Archive for the 'Attitude' Category

27
Jun
12

THE STATE OF BEING GRATEFUL

“The clinical definition of gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.” (sourced via NCBI)

I published this post NOT as a shameless self-promotion but to cultivate gratitude in more people.

01
Jun
12

RANDOM THOUGHTS : FIRST OF JUNE

En route to one part of the island, I captured this advertisement mounted on grab handles in a commuter bus that Tina and I ride daily, the Rapid Penang Bus. It says EAT. PLAY. LOVE. For a moment, it made me wonder whatever happend to PRAY? I answered my own query in thinking that Straits Quay is one of those premiere residences in Penang with luxurious restaurants fronting the sea and not a place of worship. Although, for most of us, we can pray regardless where we are, still it’s a mall and hangout place. We’ve been there once; savored coffee and pastries at Charlie Brown Cafe and we wish to go back whenever we find a chance. I digress.  The tagline of the ad (as well as the title of the movie-novel where it was inspired) made me think if anyone could still complain of a routinary life when all you do is EAT PLAY PRAY LOVE?  One must be so content with life with such limited verbs to do and must be so happy to forget about WORK, PAY BILLS, WORK.

As a young family man in the middle of his 30s, I want to devote more quality time with my family, I still need to do more things, I aspire to go to places I’ve never been to, I need to find a more fertile ground where I and my family could grow best and where better opportunity awaits.

When I’m not satisfied with how things are, it doesn’t follow that I am ungrateful to whatever blessings I receive. It only means I yearn for better things.

When I don’t want to settle for something mediocre, it doesn’t follow that I am arrogant and hard to please. It only means I understand that quality should never be compromised at all times.

Whenever I am anticipating something that’s life-changing and the opposite happens, I remind myself not to dwell in despair.

Now that there are chances to improve life again, I’m constantly keeping my spirit up and hopes high.

My family and I lift everything to the Lord! He knows best for all of us.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” ~Romans 5:5.

I deserve need something greater.

And I know best things happen in His time.

“For I know the plans   I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper   you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11.

29
May
12

CANNONBALL

It’s already past noon when we arrived in Penang Botanical Garden one Sunday this May and despite the Malaysian sun was scorching hot, I did not pass the chance to admire the Cannonball trees again. Like my first visit to this tourist spot about a year ago, I was drawn once more with curiosity and fascination to this tropical tree.

It takes no genius to figure out that its common name was derived from its huge, spherical and heavy fruits.  With its mighty height and branches and twigs that humbly touch the grounds, and with its charming pink, yellow and scarlet blooms, one could either find it so odd and bizaare or uniquely charming and special.  Inspite of the fact that Wiki describes it to possess antibiotic, antifungal, antiseptic and analgesic qualities among other medicinal value, its flowers still lack nectar. Beauty is easily seen and appreciated when we learn to embrace imperfections and flaws.

18
Mar
12

LOOKING AT THE BRIGHTER SIDE

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and in such a speed…It feels an impulsion…this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind the clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond the horizons.” ~Richard Bach 

*The photos were taken from the tiny porch of our 10th floor appartment in Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia overlooking George Town in Penang Island. I frequently look at the sky immediately after arriving home from work and wait for dusk. There I see abundance of priceless blessings!

16
Feb
12

LESSONS FROM THE TREN EXPERIENCE

When you’re unfamiliar to a place and you choose to take the unknown, you have to be ready to digest the consequences. :D This thought dawned on me when my mom suggested for us to take a train ride from our cheap hotel in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur to Petronas Twin Towers-Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex instead of the affordably reliable taxi ride. We all gave in with a smile to my mom’s suggestion so no one’s to blame. We all took the path without the aid of a techie gadget that shows direction; worse without googling the how-to-get-there thing. We should have asked guidance from the spirit of Dora the Explorer before we embarked on such common adventure, LOL! :D

Smiling to our own little misfortune, I took a photo first of our family! With such sweet smiles, who would have thought that we didn’t know where to go next? hahaha!

Perhaps, the idea that the train line of Kuala Lumpur looks quite similar to Manila’s LRT and MRT systems gave us the kick that we would not be lost and we could find our way easily.

