On this day in 2011, after a three-year literary hiatus, I decided to launch ronibats.ph. This is my 20th article for the website, and as of this time, my Facebook page is nearing its 500th like. Despite the irregular post times and frequency, the response to ronibats.ph from friends and strangers, colleagues in the medical profession or otherwise, has been nothing short of overwhelming. So on my website’s birthday, despite the nagging urge to sleep, I write this to express my thanks.
The idea to start writing again began with this message:
Hello Ronnie! Si R.B. ito, dating mambabasa ng Lightning Crashes. Hindi ko lang alam kung naaalala mo pa ako. Nagkita tayo minsan sa PGH sa may Taft para iabot ko sa iyo ang kopya ng Sandman na comic archive format na nasa DVD. Anyway, gusto ko lang sana humingi ng permiso sayo para gumawa ng eBook ng buong Lightning Crashes. Balak kong kopyahin ang mga sinulat mo mula sa kung ano man ang makikita ko sa internet archive at gawing isang PDF eBook na downloadable ng libre. Napansin ko lang na down na ang ronibats.com ng tatlong taon at hindi ko na alam kung nagsusulat ka pa ng mga kwento.
Lightning Crashes was my semi-monthly column in Peyups.com, the online community of the University of the Philippines. As a medical student, I used to publish essays and short stories in the website during its heydays. Written in English or Filipino, the articles were experimental at best. My schedule then did not allow for creative writing classes and I was too focused on studying Medicine. Still, I posted an article every other Monday, writing about academics, death, family, God, and love among other things. I began to accumulate my share of regular readers.
At the peak of my Peyups.com stint, I decided to start my own website, ronibats.com. It contained my Peyups.com articles, and in addition, blog entries about my daily life as a medical student. Twice, my website became a finalist for Best Personal Website in the now defunct Philippine Web Awards.
Then I had to spend long hours in the hospital as a clinical clerk, as a medical intern, and eventually, as a resident physician. I had to set my priorities. Writing had to take a backseat.
That is, until R.B.’s message made me realize how much I missed the craft. At that time, as an overworked neurosurgery resident, I felt that I had too many stories to tell; I just had to find the time to sit down and actually write them. I tried, and was I surprised that I could. In two months’ time, R.B. helped me set up and launch this website.
I would have wanted to continue writing at ronibats.com, not just out of sentimentality, but more because I have already established a number of quality links to the domain, optimizing it for search engines like Google. Unfortunately, some Japanese weight loss company bought the domain after I failed to renew it a year earlier. I had not been able to buy it back since. Whether “ronibats” translates to something which pertains to slimming or getting sexy in Japanese, I never bothered to find out.
During my free time, I wrote. Instead of sleeping, watching TV, or going to the movies, I sat down in front of my laptop and kept on writing.
That takes us to where we are now.
The most amazing part is discovering that my then Peyups.com and ronibats.com readers are now medical students, on their way to becoming M.D.’s themselves. (Some of them graduated yesterday, congratulations!)
In the last twelve months, medical students, nurses, and even consultants have approached me, only to say that they have come across ronibats.ph and hope that I would continue writing.
And in my last story, when I unwittingly failed to indicate when the hold-up incident occurred, people from all over began asking if I was OK the day after.
I can only express my utmost gratitude: to every reader who has been here, to everyone who has shared my articles to family and friends, to every individual who has taken the time post a comment or send a private message.
It had been a good year.
The stories will always be theirs.
I am just the storyteller.