Nov 15

The Pursuit of Excellence

As a student, I was the stereotypical academic achiever. “Consistent honor pupil” was how family members would invariably introduce me to acquaintances then, and how most of my former teachers would remember me now. At the end of each academic year, it was no surprise to my parents receiving a letter from my school, inviting them to bestow medals upon the eldest of their five children.

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Mar 13

Five Valedictorians

Today, my youngest sister will graduate as valedictorian of her high school class. As she delivers her valedictory address on the podium, my engineer father and my homemaker mother will be listening from dedicated seats in the front row. Dapper in his polo and regal in her blouse handpicked just for the occasion, they will share the spotlight as my sister accepts her gold medal. Continue reading →

Oct 11


We are buying our first family car. To be more precise, my two yuppie sisters have agreed to finance the purchase of a car to be used by our family of seven. My father and my third-born sister have already made the reservation last weekend, and although I, being an overworked and underpaid government physician, will not make any financial contribution to the purchase, I cannot contain my excitement. Despite my father and mother having been married for almost 29 years, this is our first family anything. Continue reading →

Oct 11


NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU DO IT, the task doesn’t get any easier. The circumstances vary. Every mother or father, son or daughter, husband or wife reacts in a different way. What you do know for certain is that whichever words you choose and however you choose to say them, they will always bring forth much suffering. And so after mustering enough conviction, infused with whatever amount of compassion that is left for the day, you say your piece with a straight face:

“Nanay, pasensya na po. Wala na po kaming magagawa para sa anak ninyo. Kahit po operahan namin siya ngayon, wala na pong mabuting maitutulong sa kanya. Hanggang dito na lang po tayo.” Continue reading →

Aug 11

I Am Twenty-Three

Lately, I have been having a hard time remembering how old I am. When filling out forms or talking to customer service personnel, there’s an inevitable six-second lag before I figure out the answer. I even have to make a quick calculation in my head sometimes. I find this unusual because as a child and a teenager, I always knew my age. You could ask for it while I’m in the middle of a book, in front of the computer screen, or watching TV, and I would instantaneously blurt out the answer. Five. Twelve. Seventeen. Continue reading →