Other than I am used to taking the MRT and LRT systems in Manila, I was also fortunate to experienced 2 of the world’s most efficient railway commuting systems- the multi-leveled subways in Tokyo and in Singapore. With some similarities of these trains in mind, I never expected that a portion of KL’s train would give us an unexpected TREK.

We never walked, we didn’t stroll en route to train platforms, we trekked!!! hahaha!

Without a clue of what’s in for us, we were happy to pay RM11 (PhP 154) for the 2 train rides that would take us from Puduraya to KLCC-Suria Shopping Complex; the amount covered 2 adults (Tina and me), a senior citizen (my mom) and a 7-year-old kid (Gabby). It’s really cheaper than taking unmetered taxi cab but it cost us our thighs and legs!

These are the chips the counter gave us that passengers need to tap at the turnstile at the entrance. We thought it’s like chips in slot or vendo machines, hahaha! After asking a man in uniform before the turnstiles, we learned that these chips are only for tapping and there’s no need to drop it until you reach your final destination (sounds like a title of a scary movie! heheh!).

Right or left? What escalator should we take? We had to ask again and confirm. Better to be sure than to assume! We rode the escalator on the right and we took the path to the platform that’s far than you could imagine!

On our search for that train platform, we saw fascinating views…

Signs are there to guide you but nothing stated we’re in for a walkaton…

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish” -John Quincy Adams.

OK, so going down the stairs was easy.

When we reached Masjid Jamek station and rode the first train, we had to alight the next station to transfer to another line that would take us to KLCC-Petronas Twin Towers. This is it! :D

Again it was not a walk, nor a stroll but a trek! hahaha!

forrest gump, is that you? hehe!

We got in the train at no fuss except for the long walk to its platform. Had I googled something about it, we could have been more ready. Nonetheless, it’s a fun experience!

After struggling for directions and being surprised at the ups and downs, literally,  my family and I were still all smiles of course! Look, I captured that moment, haha! (parang hindi pagod!)

Just when we thought that the challenges are over, we’re in again for a new one!

Then Miley Cyrus began humming in my mind : “There’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna make it move.  Always gonna be an uphill battle; sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Aint about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb!”  hahaha! :D

Mamy, Tina, and I, more so Gabby are not ready yet for trekking. It’s not our cup of tea for the moment. Imagine it was only a long walk to the train platforms, up and down steps to the flight of stairs and we were laughing down to our knees! What more a real trek that adventurers and travelers do.

Finally, our destinasi!!!

Napabili tuloy kami ng fresh fruit juices! :D

“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” – Orison Swett Marden

“For every mountain there is a miracle.” -Robert H. Schuller. :D

19
Dec
11

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 2 : ULINGAN, TONDO

18 December, 2011. Sunday. 2nd day of our days off from work in Penang. *Arrival and Day 1 to follow.

Prelude : People who have been chronically exposed to coal dust of about 15 to 2o years are at risk to develop COALWORKERS’ PNEUMOCONIOSIS also known as “black lung disease” which is a progressive and incurable disease. Imagine the plight of those babies, children and their families living in Ulingan.

—————————-

I tried to win the battle against the alarm of my mobile by curling up in bed a bit longer but my sleepy brain was telling me that I  needed to wake up at 4:15AM with the thought that I shouldn’t be late to my appointment on a very early Sunday morning.  Resistance as they say, is futile.  So after my quick but necessary morning rituals, I kissed my wife and our 7-year old son goodbye while they’re still dreaming and immediately hopped on a tricycle from my relatives’ place in Pasig City and rode a jeepney to LRT 2 Santolan Station. From there, I took the train for less than half an hour to Avenida, Recto Manila. One more jeepney ride and I found myself at the corner of Kalaw Avenue.

Because I left the house with an empty stomach, I felt the urgency to fill it in.  I surrendered to one of my favorite Jollibee breakfast meals -fried rice, egg, corned beef and coffee. Solb! :)

En route to our meeting place, I walked through Rizal Park (formerly known as Luneta Park back in my childhood). It’s  good to be back here after some time.

Glad to see you again, fellow MD –JPR.

