Lightning Crashes

From 2002 to 2006, I posted articles in my column Lightning Crashes at Peyups.com, the online community of the University of the Philippines. Every other Monday, I shared my experiences, aspirations, and frustrations as a medical student of UP College of Medicine, often blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction. In this archive you will find my Lightning Crashes articles, as well as all essays and short stories that came thereafter.

Lightning Crashes in Peyups.com (2006)

Lightning Crashes (2006)

Ronibats in Peyups.com (2006)

Ronibats in Peyups.com (2006)

Writer (Daw) Ako

Writer ako. Obvious ba? Kaya nga pangalan ko ang nasa by-line ng artikulong ito. Kaya nga hindi ako mapakali kapag may salitang nasa dulo ng dila ko. Kaya nga maghapon na akong nagta-type sa PC ko. Kaya nga may binabasa ka ngayon sa harap mo. Continue reading →

Be Like That

We all have this "thing" in our lives. One "thing." That's how I'd like to call it. It's the "thing" we particularly work hard for. The "thing" that makes us do other things we did not think we would ever do. A "thing" we enjoy, despise, laugh at, cry for, and worry over in our lives. Continue reading →

Ang Problema sa mga Math Prof

Eto na naman ako. Nag-aral naman ako. Nag-memorize naman ako ng mga formula. Pero ba’t blangko pa rin blue book ko? Pang-ilang exam ko na ‘to, pero may natutunan na ba ako? Kanino? Sa Math prof ko? Ahhh! May Math prof nga pala ko! ‘Langya! Maski ata anong gawin ko sa test paper ko, iisang numero lang ang naglalaro sa isip ko: 5.0. Continue reading →

The Day You Die

How would it feel to wake up on the day you die? What would it be like to realize that today would be the end of the rest of your life? Continue reading →

Anatomiya ng Kalungkutan

Nalulungkot ako… Ngunit bakit hindi ko maisulat ang mga katagang magluluwal ng aking kalungkutan? Nais kong iluha ng aking panulat ang mga kinitil na pangarap, ang mga ugnayang nawasak, ang mga nawaglit na pangako at ang mga sandaling lumipad sa alapaap, subalit ipinagkakait ng aking diwa ang mga salita. Continue reading →

Biyaheng Langit

Hindi madaling mag-commute papasok ng UP Manila at pauwi araw-araw, lalo na kung katulad kong sa Las Piñas pa nakatira at inaabot ng isa hanggang dalawang oras ang biyahe sa bus. Continue reading →

Senti

Sa SM kita nakita — nakatayo sa loob ng isang musical instrument shop at napapaligiran ng iba mong kasama. Black beauty ka. Yun ang una kong napansin; yun ang dahilan kaya nangibabaw ka sa kanila at napansin kita. Nagpabalik-balik ako sa harap ng shop, patingin-tingin sa iyo. Mukha akong tanga, palakad-lakad, nagdadalawang-isip kung lalapitan ba kita. Continue reading →

Look! I’m from a High School in Lilliput

I come from a “never-heard-of high school in Lilliput.” My alma mater does not have a Science High surname; thus, I was taught the SEDP way. I had accident-free science lab classes, not because I am an extremely careful person (I am not, I hold the record for most number of beakers and test tubes broken in Chem 14.1), but because I had at most two experiments each for biology, chemistry and physics. My four-year computer subject, excluding WordStar I learned in 1997 and Turbo Pascal in 2000, can be summarized in two words: Microsoft Office. But when somebody asks me the question “Saang high school ka galing?” I never end my reply with “lang.” Continue reading →

ABaKaDabra

Bukas, alas-diyes ng umaga, patitigilin ko ang oras. Hihinto sa pag-ikot ang mundo at ang araw ay mapipirmi sa kanyang kinaroroonan sa kalawakan. Walang makakapansin ng mga pangyayaring ito dahil patitigilin ko rin ang pagkilos ng bawat tao, hayop at makina. Walang gagalaw sa loob ng isang buong araw; ako lang ang maiiwang humihinga sa daigdig nating babalutin ng katahimikan. Maswerte ka, nakaabot sa iyo ang babalang ito. Maiiwasan mong mangulangot, magbasa ng Toro o mangopya sa katabi mo; hindi kita mahuhuli sa akto pagdating ng takdang oras. Continue reading →

Hey, God!

