Monday, April 30, 2007

A Day in Intramuros

* If you are out to find a place to relax but are short in cash, go to Intramuros. From Quiapo Church, take a jeepney bearing the "Pier" sign and you'll find yourself in front of Fort Santiago in no time. (That's for a Php 7.00 fare.) Make sure you pack your lunch to guarantee minimal expenses.

* Prepare yourself for long, rewarding walks. It surely is the best way to see what the Walled City has to offer.

* Your Intramuros experience will be complete only if you share it with people who are special to you.

* And to be able to re-live the Intramuros fun and adventure, take pictures. Lots of pictures!

Pay Php 50.00 for adults or Php 15.00 for students or kids and you're up for an expedition at Fort Santiago

Plaza Moriones and Trellis welcomes the adventurers

Here we reached the official bounds of Fort Santiago, the moat that hugs its facade

Mabuhay!

Looks like a spot in Europe but it's actually in Manila. The heat is an effective reminder that it definitely is in Manila.

Zoom out and you see the massive entrance to the infamous prison cells for the Indios made especially by Spanish conquistadors

Look up and experience freedom. Look down and feel detained by the remnants of prison cells

This metallic guardia sibil looks harmless now but I bet he wasn't when he was alive!

For Php 20.00 per person you get one Kalesa ride around Plaza Moriones and Trellis.

Beyond the tunnel is a bright light that leads to the Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel.



Your Php 25.00 entitles you one candle for personal intentions like passing the board exam, finding your dream job, being blessed with perfect health, etc. I hope it won't qualify as a modern-day indulgencia.

MEMORARE - MANILA 1945 At one of the side streets of Intramuros is a sculpture that pays tribute to the casualties of war in Manila during its Battle of Liberation (Feb. 3- Mar. 3, 1945)

Old-fashioned picnic is the best way to commune with nature at low cost!

Seize the mats and re-charge for the next stops ahead.

Size does matter. Lapu-lapu, our first noted local hero, seems to say so. (I swear, his monument is scary!)

For the final stop, a snap shot with our National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.


I’ve expressed many times how I love Intramuros. It is a warp zone. It is a bend in time and space that I never get tired of visiting and revisiting whenever I can. And somehow every time I’m there, a tiny voice inside my head keeps on repeating, “Primordial sense of belonging! Primordial sense of belonging!” Well, because I really do feel like I was once a part of that place. Plus there’s the fact that I was born in Manila. I take pride in its heart.

It is the first time I went around Intramuros as a voluntary tourist, not as a student on a field trip or as a passerby. I’m lucky to have been in the best of company. My trip to Manila was almost complete and close to perfect. I’d like to thank my fellow adventurers and berks: Leng, Arjane, Joan, Jen and Joy for being part of that special day.

I’m looking forward to more trips with you!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Adventures of the One-Eyed Artist

Last weekend, I showed Nichi the Spiderman newspaper ad where all activities to promote its premiere is listed. Thursday night, he pulled out the ad which apparently he ripped from our broadsheet. After expressing his obvious interest in joining the drawing contest come the next day, he invited me to accompany him to that event. As much as I wanted to, I explained to him I can’t because I had to work. I think he understood me. He settled with going with dad who, according to Nichi, can be a bore sometimes.

Friday morning, I woke up even before my alarm clock went off. Something in my inner gut convinced me not to pass off a supposed fun day with Nichi. I decided there to take the day off from work instead and join Nichi on his adventure.

He was happy to know that I will come with him and dad to the contest. We left the house as soon as we were all set to go. He was excited all throughout.

We first had brunch then drank coffee—well, Nichi had Latte Chocolate—to kill time while the organizers of the event waited for more kid contestants.

Then came the event. And he drew alright.



Drew and drew for an hour.





It wasn’t easy. He had to draw against an unstable easel using the colored pencils provided by the organizers. Plus he had only one eye working!

Nichi said he was in it for the experience. But he got more than he wanted.



The one-eyed artist won!



Nyahaha! A sweet victory.

I am so glad to have witnessed it!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Only in My Dreams

Lately my dreams have been telling me things.

One—no make that two—just made me realize how I am irritated over someone more than thought. Which is kind of liberating. If at daytime you can’t tell someone to grow up and get a grip on that thing called responsibility, well in one’s sleep it’s actually possible. And I discovered, once again, that when I’m upset, I speak in straight English—with correct grammar, too! Unfortunately, the subtext there is that my subconscious thinks in English. What happened to my inner Pinoy?

The other dream or I think dreams are quick ones. They are more of glances—short scenes proving that I’m being haunted by a certain person, not in a creepy way but in a passive, enigmatic manner. It’s just a puzzle.

But none of those two is the reason why I woke up at 5 AM today crying and ending up with a terrible headache. Eleven hours after pulling myself out of that nightmare, I still am bothered by it. As much as I’d rather forget, sharing it may do me good. Because there has to be a reason why it wouldn’t leave my mind. For now, writing about it in my blog is the only one I could think of.

I saw Nichi against a white wall. I knew he was in pain. I approached him to wipe the beads of sweat that have formed on his bald head. Then suddenly he was on the ground. This time in more pain. He was crying. He opened his eyes and screamed, “hindi ko na kayo makita!” [I can no longer see any of you!] I saw his tears. Not clear but translucent red. Seems like blood diluted in water. Even his sweat was translucent red. I was telling him something to comfort him but I didn’t make any sense. I knew I didn’t make sense. I was engulfed with one of the most terrifying feelings in the world no words could describe.


