Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions for 2012

It has been an awesome year. As 2011 is ending, I can't keep Beyonce's song out of my mind:

I wanted you bad, I'm so through with it,
'Cause honestly you turned out to be the best thing I never had,
You turned out to be the best thing I never had,
And I'm gonna always be the best thing you never had,
Oh yeah, I bet it sucks to be you right now!

Somehow I picture myself as a sexy, beautiful woman in a see-through white lace lingerie belting out that song with a glimmer in her eyes and a big smile on her face. Ahahahahaha, boy, it feels soooo good to be over someone. Especially if the telenovela fantasy drama of your life has been five years of unrequited love, based merely on your irrational and delusional dreams to make a bestselling novel out of your life. The result: you break your heart but eventually became that strong, successful, wise woman you are now. Ahahahaha, I feel even more divalicious than Beyonce.

So as this year is ending, I took advantage of the relative peace and quiet of my "apartment" at the Cardiovascular complex of the hospital where I work in and made a list of the things I resolve to change in my life for 2012. Here are some of them...

1. Look and feel beautiful all the time. Wear more make-up. Upgrade my wardrobe and dress up fabulously. Buy sexy lingerie. Wear heels and learn how to walk on them like a Victoria Secret supermodel (I have Superbass and Moves Like Jagger playing on my iPod while I type this, that's why). Get regular pedicures, and facials, and hair treatment. Basta, feel like that beautiful, sexy woman I really am.

2. Live healthy. This has been my struggle ever since forever. But this year, with my age going up and my metabolism slowing down, I need to take this more seriously. Eat more greens and fruits. Stop eating red meat. Maintain my regular jogs along Roxas Boulevard. Get enough sleep. Drink enough fluids. Stop drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.

3. Think healthy. Be more optimistic. Trust people. Trust my God. Believe in miracles. Stop thinking that I'm fat because I'm not! Ahahaha.

How about you? Any new year's resolutions?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Scales Don't Lie

Today, after weeks of denial, I finally faced one of my greatest fears - the weighing scale. I've been neglecting my one-year-old diet and exercise regimen (consisting mostly of twice weekly jogs along Roxas Boulevard and moderate food intake) since September this year. After losing 8 kilos since early 2010, I've vowed to never exceed my normal body mass index (BMI) again. However, due to sheer carelessness and my inertia that seems to be certainly heading towards slothdom, it's been several months since I've completely lost my resolve to be healthy. I've stopped looking at the scales, however, citing the "what-you-don't-know-won't-hurt-you" clause in my book of personal laws.

This morning, I woke up feeling bloated and heavy. I looked at myself in the mirror and observed a resurrection of my ugly belly fat and lovehandles (which were never lost, just became a bit more trimmed). My recent attack of hypersensitivity to jellyfish stings which I got from my recent trip to Puerto Galera made me look even uglier. I had welts, scratch marks, and wheals all over my body. I found myself really disgusting that I almost vomited. And then the clincher moment came. I was supposed to wear my Cardiology shirt for a dance number. I tried but it just wouldn't fit me anymore.

And so, full of self-loathing, I finally decided to check my weight. Lo and behold (but not surprisingly), I weighed 3 kgs more than my weight in November this year. This is 5 kgs more than my weight exactly a year ago when I finally achieved my normal BMI. After months of dieting and running by the bay, I'm almost back to my old weight. More than one year if hard work now brought to waste.

I tried to justify my rapid and rather shocking weight gain, conjured up reasons that might have aggravated the sudden change of the scales. Since my allergic attack, I've been self-medicating on steroids, but only for a few days. As a doctor, I know that even a few days of high-dose steroids won't give me 3 kgs. Yes, this could be PMS. I'm nearing my period and this may be the stage of water retention. But still, 3 kgs is just too much to be simply attributed to PMS. Not even to constipation. Or the weight of the jeans I was wearing when I weighed myself.