Do you have a minute or two? I know you’re probably busy with your heavenly and religious affairs, Bush’s impending war, maybe even Survivor: The Amazon, but I really think we should talk. I, a dot in the cosmos, and you, the so-called creator of whatever was, is, and will be. That is, of course, assuming you exist. Continue reading →

Hari ng Kalye

Mga boses na sintinis ng sirena ng pulis ang gumising sa kanya. “Langit! Lupa! Impiyerno!” Paulit-ulit ang pagkanta. “Im-im-impiyerno! Saksak puso! Tulo ang dugo!” Palakas nang palakas. “Patay! Buhay! Aaaa-lis!” Tumagilid siya at nagtakip ng unan sa tenga para muling makatulog, pero saka napili ng mga naglalaro ang taya; lalo lamang nagsigawan ang mga bata nang magsimula na silang maghabulan. Continue reading →

Sa Aming Mesa

Walang hintayan. Iyan ang batas sa aming hapag-kainan. Oras na magtawag ang nanay ko ng “Kakain na!” tigil ang lahat ng gawain sa bahay – laro, computer, gitara at project. Hindi ka naman hahambalusin ng dos por dos kapag hindi ka sumunod, pero walang sisihan sakaling ang matira sa iyo eh butu-buto, kalahating baso lang ng Coke ang parte mo, o maubusan ka ng pisngi ng mangga. Continue reading →

The Darkroom

You’re five minutes late my friend. I thought it was clear from our conversation yesterday that you have to be here seven p.m. sharp? You replied with a “Seven on the dot? No prob!” didn’t you? In fact, all I have to do is press this button and your voice will be heard throughout this room uttering the very words I’ve just said. Continue reading →

Paano Kumain ng Libro

Kapag kakain ng libro, huwag maging pihikan; tikman ang lahat ng pwedeng tikman at huwag agad aayaw. Maaaring mapipilas na ang pabalat na natapunan ng kape at naninilaw na ang mga mapapanghing pahina, pero alalahaning hindi ang mga ito ang iyong nanamnamin kundi ang mga muni-muni ng may-akda. Huwag ding maniwala sa sabi-sabi; magkakaiba ang ating panlasa. Higit sa lahat, tandaan ang sinabi ni Anonymous: "Never judge a book by its movie." Continue reading →

M.D.

I am not supposed to be in Med. While most people – I, at times – say I shouldn’t be a doctor, the real reason is because I couldn’t. Although I already knew since first year high school that I wanted to be a physician, my inclination was never towards the life sciences. I despised my biology class; I hated having to memorize every italicized and bold printed term in the book just to pass my teacher’s verbatim exams. I am more of a Math-Chem-Physics student, preferring to memorize a little and derive everything else. Add to that my heightening interest in the literary arts, and it will be clear why I shouldn’t have attended Med school. Continue reading →

Paglisan at Ulan

Dalawang oras ka nang nakatitig sa blankong papel. Hindi pala madaling simulan ang isang artikulong tungkol sa wakas. Saan ka nga ba maaaring magsimula? Continue reading →

Lab-dab, Lab-dab

Nung Marso, pangalan lang niya ang kilala ko. Nung enrollment, ni hindi ko siya napansin sa pila. Nung isang buwan, ngumiti siya sa akin nang mag-”Hi” ako sa kanya. Nung isang linggo, tinawag niya ang pangalan ko. Kahapon, nahingi ko ang cell number niya. Kagabi, nagreply siya sa text ko. Pagkagising ko kaninang umaga, napag-isip-isip ko, “Med life just got better, ronibats.” Continue reading →

Wanted – Perfect Picture

Addict ako sa ID picture. Tuwing simula ng klase, kung kailan sandamakmak ang nanghihingi ng litrato para sa enrollment, seat plan, college record at kung anu-anong application form, diretso ako lagi sa isang photo shop. Sakaling wala ako sa mall, pinapatulan ko maski ‘yung mga litratistang nakatambay sa kalye (na haharang sa paglalakad mo para pilitin kang magpakuha ng ID picture kahit hindi mo kailangan). Continue reading →

Meeting Memory

I met her yesterday. She was, despite a scar the size of a rice grain above her left eyebrow, beautiful. I was alone, slumped into a wooden bench along Manila Bay, taking pleasure in the intermittent breeze which smelled of salt and sea and sanity and peace. The rim of the sun had just touched the horizon when I noticed her walking towards me Continue reading →

Tungkol sa Isang Salita

Ang artikulong ito ay tungkol sa isang salitang nagsisimula sa titik S. Hindi ito sex, kaya kung yun ang habol mo, ngayon pa lang ay itigil mo na ang pagbabasa. Paborito ko ang salitang ito. Ito ang dahilan kaya naniniwala akong wala nang libre sa mundo. Lahat ng bagay, gaano man kalaki o kaliit, may kapalit. Mas madalas sa hindi, nakukuntento ako kahit na ang kapalit lang ay ang salitang ito. Continue reading →

Himbing

Naalimpungatan ka sa ugong ng electric fan. Gaya ng nakagawian, nakatutok ito sa mga paa mo. Kinilatis ng iyong mga tenga ang tunog na dulot ng pag-ikot ng elisi nito: malumanay, kawangis ng pag-ihip ng hangin na sinasabayan ng paghuni ng mga ibon sa probinsya, hindi dumadagundong, hindi sumisigaw ng “Tungaw! Gising na! May exam ka pa ngayong umaga!” Continue reading →

