Sunday, May 6, 2018


Proverbs 3:5-10

5Trust in the Lordwith all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.3:6 Or will direct your paths
7Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lordand shun evil.
8This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
9Honor the Lordwith your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

pardon this long sharing.

the introduction really spoke to me. this is the year, 2018, when I believe, I have come closest to putting my trust in god the most. I didn't realise that it was a long process in coming, but it did.

I love this verse, and I always remember Gary v's song, and sing this in my mind when things become difficult. though love is the means by which all good things flow, trust is necessary to this love. trust is like sitting on the passenger seat, not holding the steering wheel and letting god move things. and when this trust is present, things just flow and walking becomes easy. there is no fight. the challenge is always to stay in this state of trust and not let what we want take control. 

I believe that when i trust, god knows what we want and he provides the outcome in the best possible, surprising but wonderful way.

however, I always still pray this everyday: Lord, if it is not Your will, let it slip through my grasp and give me the peace not to worry about it.

and this: you don't need t know where you are going if god is leading.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Happiness Bubble

Do you sometimes get the feeling of being in a good place that it scares you?

Do you get the feeling that things could finally be going right, and that you are the luckiest girl and the world?  That everything, in all aspects of your life, are falling into place and moving in the right direction, without you working so hard to do it?

Do you feel that you have worked so long and hard to become that ideal person, that you are faking so hard to make it, and then one morning, you suddenly wake up and you ARE that ideal person without the effort.  And you forgot what happened in between?

Do you feel like you spent such a long time waiting for that ideal moment, and suddenly when it seems to be here, all the time wasn't all that long, all the time waiting was worth it, because finally, it is here, and it is even better than you imagined it would be?

Do you ever find yourself so lost in your own thoughts with a goofy smile on your face, laughing to yourself, thinking yourself crazy, but being unable to stop that warm, fuzzy, feeling inside anyway?

Do you every get that warm feeling in your gut that you couldn't turn off, even if you tried?

Did you every have the time when you truly said and felt that I AM SO HAPPY, and that you can't remember the last time you even thought that to yourself?

I am so happy.  I am so happy in my bubble, that I am scared in can burst into a zillion pieces, knowing that it possibly will... so I am just enjoying the moment.

Precious Nephro Moments

There are times in one's life when the moments are so precious that I just wish I could crystallise them, freeze-frame them into every DNA of my being and keep them forever.

Well, I can't so I guess the next best thing will be to write about them.

Tonight, we just concluded the 2018 Philippine Society of Nephrology Convention.  What used to be an event that filled me with such dread and sucked all the energy out of me evolved throughout the last eight years.

This year, 2018,  I saw it differently.  It was no longer a task to be done, an event to be attended, or groups of mentors to greet and to give tribute to so that they would know of your involvement or presence.  It was no longer a to list of all the singing, dancing performing because it was expected of you and you had to deliver or else shame would befall your chapter or your training institution.

I suppose how I view the convention now also reflected the change I saw in me.

 I now see the convention as a means to meet and greet new friends, reunite with the old, and tell stories in a setting where there is optimum comfort, no judgement (okay fine, meron, but we don't judge the judgement anyway!).  It is a time to genuinely get in touch with and connect with the people who have been like little lego blocks that contributed to the person that I am today.

I now see the convention as an outlet of the creativity and talent that would otherwise remain dormant  when one is caught up in treating the patients.  Sometimes, in the everyday world of medicine, the doctor tends to forget that he or she is also a person with creative juices flowing within.  This creativity is squelched, or becomes dormant because of the need to be more logical and scientific in treating the patients.  Because of the brief pause from clinical practice and the milieu of frustrated creativity or the pressure from friends, the various outlets like singing, dancing, photography, drawing, story telling comes out.  Not because of necessity.  But because of love.  One is not limited to becoming a doctor.  Being a doctor is just a part of the living, breathing persons we are.  We are not limited to the science.  We are science and art in one.

I now see the convention as time standing still to be spent with family members.  Families at buffet breakfasts.  Families with little kids swimming in the hotel pool.  Families watching fellowship nights, watching their mothers model, cheering their fathers on for presidencies that were done, sons watching their mothers handle the logistics.

