Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Year That Was 2008


Where did you begin 2008?
At home, I think.  Trying to avoid the smoke and noise from our neighbors who decided to line every available inch of our street with pyrotechnics.

What was your status by Valentine's day of 2008?
Mostly frustrated because I had to skip my ongoing Valentine Santa tradition of giving out chocolates to everyone; I had that weird episode with the left knee going all crazy.  

Oh, you were asking about my civil status or whatnot?  Teehee… 

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Just to get my left knee checked by rehab specialists.

Did you have any encounters with the police?
Traffic police crocodiles who probably desperately needed cash for a quick merienda.

Where did you go on vacation?
It was a vacation mixed with some sort of volunteerism and activism.  :P  You can’t take that away from me.  Taught high school kids in Macarascas (in a tiny place nestled in the forests in the mountains of Palawan) and participated in a Sikaran against mining on Sibuyan (the same island in Romblon where the MV Princess of the Stars almost made it to before capsizing during the typhoon Fengshen).

What did you purchase over $500?
Technically my mom paid for my year’s tuition in med school.

Did you know anybody who got married?
A high school batchmate.

What sporting events did you attend?
Uhm, does the Sikaran count?  I biked around the island, climbed mountains, scaled a moss-covered rock face and jumped into a river.  And I snorkeled around Snake Island in Palawan.  How’s that?

What concerts/shows did you go to?
None, unfortunately.

Where do you live now?
Still shuttling between Manila and Las Piñas, more often in Manila because of med school.

Describe your birthday.
I celebrated my birthday for about three days, with both sides of the family, and with cake, pizza, calzone, and tons of other food I cannot remember.

What's the one thing you thought you would never do but did?
The Sikaran.  Never thought I could withstand biking the rough paths around the island, finish the torturous climb to visit the indigenous Mangyans, and actually jump into a fast-moving and cold river from a height.  And oh, I never thought I could get sunburnt but spending almost six hours snorkeling around the Snake Island in Palawan got me my first sunburn.

Any new additions to your family?
Anya, my goddaughter and niece (she’s the daughter of my cousin, Rachel).  And hmm… some four kittens at home—they’re practically considered family by my dad aka Daddycat.  

What was your best month?
Probably April or May.

Who was your best drinking buddy?
What or which drink?

Made new friends?
Yes I did.

Any regrets?
I like to wave at them as they pass by.

What do you want to change in 2009?
The level of my physical fitness (I want to be able to run like Sam Witwicky in Transformers when he was carrying the cube away from Megatron or maybe kick a$$ like Sidney Bristow in the now-defunct Alias), the state of my (non-existent) finances, the fact that my passport is pathetically empty, the designation of MS2 to MS3,

Overall, how would you rate this year?
Fine, just fine.

Have any life changes in 2008?
Nothing much.

Get a new job?
I wish.  Am still in med school.

How old did you turn this year?
Put the numbers together and they add up to four.  (I think that's my mental age.)

Did anything embarrassing?

Get married or divorced?
Married within ten years, divorced hopefully never.

Be honest - did you watch American Idol?
Towards the end.

Start a new hobby?
I now surf the net to look at cupcake and cookie recipes that I plan to make next year; am keeping my fingers crossed the friendly house mice haven’t ruined the oven’s wiring yet.

Are you happy to see 2008 go?

Drank Starbucks in 2008?
I think.

Been naughty or nice?
Mostly nice.

What are you wishing for in 2009?
Fulfillment of crazy dreams, good changes, and for the Creator to start taking out politicians and criminals.  (I know the term politicians and criminals are usually synonymous, so forgive the seeming redundancy.  Let’s hope the Creator starts from top down and throw those criminals to the deepest pit of hell reserved for child molesters, chauvinist pigs, and people who cut in line.)

Lost someone?
They’re not mine.

Cut class?
Did I?

Was involved in something you'll never forget?
Yes, yes, yes.

Visited a different country?
Through fiction and my dreams.  (Yes, I’m starting to remember dreams.  And I discovered I dream in both color and black and white.  I wonder when I’ll start dreaming in sepia.)

Cooked a gross meal?

Lost something important to you?
I don’t think I lost anything important or if I’m attached to things I don’t remember losing.

Got a gift you adore?
I adore my new red cardigan, my pillows, my multi-colored pens, my new vials of hair treatment, new bags, and those dark chocolate goodies a friend gave.

Tripped over a coffee table?
I don’t recall any coffee tables suing me this year.

Dyed your hair?
I wish.  Maybe early in 2009, I can go back to Sidney Bristow red.

Came close to losing your life?
I think I actually did die but hell spat me back out.  The river jump almost did me in.  Leaped from an elevation and landed in a river whose depth I had misjudged; I trusted the local kids who told me the river was deep enough for me not to smash my noggin on the river bed’s huge rocks.  Turns out the water was too deep for my own good and the water was a bit too turbulent.  Had an out of body experience—saw my form floating for a millisecond before I snapped back to reality and started swimming to the surface amidst the strong current.

Went to a party?

Read a great book?
Do ebooks count?  Can’t afford to buy really good books, no matter how longingly I stare at them inside book shops.

Saw one of your favorite bands/artists live?
No.  That would entail either bringing them back from the dead or a plane ticket halfway around the world.


Did you meet any new friends this year?

Did you dislike anyone?
Plenty of times!

Did you grow apart from anyone?
Not really.  We’re just out of phone credit most of the time.

Do you have any regrets when it comes to your friendships?
As was stated above, I like to wave at them as they pass by.


Did you have a cake?
Black forest, I think.  Not too black because the cake shop skimped on the chocolate shavings.

Did you get any presents?
I think I did.


Did you change at all this year?
Lost some weight and gained it back, got new friends, had a recurrence of asthma, got involved in a lot of things, became more sedate passive, learned to become passive-aggressive, learned to be patient indifferent, became a godmother, changed my favorite color, spent a summer on more worthwhile pursuits, discovered The Beatles, and hopefully became wiser.

Did you change your style?
Style meaning?  I wear a white uniform 90% of the time, I don’t know if you can call that style.

Were you in school?
I still am in school.

Did you have a job?
Technically, no.

Did you drive?
Yes, and had a jolly good time trying to arrange a meeting between my dad and his Maker.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin, Rachel.

Would you change anything about yourself now?
If I were, I’d keep it to myself.  I like to keep myself unpredictable so that I can smash other people’s expectations right smack in front of their faces.

2008: WRAP UP

Was 2008 a good year?
Fine, just fine.

Do you think 2009 will top 2008?
I will make it top 2008.