Nawawala, Nagwawala

Nawawala ang capo ng gitara ko. Hinalughog ko na ang buong apartment na tinitirhan ko — bawat cabinet at bawat drawer, bawat libro at bawat appliance, kulang na nga lang e bunutin ko mula sa lupa ang buong bahay at itaktak nang patiwarik, baka sakaling malaglag ang hinahanap ko mula sa kung saan mang kasuluk-sulukan, kadilim-diliman at kadumi-dumihan — pero wala pa rin. Continue reading →

He Who Never Sleeps

His is the rightmost chair on the last row. It has always been his, regardless of classroom, class size, subject or time of day. During the first couple of weeks every semester, he makes it a point to arrive in class before everyone else, that by the end of the first month, nobody dares to contest his territory. Everyone knows: the seat belongs to he who never sleeps. Continue reading →

Munimuni

Kung papipiliin ka, ikaw ba ay isang mabuting tao na paminsan-minsan ay nakakagawa ng masama, o isang masamang tao na paminsan-minsan ay nakakagawa ng mabuti? Ako? Yung pangalawa ang sagot ko. Kasi pag ang tingin ko sa sarili ko ay mabuti, malulungkot lang ako tuwing makakagawa ako ng masama. Pero pag ang tingin ko sa sarili ko ay masama, matutuwa ako tuwing makakagawa ng mabuti sa ibang tao. Continue reading →

The One You Choose Not to Love

She walks into the room. The sight of her cheers you up like a kid seeing the first rays of sunlight after being forced to play indoors by the rain. You call her name and wave hi. She notices you and returns a hello. You smile. She smiles back. For a brief moment, you are awed by the spontaneity of things. Then you remember, she is the one you choose not to love, so just as quickly as you greeted her, you look away. Continue reading →

Gutterboy

Gutterboy drops his bag on the floor and throws his keys on top of his study table. Today, he took his last exam. That his first year in medical school is over still seems surreal to him. He has long wished for this day to come, and now that it has, the feeling of relief overwhelms him. He fingers the buttons of his upper garment, taking care not to pull too hard, else the worn-out stitches suspending the buttons would give in, a perennial problem among medical students. Continue reading →

Kuwentong 100

Mag-o-overtime uli siyang mag-isa sa lab. "Ma-uno mo Anatomy niyan!" hirit ni Jan bago umalis. Ngumiti lang siya. Balak niyang mag-ikot. Ngayong nasa Lower Extremities Interval na sila sa klase, kung saan-saan na itinatambak ang mga puso at atay ng ibang bangkay. Sayang. Continue reading →

How I Found Myself in a Stranger Family’s Car One Summer Worknight

These things, I later realized, do happen in real life. There I was, in the front seat of a car whose owner is a family I have never met till under an hour earlier. We were going I-did-not-know-where, in search of an internet shop that served midnight customers. The father drove, the mother asked questions, the two kids stared at me while I told fragments of my life to complete strangers. What was I thinking? I wasn't. Continue reading →

The Little Things

Believe me, this is going to hurt me too. The pain you are about to feel will also be my pain, although not too long ago, mine had not been yours. I should have warned you before everything began; I should have told you about my flaw before I let you in my world. Maybe I would not need to do this. To hurt you will not be easy. Continue reading →

Dwende

Takot ako sa mga dwende. Pinatay ng mga dwende ang tatay ko kagabi. Nang mapansin kong nakahandusay siya sa loob ng aming barong-barong, hindi ko pa yun alam. Subsob ang mukha niya sa basang sahig (tumutulo na naman ang bubong) habang nakakapit ang kanang kamay sa paa ng mesang patungan ng tv kapag hindi kami kumakain at higaan ko naman kapag gabi. Continue reading →

Death and the Medical Student

If you want to start crying two days before someone important to you actually dies, go into medicine. By the time your grief process is over, others are just about to begin theirs. When I came to see my paternal grandfather in the intensive care unit, I knew what to expect. It was a scene I had long become used to seeing: a patient breathing laboriously through a respirator, each inhale-exhale cycle being punctuated by the bleep of the hovering all-in-one machine tasked to monitor his other body functions. Continue reading →

Ang Kamay

Dati-rati Ipinanguguhit lang ng bahay Panira ng laruan Pangmano kay Itay Kinukulayan ang mundo ng kasiyahan Binibilang ng mga daliri bituin sa kalangitan. Sino nga ba ang mag-aakala Na ito'y mabibigyan ng pagkakataong Makapaglingkod sa kapwa Continue reading →