The simple truth has to be faced. It's the lechon, the countless bags of chips, the bars of chocolate, the plates of rice, the slices of cake, the slabs of meat, the buffet breakfasts, the tubs of ice cream that I mindlessly consumed the past 3 months. If only I could vomit them all out now, I would. But of course, there's the steroids, the PMS and the constipation.

If only anorexic is something I could will myself to be. I'm already conditioning my mind to be an anorexic now. Think Victoria Secret models. Think Miss Universe. Think America's Next Top Model.

I'm not eating. Starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Procrastination, Atbp.

Ever since I started fellowship for Adult Cardiology in March 2009, sinabi ko na sa sarili ko na mag-aaral na talaga ako. Pano ba naman, ang dami dami ko nang kinuhang exam, di pa rin ako nagbago. Hindi pa rin ako marunong mag-aral. Nung 2004, nung kumuha ako ng board exams para sa Medicine, habang ang iba ay nagkakaroon na ng eye bags sa kakapuyat sa pag-aaral, hindi pa rin nagbago ang study habits ko. Tulog at 10 PM, gising by 4am para mag-aral, then nap at 10 am, then aral uli by 12 pm, then nap ulit by 3 pm, then aral ulit by 6 pm. Ganun. Mas marami yata ang tulog. Unimaginable for someone taking the board exams. But that's what worked for me. Pumasa naman ako. At swerte pa, kasama pa sa top 20.

Ganun din sa board exams ng Internal Medicine. Habang yung iba kong ka-batch ay off na by December 15 for a January 27 exam, ako ay nagtrabaho pa rin. Binigyan lang ako ng leave 2 weeks before the exam para tumutok sa aming librong si Harrison's. Pero di pa rin nagbago ang study habits ko. Di ko pa rin kayang magpuyat. Kung dalawin ako ng antok, natutulog ako. Sa kabutihang palad ulit, maayos naman ang kinalabasan. Sa di pagmamayabang, nasa 98th percentile naman ang beauty ko. So masaya na ako.

Sabi ko sa sarili ko, this time, for the Cardiology Boards, hindi pwedeng half-hearted aral lang. Since this is probably my last board exams ever, kelangan bonggang bongga ang performance ko dito. Dapat topnotcher (char!). Di pwedeng pasang awa lang. Di pwedeng ligwakin ng Heart Center o kaya St. Luke's ang PGH. Kelangan kinakareer ang-aaral para dito.

Pero heto. Naluma na yung Braunwald 8th edition ko. Iilang chapters pa lang ang nabasa ko. Ngayon may bago na namang edition. Di ko pa rin nababasa. Kaya tuloy pirated version na lang ang binili ko. Baka kasi masasayang ko na naman. Three months na lang, I will be done with my fellowship. Finally. Time to jumpstart my life. But before I do that, I would need to pass my final hurdle - the adult cardiology specialty board exams this coming April 2012. Pero sa halip na mag-aral, iba ang ginagawa ko. Halimbawa na lang ay ang mga sumusunod:

1. Paghahanap ng lalaki - Nabanggit ko na sa previous post ko. No further elaborations are needed.

2. Paghahanap ng promo fare at pagpapalano ng bakasyon - Syempre naman. After 7 years of residency and fellowship training, I couldn't wait to go on a long vacation. Gusto kong mag-adventure ulit. After Batanes in 2009, I want to backpack around Palawan. I want to explore every town, including Cuyo and Cagayancillo. Pero pipe dream naman yata yan. Hindi dahil kelangan ko mag-aral, but dahil wala akong enough na pera.

3. Pagsasayaw kasama ang mga histrionic na Cardio fellows - Lahat ng party, my sayaw. At dapat bongga. Ayan, di tuloy nakakapagbuklat man lang ng Braunwald.

4. Pagiisip ng mga linya ng kanta - Halimbawa... Braunwald ka ba, (kasi naman kasi), pinapaikot mo ang utak ko (naman kasi). Defib ka ba (kasi, kasi) kinukuryente mo ang puso ko (naman kasi). Atropine ka ba (kasi, kasi) you make my heart go faster. PVC ka ba, e di PVC rin ako para couplet tayo. MI ka ba (kasi, kasi) nagcacardiogenic shock ako sa ├Żo.