( ) stayed single for the whole year
( ) kissed in the snow
( ) celebrated Halloween
( ) had your heart broken
( ) mooned someone
(x) went over the minutes on your cell phone

( ) came out of the closet
( ) gotten someone pregnant
( ) had an abortion
( ) done something you've regretted

(x) painted a picture
(x) wrote a poem
(x) ran a mile
(x) shopped at Hollister or Abercrombie and Fitch (window shopping counts right?)

( ) posted a blog on MySpace (LJ forever!)
( ) visited a foreign country
( ) cut in a line of waiting people
(x) told someone you were busy when you weren't
( ) partied to celebrate the new year
( ) cooked a disastrous meal
( ) lied about how old you were
( ) prank called someone

IN 2008 I...
[x] broke a promise
[ ] fell out of love
[x] lied
[ ] cried over a broken heart
[x] disappointed someone close
[x] hid a secret
[x] pretended to be happy

[ ] slept under the stars
[ ] kept your new years resolution
[x] forgot your new years resolution
[x] met someone who changed your life

[ ] met one of your idols
[x] changed your outlook on life
[x] sat home all day doing nothing

[ ] pretended to be sick
[ ] left the country
[ ] given up on something/someone important to you
[ ] lost something expensive
[x] learned something new about yourself
[x] tried something you normally wouldn't try and liked it
[x] made a change in your life
[x] found out who your true friends were
[x] met great people
[x] stayed up ‘til sunrise
[x] cried over the silliest thing (med school has a peculiar thing of doing this to you)

[ ] had friends who were drifting away from you
[x] had a high cellphone bill (sorry, mum)
[x] spent most of your money on food (duh, who doesn't?)

[ ] had a fist fight
[ ] went to the beach with your best friend(s) (how about nice friends?)
[x] gotten sick
[x] liked more than 5 people at the same time (you can't call me a hoor for this one)

[ ] became closer with a lot of people


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Beloved Friends

I am blessed to be in the company of beloved friends tonight.  I wonder, though, when we will see each other again.  We're all starting new chapters in our lives and slowly drifting apart physically.  Maybe the best thing we all can do is cherish our moments together and keep talking to each other through all means possible.

Back to the 50s and 60s


Perhaps it comes from watching Pushing Daisies and Mad Men.  I am officially in love with clothing styles from the 1950s to 1960s.  The silhouettes are so feminine and fun, yet polished and elegant.  This has me wishing I could create my own clothes, or maybe have enough money to burn on having clothes done by a mananahi.

Should I try my luck in Cubao-X?


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Highlighter Love Affair

Now, I never highlight stuff.  Ever. 
If you see me carrying anything with highlights, it's probably borrowed from someone who does the highlighting thing.  It's weird that quite a lot of people still call me out on this habit of mine that stems from the lack of need to highlight stuff during undergrad (I dare you to try highlighting all those symbols and formulae as you go down a reaction mechanism or a phychem problem), trying to preserve the pristine pages of my reading material, the hypersensitivity of my vision to psychedelic neon colors of highlighters, and my own distaste for highlighted text.  Whatever floats your boat, right?  Perhaps it's just archetypal of a med student to be a "highlighter-whore" as a friend put it--the type of person who has a set of all of the available colors and sizes of a highlighter and uses the set liberally, leaving only "a," "of", "the" and "and" uncolored.

Will the Beetle Tip highlighters convert me into a "highlighter whore?"


He's not the demonstrative kind of a parental unit; he's the total opposite of my mum, who's all hugs and kisses and cooing doves and unicorns and sparkly things. He's gruff, he's weird, he's anti-social, he's moody (must be his artisté temperament), he's stubborn as hell, he's got a dry sense of humor that rarely pops up (as in one in several million light years) and he's mostly silent, save for the rare slightly sarcastic or rough comment. He's quick, decisive, a good strategist, eternally curious about trivia and current events, level-headed and dependable when natural disasters strike, very resourceful, and very loyal. (He might have been a good surgeon or a good military officer, but he decided he was too good for those careers, so he pursued art.) Some might say I might have inherited some traits from him, so perhaps it's the reason why of all the people at home, I can best translate the monosyllabic grunts that suffices for conversation on his part. (It's all in the pitch and the body language, dear household members.) Or because I'm his pet, that I best understand the phrase that he probably inherited from his own dad, "...kunin mo yung ano sa ano..." (I can only translate it as some form of "get the what from the what..." Ano is a used noun here to refer to anything that cannot be named at the moment.) Perhaps it is also our shared traits that sometimes sets my temper off, so sometimes I can be as hostile as hell towards him. And with what, three other females in the household, he sometimes doesn't stand a chance; maybe that's why there are stuff in the house that vaguely resemble phallic symbols-his way of asserting his masculinity perhaps? I was wondering for the longest type how my mum would have fallen in love with a grumpy bat of a man like my dad; of course, I discount the fact that he still charms my mum in some way. He's not the glorified type of dad one sees in those commercials for ice cream, fastfood chains, or telecoms, the type whose arms are the pillars that hold up his kids' worlds, whose chest is for crying on or whose ear is for listening to tales of woe. (The only times I've been held by my dad was during my grandfather's funeral when I was irrationally screaming to be cremated alongside, when my nanny died, and when I was to be restrained to get a shot.) Or the type who was this stern authority figure, the god of the household. Growing up, I envied the kids who had those kinds of dads who would openly show their affection for their sons or daughters or who conducted themselves with a thread of authority normally seen in royalty. Perhaps the best ways that he demonstrated his love were in treating me like a pet or treating me like a substitute son or treating me like an adult. A pet because he treats (or treated) me just like our cats at home - he's (and has been) so content to be my partner in sports, he's happy keeping me "leashed" like cattle (more like imprisoned like a piece of chattel-friends know I don't exaggerate when I say "strict ang parents ko,"), and he's even happier feeding me good food as though he overheard in the radio that ice cream/chocolates/pasta/sinigang were to disappear the next day. A substitute son because he's been teaching me traditionally masculine things like being a sort of a grease monkey, tinkering with household electricals, carpentry, downing spirits during new year's eve, assuming responsibility for the other females of the household, etcetera. (Nope, he hasn't brought me to a strip bar or anything like that. I'm still so much of a feminine creature to 'enjoy' those baser pursuits and he's not really that a vulgar type of person to engage in such.) An adult in the sense that ever since childhood I've viewed him as and he allowed me to treat him as an equal, given that his term of endearment for me was "Ate." (Ate means big sister.) Yup, he allowed me to get mad at him, challenge him, and fuss over him, when other dads would instantly whip out their belts for a spanking. It took quite some time, but I finally realized that my dad does love me, if not in the way that fathers stereotypically do. Just two hours ago, he came to the dorm to pick up some clothes. Hearing me whine about my mild stomach flu, he immediately offered to buy me some lugaw and bananas to soothe my stomach. After I lost a verbal tennis match of refusals on my part and incessant offers on his part, he bought me goto (rice porridge with tripe) and a single banana. Now I know it was only an excuse to get his money changed into smaller bills, but I really appreciated his gesture. Now, I'm also taking his advice not to eat the remaining food in my dorm room's fridge; they might be mutating into alien life forms as I type.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Strength, Courage, and Wisdom

"They subjugate because they fear the power of WOMAN.
They discriminate because WOMAN is beyond their comprehension..
They enslave because they think WOMAN should be under control like an animal or an object.