I snapped out of it but regaining consciousness, realizing that it was just a dream didn’t make me feel any better.

I am not ready for that.

I have seen Nichi with his chemo and IT, radiation therapy, at the ICU bed, in a seizure, with collapsed veins, in terrible pain, lost one of his eyes but I am afraid I am not ready for the worst.

I will cry my eyes out. Until my tear ducts run dry. If that’s what it takes to let it go away.

Please, You up there, please make it go away.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

sTress

I got another haircut yesterday, my second haircut for this month, my third for this year. The other one I had barely two weeks ago wasn’t as “celebrated” as my latest one. I guess no one noticed that my hair was trimmed then. Everyone must have thought that I was just having a bad hair…umm…ahh…life.

You see, no one changes hair from something that gets by to something impossible to manage. So, if people noticed a change in my hair from April 14 to yesterday morning, their rationale would dictate, “Nahh! This girl just forgot to comb her hair!”

Even I wouldn’t have known that I had my hair trimmed if I weren’t the one who brought me to that salon one busy night. I remember how I had to fight my way through a crowd of clueless people out to collect free Regular Yum Burgers handed out by a group of traditional politician wannabes staging their most entertaining pambobola skills. They are the same group of trapo who held a motorcade during the morning rush, causing hundreds, if not thousands, of Pasigueños one tardy day at work. Let it be known that I was one of their victims.

And these trapo would like us to believe that they were born to make our lives better. Who are they kidding?

Going back to that post Friday-the-13th haircut. It was horrible! I had to wait for almost an hour before I was attended to. Twinkle, the guy who murdered my hair, wasn’t as enthusiastic with what he was doing as he ought to be. I see no passion in the way he brushes and snips.

He asked me what I wanted him to do yet he ended up deciding my new look. Before he cut his way to his preferred “do” for me, he lambasted my hair. He called it buhaghag and said it was thick like it were a bad thing. His “masterpiece” turned out exactly what I didn’t want my hair to become: long and with too much layers , making tying it in a neat ponytail impossible.

My hair was fine prior to me seeking Twinkle’s alleged expertise. It’s just that I wanted a change and I needed to keep things short.

Twinkle did not get a tip for mutilating my hair. Not because he didn’t have the aptitude for hairstyling. What he lacked was the attitude! And by holding back half of his heart from his job, he wasted my time and money, but in the process gave me a reason to get another haircut.

This time I had things the way I wanted them. And my hair? It’s short. Definitely short.

* * *

Here’s the deal, I would rather maintain the long locks, if not for the annoyingly hot weather. That is, granting that my hair will cooperate with me everyday. I’m afraid by sporting the short hairdo, I’d look this old again:



…or this…



…or this…



…or, worse, this…



When you see me, you be the judge.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In the Company of Doctors

I want to become a doctor someday. Unfortunately someday is now. I dreamt too late to pursue medicine. Too bad. If only I were one of those kids who thought that it’ll be cool to slash and sew people’s gut, then I might have gone with science instead of the arts.

So I was not one of those kids. But I happen to be a fan of doctors and what better way to know about them without getting sued for stalking than to turn on the TV and watch.

Doogie Howser, M.D.



As the title suggests, the series revolves around sixteen-year-old Doogie, a whiz kid turned doctor. The premise makes the story distinct as compared with all the other medical dramas out there. It has a younger take on medicine as seen on TV.

Doogie will forever be remembered as the dad of on-line journaling as he regularly ends the show updating his journal saved on his blue-screened PC. His life is spiced up by best friend Vinnie Delpino who regularly pops-out of his bedroom window, and Wanda, the girl who allegedly steals his genius heart.

Other doctors in the show are his colleagues and his dad, Mr. H. I have lost any recollection about daddy Howser. I was around nine to ten years old when this show came out and am proud to have witnessed its pilot episode one Friday in the past. But I didn’t pay much attention to guys older than Doogie. I hope Mr. H forgives me for that.

E. R.



Created by brilliant Michael Crichton, E. R. captures the cacophonic lives of the emergency room staff of Chicago County Hospital. Sometimes, characters cross over from the O. R. to the E. R. thus a somewhat variety to this weekly show.

We see Mark Greene, a dedicated practitioner of emergency medicine who constantly finds himself in a silent competition against Kerry Weaver, the by-the-book doctor with a limp. There’s also Pediatrician, Doug Ross, the Casanova, who ends up capturing Nurse Carol Hathaway’s heart. They end up having twins. Probably the youngest doctor when E. R. started was John Carter. It is amazing to watch reruns of the earlier season of the series and see how Carter has evolved to the doctor he is in the latter seasons. Of course, he got where he was with the guidance, or lack thereof, of Surgeon, Peter Benton. Benton can be obnoxious sometimes when it comes to his practice. However, throughout the series, we see that he does have a soft spot. Susan Lewis was one of the early characters to leave the show but ends up returning come the latter seasons. She’s the one who refuses to move her career up if it is in the expense of her family. Susan and Mark almost hit it off but it was Elizabeth Corday, Benton’s ex-girlfriend, who ends up marrying Mark and eventually becomes his widow. Many more doctors became part of the show but they are too many to enumerate.