Haaay. Ang hirap ng maraming inaatupag. Pero mas masaya naman ang ganitong buhay, di ba? Pag namatay ako, di naman siguro ninyo ako tatanungin ko ilang pages ng Braunwald ang binasa ko. Pero maaalala nyo yung mga byahe ko, o ang mga kanta kong ginawa (char!). Besides, kung nag-top ako dun sa mga dati kong exam, baka pag nag-aral ako this time, di na ako magtotop (Tama! Ako na!).

Bukas, mag-aaral na ako. Promise.

(Vtach ka ba (kasi, kasi) you are really really hard to catch. Stet ka ba (kasi, kasi) you know I can't rounds without you. Pa-protime nga (aahaaah) para laging nasa target kita. Pa-bypass nga (aaaahaaah), para laging nasa bedside kita...)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Maginoo Pero Medyo...

Maginoo, pero medyo lang. I'm changing my requirements for an ideal guy. After countless encounters with those tall, mysterious, smart, courteous, men-you-can-bring-home-to-daddy types, I'm giving up. Wala pa rin naman kasing nangyayari. Despite all the batting of eyelashes, the flicking of the hair, the exposing of the neck, the constant flashing of my trying-hard toothpaste-commercial smiles, he still doesn't fall for my trap. Kulang pa rin.

Bakit? Smart naman ako? And di naman ako pangit (sabi nung tricycle driver kanina). And for crying out loud, sinubukan ko namang maging malandi. True, kulang pa siguro ang efforts ko. Nung tumitig sya sa mga mata ko, napapatingin ako palayo. Masyado kasing intense. Di ko kaya, nakakalunod. One time pa, this really cute guy I met out-of-town brought me home to my hotel. We were both drunk. I meant drunk enough to lose some inhibitions but not drunk enough to lose interest in, ehem, you know. When we were saying goodbye, he stepped a bit closer and my manang-signals suddenly screeched and turned awry. All I did was grimly pat his back and say, "Thanks for the great time, (pare)." Putcha! Ang loser!!! When he walked away, I was like, whaaattthe!!!

Nakakaloka. Ayan tuloy. Because of all my whining and all my bitching about my inner manang and my eternal singlehood, sabi nung co-fellow ko frigid daw ako. Pwe!!! Frigid, grrrr. Di naman yata. Frigid ba ako? I looked up the word in the dictionary and ang meaning pala nun ay "unresponsive and inhibited" in carnal matters. Uhhmmm, talaga? Leche namang buhay 'to, oo. What am I supposed to do then? Kung may nabibiling perfume na may mga pheromones, bibilhin ko na yun at gagawin kong pampaligo. Siguro kelangan ko ng sign sa noo ko saying "NOT FRIGID!". Hmmmm, kukuha ako ng account sa eharmony, sa, or sa, or sa adultfriendfinder. Baka may mabingwit akong foreigner na mayaman na aggressive. Masubukan nga.

Ayoko na ng mga shy. Ayoko na ng masyadong seryoso, kahit yung may sense of humor pero masyado namang gentleman, ayoko na rin. Of course, OK naman kung mabait. Pero mas OK yata yung medyo may angas rin. Yung di nahihiyang humingi ng goodnight kiss. Yung mga gumagamit ng mga korning pick-up lines paminsan-minsan. Yung mapapailing ka na lang dahil sa sobrang kapreskohan.

Ang hirap naman kasi kung ang lalaki ay masyadong mabait. Ikaw pa ang kelangan mag-effort. Kulang na lang, sabihin mo out loud, "Hey kuya, pwede mo akong hawakan." Hmp! Di ako demure, pero ayoko naman sabihin yun. Syempre, kelangan may konti pa ring kahinhinan.
Sabi nga nila, people put up walls so they will know who will be strong enough to break them. Sige, next time, I'll make my walls really really low, made of kawayan instead of concrete.

