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

Some Days You Can’t Save Them All


In January 2018, the University of the Philippines Press accepted my collection of essays for publication. Some Days You Can’t Save Them All gathers my best blog posts from Ronibats.PH, most of them rewritten and given more depth for the book, as well as unpublished stories, to form a cohesive narrative on being a UP medical student and neurosurgical resident in Philippine General Hospital. Available soon!

In the event of an error, the only thing a writer loses is a chunk of swollen ego. But a physician’s incorrect diagnosis will always be a matter of life and death. Dr. Baticulon’s dispatches from the country’s leading public hospital are told in language that requires no further acrobatics.

How do you tell a mother that the smiling 10-year-old boy in her arms will not survive the following week? How do you tell a little girl she’ll never be able to go home to play because her parents can’t afford P54,000 for her surgery? How do you live with yourself after breaking a promise to save an 8-year-old boy’s life? Like the trenches of war zones, the operating room is the frontline of life’s most difficult questions. Here are a neurosurgeon’s gripping ruminations on hope and loss.

Chair of the Board of Judges, English Essay, 2018 Palanca Awards
Author, “History with Lourd: Tsismis Noon, Kasaysayan Ngayon”

Ronnie Baticulon follows in the footsteps of many other physicians for whom the task of understanding and healing humanity did not stop at the clinic or the operating room. They used words and language not only for their patients but also for themselves—a long and distinguished line from Rabelais, Chekhov, and Maugham to Michael Crichton, Richard Selzer, Oliver Sacks, and of course our own Jose Rizal and Arturo Rotor. Dr. Baticulon is a worthy addition to that tradition.

Author, “Voyager and Other Fictions”
and “The Knowing Is in the Writing”

Timeliness is as much as an appeal of the book as timelessness. In a society where doctors are both idealized and vilified, we need accounts that put them in their rightful place somewhere in between: frail in their nobility, and noble in their frailty.

Doubtless, the medical students and doctors who will read this will find and appreciate its allusions and clinical pearls, but everybody else should be able to relate to it. Sickness and suffering, healing and hope—these after all are universal human experiences.

Palanca-winning essayist and columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ronibats.PH Stories of a Filipino neurosurgeon, teacher, and writer


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