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.