Hay naku. Baka kelangan mag-enroll sa personality class. Or magpalagay ng silicone sa boobs, or magpalagay ng pwet, or magpa-lipo. Or magbasa ng sangkatutak na mga libro on seduction. Or lumipat na lang sa Saudi. Sabi kasi sa news, dun daw ang may pinakamataas na male to female ratio. Di ba the more entries you send, the more chances of winning? Or magpa-change na lang kaya ako ng kasarian. Kung lalaki ako, baka may mahuli pa akong sing-gwapo ni Piolo.

Sabi ng mga friends ko, kelangan ko lang daw kasi is "to put myself out there". Eto na. I'm already out here. Last ditch attempt. Pushed against the wall na. Eggs under fire, nearing expiration date. I'm putting it in writing. Kelangan ko ng lalaki. Kahit hindi gwapo, basta marunong mag-spelling at di jejemon mag-text. Kahit di matalino pero nagbabasa naman ng konti ng libro. Kahit di marunong kumanta basta kilala ang Beatles. Basta ba lalaki. Kahit walang abs, kahit malakas mag-extra rice. Basta lang di nanlalalaki.

Desperada na ba? Ah basta, sana dumating ka na, kuya! And remember, OK kung maginoo ka, pero mas OK rin kung medyo lang.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Prognosticating the Last Frontier

(This is my attempt to justify my frequent gallivanting to the Philippines' last remaining Paradise - Palawan, I love! I was assigned by the Philippine Heart Association to make an article about Palawan, which is a cross between a travelogue and a medical eye-opener. Here it is.)

It is known among Filipino travelers that anyone who visits Palawan can never resist its charm. This phenomenon is called Kambak-Kambak syndrome, where visitors to Palawan inevitably fall in love with the place and invariably desire to come back. Some would even choose to stay there for good. This is not surprising since Palawan is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the country, perhaps even the world. Touted by the National Geographic as one of the Top 20 Best Trips for 2011, Palawan boasts of pristine beaches, secluded lagoons, magnificent limestone karst cliffs, lush rainforests, and coral reefs with the highest biodiversity.

My addiction with Palawan began in 2010, after witnessing a number of my friends acquire the legendary Kambak-Kambak Syndrome. At that time, I had already roamed around perhaps half of all the provinces of the Philippines, but I’ve never set foot in Palawan. Being a low-budget traveler, I had this notion that traveling to Palawan was expensive. My friends convinced me otherwise. While there are some luxurious, extravagant, and ridiculously expensive resorts in Palawan, there are more budget-friendly, rustic accommodations that cater to backpackers like me.

So in 2010, I brought my backpack and my camera and decided to experience Palawan. My first trip was to Puerto Princesa, to explore the famous St. Paul’s Subterranean River (also called the Puerto Princesa Underground River), chosen by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and the Philippines’ only bet for the selection of the New Seven Wonders of Nature that will conclude at the end of 2011. True enough, I went back to Palawan after barely three months, and then came back again, and again.

Palawan is the largest province of the Philippines, with a total land area of almost 15,000 square kilometers. It comprises almost 2,000 kilometers of coastline stretching across 1,768 islands. Because of this huge land area, Palawan is the 2nd province in the Philippines with the lowest population density (the number one being Batanes). Notable destinations in the province include the Calamianes Islands, the biggest of which are Busuanga and Coron. Also famous, especially among foreign travelers, is the Bacuit Archipelago located in the town of El Nido in the northern part of Palawan. The town of San Vicente, midway between Puerto Princesa and El Nido, has picturesque white-sand beaches that stretch for miles, perfect for the world-weary soul who needs to rest from the stresses of the city. South of Puerto Princesa are the towns of Narra and Aborlan, with verdant rainforests and unspoiled waterfalls. Other interesting destinations include the southern towns of Brooke’s Point and Bataraza and the quaint, mysterious island-towns of Cuyo and Cagayancillo over the eastern side of Palawan Island.