I now see the convention as an avenue for learning.  This is true during the sessions, when one listens to the speakers, but also holds true for the various catch-ups, exchange of stories and experiences about patients, management and everything in between.

I now see the convention as a time to say thank you to all the people who have influenced us to change and grow, to figure out what is important, to redirect our path to align with our every changing priorities.  It is also an opportunity to look back at what we were, appreciate it, and move on to what we will be.

Thank you colleagues and friends for the wonderful convention this year.  I love being a nephrologist.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Entanglement of Gen Med RTDs

It’s been a long time since I attended a Gen Med RTD. I found that it is the disadvantage (or maybe an advantage !) of being in a government institution.  Most often,  I just attend nephro events which I find more intimate and more relevant in my life.

However, I was duped just this week when a very kind Med Rep (yes the recipe for disaster) persistently invited me to a nutrition symposium.  Not thinking (yes, another ingredient for the recipe of disaster!), I was ready to say no because the venue was so far.  The Med Rep, whom we shall kindly call Poy, smoothly replied that there would be transportations and that I would be billeted in makati Shang Rila hotel.

All my resolve to say no suddenly disappeared with her kindness and her billeted-ness.  Given that I proceeded to make plans to invite SAFM, BOTD and hallokathy to my billetedness.  We resolved to eat drink and be merry.

Little did I realize that the event fell on the same day as the PSN pre convention!  Little did I realize that I needed to be at EDSA shang (not makati Shang!) post billeted-day to receive the PSN award (yes that for another post). Little did I realize hay this summit would entail around a thousand guests, that he pharmaceutical over-invites people, that I would be forced to sit through 5 lectures, and that I would have a toxic post cardiac surgery Icu patient that I would be managing via satellite q1 minute.  Little did I know that I would still have to cram slides for a PSN meeting!

Lesson learned :  wag na mag pa PO sa mga Gen Med RTD.  Sayang sa time, sayang sa pagod.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Room of Fear

I walk into a coffee shop in a rush, trying to get as much work as i can do before my yoga and plana class that i have missed for two weeks.  Usually, I step into a neighborhood coffee shop near the studio.

Something now seems to be different.  The room is full.  Many twenty somethings frantically reading, highlighting, trying to keep awake and sane.

It is a scene I am all too familiar with.  All of a sudden, there is a wave of recognition, nausea and vomiting that came over me.

It is the week in between the two weekends of the physician licensure examination!  And i remember I took mine 11 years ago!

I look at the trainees and those studying with pride for the medical school and internship that they have finished.

I look at them with pity for the weeks, months and years that they still have to go through educating themselves.

I look at them with envy for all the choices they can make and the possibilities that lie before them.

I look at them with encouragement for all the hardships that they will go through.

I cheer them on silently and pray that they may continue on this path because though difficult, it is rewarding.

Carry on!  I hope to one day welcome you as colleagues so that we can all work together to try to better the health situation of our country.

God bless!

I would like to take this moment to recognize and thank my board mates:  queen and frichmond.  I don't think i could have survived this period without you and that every reliable cup of starbucks coffee!

Sometimes, God is really Funny!

*warning, cheesy post.

Going on vacation now and meeting a lot of my old friends, they say that my skin looks so good.  Yes, I did have especially terrible skin in med school, when my face was all blotchy, even with all the topical and ORAL medications.  Imagine that.  It must have been stress, lack of exercise, lack of sleep or lack of beauty regimen.

Since I always associated myself with blotchy skin, I always open my eyes in wide surprise every time people say that my skin looks great!

Reflecting on this, I realize that it really is exercise.  However, I think a big part of it is I worry less about things and lean more towards acceptance and appreciation of life.  I just go on trips, enjoy what is handed to me.  And this year, I was handed a lot!  I am in a pretty good place.  When people ask me how I would rate my life, I often say nine out of ten.  And when they ask, what makes the missing one point, I would always reply, “the one!”

Yes, I have come to be more graceful, but there are moments of challenge.  In this trip to Sydney, particularly, I was surrounded by a lot of retired couples going back packing or touring.  You see these fifty year olds and sixty year olds holding osteoarthritic hands with their hunched over osteoporotic backs having the time of their lives.  Dressed comfortably in tees, shorts and rubber shoes, they would brave the falls, take dips in natural pools, climb walkways to view mountains. 