To say that Rizal’s iconic is an understatement. The sight of his monument was so apt to further fire my willingness that day to participate in a medical mission of PROJECT PEARLS in Ulingan, Tondo, Manila. I had a chance to become a manggagamot again just like JPR in joining this worthwhile activity. Thanks to SIDNEY SNOECK  (a Belgian photojournalist whose heart is in the Philippines and thanks to his facebook account and his famous and award-winning blog, MY SARISARI STORE) that I got to know MELISSA VILLA (the soul behind the charitable organization) and PROJECT PEARLS.

I had arranged the schedule with him few days before my family and I left for Pinas.  Sidney and I met up in front of Manila Hotel at around 7AM and together we went to Ulingan in Tondo, Manila.

In my 35 years of existence, I have heard so much poverty in my country commonly personified by people of Smokey Mountain who thrive in rubbish. But it was only last Sunday when I saw and experienced the gospel truth behind issues I’ve read and heard. The sight was terribly haunting.

Sidney : “Doc, I’m sorry I failed to ask you to wear proper footwear. Your shoes will get muddy and dirty.”

Me : “Don’t worry, it’s already muddy even before we got here.” 

I should’ve been prepared to wear rubber boots (the ones worn by fishermen, wet market vendors, and the like) however, I had no hesitation to soak my shoes just to reach (out to) Ulingan.

Unbelievably, a community exists in this part of Manila.

ULINGAN is a small slum community in Tondo, Manila that sits on a dumpsite and surrounded by charcoal factories that emit toxic smoke; there is no electricity, no access to toilets or sanitation. Children and families have no choice but to live with soot, garbage, mosquitoes, flies all day and all night.  The common meal is “pagpag” (leftover food from fast-food restaurants scavenged from garbage sites). “Pagpag” means to shake away the dirt and maggots in the food.”  -sourced from the website of PROJECT PEARLS.

These are their homes– the abodes where they face life’s challenges, the houses where they build their dreams…

Sidney noticed the potted greens -proof that people of Ulingan still find time to make their surrounding a little pleasant despite and inspite of their condition.

This is their usual food, “pagpag” which is sold at PhP 15 per pack…

This is their common past time…

And this is how they make a living…

Sidney told me that children who work for their families in Ulingan remove the nails from the pieces of wood they collect from else where, then other workers would burn them under an "earth" where smoke is emitted day and night. It takes 2 days before charcoal is ready.

Before a sack of charcoal can be sold to about PhP 320 each….

the end consumer might be clueless that young and small hands were behind those uling...

Imagine breathing the smoke and living with the tons of rubbish day and night. Think of babies born by mothers within Ulingan with only midwife to assist and manage them. Life is unbearable but people here are probably the most resilient to tolerate such difficulties.

The main purpose of my trip to Ulingan began immediately after I was brought to the Project Pearls Learning Center.

Despite my heart was breaking at the sight of everything and everyone in Ulingan, inspite of the fact that my respiratory tract wasn’t getting along well with the polluted atmosphere in that community (I have not puffed a cigarette stick in my entire life but believe me, the feeling was probably worse than chronic smoking. I only spent half day in Ulingan but it also took me another six hours to breathe with less discomfort), I was silently jumping for joy upon seeing these…

Thank you to those who donated medicines for us to prescribe and dispense that day. May God bless us all!

*photo courtesy of ace photojournalist, Sidney Snoeck. Thank you, Sid! Mabuhay ka!

Assessing his frontal mass, apparently an infected wound with a complaint of pain and swelling in his mouth. Because we didn't have sterile instruments, I gave a referral note for surgical consult and management at a nearest hospital.

Do you remember the song, Paraiso sung and recorded by the group, Smokey Mountain and if I’m not mistaken, composed by Ryan Cayabyab?  The lyrics came to my mind when I was in Ulingan…

“Return to a land called paraiso,
A place where a dying river ends.
No birds there fly over paraiso,
No space allows them to endure.
The smoke that screens the air,
The grass that’s never there.And if i could see a single bird, what a joy.
I try to write some words and create
A simple song to be heard
By the rest of the world.

Their eagerness and enthusiasm to read and learn despite and inspite of everything are inspiring! Hope is alive in their hearts!