The city of Puerto Princesa, despite being a bustling metropolis, is an ecotourism destination by itself. It is the 2nd biggest city in the Philippines in terms of land area (next to Davao), and is consistently among the cleanest and most peaceful cities in the country every year. Dubbed as a “city within a forest”, it has a charming mix of the energy of urban life in a laid-back, leisurely pace. There are a variety of activities that would suit any kind of traveler – Ugong Rock climbing for the adventurous types, dolphin-watching, island hopping and beach-bumming at Honda Bay for those who just want to relax, hiking across the Monkey Trail toward the underground river in Sabang for those who want to rough it up, banca ride along a mangrove swamp in Poyuy-Poyuy River in Sabang for those who want some peace and quiet. I recently watched the fireflies along Iwahig River (it was a surreal experience) and fed the fishes at Pandan and Snake Islands at Honda Bay (which was awesome in a giggly way). Definitely, I’m coming back for more!

During my last visit to the province, I had the opportunity to meet doctors from the Palawan Provincial Health Office. It was then that I learned that despite the many accolades bestowed upon the natural wonders of the province, much remains to be done in terms of improvement of the health situation of the Palawenos. Because of the sheer magnitude of Palawan’s land area, the number one problem remains to be the lack of access to health services for a significant portion of the population. The province of Palawan has 23 municipalities (including Kalayaan town in the Spratlys Group of Islands which has a population of 300). Some of these towns remain doctorless, with health facilities being manned only by a town nurse or a lay barangay health worker.

According to Dr. Louie Ocampo, Chief for Planning and Research of the Palawan Provincial Health Office, Palawan is considered by the Department of Health as a Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area (GIDA), where the most common health concerns are still communicable diseases such as malaria and infectious diarrhea. While the incidence of non-communicable and lifestyle-related diseases is increasing particularly in the more urbanized areas, the main focus of the government is still on basic problems such as maternal and child health and malaria eradication. The lack of skilled manpower and the sparse population spread over a great distance prove to be the biggest hindrances to improvement of health services in the province.

One of the islets in El Nido town. Tour packages are standardized, and these include a guide, boat trip to a specified set of islands, and a sumptuous lunch of seafoods by the beach. El Nido, November 2010.

A fisherman faces Ulugan Bay at day break. Sabang, Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Palawan’s fishing grounds are among the richest in the Philippines, supplying more than 30% of commercial fish output in the country.

Experimenting with 30-second exposure while watching the fireflies along Iwahig River. Not as pretty as the fireflies but pretty enough for posting. Iwahig, Puerto Princesa. October 2011.

A long beach at Snake Island, one of the destinations included in a standard Honda Bay tour. Just a few meters offshore, visitors can feed the fishes with bread. There are also excellent snorkeling sites.

Sunset at Roxas town. Roxas is a 1st class municipality north of Puerto Princesa. Aside from being the urban capital of the north of mainland Palawan, it is also considered as the “Cashew Capital of the Philippines”, being the primary producer of cashew nuts for the country.

Even in urbanized Puerto Princesa, there is still a relative paucity of doctors. There is only one tertiary hospital and there are several secondary hospitals. A number of medical subspecialties are still not available and patients with diagnostic and therapeutic dilemmas would frequently travel all the way to Manila for medical consultation. At present, there are only two practicing cardiologists in Puerto Princesa: Dr. Josefina Goh-Cruz and Dr. Gilbert Paa.

With Palawan’s beauty and diverse possibilities of adventure and exploration in an ecosystem that remains relatively undisturbed, Palawan is indeed the Philippines’ Last Frontier. Sadly, this may also be true in terms of health care. Hence, the challenge lies not only in preserving Palawan’s ecology, it is also in sending brave frontiersmen and women who will change the health landscape of the province. For doctors who still do not know where to go or what to do with their lives, try Palawan. And then kambak-kambak, dare to make a difference.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Because of the wise suggestion of BOTD, I invoked the powers of piracy, downloaded the movie Flipped, and shamelessly cried several times over it like some stupid high school kid. This movie, another Rob Reiner masterpiece, is about two small-town children, the girl's waxing and waning obsession over her boy neighbor, and the boy's efforts to dodge her. Cute. In the end, it was all about a sycamore tree.