I think E.R. was at its peak in 1995, the same time when I had my biology class in high school. But it wasn’t until 1998 when I started to get hooked on this series. I’ve lost count as to what season it is running these days. I no longer know who among the original cast are still there and who the new additions are. I can only assume that if E. R. is continuously airing new episodes in the States every week, then it must still be delivering something good to its loyal audience.

Scrubs



This I know little about. Scrubs is packaged as a medical comedy featuring medical interns who don’t look smart enough to be doctors.

Because of that I have judged and dismissed this show maybe too prematurely for me to dig in to any potential depth, let alone know the characters’ names. I don’t know. There’s something about Scrubs which reminds me of that old TV show called Parker Lewis Just Can’t Lose which I think is horrible!

Nip/Tuck



With several Medical shows out there, including Chicago Hope which I have never seen, the makers of Nip/Tuck diverts to the less noble side of medicine we all know as cosmetic surgery.

Here we meet Sean McNamara who is in search of the deeper purpose of his practice and Christian Troy who has no problems with the superficiality of his job. Sean insists that in between treating their patients, who reasonably and unreasonably have problems about themselves, they do probono consultations and operations for patients who are in dire need of their services yet could not afford their fee. Sean’s goodwill infects Christian, probably by virtue of diffusion, and becomes charitable himself. The plot also circulates outside their clinic as it touches on the lives of Sean’s family, headed by his desperate housewife, Julia, and son, Matt, who has a seriously striking resemblance to Michael Jackson. Plus there are the stories of Christian’s women. Being the philanderer that he is, they’re quite a number!

Although this show is not really for kids (mainly because of Christian) it has its good points to boast. However, it tends to lean on being soap opera-ish which can make healthy people sick. One unforgettable scene, though, is when Christian who’s all prepped up to become a dad, even ready to relinquish womanizing, delivers his supposedly future son. To his surprise, the baby that comes out of his supposed son’s white mother is a black infant. His facial expression was funny but what he says in the end, that—That!—is what I meant by the show having its share of good points.

House



This series is another deviation from our picture of compassionate doctors. Dr. Gregory House is as rude as he is good. (Wow, that rhymes!) He is a sick doctor who, as he admits, is perennially in pain thus his regular popping of pills. Needless to say, he works well when drugged.

House doesn’t hesitate calling his patients stupid if he has too. Nor does he have any qualms threatening a patient's life, ironically, to save him. He’s into treating his patients even before arriving with an accurate diagnosis of their disease, something which gets him into trouble especially with his boss, modern-woman Dr. Cuddy. Even with his expertise in infectious diseases, House is backed by his over-qualified staff, as his best friend Oncologist Dr. Wilson placed it. Juvenile delinquent Eric Foreman who is a House in the making, pretty boy Chase who was once on his way to priesthood, and gorgeous Cameron who seem to have a problem dealing with death comprise the brains with whom House discusses differential diagnosis with every week. Theirs are the tough cases to solve and they manage to emerge successfully, most of the time.

I almost dismissed House because its main character is too rude to be true. I still dread that one doctor out there is as bad-mannered as he is. But if his impoliteness is the price for his expertise then I’d swallow my pride and have him look at me. Still, after deciding on sticking with House, you’d see that there’s more to him than his offensive ways. There’s dedication, intellect (make that genius), humor, passion for music, eccentricity, humanity, sexiness, and if that’s not enough, heart.

Grey’s Anatomy



Probably the most famous among medical shows, thanks to its good looking cast! Grey’s Anatomy is set in Seattle Grace Hospital and the characters presented to us are surgical interns. Grey’s Anatomy is out to prove that it is not only Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte who’s getting laid. Even doctors get some, too—actually a lot. And there’s sex even outside New York!

The central character obviously is Meredith Grey, a bimbo who unknowingly sleeps with her boss on the night before her first day at work. We can’t blame her. Derek Shepherd with his two-million-dollar-a-year hands is simply hard to resist. Later, Meredith finds herself caught in Derek’s marital problems with wife, Addison Montgomery-Shepherd. Probably the thrill of having to fight for Derek makes him more attractive to Meredith who, based on her character, gets by with sleeping around. In spite of that, George O’ Malley remains a loyal admirer. Sweet George finds a best friend in Izzie Stevens, the intern who cannot seem to keep emotional distance from her patients. Such weakness broke the Izzie-Alex affair which was too bad. And we all thought Izzie will help soften Alex Karev’s arrogance! Speaking of “soften”, Christina Yang needs a lot of softening in order to become a more humane doctor. Her sexy and brilliant boyfriend Preston Burke may just lead her to the right direction. Meredith, George, Izzie, Alex and Christina are all under the watchful supervision of Dr. Miranda Bailey, also known as “the Nazi.” Despite her title, Bailey proves to be the only rational character in the mix. When everything else goes crazy, it is Surgical Chief Richard Webber who gets the ultimate headache. Poor chief!

Grey’s Anatomy is Sex and the City crossed with E. R., sprinkled with Dawson’s Creek. Sex is its major come-on. Morals or, say, lessons come as a bonus. Its humor keeps its audience amused. Its music makes it hard to forget. You don’t have to be a sucker for medicine in order to like it since its medical aspect really comes second to the lives of its characters. Still, I’d continue to watch it when I have the time if only to decompress. I mean, it somehow has a therapeutic way of entertaining which can be occasionally good.