WOMAN, you are beautiful.
WOMAN, you are brave and strong.
WOMAN, you are intelligent and wise.

WOMAN, you are a person.
WOMAN, you are a rightful citizen of this world.
WOMAN, you are NEVER to be silenced.

WOMAN, you are powerful."

This was inspired by

"I began to question why we accepted the conditioning of our religion and culture which places emphasis on a girl's virtue and not her intelligence; which places little significance on a woman's opinion; which asks a girl to place her self-value in relation to men; which prioritizes marriage and motherhood above self-development and career; and which encourages girls to be silent on the double standards on infidelity, sexism and discrimination and vilence against women." -Monique Wilson

Saturday, September 6, 2008


No matter how the person tries to make me believe otherwise, I cannot do it.

No one should expect me to take things at face value, begging me to keep an open mind when his own mind is so narrow and clouded by fanaticism.  I just can't see eye-to-eye with religious dogma/doctrine on certain issues, and besides, the religion hasn't had a perfect track record when you're talking about science.  (Hello, Galileo?)  Oh, how I hate dogmas-they have a propensity to fool people into believing they can start wars with people who believe in something else.  Such blind "faith" in things written down by other men seems like a load of bull; the things themselves are contradictory and disorganized at worst.  How else can you explain something that supposedly espouses respect for all beings yet at the same time says that only those who belong to the exclusive club of believers are to be given special treatment?

Even if I try to put myself in these dogma fanatics' shoes, I still can't help but think that they're acting so selfishly.  It seems that they are so afraid of the changes that keep coming because such things are beyond their comprehension or those things threaten their position as authorities in the institution.

I'm in a time where my conscience clearly tells me I cannot blindly follow orders in the name of so-called religion.  I say this with conviction.  Just so anyone who reads this might know, I'm at odds with the institution, not my faith. 
I'm just so disappointed in how things are being run-I know we're all human, but these leaders need some good kicks aimed at their head.  They were made significant authorities of the institution to move and shake things in the name of truth and what do they do?  It's like being pushed back to the dark ages.

I know I wasn't placed here on this earth to please the people within the institution and those others who blindly follow doctrine to the letter.  My faith is such a personal thing and I'm free to discover things in my own way.  I know I'm under the guidance of God, whom I believe is the ONLY all-knowing and all-powerful being.  I don't need anyone pretending to be like Him, telling me what to do, under the guise of forming my values.  I know what I stand for and I'm continuing to discover more things that may comprise the person that I am and will be.  No one needs to tell me my soul needs this or that, because my soul seeks what it needs, through God and not through any other human being.  It's disturbing that these people view me not as someone who has God-given intellect and free will, choosing to believe they can indoctrinate me into becoming someTHING they can use to further their own ends that are cleverly disguised as something for the religion.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Miss Biochem

I suddenly miss all the grunt work of undergrad.  Doing the deadly organic chemistry experiments in laboratory rooms without running water.  Identifying unknown substances that look suspiciously like table salt or sugar.  Transferring strong acids inside the fume hood that has a fan that sounds like an airplane taking off.  The endless parade of glassware to be washed and trying to outdo other classmates in the number of breakages incurred in one semester.  Diluting solutions endlessly.  Refilling the containers of distilled water.  Trying to weigh hygroscopic solids in a blink.  Computing for actual concentrations of the solutions by titration, making sure that the final color is as perfect as possible.  Trying to figure out whether the electrons went to the HOMO or LUMO levels.  Waiting for the DNA to run in the gels, then trying to compute for the molecular weights of the sequences from blurry bands on the pathetic x-rays.  Furiously trying to make the distillation set-ups as stable as possible.  Checking for sample purity using the chromatography machine.  Wondering where the purines and pyrimidines really were synthesized from, given certain amino acids and other precursors.  Illustrating the perfect electron clouds.  Scratching out equations of the Beer-Lambert law after uncalibrated readings on the spectrophotometer.  Finally computing for the specific density of a liquid at a certain temperature after six hours of waiting.  Starting over and over a reaction mechanism just because you couldn't figure out which carbon was going to get attacked first by the nucleophilic hydroxyl group.  Inventing new reaction mechanisms just because you could not remember the catalyst for the specific named reaction.  Using the micropipettes with recycled tips.  Trying to make the thesis set-up cooperate because the expensive enzymes were running out. 

This is what studying local anesthetics does.  I miss Biochem.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

First Patient

Took her history yesterday.

First few minutes into the interview, we could sense that she was a bit worn out so my interview partner and I tried to keep our voice as soothing as possible.  She gradually warmed up, sometimes spending minutes talking about her kids, her favorite food, her diet strategies, her work, her financial woes, her health pre-op, and her post-op pain.  My partner and I sometimes could not follow the prescribed checklist of things to ask, because we couldn't well just jump from one question to another like a quiz show master bombarding the hapless patient with questions she might have been already asked about ten times over and we spent extra time listening to the patient elaborate on her answers that sometimes veered away from anything related to her case.  Thank God my partner could steer the interview in the proper direction, because had it been solely up to myself (and had I gotten a chance to skip my next class), I would have spent so much time just hanging around the patient, listening to and chatting with her.  I am such a hopeless case when it comes to being too available for people who want to talk.

During the full course of the interview, I observed two clerks (i.e. fourth year students) check on our patient.  One was assigned to take the patient's vital stats, and the other was the clerk who must have scrubbed in on her surgery.  The first clerk calmly went about her duties and apologized for our sake, saying that all med students (and their unfortunate patients) had to go through the tedious task of establishing the medical history.  The second clerk's visit brightened up the patient's mood considerably, and the patient kept telling us proudly that the clerk was forever etched in her mind and heart; apparently, the clerk was the last person our patient saw before she went under anesthesia, and the first person our patient saw upon waking up from surgery.  The clerk was like our patient's anesthesiologist, watching over the patient throughout the surgery.  

Our patient couldn't resist telling us that she was so grateful for the care given her in the hospital by the clerks and doctors.  What stuck to me was that she fervently wished for us, second year students, to grow into the same mold of compassionate and caring healers who had taken care of her; she would squeeze my hand or look directly into our eyes to emphasize her point.  Towards the end of the interview, she repeated her sentiments so my partner and I reassured her that we would be doing good on our promise to become caring doctors.  We wished her well, checked if there was anyone who would take care of her post-op after being discharged, and thanked her for enduring our hour-long interview.  She thanked us immensely-ironic because I think we should have been the ones thanking her profusely for helping us learn to become very good physicians in the future.