His eyes tell so much tales…

but his hands and feet certainly melted my heart…

As a father to our 7-year-old son, I feel so much for these kids. They’ve been exposed to unimaginable severities in life and were robbed of their childhood. Look at their eyes and peek into their souls…

It was a day that I will not forget for as long as I live.  Sidney was repeatedly thanking me before we left Ulingan but I told him the pleasure’s mine. Had it not for him and the organization he’s in, I will not be reminded to make the most of what we have, and MUST THINK BEFORE WE COMPLAIN because we are more blessed than people of Ulingan who certainly know how to SMILE AMIDST ADVERSITIES.

Thank you to all my fellow volunteers…

Thank you, Project Pearls, Ms. Melissa Villa and Mr. Sidney Snoeck for giving me a chance to experience this worthwhile endeavor.

Find me in a sea of unsung heroes. It's an honor to be with them! *photo courtesy of the awe-inspiring photojournalist and award-winning blogger, Sidney Snoeck.

Another wonderful shot by Sidney–this time with Lola Felissa, a 99 year old woman from Ulingan. It’s just amazing she’s still up and about, can still walk and stand straight as if she’s not in her late geriatric years!

One more year and Lola Felissa from Ulingan will be a centenarian! I have not even lived half of the years she enjoyed in life! Mabuhay ka, Lola Felissa! *photo by Sidney Snoeck.

Thank you for these priceless smiles that bid us goodbye…

You can make these children’s lives a little better through your donations and/or by supporting the activities of PROJECT PEARLS; contact the organization via their website at ProjectPearls.Org

——————

*This is the first of the series of our Christmas vacation in the Philippines; DAY 1 to follow soon.   May our CHRISTmas and holiday celerbations be happy and meaningful.  Let us always count our blessings!  God bless us! :)

18
Nov
11

10 THINGS I RELEARNED FROM MY FIRST IELTS EXPERIENCE

It might be a simple and petty exam for some but it was an experience for me. I took the International English Language Testing System exam–ACADEMIC (the other type is General Training), offered by the British Council last 5th November in George Town, Penang, Malaysia as per requirement of my present work as a medical lecturer. I took the RISK and defied a famous Chinese philosopher’s quote.

[1] PREPARATION IS KEY TO SUCCESS.  Indubitably, the quote above is true (It’s used in The Amazing Race, Season 19, in their Taiwan-leg recently). Gearing up properly for something will definitely yield positive. As for my case, perhaps, the stars, the moon and lady luck were all on my side when I sat in the exam. Seriously, I owe it much to the good Lord for He is great and merciful. He made it possible for me to pass despite I barely had review! I only spent two days of browsing the review materials that I printed from the web. Like Confucius, I absolutely do not recommend braving a war without a sword.

With Tina and Gabby in tow, I went to the British Council office before 9AM exactly a week prior to my test date. I downloaded and printed IELTS application form from their website and filled it out, brought my passport and 2 identical recent passport photos and the fee (to be reimbursed by our medical university), RM 570 (USD  182 or PhP 7,860; cheaper here compared to Pinas when Tina took it last 2007 it’s PhP 8640 then).

I asked the pleasantly looking Chinese-Malaysian lady staff at the counter who received me  that Saturday morning if November 5th testing date is still open. I got a nod and so I decided not to prolong the agony.  I told myself silently, “Let’s go, let’s do this!” :)

My IELTS memorabilia : receipt of application form with log-in number to free 30-hour online review which I failed to use, my candidate number and claim stub to my bag, my bag's tag number, official pencil & eraser, and my passport (recognized JPR wearing shades on the cover?)

[2] PUNCTUALITY INDICATES COMMITMENT.  I woke up before 6 in the morning of 5th November, Saturday;  hit the shower, drank my much-needed caffeine dose, filled my tummy a bit with noodles and hurriedly hopped on the bus to Penang Sentral. I waited for few minutes for the ferry and headed to George Town in about 12min-ride. At the jetty in the island, I rode the free shuttle Rapid Penang bus that took me to Cititel Hotel in Jalan Penang (notice my blog header?) or Penang Road.  I fortunately arrived 15 minutes before the 8AM call time for the exam. I would not have forgiven myself if I came late for the test. FYI, I am rarely late on any schedule I commit unless there’s valid reason.  Intentional tardiness doesn’t run in my blood.