So there you go. Now you know whom or what shows to turn to when you’re sick of your everyday bum-tarat-tarat’s and itaktak mo’s. As for me, I'd feed on these pseudo doctors' lives while I remain loyal to the arts. Well, sort of.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nichi’s Bystander

In a perfect world, kids freely dangle from monkey bars, play in sand boxes, go sliding, swinging and see-sawing until they get satisfyingly exhausted. But last Friday, I was once reminded how the world is far from perfect.

I do not really have to look far to know that not all kids are as normal as they should be. I have witnessed my bother’s battle against leukemia from 2001 to the present. Since the day he was diagnosed of the said disease, things were never easy for him.

If there’s one thing I hate about his ailment, it is the unmerciful manner in which it takes away most of his childhood. While other kids can freely go outside and play, he has to have the approval of a doctor—that his blood count is within the normal range so that it will be safe for him to mingle with other people. He is required to wear a mask to filter whatever virus he might possibly inhale. I have tried wearing a mask myself and it surely is uncomfortable.

Nichi, my brother, he continued attending a regular school not until last year when he had just started his first year in high school. He was forced to take a sabbatical due to the more intensified chemo protocol designed by his doctor to rid him of his disease once and for all. I know my brother so well that I understand how much courage it took for him to say goodbye to his teachers and classmates no matter if his farewell is just a temporary thing.

By the way Nichi shares his stories, it is apparent that the best times he’s had are those he had spent in school. He managed to enjoy his classes and the company of his classmates even if he had treatments, chemotherapy sessions and, at one time, a radiotherapy session on the side. He did well in class, too. In fact he graduated from elementary with the fifth honorable mention distinction to boast.

A major burden that goes along his disease is the pain it inflicts him. It is bad enough that he experiences headaches, muscle pains, and joint pains from time to time; he even has to face needles on a regular basis. From the time he was seven until now that he is turning 13, he has learned to handle needles, something I have a morbid fear of. These needles come in various sizes and enter his skin on different depths.

There’s that stapler-like device that pricks his fingertips to let out enough specimen used to analyze his current blood count. Then there’s the so-called butterfly and the heplock, both used for IV lines for some of his chemo drugs. If Nichi’s veins decide to show up, inserting the butterfly or the heplock on his hand will be successful at one insertion. If the veins do not cooperate, Nichi suffers several insertions until the needles assume the correct position. If the veins on his hands freak out and hide, there’s always his feet to puncture.

On a regular basis, Nichi gets an intrathecal (IT). I think it is more famously known as a lumbar puncture (LP) a process where a needle is inserted in his spine to extract a sample of his cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and to inject another chemo drug that ensures that his brain is free from leukemic cells. For the first time, I witnessed this procedure last Friday. I’ve seen Nichi undergo IT in pictures and videos but never in person. To narrate what I saw read this: a relatively fat needle, about six inches long, is inserted at Nichi’s back while he maintains a tight fetal position. (He must tuck until head touches his knees.) About four inches penetrates the body. To give you an idea how “relatively fat” the needle is, continue reading: once the needle is in place, the doctor turns its screw-like end then pulls out a long needle within the first needle which is inserted in Nichi’s back. Therefore the first needle is “relatively fat” enough to contain another needle inside. Ouch!

Sometimes Nichi undergoes a bone marrow aspiration (BMA) where a little amount of marrow is sucked out of his bone. The needle in this procedure is fat, too and the tip of the syringe where the needle is connected is made out of metal probably to make it stronger than plastic syringes. The needle has to be strong because it would not only penetrate the skin, it will also go through the bone, the pelvic bone to be exact. Once it is properly inserted, the marrow is extracted, enough amount to stain four to five slides.

Everyday Nichi takes a number of prescription drugs. Everyday he is reminded of how different from normal his life is. Sometimes, he notices and stays sad and depressed for a while. Other times, he seems fine with the fact that unlike his playmates, his activities need more supervision and come with definite limits.

Somehow, Nichi has learned to live with his ailment. He accedes to whatever procedure that has to be done to him, regardless of how painful it might be because he is optimistic that by fighting a good fight, he will soon win.

Through it all, my family and I, backed by relatives, friends and strangers, are behind him, cheering for him and praying that his efforts wouldn’t go unrewarded.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Celepono, Mag-usap sa Celepono-oh!

Wala namang cellphone cellphone noon ha? Pero nakakapag-communicate pa rin naman ang mga tao. Nagkikita pa rin kahit walang eksaktong napag-usapang meeting place. Nagkakatagpo pa rin kahit nakikiramdam lang sila.

Pero ngayon, cellphone dependent na halos lahat tayo. Tumitigil ang mundo kapag walang load, low batt, or kapag minalas at nasungkit ang pinaka-mamahal na gadget. Mahal as in "lab" at the same time "expensive!"

Naaalala ko na 3rd sem ko sa college nang magkaroon ako ng sarili kong functional na cellphone. Nung high school kasi, hinihiram ko lang yung sa mommy ko. Di pa uso ang text noon. Pang-call lang siya. Di din uso ang pre-paid noon kaya sobrang control ang paggamit. Otherwise lagot kay mommy kapag nagreflect sa cellphone bill ang pang-aabusong nagawa.