Sometimes, these retired couples would have grand children with them,

And I would think to God, “Lord, magkakaroon kaya ako ng ganyan?”

Close friends would often tell me to pray the prayer, “Lord, I would want to have a family of my own, but if it is not Your Will for me, please take this desire away from me!”

Diyos ko, Lord.  15 years na ako nagdadasal, wala pa rin.

This particular trip, I wasn’t very much alone in this personal conquest.  Riding a long, three hour bus ride to Edith Falls to Darwin City Proper, I get a viber messge from my good friend Thorn, currently working her normal day in Manila.  Out of the blue, she sends me screen caps of a particular spinster in distress with the following thoughts: 

Why don’t you like being alone? 


Yes, these ever so strong words interrupt the quiet, reflective time I have been trying to have in the bus ride through the dry, savannahs of Australia, talking to God, but more gently about the same matter. 

And she concludes by saying, “Yan ang mga thought bubbles ko.  Ahahhahaha!”

I try to be encouraging in my reply and say, “Yes mother, currently I am wrestling with God about the same matter while in this bus ride.  Lord, kelan kaya ako magkakaroon ng ganyan (pertaining to the retired couples adventuring their way around in the bus)?”

We further discuss the matter, tackling topics like speed dating, how we are lazy to do it.

I try to supportingly give an anecdote of hope.  Upon landing in Darwin, Australia, we made friends with a 74-year old lady at the bus stop.  She goes on to tell us about her teaching career and how it was moved to Australia when she met and married an Aussie Guy. 

Her future husband apparently saw her in a coffee shop when the lady was 38 years old and in the height of her teaching career.  The man stepped on her foot so that they would meet.  After six months, the rest is history, The teacher went AWOL from one of the prestigious Universities of the Philippines, left her teaching job and moved to Australia.

I end by saying, “Mother, simple lang naman ako.  Gusto ko lang ng lalaki n aka-holding hands!”  To which we both laughed.

The next day, I am riding a van with my good friend from high school and her son.  Out of nowhere, her son, C, grabs my hand and says, “let’s to holding hands, Ninang!”

Here is a picture:

I tell my friend that the day before, I was just praying to God for a man to hold hands with.  And there you go.

Nakakatawa ka naman Lord, eh.

My friend says, “you should have been more specific!”
My sister says, “sana man lang, kasing tangkad mo!”
To which I reply, “yes sure, maybe in 18 years!”

Yes, the Lord did answer the man I got to hold hands with.  But I get this weird feeling that the Lord just wanted to make me laugh and is laughing with me.  Ah yes, humor!

But it’s all good.

Call me ideal, call me fairy-tale-y.  However, what I take home from this is that God is listening.

God answered me when I asked for the opportunity to travel all over the world.
God answered me when I asked for coffee and didn’t want to spend…I got free coffee in the airport.
God answered me when I asked for Laksa.  We had dinner at the Malaysian restaurant.
God answered me when I requested to check in all my luggage and not be overweight.  The weight of my two bags were exactly, exactly at 30 kilos.

I guess the desire to have a family is still in my heart because maybe there is still hope.

I ask for the opportunity to have husband and kids.  I hope it comes at exactly the right time.

Until then, I will just be busy, enjoying my life, laughing out loud with God and with friends.  What do you know, the best is yet to come.  Maybe just around the corner, someone will step on my foot as well!

Questions Coming Home

Exchanging a conversation with my friend’s husband, he shares that the saddest time he has is when he is in on the plane.  In those hours on flight, he feels that he doesn’t belong anywhere.  Yes, he came from the Philippines, has black hair and black eyes, speaks Filipino, but his family is all in Sydney.  His wife and son, who he feels is part of him, have a new life in Sydney where they are among Caucasians who call jacket jumper and hats beannies. 

Asking him to elaborate why he felt as if he never belonged anywhere, he said that when he comes home to the Philippines, he often feels harried when he meets up with friends back home.  He feels like he isn’t really at home because the Philippines becomes a vacation spot.  People are entertaining him.  When he is with friends they are all in a hurry because time is lacking and people are just catching up.

My brain flickered in recognition at this situation.  Despite the fact that I have lived and worked in the Philippines all my life, I see this in my day to day events too.  It may not be as extreme as going to another country, but it is true when I go to another city or another town when I meet friends who have moved to where they are. 