Maybe it's because she's my first patient that I regretted not being able to visit her today before she got discharged and bring her favorite bread.  I hope our patient recovers well.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sibuyan Diaries Part One

Where in the world is Sibuyan Island?

03 May 2008

    Early this morning, with enough clothes for eight days and a brand new mountain bike in tow, I started my second journey of the summer in Cubao.  This was no ordinary vacation where I'd expect to completely chill out to the sun, sand, and sea; I was going on a eco-tour to save an unspoilt island threatened by mining.  By noontime, the bus was on its way to Batangas pier, and by 5 PM, we were on the MV Xenia for an overnight trip to Romblon Island.  The participants of the eco-tour were given a briefing about the island and our purpose in doing the eco-tour, and as the sun set, we turned in for the night on the steel beds, in a room occupied by people from all walks of life, wishing ourselves a safe trip over the calm seas.

Short introduction to our eco-tour

Watching the sunset off the coast of Batangas

We slept here.
No privacy.
Guard your belongings.
Bring your own pillow and blankets.
Definitely no prima donna behavior allowed.

04 May 2008

0233 H

    The nervous chatter and gossip of fellow passengers made sleep almost next to impossible last night, and now I am awakened by the noise of passengers making their way in haste off the boat, as we dock in Odiongan.  My companions reckon it will be another three hours before we reach Romblon island.

0530 H

    I am awake now and I make my way up to the deck to enjoy the sunrise, the salty air, the view of the islands dotting the horizon, and the sight of the ink-black sea stretching before my eyes.  I tighten my grip on the rails of the deck for I am quite perturbed by the fact I am traveling on very deep waters, judging from the color of the water.  I remember that the seas going to Boracay and Palawan were bluer, and hence shallower than what I am seeing right now.  Yes, I can swim and all, but the very notion of being such a tiny speck amidst of all creation, vulnerable to the moods of nature in all its primordial power 'shivers me timbers.'  At this realization, I am humbled by my seeming insignificance, yet comforted by the fact that God is watching over such a tiny creature like myself.

Just got down from the first ferry.

The proof is in the photo; we are on Romblon island!

The ancient church built by the first Spanish friars who landed here.

The marble monument to the island,  the marble capital of the country.

Heck, even the streets have bits of marble embedded in the cement or asphalt.

0600 H

    We arrive at Romblon island and disembark to explore the first church built in the town by the Spanish friars and to buy a quick breakfast for ourselves.  I am thankful that the seas are calm, that the weather seems to be cooperating with us, and that our bikes and our stuff and our selves are already in Romblon.   As I make my way through the area, I see marble, marble, and marble.  I am, after all, in the marble capital of the Philippines. 

0630 H

    If not for the locals of the island, we would have been left behind by the ferry Maria Querubin, which would take us to Sibuyan Island.  Thank God the crew was patient enough to wait a little bit for us.  As we settled on our seats to enjoy the air that was slowly being warmed by the waking sun, we were informed that we were to arrive at Sibuyan in about two to three hours' time.

On the deck, with the saltwater spray and the sun and the fresh air.

That's the island of Romblon behind.  The white spots on the island are marble.

Le instrument panel.

0730 H

     Restless and curious, we (Ate Monette and I) explored the small ferry, eventually ending up at the deck.  To my surprise we saw Atty. Cuñada chatting up the captain and the crew, trying to learn how to steer the ferry.  The captain was gracious enough to let us watch and take pictures of the deck, and even told us to watch out for dolphins who would usually race alongside the ferry.  I saw the instrument panel all in Japanese and asked them whether they could really understand all of those switches and buttons.  Turns out they trained for four years in a maritime college and an additional year on board, so it was all good.  To my infinite amazement, I saw that they were using a GPS device to help chart their course amidst the dark waters of Romblon; I was thinking that the rickety ferry just had a compass of some sort, but then again, the orientation of the island group, the changing seas, and the emerging technology made it quite imperative for the vessel to have one.

These kids were always the first to spot the dolphins.  About the lack of the dolphins in the photo, well, the dolphins were too fast. :P  The images of the sleek creatures racing alongside the ship/ferry will forever be etched in my mind.


    Dolphin sighting!  Dolphin sighting!  Dolphin sighting!

On the way to Magdiwang.  Shortest leg of the bike ride.


    Got down at Ambulong Pier, with bike in tow.  The parish priest of Magdiwang welcomed our group and led our caravan (and us bikers) to his church and the convent, where we were immediately fed brunch and allowed to freshen up before the Mass.  I had my first sip of the cleanest and sweetest water I had tasted in my entire life; Sibuyan certainly seems to be in the running for the cleanest island on the planet.


    It seems that we are going to the home of a doctor from Magdiwang, after the gathering and the Mass.  Kuya Boy and the other volunteers have raised the seat of my bike; I had such a hard time biking two kilometers when my quads were screaming against the injustice of the horrible ergonomics of my bike.  I actually ride on the van, while I allow Kuya Boy to bring the bike to the place; I am in no mood to start the Sikaran without having taken a bath after almost two days of traveling.  My appetite has quite fled in the face of lack of sleep as well, that I can't help but take small servings of the extremely delicious food that was served.


    The kindness of the councilors of Magdiwang has allowed us girls to actually enjoy a good scrubbing at last.  I was quite relieved to be able to finally change into my cycling clothes and check if I indeed needed some feminine implements.  (My uterus completely hated me at the said moment, and happily chose to expel its contents at the most inopportune time.)

Tinola (chicken stew) material


    We start biking to the parish of Sto. Niño in Danao, in the heat.  I am focusing on just conquering the ride without incident, that I almost miss the beautiful flora and fauna surrounding me.  The streets are amazingly clean, there are animals roaming free, and every living plant or tree is lush with life.  I almost run over some hens and a rooster as I bike, and I look to the locals for help; I was told not to worry, as they would only take my roadkill and make it into a stew.  ("Hayaan mo, doctora, gagawin lang naming tinola yan.")  I am so distracted that I narrowly miss seeing the sea as I go around the side of a mountain on an incline. 


    It's a blessing that my bike has gears to help me through the tougher slopes, but my pelvic bones are starting to complain of the lack of suspension, especially on the rockier paths.  I feel my lungs start to burn as I try to catch up with Bishop Pabillo and Ate Sol, and I am grateful that the air that rushes in is completely clean.  I don't think I'd last very long on a bike in Manila's polluted streets.  Maybe it's the great abundance of all sorts of trees that blanket the land so thick, Sibuyan is already known for having forests four times thicker than the usual.