Somehow, need naman yung unang cellphone ko. Nokia 3310 siya. Yun kasi ang tulay ko mula sa aking home away from home patungo sa home. Pambalita sa mga magulang ko na "LB n po ako. wag alala. safe n ko sa dorm" o kaya "1.0 ako sa Math11! yehey!" pwede rin namang "ma, naubos sa pagpapaprint ang baon ko, baka di na ako umabot til Fri". Nyak!

It is interesting to note yung punchline ng kaklase ko noong college kung paanong nadedemote ang cellphone once naubusan na ito ng load. Gameboy at alarm clock na lang siya! Which is true until now.

Noon my phone ceases to serve its purpose kapag nasa bahay na ako, kaya I tend to toss it away in my room the whole weekend thereby missing text messages sent to me for the two days I'm home.

Napansin ko pala na hindi na ganoon ang "relationship" ko sa phone ko ngayon. Mas attached na siya sa akin. Mas dala ko kung saan man ako magpunta. Feeling may mahalagang tawag any monument! On-call kuno.

Noong una, after lang ako sa pag-call in case of an emergency, tapos hinangad ang text messaging para mas mura ang pag-connect sa pamilya at mga kaklase. OK din kasi may built-in alarm clock pa! Next e radio para iwas boredom. For the same reason, isama na ang wide array of games: from snake to space impact, pati solitaire at minsang naka jackpot ng Pacman! Humirit pa ng camera para sa Kodak moments which would be awful if you'll let it pass you by. Last ay ang ang MP3 player para naman in control ako sa mga music na naririnig ko. Ang daling ikubli ng mga wants para mag mukhang needs, ano? Nagiging insatiable tuloy ang pagdedemand ng kung anumang pwede pang idemand!

So mabalik tayo...na-low batt ako. E i-memeet ko si Char sa Megamall. Where exactly, yon ang problema! Before ako humiwalay kay Sara, nakitext ako to tell Char where I'd be. Di ko na alam kung ano ang masasabi nya sa text kong iyon kasi di naman siya nag-reply. Winish ko na lang na magkita kami sa itinakda kong spot. Makalipas ang ilang minuto, na-restless na ako. Hindi kasi ako gifted when it comes to waiting so nagbakasakaling may tao pa sa opis na nakakaalam ng number ni Char. I was seriously contemplating on using my 6th sense (assuming mine works) para madetect kung saang parte ng Megamall ko mahahanap si Char. Siyempre sinamahan ko ng common sense, kaya naman I have a clue where to start looking.

Pero mahirap nang i-gamble ang oras at ang effort na magpunta sa vast meeting place. Kahit na it means doubting my sense of adbentyur, ayun nga, humingi na ako ng tulong. Mabuti na lang at memozie ko ang number sa opis! Isa yon sa 3 numbers na nagawa kong i-store sa utak ko. Yung isa ay ang cellphone number ko while the other one is our landline at home na minsan ay kailngan ko pang i-trial and error para makuha ang tamang combination ng numbers.

In the end natanggap ni Char ang ipinakiusap kong text kay Kokoy (salamat ulit!) at ayon, nagkatagpo kami!

Alam ko hasty generalization kapag sinabi kong useful ang celepono kasi mas useful pa rin ang senses ng tao.

Weird. Habang sinusulat ko ito, nariringi ko si Irma Daldal and her Chuwari-wariwaps na kumakanta ng "te-le-po-no, tele-pono, madaling gamitin! Te-le-po-no, te-le-po-no! Mag-usap sa teleponooh!"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

For Lack of a Better Sleep

You know how being awakened by pebbles being thrown at your bedroom window is portrayed as something romantic, if not cute, in movies or TV shows?

This I tell you: it ain’t the best way to be pulled out of an otherwise deep slumber.

Especially if it’s not Prince Charming (well in my case, Jude Law would certainly do) who’s doing the pebble throwing.

Much worse is if it’s your mom who gets home late and is back to her old I’m-here-when-I’m-here self again; it’s not the first time she does it yet she offers no apologies for bothering you; you are not the only one home but you happen to be the easiest one to regain consciousness among all the sleepy heads at midnight; you are not the type who, after getting up, can get back to sleep that easily as others do; you have to wake up early the next day to be able to show up and function well at work; you’ve been having a persistent headache prior to getting to bed; you made sure you turned off your cellphone in order to ensure getting a good night sleep…

I could rant until my mother does this again, still she would not admit that it was irresponsible on her part not to inform anyone in the family that, as usual, she won’t be home early yet she’s planning to go home just the same and she’d be waking ME up to open the door for her.

Excuse me for ranting.

And now I will state the obvious: I am most definitely less than amused!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The New Apple of My Eye (na hindi apple!)

Powershot A710 IS

front


behind


Sabi nila, libre naman ang mangarap.
...yun lang nga, hindi libre ang bilhin ang pinapangarap.

Kawawang dukha. Naglalaway na naman!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Holy Week Special

Holy Week ends tomorrow as we Christians once again celebrate Jesus Christ’s rising from the dead. Americans call it “Easter” and celebrate the day with egg hunts, bunny mascots and jelly beans. I really don’t know how those three are related to the true essence of the occasion. I just know that they’re there because, as part of my job in a greeting card company, I get to be flooded by boxes of Hallmark Easter Cards coming from the US. All three elements are almost always present on those greeting cards. Sometimes, there’ll be a crucifix design, too.

