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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Nov 13

Morning Rituals

Every morning I would see Eric combing Ofelia’s hair with utmost diligence and meticulousness, it would put to shame shampoo commercial models who comb their tresses on national TV. His palms were coarse and the fingers stubby–toughened by years of manual labor in an automobile repair shop and occasional side jobs in construction projects here and there–but the hands moved deftly through the hair strands that reached his wife’s shoulder blades, one would think that the hands were made solely for this daily ritual. Continue reading →

Jun 13

First and Only

“Sir, pababa na po kami sa OR.”

“OK. Nasa office lang ako. 10 minutes,” I said, then quickly hung up on the junior resident. I would be operating on a 70-year-old male with a chronic subdural hematoma overlying the right half of his brain. Resulting from a vehicular crash two months earlier, the blood clot had gradually accumulated, causing progressive weakness of the left side of his body. During the last 24 hours, he became increasingly difficult to awaken, indicating that the brain swelling and compression from the blood clot were worsening. He needed emergency surgery. Continue reading →

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 →

Nov 11

Husband and Wife

Sustaining severe injuries after his motorcycle collided head on with another motorcycle, Eric Reyes was in semicoma when I first saw him at the Emergency Room. He would not open his eyes no matter what I said or did. He moved his arms and legs only if I put pressure on his ribcage or pinched his fingernails. Although he could still breath on his own, his airway was in danger of obstruction so the trauma team intubated him on arrival at our hospital. Compressing the Ambu bag and having a hard time keeping up with the rhythm of Eric’s breathing was an obviously distraught Ofelia, his wife. Noticing that Ofelia also had scratches on her forehead and arms, I asked, “Bakit sugat-sugat ka rin?” 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 →