Gusto Kong Maging Doktor Dahil

"So, why do you want to be a doctor?" Pipilitin kong tumingin nang diretso sa mga mata ng nagtatanong sa akin. Ilalabas ang matagal ring pinagpraktisang ngiti. Kaunti lang. Sapat upang magbigay ng impresyong sigurado ako sa mga susunod kong salita. Continue reading →

Sa ChowKing

Matapos matunaw ang yelo ng iced tea, matapos magsawa sa pagkalam ang aking sikmura, matapos kong panooring magsubuan ng halo-halo ang magkasintahan sa tapat ng aking inuupuan (nakasampung pasahan sila ng kutsarita bago maubos ang kinakain), dumating ang waiter na may bitbit ng aking hapunan. Continue reading →

Palimos ng Kulangot

“Kuya, penge ng kulangot,” sabi niya. Ang unang pumasok sa isip ko, hindi ko siya kapatid. Noon lang kami nagkita; nagkataong siya ang nakatabi ko sa bus pauwi. Kung akala niya, nadadala ako sa pa-“Kuya, kuya” ng mga taong hindi ko kilala, nagkakamali siya. Pangalawa, sa pagkakaalam ko, ang kulangot ay sinusungkit mula sa ilong upang ipahid sa ilalim ng mesa, idikit sa pader, iipit sa panyo, lunurin sa lababo o itapon sa basurahan. Hindi ipinapamigay ang kulangot. At pangatlo, sakaling nahihingi man ang kulangot, bakit ko naman ibibigay ang kulangot ko sa kanya? Habang nakasakay sa bus kasama ang humigit-kumulang animnapung pasahero? Continue reading →

Love in the Time of Ebola, Bird Flu, and SARS

It was the day before Valentine's. I was on the bus home, pondering how I would spend my nth Single Awareness Day (or SAD, as our kind would call it), comforted by the thought of not having to buy overpriced flowers, not having to fall in line just to get the most foreign-sounding box of chocolates, and not having to bother about getting a haircut. Such is the resolve we take. And by “we,” I refer to people who have gotten tired of looking, and instead have contented themselves with waiting. Continue reading →

Bantay

Sabi ng doktor, kailangan daw bigyan ng Barbie doll si Nikka upang gumaling. Hindi maiwasang mainggit ng siyam na taong si Eli. Makukuha na ng kanyang bunsong kapatid ang pinakaaasam nitong laruan. Samantalang siya, tatlong Disyembre nang humihiling ng robot, pero palaging nagtitiyaga sa t-shirt na nakakayanang bilhin ng kanyang ina. Continue reading →

Nang Magtagpo ang Dalawang Supot

NANG MAALIMPUNGATAN SI LEMUEL, kinapa niya agad ang loob ng kanyang brief, at saka pinawalan ang isang malalim na buntonghininga nang makumbinsi ang sarili—buo pa ang kanyang bayag at titi. Walang tumatagas na dugo. Walang natapyas na laman. Walang kahit anong pananakit bukod sa kanyang pantog na nagsasabing siya'y naiihi. Ang matangkad at maitim na lalaking humahabol sa kanya habang iwinawagayway ang kinakalawang na lagari ay panaginip. Gayundin ang mga dambuhalang asong kasama ng masamang mama. Kaya pala ang layo ng itinakbo niya mula eskwelahan hanggang bahay. At nagulat pa siya nang biglang magkaroon ng sementeryo sa pagitan. Buti na lang, hindi totoo ang lahat. Continue reading →

On Learning

I used to think that high school life was “just another four years of school work.” I thought medals and trophies were all that matter. I thought I should never commit mistakes. I thought one needed to be liked and loved by everybody else. I thought one had friends simply to have this certain group of people he could call “friends.” I thought life was bitter, deceitful and unfair. Continue reading →

On Dreaming

May I kindly ask the graduates to stand. Today is the culmination of four years of hard work. It is not easy to be a high school student. You are at the stage when adults no longer tolerate your childish habits, and yet when you strive to be independent, they somehow think that you’re not yet old enough to take on certain responsibilities. Add to that the estrogen- and testosterone-fueled changes in your physical appearance and mood, plus the pressure of getting along with your peers while creating your own identity. Finally, you have come to this day. Continue reading →

Ngayong Isa Ka Nang Doktor

Suot ang toga at hawak ang kunwaring diploma, mahirap bilangin kung ilang daang araw na nga ba ang lumipas mula nang una kang tumayo sa harap ni Lady Med. Natapos ka rin, sa wakas. Continue reading →

2 comments

  1. Read all of these a decade ago! Flashback UNIVERSITY life. Keep it up, Idol!

  2. I love your essays 🙂 I’d like to have a compiled copy in my computer is it okay? My mom loves reading but she can only read works written in Filipino, I’ll just pass the other story when we have our lil chit chat on a Sunday. I’m a fan 🙂

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