Easter also means the end of a long weekend for all of us, a long weekend that is originally intended for praying and contemplating one’s Christianity. But for people who spend the year doing loads of things, the Lenten season tends to become a legal right to go on a vacation.

Being used to a fast-paced life, we cannot do nothing for the free time we are entitled to just by inhabiting a predominantly Christian country. Nor shall we spend it re-witnessing Charlton Heston part the Red Sea for the Nth time. That’s when having too much time in one’s hands becomes a challenge.

Last Friday, I was planning on ironing as much clothes as I could to make my time productive. Mommy discouraged me though. She said it is not right to do heavy work on lent, especially not on a Good Friday. She added that I should reflect instead.

Little does she know that I reflect all the time, so much that it’s all I seem to do. Besides, since I hate ironing and any other household chore for that matter, I would have done penance just by deciding to make the most of my time. Then again, my mom’s suggestion to put off ironing is so hard to resist, I ended up cleaning our refrigerator instead. If only I could regain the will to iron before the weekend ends.

* * *

As a religious practice, the holy week is the time for fasting and abstaining from food or sex or whatever people overindulge themselves with these days. But since I am not all that religious, I hoarded and indulged—hoarded DVDs to watch, and food to stuff me and my brothers with; indulged in DVD marathons and in eating the non healthy kind of food to provide me and my brothers something to keep us preoccupied with. If doing both is a sin then boy am I another step closer to hell! And I would have dragged my brothers with me. Nyay!

Of course, I can choose to discuss what we have been watching and what I have been learning to justify that my hoarding and indulging somehow made me a better person. Allow me, then, to absolve myself from my somewhat sins.

Last year, it was Steven Spielberg’s Taken that took my Lenten time. This year, it is the first 18 episodes of the first season of Tim Kring’s Heroes and the first six episodes of the third season of J. J. Abrams’ Lost. In all three TV series, it is apparent how time is of the essence for every character—how one’s past brings him to where he is when we meet him, how he deals with his present, and how he may do in his future.

Somehow reality goes that way, too. The things we’ve done in the past make us who we are in the present. But it is how we react in the now that defines us in the future. And in that trip from the past to the present and to the future, it really is OK to make a mistake. Sure it will cause a dent to the present you but you always have the present to react to your life thereby giving you the opportunity to make a better future.

I sound like a copy for a bank or an insurance company ad but, heck, that’s what I’ve arrived with this holy week. The way I see it now, I guess in life, we just have to do what we think we have to do. We commit some blunders along the way. We certainly cannot erase them but we make up for them. That’s how we become better persons. That’s how we make our stories. Maybe not as perfect as Jesus Christ’s story but a story worth-telling nonetheless.

Now with the eating part, I plead guilty for gluttony. In a way I am getting what I deserve for biting more than I can munch. If this intermittent gushes of stomach pain which I’ve been having since last night will neutralize my not fasting or abstaining, then well and good.

* * *

I first thought I could end this entry like that but I feel that I should try to say something which must be relatively enlightening just because I am calling this piece “Holy Week Special”. No more confusing clichés for my conclusion.

From a non-religious point of view, I’d say that given ample time to ponder what we have been doing in our lives, I guess we should try to think about improving ourselves, not just to make us ourselves progress but also so that we can give back to the people around us.

Let me end by sharing this: A kid who’s at one of the early crossroads of his life has persistently invited me to go visit his blog. When I finally read what he has to say, I chanced upon an entry where he tells his readers that he’ll be gone for a while to try to do some things. He then names a few and probably for dramatic effect ends his list with “dying.” In the hopes of pulling him out of his drama, I left him a comment and part of it goes, “As long as you’re alive, you have no right to die.”

Maybe that’s something I’ve learned by just by living—something that may help me improve and something I can share to help others be better, too.

I end here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May

“Kamukha mo talaga yung pinsan mong si Goryo. Sya yata ang pinaka gwapong anak ng Ninang Cristy mo!”

I’m not quite sure if this statement my mudra kept on repeating since last night was meant to compliment me or insult me. I’ve got to hand it her. She really has a way about her that offends me even if I’d rather believe that she means well.

Perhaps me being as handsome as cousin Goryo whom I have never seen in my whole hippocampus-developed life explains why I haven’t gotten myself a boyfriend. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that men, boyfriend materials to be exact, want a lady who’s beautiful or pretty, not handsome. Except, of course, if they are effeminate or, umm, ah, gay.

Before I go on, allow me to establish a backgrounder for this topic that I am once again exploiting for the sheer humor it provides. It is summed up by the recent question-and-answer portion with my officemate, Chris.

Chris: Wala kang boyfriend ngayon?
Me: Kahit noon, wala.

It’s that simple, really.

Incidentally, my lola/auntie who was an old maid died last Sunday, a week after her 85th birthday. Auntie Lydia, as we call her, is my dad’s dad’s sister. She left her younger and equally old maid sister, Auntie Belinda, behind, making Auntie Belinda the sole living Delgado in my granddad’s immediate family.

If there’s one thing both aunties impose, it will have to be how they both do not recommend being a spinster. They were lucky to have each other to look after each other, but, I guess, there were moments when they still felt lonely and regret not marrying.

