believing every propaganda the government gives them without even consulting credible sources. We see stupid crowds salivating at stupid air-headed starlets during election campaigns- campaigns which doesn't address the issues of population control, food security, housing, etc. We see clueless contestants who cannot identify "The Sleeping Giant." We see apathetic college students and employees ignorant of the current state of their environment and who are clueless about their rights and privileges.

I mean, our way of thinking has become a pool of water conforming to whatever shape the surface gives it and trickling down wherever gravity is strong. Many have lost their capacity to think. We have become jaded, cynical and passive most of the time. Our heads are filled with garbage from telenovelas to Eat Bulaga to Kris Aquino's latest tantrum. As they say, "Garbage in, garbage out."

The implications of a mind that does not read are immense. Without reading on history and learning from it, we are doomed to repeat the consequences of our perinneal bad habits. Another is that we are contented to become disposable employees rather than entrepreneurs. Look at the Chinese: they are voracious readers of self-improvement books like Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese?" so that they have an idea on how to be successful. We are happy to what is doled out to us without question and our lack of imagination (that was not developed due to inadequate reading perhaps) prevents us from pursuing a higher level in life, just like GMA whose method of governace has the imagination proportional to her height.

It saddens me that these things are happening to us. Are we that cursed? I just hope that we shall enough time to flood our brains and purge the garbage within. And plant the seeds for the next generation. It's all a matter of time I guess.

August 27, 2004

In a Twinkle of an Eye

Yesterday despite of the typhoon, I wrote a long missive about the absurdity on how our elected senators cling to their pork barrel fund as if it was their birthright. So lengthy it was that I felt a pang of fear that such entry was practically inviting Murphy to apply his cursed law. And then I hear the door knocked; it was Murphy himself.

These were the main points from that article:

1. Senators & Congressmen are elected solely for the purpose of legislating. Period. They are not there to earmark pet projects or usurp the responsibilities of the different agencies and the local units. They should leave the initiating, planning, budgeting and implementing of schools, roads, housing, basketball courts, and watersheds to the likes of mayors, governors and provincial agency heads since these are the people who really stay put in their different locales. This "project" thing is the perfect scapegoat for some inutile senators to be absent from senate hearings, committee meetings, etc, where their representative votes are crucial for without their presence, there may not be a quorum to pass anything at all.

2. Many current senators are undeserving of their CDFs. Sen. Osmeña III may have a long list of CDF-funded pet projects in Cebu but his legislative portfolio according to PDI columnist Bambi Harper is nothing more but two bills- bills to rename España and Taft into Tañada and Diokno avenues! Sen. Lapid on the other hand excused himself in the middle of the senate meeting for the defense committee where Sen. Joker was grilling the generals because of some appropriation scam. Lapid didn't contribute as much as a pip in the hearing but instead (yes, in front of the camera) whispered to his staff while showing him the documents pertaining to the meeting. Perhaps Lapid wasn't able to read it beforehand? From what was portrayed in the news, I can assume that the honorable senator did not know what the issue at hand was. Shame indeed. Even Sen. Pimentel lamented how some neophyte senators (Revilla, Lapid & Estrada) aren't keen on learning the ropes of legislating for they are frequently absent during meetings. Probably attending to their "constituents".

Okay, finished. As I pushed the Publish button, to my horror, a terrible error struck. Server not found! What tha &@#*%$! My face went white and my skin became cold. Aaargh!! I then developed a sudden urge to pull out the roots of my hair after realizing that all the words have been erased into oblivion. I cannot believe that such a glitch happened. Aargh! With that, I ate lunch na lang to drown my sorrows and watched Ms. Global Pinay to cheer me up.