Now I want my own sycamore tree too.


If my life is one movie with a voice-over, this part of my life will be called the inventory part - that part where the main actress (me) is staring out the window with some nice music playing on the background and the narrator making a list of the wicked things men did to me. And since my life is one comedy romantic (or lack of it) movie, this part has to be full of good humor and wit, characteristic of those Rob Reiner and Cameron Crowe films that I adore.

Let me cite a few examples of these hilarious incidents. I'll limit these interactions to conversations in text messages (that means the real conversations can be funnier, geeez!). Bato bato sa langit, ang tamaan, deadma! To whom this may concern, as if binabasa 'nyo ito! Hmp! Just remember this is fiction. Just fiction, ok? (Uuuy, defensive!)

Here goes...

Incident #1.
Him: Hi Jean. Wanna have lunch?
Me (smiling while texting): Sure. :-) Why?
Him: Well, I'm hungry and I figured you're hungry too.
(nyaaay, sweet!)

Incident #2.
Him: Hey, are you free for dinner later?
Me (kilig again): Sure, but I'm still finishing rounds.
Him: OK, next time.

Incident #3.
Him: Happy birthday, Jean!
Me (kilig again): Wow, you remembered! Thanks. :-)
Him: It's my secretary's birthday and her name's Jean too.
(Oh, ok...)

Incident #4. (after an awesome day)
Me (feeling a bit flirty): Hey, thanks for coming over. I had one rare perfect day.:-)
Him: Yeah, great weather.
(Aaawww! WTF!#$!)

Incident #5. (after 6 months of no communication)
Him: Beer?
(Putcha pare, OK ka ah!)

Incident #6.
Him: Hi Jean. Do you have time for breakfast tomorrow?
Me (blushing and excited): Sure. Ano meron?;-)
Him: Wala lang. Just breakfast.
(Oo nga naman!)

And the list can go on and on. The funny thing is, I like it! Whoever the scriptwriter is, he's awfully good! I wouldn't want to change these asshole remarks into anything a bit sweeter and sappier. For boy bloggers reading this, however, just a word of caution before you use these on other women: this may not work for everyone. You might get slapped or dumped right there and then. Unfortunately for me, they work like magic. Sigh. I've flipped.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More on Mr. Endagered Species

I therefore conclude that Mr. Endangered Species must be a dragon. He's elusive, terrifying, stuff for legends, and very very rare (endangered na nga e!). Legions of folks spend their lives following their tracks, only to be disappointed, or even killed in the process. Some find him, momentarily, but he breathes fire out his nostrils, leaving the beholder charred and broken and disfigured forever.

I'm a dragon hunter myself. It's not an easy plight but oh well, I'd rather have that dragon. There were months when I've learned to live in peace and plenty, with no apparent trauma from Mr. Dragon, and then all of sudden, just when National Geographic declared dragons extinct, you find your old friend-slash-nemesis swoop down from the sky like a nasty Nazgul, setting fire to everything you've built.

Then one day, I finally managed to gather enough guts and gumption to face my dragon and tell him, without batting an eyelash, "Darn, Your Royal Weirdness. You may be endangered but you know what? You are such an ass." Ah, the royal fire-breathing ass. I feel like a knight wielding a spear to poor endangered beast's heart. I'm the great Eowyn who felled the dreaded Nazgul, hahaha, congratulate me.

Dragon got up, felt nothing, went back to Mordor to hide in the fires of Mt. Doom. And I'm, oh well, I'm still around poring over dragon fossils, and my long tedious dragon-hunting story is still ongoing, like a sappy Pinoy telenovela that refuses to end. Sigh, I have to concede. There is yet to be a "To be continued". Aaaargh.