Oddly enough, I have memorized a poem by Robert Herrick which speaks of the words of wisdom Auntie Lydia and Auntie Belinda has passed on to me. Knowing the poem verbatim is weird because I am not big on poems and I was never famous for a brain that could memorize paragraphs or stanzas. Nonetheless I am typing it today the way I remember it. Don’t expect me, however, to recall its title for, as it turns out, the glitch in memory did not permit me to retain its title.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a-flying
And the same flowers that smile today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun
The higher he’s a-getting
The sooner his race be run
The nearer he is to setting.

The age is best which is the first
When youth and blood are warmer
But having spent the worse and worst,
Old time precedes the former.

So be not coy and use your time
And while ye may go marry
For having but once lost your prime,
You might forever tarry.


There. Ain’t that funny?

Going back, women in our family either marry early or marry late. Obviously I didn’t get hitched in my teenage years so chances are I may do the “I do” later in life, granting that I realize that I am meant to say those words. Otherwise I will forever tarry as said in Robert Herrick’s poem.

Honestly, I am not afraid to be a wrinkled single woman no matter how lonely they say it can be. What scares me more is getting old without living my life to its maximum. You know, being haunted by dreams I failed to fulfill. That I fear.

Lately, I’ve been mentally listing things I want to do at least before I turn thirty. So far, they all have something to do with career. I haven’t included anything about love or loving. Unlike most women, I’ve never plotted a timeline that involves my theoretical love life. Nor have I planned anything to do about it if it stays theoretical for an annoyingly long time. Perhaps I am too much of a ninny to realize that a relationship is as important as popular belief says it is. Or then again I may be your typical hopeless romantic who believes that if love is meant to be, it will be—planned or not.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Alien Abduction of Some Kind

I woke up exactly one minute before 7:45 AM. My work starts at 7:45. I went through my morning routine as fast as I could. Good thing I live relatively near my office. By the time I dragged my ass to my workplace, I was just 48 minutes late. Just 48 minutes?! Not at all good.

I used to say that it’s better to be absent than to be late. There seems to be more dignity in being absent than in being late, at least in my plane. But I am trying to be the committed person that I ought to be. So I swallowed what is left of my pride and showed up despite my tardiness and all. I promised to do that, you know? Show up.

But as my morning sank in, I realized how odd that my phone wasn’t set whereas its alarm has been programmed to give me a wake up call at 6 AM from Monday to Friday. I don’t really know what happened there. And even if my alarm with its snooze feature wasn’t powerful enough to stir my sleepy head, the bell icon on my phone shouldn’t have disappeared without me deactivating it.

As I pondered on that mini mystery, I started to ask what I did last night. What happened to me? I updated my blog, checked my mail, and emailed some people. Then what? I remember shutting down the PC properly before hopping to bed but when I got up, I noticed my AVR wasn’t turned off. I honestly don’t remember anything after assuming a reclining position yesterday. Hmmm…weird.

Later this day, I had flashbacks of the dream I had last night. I reckon that I was in a hospital then a tube was shoved down my throat which seemed to pass through a hole in my chest. I was walking around with a tube inserted to me in order for me to be able to breathe. Prior to last night, I had a dream that I was having a heart attack. I felt my body growing numb from my fingertips moving to my arms then closing in to my heart. The people around me thought I was kidding. I had to tell them that I was having a stroke of sorts. But my dream didn’t have a nightmare feel to it. It was just is.

I am attributing the heart-related ailments in my dreams with several episodes in my waking world where I feel my heart aching. As I tell some of my colleagues, “masakit ang puso ko.” I meant it literally. (Although I could mean it figuratively, too.) The muscle that pumps my blood throughout my body is in pain from time to time and I haven’t sought medical attention to address it. Maybe I should. One more dream and maybe I will.

That I can explain. The missing link to last night’s memory, though, is still twilight zone-y.

Monday, April 2, 2007

People Power for Nichi

PEOPLE POWER FOR NICHI is an optimistic attempt to raise the Php 3.1M needed for my brother's bone marrow transplant alone (exclusive of the pre and post transplant care). Be part of the 6,200 people who'll help free Nichi from his Leukemia. Your Php 500 can make a big difference in his life.


My 12-year-old brother, Joseph Nichole L. Delgado, has been battling his Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia since November 2001. From the day he was diagnosed, he’s been undergoing chemotherapy—following various protocols to eradicate leukemic cells present in his body. He has also completed a radiation therapy session yet his ailment keeps on coming back.

Middle of last year, his body almost gave up from the multiple doses of chemo drugs induced in his system. But through his love of life coupled by prayers, he was able to bounce back and was almost healthy come December 2006. When things seemed well, however, he started complaining about an abnormality in his left eye. After being checked by two eye doctors, a hematologist and a neurologist, we found out that leukemic cells have sought refuge in his left eye for they cannot be reached by chemo drugs there. These bad cells have caused Nichi’s blurring of vision. Today his left eye is no longer functional. Still it doesn’t prevent him from doing things he normally does like drawing.

Here are two of NIchi's drawings albeit his being a one-eyed artist:





Several doctors have recommended that Nichi undergo a bone marrow transplant for greater chances of survival. My whole family and I wish nothing but to give Nichi that transplant and the life he deserves to live. With the meager money we have and continuously trying to earn, we still couldn’t afford the best treatment for our Nichi. That’s why, I’m invoking everyone within my reach, everyone who has money to spare to please help our Nichi.