With my reliever and unofficial bodyguard, Fr. Toto


    Father Toto has been yelling out, "Kaya pa?  Kaya pa, Kel?" for the past how many minutes from the tricycle that's been following me through the route.  I sense that he's so ready to ride the bike, that I readily turn it over to him and gratefully chug down the contents of my water bottle in two gulps.  (Yes, it's gonna be bad for my stomach, but hey, physiologic needs first.)  I gratefully ride the van with the others and allow myself to stretch my muscles to keep them from bulking up unnecessarily.  I am already wishing I lost some of my excess weight in the ride.

No to Mining, loud and clear!

Sibuyan 1, Kelly's bike 0.


    We are about 500 meters from the parish and Bishop Pabillo has stopped (I observe he hasn't got a bead of sweat on him and he seems to be enjoying what was turning out to be a grueling ride.) to allow the caravan to clump together so that we'd arrive as a huge group in the parish.  I learn that my bike has not survived the ride, one of the pedals actually fell off.  The other volunteers actually have the video of the pedal falling off and the bike still going and Ate Monette looking all confused.  So much for Sikaran.  I volunteer instead to take Ate Sol's bike up to the parish.

Sto. Nino's decorated altar


    We were graciously met by the parishioners and the seminarians of the parish.  They are all pushing us to eat, eat, and eat all the food they had prepared in advance.  My appetite was gone, due to the physical activity and amount of fluid I had earlier, so I went down and attended Mass again.  The parish priest really must have had advanced notice of our arrival as the church is packed with people.


     The women from the parish were still offering food, so to be polite, I took small bites of empanada (pastry filled with chicken or pork and some vegetables) and suman and maja (sticky rice molded into cakes and coconut milk squares with glutinous rice).  I wandered around and found that most of my co-volunteers are still taking their rest.


    I was greeted by the booming laughter and the flawless Tagalog of someone who appeared to be Santa Claus in the flesh.  It was Fr. Ortner, an Austrian missionary who was the parish priest of Lumbang, the next town we would be going to.  He kept on cracking lots of jokes and generally made the simple affair of an afternoon snack a very joyous one.


    Bikes, luggage and people loaded on the open truck, Fr. Ortner proceeded to drive us to Lumbang.  They reckon we won't make it before nightfall if we were to ride the bikes.  Along the way, we are stopped by locals who wished to welcome Bp. Pabillo with beautiful and fragrant leis of flowers and ask for his blessing.  Kuya Rod, our official tour guide points out various trees and wildlife, all the while firing out factoids about Sibuyan island with great pride.  He tells us to watch out for payas, branches from trees or plants that seemingly come out of nowhere to hit you in the face with a mighty slap.  Fr. Toto tries to scare us with tales of elementals and otherworldly being residing in the bamboo branches that keep on hitting us on the way; appraently the creatures like to bend down the tree to enable them to hit passersby.  I am unafraid, even if the sky begins to darken as the majestic sun sets, unlike the time when I was passing through thick forests inside a closed van in Palawan.  Maybe it's the presence of Bp. Pabillo, Fr. Dujali, and Fr. Ortner that reassures me that no unseen elemental or spirit would dare hurt me, or likely, I frighten these creatures overmuch that they dare not approach-after all, Daal said something about an aura about me that simply signals "DO NOT DISTURB!" to these unseen beings.


    I arrive at a gloriously rustic place, the parish of St. Therese of Lisieux, with Fr. Ortner beeping his truck's horn several times to announce our arrival.  A handful of his pets joyfully greet us as we all get down, muscles sore, from the back of the truck.  We are shown into our spacious rooms on the third floor of the convent-to-be with solid double deck beds enough for ten people and we hurriedly unpack and shower.  The sun is fast disappearing and the chill is starting to set in.  We are told that we are to eat an early dinner.


    As I go down to the driveway, I hear bells signaling the Angelus.  I am quite surprised to see several bells moving on their own, no ropes or people needed.  One of the parishioners whisper that it is Fr. Ortner who had constructed a system that automatically announces the Angelus three times a day.  I learn that Fr. Ortner is the all-around architect/engineer/carpenter of the convent/seminary/auditorium/church that is rising on a small hill opposite verdant fields and majestic mountains.  He had started the "Palace in the Sky" through the kindness of foregin donors, his family included.  These foreign donors likewise sponsor the needs of the people in the parish.


    Fr. Ortner allows us a sip of red wine to warm ourselves against the growing chill.  I sense it is also to allow us to relax after endless activity for almost two days.  With the hum of the conversation between the clergy and the men of Sibuyan in the backdrop, I begin to observe the surroundings.  The unfinished cement beams and smooth wooden planks hold the promise of becoming a beautiful structure once construction is finished.  The cold breeze comes from all around the open area, rustles the leaves of the mighty trees sheltering the convent, and carries the scent of roses in bloom.  I go around the veranda and I am greeted by the amazing sight of pots of beautiful roses blooming with all their might; in Manila, it would take handfuls of plant food to make the plants bloom as lushly as they did in that place.  I spend the next few minutes adoring the queenly flowers.


    Dinner starts with a prayer and more wine.  We are expecting some more guests to drop by, but apparently we are to meet them instead on the next day on Mt. Hagimit.  We fill our bellies with fragrant rice and fresh pako and rich dinuguan and juicy fish.  The place is already quite cool that the fat in the meat dishes start to solidify.  I am seated beside a parishioner who tells me to keep eating and eating, because I would need all the energy to climb up the mountain on the morrow.  Amidst more sips of red wine, we begin to talk about life in Sibuyan.  I hear the locals' displeasure with the artificial rice crisis created by the politicians in Manila; they have no problems with rice in the island yet the prices began rising as news of the rice crisis from Manila reached them.  The parishioners tell me that if prices would continue to escalate, they would resort to feeding their families root crops instead; after all, they reason, that was what they'd eat in the mountains before.  The person beside me also confides that she's been unlucky trying to find means of regular employment and says that her allowance as a choir leader cannot support her children's education.  She looks at me imploringly, her eyes quite desperate and asks if I know of any opportunities for her on the island, a 40-something woman who had not finished any formal education but was willing to work as long as she could send her children to good schools.  She is torn between working for a measly sum on the island while raising her family and working for a good sum in Manila but leaving her family behind.  She echoes what other Sibuyanons have been whispering to me since we arrived on the island-they need livelihood programs that won't force them to leave the island and would help their families survive.  Although they are blessed with nature's bounty, they still need money for other basic needs.  (They are also blinded by consumerism our own society promotes, of all things.  They are duped into believing they have to have objects signifying material wealth to be having, when it fact, these created needs are nothing more than products meant to enrich the top of the economic pyramid.)  This is where the temptation to sell their lands or their rights to mining companies come in, as a lump sum given in exchange seems heaven-sent gift to enable their families to survive even for a short while.  Why do we permit ourselves to be indifferent to the truth that the greedy businessmen and corrupt politicians are taking advantage of the gentle people of Sibuyan?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Part Deux

