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?