You can email me through battik14@yahoo.com for other ways of sending your help. Please place “People Power for Nichi” at the subject line so that I will not consider your message as spam mail by mistake.

I know that my fund raising attempt says that I would be needing Php 500 per person. That however is my way of making raising the Php 3.1M look more possible than it will ever be. It seemed easier to look for 6,200 people ready to spare that amount than 3.1 individuals who will spare me a Peso. But the said amount is just a suggested figure. My family and I will appreciate whatever comes from your heart. And rest assured, it will go to Nichi’s “miracle money”.

I have provided a fund raising update at the left margin of my blog to maintain transparency in terms of the help we have been receiving. Plus, it is kind of inspiring seeing how, with the help of friends and strangers alike, we are making Nichi’s future possible!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this piece.

For past articles about Nichi you may click on the following links:

Blessings Instead of Sheep
Ironic. Really. Home. Live. Lucky. Amazing!
Praying with the Faithful
The Adventures of the One-eyed Artist
Only in My Dreams
Nichi's Bystander
BMT cost breakdown
Read On to Digest the Meat of This Piece
Everyday with Nichi
Nichi Needs Your Prayers More Than Ever
Small Steps Back
Prayers for Joseph Nichole
A Letter from my Dad
When Cyberbobo Went Online and Cried for Help
Nichi's Home
Urgent: My Brother Still Needs Your Help
Nichi

BMT Breakdown by NUH-Singapore

This is from Zin Mar, Paediatrics Blood/Marrow Transplant Coordinator of the Paediatrics Department of National University Hospital, Singapore.

Please see below for detailed explanation on BMT cost and procedures.
However, Nichi will have to be on chemotherapy till remission before the bone marrow transplant. This will incur additional cost. I'll not be able to give you the figure. Drs need to assess him and decide on which regime he needs to be on.

(A) Initial Medical Consultation – Duration 1-day

For Patient
First consult, to determine
1. Suitability of patient and donor/s for BMT.
2. Schedule of BMT.
3. Meet with BMT nurse clinician/ coordinator (BMT NC)

If donor identified and confirmed, subsequent consults with physician and BMT NC will be required at 1 – 3 monthly intervals (3 days).

Selection of donors (at first consult)
1. HLA typing of all unaffected siblings (results available in 14 days)
2. If no sib match, unrelated donor search international registries for umbilical cord blood and adult donors (results available in 4 weeks)
HLA typing for patient and parent's cost about S$2000. Each sibling's HLA typing cost about S$ 550 (HLA A, B and DR Low resolution). If there's a match with one of the siblings, we'll do high resolution for the match donor, which will cost additional S$550.
However, if there's no match with any siblings, we'll have to search for donor or umbilical cord blood.

(B) Preparation of patient for BMT - Duration 3-days

1. Review, work-up, preparation starts 3 months before actual BMT (clinical examination, blood tests, medications)
2. Informed consent.
3. Confirmation of procurement of unrelated stem cell graft (if applicable)
(Procurement fees can range from $40,000 - $80,000)
4. BMT Nurse Clinician counselling.

(C) Preparation of sibling donor for BM donation – Duration 3-days

1. First review, work-up starts 3 months before actual BMT (clinical examination, blood tests)
2. Second review, work-up 1 month before BMT (clinical examination, blood tests)


(D) Patient’s Pre & admission for BMT – Duration 40 to 80 days

1. Review of patient 2 weeks before admission for BMT
2. Average duration of stay for BMT – 40 to 80 days

(E) Donor’s pre/ post and admission for BM donation – Duration 21 to 28 days

1. Review of donor 2 weeks before admission for BM donation
2. Bone Marrow Harvesting - Average duration of stay for procedure – 3-days
3. Review of donor 1 month after BM donation (1-day)

(F) Post-BMT follow-up for patient

1. Twice weekly follow-up to Day+100 of BMT, then weekly x 4 – 8 weeks, then monthly x 6 – 12 months
2. Return to home country allowed 6 – 12 months after BMT depending on complications

(G) Estimated Cost


The estimated costs for Blood & Marrow Transplantation (BMT) is about SGD$150,000++. It is an estimated costs for the transplant admit, laboratory tests during admission and medications. These charges do not include outpatient pharmacy, housing, transportation cost.

*Cost estimated serves only as a guide and it is not exhaustive.
*Cost may vary due to complications.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Ten Reasons not to Watch Breaking and Entering:



1. If you don’t love Jude Law.

2. If you have a short attention span and if slowness lulls you to sleep.

3. If you’re not willing to travel all the way to Ayala as it is only shown at Glorietta 4 (at least in Manila).

4. If your idea of humor is boxed in slapstick and eloquent words couldn’t possibly tickle your funny bones.

5. If you’re an escapist and would rather be entertained by CGI-populated visual spectacle instead of a hyper cross-section of reality.

6. If Anthony Minghella scares the wits out of you.

7. If you don’t have a friend who’s equally in love with Jude Law.

8. If you’re too busy with your life leaving you no opportunity to spend time with fictional life forms.

9. If you’re below 18 years old or if you don’t look like you’re above 18 years old.

10. If you can think of ten more reasons not to watch this movie.