Discounting all the little things that made the flow of work a little more challenging, starting the second year in med school was quite...benign.  Note the use of the term "little things."  The term applies not to the important details that matter so much in the long run/for the bigger picture, but the petty insecurities, normal inconveniences (in the words of a nurse in a medical ethics forum, "complexities of life"), and existing consequences of past actions that would ruin my mood if I let them.  No time for any worthless whining or draining drama.  This time around, it's just a matter of taking the "truly-really-seriously-no BS-important" things as they come and blending that with skills/capabilities/abilities/talents, to be able to allow myself to bridge the gap between status quo and what I imagine to be a better state.  This endergonic process (should it be exergonic, I don't care at the moment) derives its energy from the exhilaration I've experienced from the liberating realization that I have an identity, and has produced a great many wonderful products, including positive vibes that would help sustain what my third year friends call "One Big Fight (towards finally wearing the v-neck uniform)."  The overflowing optimism at the moment is coming from the sheer amazement of being able to affirm myself through life experiences and being able to start to unify what has seemed to me as a life filled with great entropy.  And probably getting enough me-time, down-time this summer.

Enough chemspeak now.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Sibuyan is a beautiful island just off Romblon, however, its beauty may very well soon be marred by greed and mining.  What better way to call attention to the threat, than to take a cycling eco-tour of the island?  I'm joining something called "SIKARAN: Sikad Para sa Sibuyan": A Bicycle Eco-Tour to Save Sibyan Island.

I remain optimistic that I can manage the seven day tour.  I might have not been biking around too much in the recent years, but I still know how to cycle around on a mountain bike.  I am comforted (and inspired) by the fact that among the people who will be coming with me, is a woman (who is much older than I am) who just learned to bike last week.  Maybe the tour around the supposedly flat island is going to tighten up my wobbly bits or something.

Or maybe not.  Let's hope I won't be trying to catch the first ferry home after the first day of the eco-tour, sore butt and all.  I am very wary of the tour, seeing photographs of the actual island.  My mum told me that the organizers told her that the island was flat.  (See the last photograph above.)   The bike trail is supposed to go around the island--I don't know if that means just skirting the shore, but the schedule says that we are to stop over each barangay that we pass.  So that might very well mean that even the bike trail is not flat.  I guess my mum's friends are the kings and queens of understatement.  I don't know if it's because they have some vision problems that come with age, but I am very certain that the island is as flat as they imagine it (or maybe hope for it) to be.  And to think she wanted to join the cycling tour as a biker, too!  It's like suicide by mountain bike, mum!  (*Dodges dungbomb thrown by mum*)

(Seriously, why do I keep on believing my mum?  This might very well be one of the worst suggestion she made, but I reserve judgment until I finish the tour or until I get over the fact that my mum will always try to manipulate me into doing things with/ for her or if I lose some wobbly bits as a prize.  Note to self: double check next place mum tries to wheedle oneself into doing.  Okay, I kid, I kid.  But Mum, I am so ready to kill you right now!  The island is NOT flat!)

P.S.  This post qualifies as a notice of being offline for the next days.  I am also unsure whether my mobile will have a signal within the island.  Any messages or replies or posts or SOS calls might remain unanswered for the time being.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Palawan Diaries Part Two

04 April 2008
Day 2

First day of academic tutorials and I am assigned to the brightest kids of the group; I do not have enough training (and patience, perhaps) to be able to deal with the ones whose needs are greatest.  Technically, they're on their high school years already, but they were brought back to lower levels when the volunteers found out that the dormers really had a tough time with the basics.  It will take some heroics for us in the next few days to be able to fully help these kids.  There is just so much to do and teach in such a short time that we're having a hard time prioritizing what lessons to teach.  But the hardest part is keeping the kids riveted on the lessons, with their short attention spans and distracted minds.  My fellow volunteer decides that we do games with the group to help them focus and learn the most important things that they need to understand.

Also, it's Sister Clara's birthday today.  This explains the appearance of spaghetti on the dinner table.  Most times, the Dorm relies on rice, noodles, and vegetables to keep the kids's stomach's full; animal protein (including fish and other seafood so readily available) is a rare treat.  I learn that the Dorm is trying to stretch their own meager funds to make sure the kids eat three meals a day; morning or afternoon snacks are a rarity and are seen as special treats.  It's depressing to think that these kids might have some protein malnutrition as a result, and even more depressing to learn that the kids only have a chance to eat full meals while they're in the dorm; some kids have confided that they would literally starve in their homes because food was truly hard to come by, even if they worked the land or fished the sea.  This explained the hyperacidity that the kids would complain of right before mealtimes-I suspect that majority of them already have ulcers from the hunger they experienced before.  At this I feel a bit guilty as I realize that I never went hungry at any point of my life and I am thankful for such blessing.

I noticed pans and bowls and plates of flowers decorating the tables.  The kids have raided the premises and came up with the beautiful decor for Sr. Clara's birthday.  These kids are so creative!

Before tucking in, we encounter unwanted guests in the hut.  Geckos have managed to scare us into quivering mardees; I am afraid because when the gecko sticks to you, it's quite hard to remove unless you burn it or scrape it off your skin and it usually bites when it feels threatened.  (Tuko bites cause much bleeding and are notoriously hard to control, usually entailing some medical assistance, and medical assistance was two hours away.)  Initially an eye-to-eye encounter left my knees weak as I proceeded to whisper to my housemates that there was a tuko in residence that was crawling near our sleeping places.  Another tuko made its appearance a little later and we all huddled downstairs anxiously waiting for the reptiles to go about their business and leave us alone.  Thankfully, the dorm 'father' from the Boys' Dorm and one of the kids were able to catch the creatures that were preventing us from getting any sleep.

05 April 2008
Day 3

I thought I had it rough, but the kids have a much harder time.  It's a Saturday, but we are holding classes because they want to maximize the time that volunteers are here to help.  I learned that the sisters who ran the place had great difficulty without the help of academic volunteers and this was most of the year; volunteers would usually stay a month maximum (they had jobs, too, you know) and then the kids would lack teachers until new volunteers came.  The sisters were actually asking me if I could stay for a year and teach Science, Math, and English, given my strong academic background, even if I never had any formal training as teacher--I wish I could give them such time, but I am in med school.  Anyway, I see the kids eat breakfast, rush off to chores delegated amongst themselves, attend academic tutorials, rush off to another round of chores around the dorm, eat lunch, do another set of chores, attend a second round of academic tutorials, do their personal chores, do Dorm chores, eat dinner, do chores again, and finally tuck in exhausted at around 9 in the evening.  The kids almost never have any time to themselves and I worry for their own well-being; it might be that the busy schedule keeps their minds away from thinking about problems back at home or about academics, but I am truly bothered by the wear-and-tear of the daily routine on their young bodies.  They are much stronger physically than I could ever be.