And then I pose this question to him:  Is this really a function of being at home or a function of age?

I don’t have an answer.

Another question I always get upon leaving a country is, “Don’t you have any plans of moving here?  Life is so good here.  Ang gulo gulo sa Pilipinas!  Baka makahanap ka ng asawa dito.” 

With this question, I have an answer, but I don’t know if I have sufficient explanation.

The thought of living in another country for good makes my skin crawl.  And not in a good way.  

Yes, if the situation would call for it, I know I can adjust.  My entire life being the middle child has been all about adjusting.   Yes, living overseas presents itself (very temptingly) with less traffic, a better transportation system and bigger pay.  There are luxuries like a washer-drier, a dish-washer, a temperature with less bugs, strawberries, blueberries, and jobs for everyone.  Particularly in Australia,  the people were very kind and family oriented.  Life is quite laid back and everyone I saw seems to be genuinely interested in helping others.

I come to the conclusion that this place of goodness comes from lack of want.  For instance,  a lady left her phone in a train, and no one even thought of getting it or stealing it because everyone had a phone and they just returned it to the authorities.

In the bed and breakfast where I stayed, everything was still in pristine condition.  Everyone who stayed wanted to keep the place nice.  They cleaned up after eating, and every thing was put back in its proper order.  No guest got an extra slice of bread from the pantry or stole rolls of toilet paper even if the cupboard was filled with them.

Everything seems better and approaches perfect.

Then why is it that I can’t go to this new and better place with a “better possibility” (or so they say) of making a happy family of my own and not being a cougar? ;) (this story for another entry!)

The sad, or maybe happy part, is there is something in every cell of my body that still wants to help the Philippines.  I am a Filipino.  I would just like work with the system, contend with the traffic, be with and relish the extended family system, eat a lot of mangoes, treat the black-eyed and black-haired person who may not have money to pay, laugh out loud, maybe deal with trash all over.  I take it all.  It seems to be grosser, more crass, more terrible.  But these conditions don’t make me uneasy or don’t make my skin crawl.

Maybe it’s because my dad and brother will never uproot themselves from this country, and I feel that I am enmeshed with them.  Maybe its because there is no pressing reason to leave (example, family abroad).  Maybe its because I love being a princess with helpers to tend to me. 

I don’t know if this explanation is sufficient or enough.  But it is what is.

So given that the conclusion that I will stay in the Philippines for now, what is the struggle?

The struggle is every time I leave, I feel a twinge of sadness and a wave of jealousy.  Why doesn’t the Philippines have water and tissue in every toilet?  Why are there beggars in the street?  Why do many people want more for themselves and less for the other?  Why is it always a competition for more resources.  And the answer I always find is that many of the people are coming from a place of want.   And there is this perceived lack of money.

The struggle is that when I go to the zoo in Sydney, I don’t just see the animals, and think “they are terrific!”  I ask myself many layers of questions.  Why is it that the zoos in the Philippines look as if they are meant to entertain the people instead of educating the kids?  Why is it that the people who tend the zoos are looked down upon compared to the professionals when probably zoo-keeping isn’t less of a job?  Why are the animals treated as animals and not afforded the rights?

When I walk ride a train, I don’t just think, “wow, this train is nice!”  I ask myself the questions:  Why can’t we get trains like these?  Why aren’t there enough trains?  Why do our trains get broken easily?  Why do people not give up their seat for the vulnerable population.

When I see my friends with their new, and nice lives, I ask, “Aren’t you really ever coming home ever?  Are you really staying here in this new country?”  I have to content myself with seeing them happy and with a good life, and thinking “it’s a good thing that travelling is more accessible these days and I have the capability to do so.”

The struggle is I always ask, “Is this impossible for the Philippines that the Filipinos feel that the only way out is to move to another country?”

I may not be that youthful anymore, but inside me, I feel that I can’t let the hope in me die that maybe, in my lifetime, or in the next, there is hope that the things first world countries consider basic would one day be basic for us as well.  That the place of want wouldn’t be as big for each person so that we can work together to improve our country.

I don’t want to feel as if I have given up on the Philippines.

Maybe this is why despite all the questions, I still choose to stay.