[3]  FOCUS ON THE TASK GETS THE JOB DONE RIGHT.   At Level 3 of Cititel Hotel where ballrooms are located, I saw the volume of examinees across all ages and races waiting patiently for any instructions from the British Council invigilators. I instantly noticed a single laminated poster on the wall with directions and labeled illustrations of the Philips wireless headsets to be provided for the LISTENING TEST. I took mental note of its knobs, how to turn it on, how to adjust its volume.   

I greeted with a smile one of my foreign colleagues who was also there for the test (No one from our office knew I was taking the exam few weeks after it was required to all teaching staff). I immediately texted Tina that I have arrived at the venue and kept no interactions with anyone after. Soon, I collected myself and concentrated on the exam ahead.

Few minutes after 8AM, the senior invigilators announced the start of registration. With other IELTS examinees, I queued after 2 bladder trips to the toilet. I needed to empty my bladder to avoid physiological distractions during the exam.  I presented my passport as my ID, got a claim stub and a tag with my candidate number for my bag and long umbrella (part of the instructions was to bring drinking water on a clear and transparent bottle, I followed but chose to keep mine in my bag and did not drink until the first 3 areas were done), and subjected myself for body search before entering the test venue (hotel’s ballroom). 

With only my passport at hand and claim stub for my things, I finally found myself seated at the last desk of the middle column of examinees with the designated desk and my candidate number. I immediately tried the wireless headset and tear the plastic pack of mechanical pencil and eraser provided for the test.

[4] PRAYERS CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS.  Despite the shame that I did not prepare enough, I still silently uttered a short prayer and called for divine intervention. (I disregarded the thought that God the Father, Jesus and His Holy Spirit might be busy on more difficult problems of the world, hehe! Certainly, I know the Lord has time for everyone).

[5] FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS IS AS IMPORTANT AS BREATHING. The tables were turned. The moment came when the examiner became the examinee.  As a very strict educator(thousands of my Filipino students can attest this!), I am definitely aware how crucial it is to follow instructions correctly. And so I became so keen in observing directions as the examination began with the Listening test that required, “Answers should be not more than 2 words, or answers should not be more than a word or a number…”  

An excess word or unecessary answer to what is asked will lead you dead (read : wrong mistakes! haha!)

[6] ALWAYS ASK WHENEVER SKEPTICAL. Asking questions to the official invigilators by raising hand to catch their attention was allowed.  I did that when I had no idea on how to fill out and shade my candidate number on the answer sheetAfter I got a response, I was back on track. I tried to be in my best fighting form! :D

[7] BEING CONSCIOUS OF TIME GIVES YOU A GREAT EDGE. The four components of IELTS -Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking are all time-limited. Each test and subtest has specified duration that ranges from 20 minutes, 40 minutes to maximum of an hour. No extensions are given to whatsoever reason. Time is indeed golden!

[8] BE MINDFUL OF YOUR OBSTACLES. I thank the Lord that despite my rush decision of taking the exam without formal review, I managed to read some materials that somehow introduced me to the test itself.  More so, Tina guided me with her reminders and important inputs about the exam (FYI, she took and passed IELTS twice; first in Auckland, New Zealand where she got overall band score 7.0 back in 2005 with no review too, then she had to retake as it expired 2 years after. Her overall band score was again 7.0).

Instructions are given verbally on microphone heard over our headsets and are also written on the front page of every questionnaire. It is important not to turn the page of the sheets unless told to do so.

The LISTENING TEST is composed of various recorded conversations played (without replays of course).  The examinees answer the questions as the exam progresses. There are total of 40 questions to answer with specified number of words or letter of the answer as some questions provide multiple choices.

The READING TEST comes after Listening test.  In my module, there are three 2-page-articles to read with series of questions. Answers are in the form of words, letters of the answers, or letter of the specific paragraph. Similar to Listening test, there are also 40 blanks on the answer sheet to fill out with correct answers under given time.