06 April 2008
Day 4

It's my first Sunday in Macarascas and I wake up early so I could prepare for the Mass given by Fr. Chris.  I am surprised when he calls all April celebrants to be blessed at the end of the Mass and before long, I am fielding questions from curious kids about my upcoming birthday.  I see them a bit hopeful that I might be celebrating it during my stay in the place, and I truly wish I could celebrate my birthday in this tiny piece of heaven with the kids, but I have to be back in the capital by the 18th and so cannot indulge the kids.  Our academic tutorials continue today, as we all try to bring the kids' English skills up to par with what's expected from their age.

07 April 2008
Day 5

Early morning signaled the start of the trip to Snake Island in Honda Bay.  Hallelujah for a mobile signal, as I am finally able to talk to family and friends since arriving here; Macarascas (where the dorm is) is nestled within the mountains and only the Globe network reaches that; ironic that as we move to the sea, the Smart network is the one with the signal instead.  Anyway, we take a quick brunch, then I proceed to dive into the water for some snorkeling and feeding the fish with monay (small buns of bread).  I have no sunblock with me and before long, I am the color of almost-burnt toast, but I don't care because I am having the time of my life.  The fact that the corals were a bit damaged and bleached was a sad fact to contend with, but my spirits were revived by the amazing variety of marine life that was present.  A quick lunch in one of the huts interrupted my water activities but not long and I was back in the water, encouraging the other volunteers to go in.  My inner water baby literally came out, and I enjoyed swimming around, feeding more fish with bread, avoiding sea urchins, and trying to catch the bigger fish.  When I finally get out of the water, my skin is painful and I congratulate myself on my first ever sunburn.

Later in the afternoon, we go to Sabang Beach, some three hours' drive into the forest from Honda Bay.  The afternoon light was fast fading, and most of us were a bit damp from the experience of Snake Island, so we began to get chilled by the airconditioning unit of the van.  Out came our sarongs, and we tried to catch some sleep, to no avail.  Everywhere around us rose mountain cliffs and thick forests and endless fields; we were too busy trying to take photos to rest.  Eventually the sun dipped and we found ourselves in the forest path in the dark.  The van was starting to get strangely quiet as my fellow volunteers started taking their naps or just conserving energy. 

Around that time, one volunteer asked me to close the sunroof, because apparently elementals were already frightening our co-volunteer who had a third eye.  A glance at her confirmed that she was indeed already seeing the creatures I couldn't see; I couldn't see if she was already crying from fear.  Apparently too, some elementals hitched a ride on the van, for the van's bottom was scraping the rough road underneath-something that we never experienced before.  When we arrived at the resort later, my co-volunteers were talking about the unusual number of people who were walking in the forest at that time of the day, when it was so dark already.  "Many people?" I asked.  Apparently they saw more people or rather, human-like creatures along the road, when I could see none.  I was quite disturbed by my co-volunteer's recollection that these creatures' feet did not quite touch the ground, and that we also passed some doppelgangers along the way, who took the form of the actual people we had passed minutes before.  Well, moving on...

We stayed in a resort oddly named 'Green Verde.'  For dinner we had tinolang manok (err. chicken in stock with green papayas and sili leaves) and sinigang na baboy (pork in tamarind broth with vegetables) and heaping servings of rice.  It was so pleasant eating our dinner in a hut on the sandy beach, with the sound of the crashing waves breaking the monotony of the cries of  nocturnal creatures.  I wanted to take a dip in the beach, but there were no lights to guide me in, and I was warned that the electricity (the generator, actually) was always turned off at 10 PM.  Our driver/tourist guide, sensing my disappointment, told me to look up to the skies--and there, the skies of Palawan held me in awe.  In Manila, I could never see the starts anymore because of the pollution, but on this island, the entire firmament was mine.  I could probably never aptly describe the tremendous beauty of the black skies punctuated with the diamonds that were the stars.  For one blessed hour, I stood and stared at the sky, with the moving satellites and airplanes interrupting my view at times.  I was surrounded by the looming mountains, the crashing sea and the starry sky, and I was truly and irrevocably at peace.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Palawan Diaries Part One

03 April 2008
Day 1

Waking very early to get to the Centennial Airport for an 0800H flight today had the words "WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!" stamped all over it.  Rising on an ungodly hour of a weekday after an hour of sleep brought back memories conveniently stowed away for two weeks already; yours truly was supposed to be hibernating the summer away, after a very colorful year of med school, after all.  The realization that Palawan was waiting, coupled with the threat of expensive rebooking fees banished all thoughts of procrastination, and before long, yours truly was on a flight to a remote area nestled in the forests that needed so much help.  Friends and extended family members thought that yours truly was on a "burn-out" holiday, replete with sandy beaches, shopping, sightseeing, and stamped passports.  If only they knew.

The window seat afforded a view of the billowing clouds, the shimmering sea in all its azure beauty, the uninhabited (by humans, of course) islands still lush and green, numerous sand bars that would disappear in the tide, and the raging morning sun.  The sight of the Taal volcano waiting in stillness brought a smile to my face and memories of Geo 11 flooding from my mind, and I promised myself I would go back there someday to again reach its inner cauldron.  Trying to make sense of the shapes of clouds took away most of the time and the boredom on the hour long flight; I imagined cherubs playing among the plains of clouds at 30000 feet and pantheons of long forgotten gods of mythology chasing each other amidst screams, laughter, and bliss.  Otherwise, I was bored silly trying to imagine myself in the pilot's seat as the plane banked left and right on its flight path, observing the flight attendants' manners and appearances, or trying to sneak a peek at other passengers as we all bounced to the mild turbulence some minutes before approaching the island.

The army band playing tunes amidst the light rain to welcome tourists

As we descended from the aircraft, we were greeted by the sight and sound of an army band playing some sort of music.  I tried to look for any possible dignitary or self-styled rich brat/diva who was flying with us, as I thought that would be the only reason for such a welcome to be staged at the dingy airport; apparently the army band would play such tunes to welcome visitors of each flight to Palawan.  (I don't know if the situation in Palawan is so peaceful that the armed forces would have nothing much to do, except for making some token patrols around the area and entertaining tourists as such.)  All my worries were almost washed away by such a welcome, except that I couldn't find my luggage in the carousel.  My bad, because I forgot to put luggage tags on the all-black sack; next time, I promised to bring luggage in the loudest neon colors with swirls of glitter or a barrage of prints so that I'd find it easier to locate my stuff.

