Stories of a Filipino neurosurgeon, teacher, and writer

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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.

Ang Kamay

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?

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.

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.

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.


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!”

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.


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.

Ronibats.PH Stories of a Filipino neurosurgeon, teacher, and writer