The WRITING TEST is the last part of the first session of IELTS exam.  It has two parts and as explained verbally by the invigilator; its second part has more weight (40 minutes allotted) than the first part (20 minute for report or graph interpretation). I also noted the instructions given : “Use the third page for your essay and first and second page for your report.”

With much ease on the topic, I did the essay part first. The topic was like, “There should be more financial investment on teaching Science than in other subjects. Agree or Disagree?”  And being an educator for 8 years now with Medicine degree and BS Biology in my bloodstream, this really seemed like within my comfort zone. Nonetheless, I certainly know the scoring for this part would be subjective. And absoultely, SCORING is SOMETHING NOT IN MY CONTROL. 

The first part was a bar graph with topic on something like “comparative study on factors that determine success in business from correspondents in USA and EUROPE.”  Just when I was hoping to get a line graph, my exam had bar graph.  The report-interpretation with 20 minute-allotment requires the examinees to have at least 150 word-composition and the second part’s word count should be not less than 250. Again, everything should be accomplished under  specified time.

[9] KEEP IT ORIGINAL AS REPETITION IS LESS GOOD.  In WRITING TEST, keep your brain cells nurtured with tons of SYNONYMS, ADJECTIVES and ADVERBS.  Avoid using the same word more than once and utilize subject-verb agreement with utmost care. Thou shall not observe flight of ideas!  Do not digress! Stay on the topic and make sure to provide an introduction,  body and discussion and lastly, conclusion.

[10]  FLUENCY DOESN’T GUARANTEE SUCCESS, SPONTANEITY DOES! I am astronomically far from being fluent in English as it’s only my second tongue, however, I had no choice but to conquer the last part of the IELTS -the SPEAKING EXAM.  It dawned on me that one may be an expert at something but his expertise may be futile without being consistent and spontaneous.

I was neither fluent nor spontaneous and so I am not content with how I conducted myself during the SPEAKING test.  I never felt so awkward with any questions before!  I tried to be composed with proper hand gestures and facial expressions but everything did not fall into what I expected.

First few minutes of the test was a breeze. I was aksed to describe the CITY in my own country where I lived, then after several descriptive attempts on my end, the British-looking lady-assessor shifted the topic into BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS in childhood and adulthood in my country. We also talked about WEEKENDS (how do I spend my weekends, plan of activities for the next weekend, etc).  Then out of nowhere, she asked me about ANIMALS. Describing domesticated animals versus the wild was easy. I even relayed the importance of having pets at home and compared it with the extinct animals in their natural habitat. I even spoke of PETA, the non-governmental organization that cares for all shapes and sizes of animals (Thank God, I wasn’t asked of the definition of that acronym, LOL!).

Everything went well until we came to the second half of the SPEAKING  TEST. She handed me a manual where 3 questions were written (They were like, “Name an animal peculiar to your country. Describe it and its location where it thrives.” –something like that). 

At that moment, I became uneasy. Probably, because I wanted the whole day to end in a blink.  I initially thought of describing the Philippine monkey-eating eagle however, I believed I can say more about the carabaos or the water buffalos. hahaha! I needed to be like an authority to talk about that animal to salvage my score. And so I started with its physical characteristics.  Imagine me saying, “Carabaos or water buffalos are huge herbivores, black with 2 horns and 4 legs and a tail, LOL! hahaha! While controlling myself to burst into laughter, I continued by saying, “Unlike in Penang where farming is mechanized, these animals in my country are used by farmers in plowing rice fields.  Carabaos are commonly found in most rice-producing provinces in our country. ” I even mentioned the that “there’s a carabao festival in Bulacan (forgive me if it’s not in Bulacan!), a province located at the North of Manila, where these animals are featured kneeling in front of a Catholic Church just before they go on parade and participate in a race.” 

Never it crossed my mind that I will be speaking about CARABAOS on my SPEAKING TEST!  I cringed and wanted to shrink  from my seat, nonetheless after about 20 minutes, I was relieved to complete the entire IELTS exam and it was indeed one for the books!

Here’s how they grade The IELTS 9-band scale

There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Candidates are graded on their performance, using scores from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The results from the four parts then produce an Overall Band Score.