After an hour's wait for another member of the volunteer group who arrived an hour later on another flight (Air Philippines apparently does not serve merienda, as she reported to us PAL passengers who cackled on the sight of peanuts, biscuits and juice), we made our way to the nearest Jollibee to eat lunch.  All the while I was expecting to be fed kalabasa (squash), ampalaya (bitter gourd), or sitao (yard long beans) with plenty of rice, but apparently our hosts wanted us to 'enjoy' ourselves in our first day, hence the fast food lunch.  It was interesting to note that Jollibee reigned in the city, as I observed couples in their tweens sharing sundaes, families with babies  screaming for Chickenjoy (rice + fried chicken + gravy) and sweet spaghetti, senior citizens nibbling on pancit palabok, and adults wolfing down burger steaks with extra rice.

After a dash to the supermarket to buy last minute groceries, we proceeded to the Crocodile Farm.  After a short tour and lecture on crocodiles and crocodiles in Palawan in general, we went to see the wildlife inside the preserve.  I saw the crocodile hatchlings vegging out mouths open, eyes open (?) and motionless in the pens permeating with the awful smell of rotting fish; crocodiles, I learned as we walked on, were nocturnal creatures and ate a lot of raw fish.  The guide cheerfully informed us to keep our cameras outside the pens, as baby crocodiles were known to jump for cameras and mobile phones held over their pens, mistaking the gadgets for food.  We emerged from the crocodile pens to see the thick forest around us.  The preserve had all sorts of wildlife within; bear cats, cuckatoos, ostriches, etcetera.  Reminded of the dangers of malaria, I proceeded to apply insect repellant and went around the foot paths to see the other animals who were apparently asleep or in hiding.  After wandering around, I went to the hut where visitors could hold a baby crocodile for photos.

We arrived late afternoon in the dormitory, where we were warmly welcomed and given a short tour of the place.  I could see the kids looking at us shyly or greeting the volunteers who had previously gone in the place.  We were introduced to the volunteers, the parish priest, the kids, and the sisters.  Bags in tow, we went to what was fondly known as Bahay Ganda (House of the Beautiful) located outside the main area, within the lot that likewise housed the Boys' Dorm.  We (ten volunteers) were to spend the next several nights in the nipa and bamboo hut, armed with mosquito nets, cotton blankets, and our makeshift pillows. 

After some time, a bell signalled the start of dinner, simple yet delicious and oh-so-fresh.  The welcome program by the kids was started right after, and then we spent almost an hour discussing our plans for academic tutorials, interest groups and other activities.  I receive the shocking news that instead of science and mathematics, I am to teach English; apparently the kids' really needed help on the basics of English comprehension.  The entire volunteering experience would entail us teaching the dormers the very basics of the English language.  I am uneasy, disappointed and bummed; I'm not exactly the best person to go to for grammar, elocution, or whatnot.  I came here with the expectations of teaching Science and nothing else; it seems that there is a huge communication gap between the people who invited me to volunteer and the actual volunteers who ran the place.  I contemplate catching the first plane home the very next day, but what the hell, I couldn't waste money on rebooking fees just yet, and I've never backed down from being slapped with the subtle hint that I might not be needed after all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Not content with our semi-bucolic village hamlet in the suburbs of Manila, yours truly has decided to take a vacation take a trip to a very rural/pastoral/rustic/arcadian place where only one network has any semblance of a mobile signal, where you actually pump water out of a well to take a bath or a dump under the stars, where you cross some rice paddies or jump islands to get from home to home, and where you ride on the roof of a jeepney (picking up the pigs and furniture and produce that go inside the jeepney) to get to the main city.

Adiós! Au revoir! Slàn leat!

P.S. Let's see if I get LJ withdrawal symptoms. :P

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bubblegum Ice Cream

I cannot remember the brand of ice cream that came out with the bubblegum flavored treat many years ago.  The color was mint green and pink, and the plastic cone shaped container contained a gum ball at the bottom.  The frozen treat was discontinued for a while and during that long dry stretch of the bubblegum ice cream missing from supermarket freezers, yours truly turned to Dipping Dots for a dose of bubblegum goodness.

Coffee crumble and pistachio and mint chocolate chip still rank above bubblegum in the scale of my favorite flavors, but ice cream is ice cream.  Bubblegum ice cream is special.  Bubblegum ice cream brings me back to happier days.  Never mind that the milky treat is full of artificial colors and flavor; bubblegum ice cream is bubblegum ice cream.  It's comforting and as indulgent as, say, cotton candy.

Naturally, a cone made me very happy for today.

♥ Ice cream is love. ♥

Monday, March 24, 2008

Yes, This.

It's so beautiful to wake up on a Monday, without any trace of worry or without a barrage of stressful thoughts to send my sympathetic nervous system into high gear.  No quizzes, no long exams, no assignments, no books to read, no manuals to complete...nothing.  It's so ironic that perhaps the lecturers/professors are now the ones scrambling over tons of paper or losing sleep over the workload (our grades) that they have to compute those and submit it by deadline.

And I won't think of grades even now.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Cortical Spreading Depression

1. Wake up with a killer migraine.

2. Take one shifting exam with head feeling like it could explode anytime.

3. Try everything to ameliorate pain.  Eat a good nutritious meal, drink two liters of water, keep self in ambient temperature, get eight hours of sleep, do deep breathing exercises, take painkillers, stop reading your handouts and books, keep self in horizontal position, and close eyes against the migraine's aura.

4. Cringe as pain continues to pulsate and migraine aura intensifies.  Restrain self from chucking up the food, water and meds-the toilet bowl need not be your best friend.

5. Watch in horror as BP (normally 90/60) shoots up to 130/100.

6. Take mega-dose of Ibuprofen and start praying the rosary.

7. Try to sleep against the pain.  Place sleep mask over eyes to shut out the dancing stars, the blinking lights, and ribbons of colors associated with the pain.  Distract self from thoughts of an impending cerebrovascular accident or a possibility of a brain tumor.

8. Wake up with a sore head.

9. Remember that you weren't able to go over your notes and text for the shifting exam and the final exam in another subject.

10. Sigh and say, "Oh well, I'm just experiencing the complexities of life."

What is wrong with my brain?  Something triggered a cortical spreading depression that led to release of inflammatory substances that irritated my trigeminal nerve roots that translated to the mammoth migraine.  I can only sigh with regret because the migraine occurred while I was taking the exam for my favorite subject, and my head was still sore (and devoid of some necessary bits of information) when I took the exam for my second favorite subject.

Maybe they were right in saying I'm stressing myself too much trying to read the material when I can always read the samplex instead.  (And darn, those two exams were mostly samplex-based.)