This unique 9-band system measures scores in a consistent manner – wherever and whenever the test is taken. It is internationally recognised and understood, giving you a reliable international currency. IELTS scores have a recommended validity period of two years.

Each band corresponds to a level of English competence. All parts of the test and the Overall Band Score can be reported in whole and half bands, eg 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0.

Band 9: Expert user: has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

Band 8: Very good user: has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

Band 7: Good user: has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

Band 6: Competent user: has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Band 5: Modest user: has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

Band 4: Limited user: basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.

Band 3: Extremely limited user: conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

Band 2: Intermittent user: no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Band 1: Non-user: essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

Band 0: Did not attempt the test: No assessable information provided.
Sourced from www.IELTS.org

Fast forward to THIRTEEN DAYS AFTER, the results were out. 

MY PERSONAL POST-RESULT ASSESSMENT : I realized I didn’t compose an arguement on my essay part of the Writing test. The topic was simple and was indeed within my comfort zone however, I just thought that the score could have been higher had I used the phrases, “In contrast…..” “On the otherhand…” or perhaps, “The other side of the coin shows…” Nonetheless, I cannot be thankful enough.

Are erasures and cleanliness parts of the criteria in marking the Writing component of IELTS? Do you have any idea?

Maraming salamat sa kalabaw at naka- 8 po ako sa Speaking test, LOL! :)

I am now certified fluent in 3 languages, Tagalog, English (kunyari lang!), and Sarcasm! hehe!

Seriously, my family and I are always thankful for all blessings -big and small.  Glory to God! Thank You, Oh LORD! :)

15
Nov
11

SOMETHING ABOUT THANK YOU

Feeding the ego or lauding the soul? Either way, I know perception is relative. I’m posting these compiled proofs of GRATITUDE because I’M PROUD not of their praises but of the fact that GRATEFULNESS still EXISTS in this age when almost everything is digital, wireless or remotely controlled.  

Chatty's one of my former Filipino Nursing students, registered and currently enjoying her life in Europe. She's one of my most intelligent students; her class was a gem!

 Appreciation, if freely given makes you happy, definitely!

Eric's also a former Filipino Nursing student, now licensed and is into traveling and photography. He's one of my most responsible and behaved male students (at least on my class); others were notorious.

 In whatever form, expressions of THANK YOU always leave a healthy scar on the heart. :)

Hannah's one of my Malaysian PreMed students who's now in Galway, Ireland studying Medicine in one of those schools affiliated with my current work place.

 On a much lighter note, even CELEBRITIES know how to say THANK YOU to anonymous soul like me.

Exhibit A : Jim Paredes of the ever famous Filipino singing group APO, replied to my email when I asked him about schedules of his photography class in Patis Tesoro’s garden cafe in Quezon after Christmas (I got a negative response but made me smile ear to ear!)….

Exhibit B :  Immediately after watching The Kitchen Musical on AXN (musical TV series presently being shown all over Asia where Filipino artists are featured with no less than Gerard Salonga as musical director and arranger), I tweeted Karylle Tatlong Hari (the star of the show and daughter of Zsazsa Padilla) and she INSTANTLY sent me DM!  *kilig*

Exhibit C : A simple appreciation of my unsolicited advice in one of CVS’ well-read posts. Those words were short but totally spoke of acknowledgment.

I therefore conclude, GRATITUDE is the BEST ATTITUDE!

When did you last utter the words, THANK YOU? 

What were your most memorable recognition or acts of gratefulness?

Me? The mere fact that my family and I are waking up every morning is more than enough to be thankful for! 

Thank you to those people who are appreciative.  Sana huwag kayo maging extinct! :)

 

 

19
Sep
11

ABOUT LAST WEEKEND

This was how God greeted us last Saturday noon when we viewed Him from our porch…

It was a sunshiny day too perfect to go to the Island.  It was a long weekend, by the way, because last Friday, 16th September, 2011 was Malaysia’s 54th Merdeka or Independence Day! However, Tina and I were actually lazy to go out last Saturday and had psyched ourselves to spend it at home, rest, eat and do Grey’s Anatomy marathon (We loved Season 7 Episode 18 – the Musical episode of that Medical drama).

The plan to be a bum at home didn’t push through. I was too weak to resist Gabby’s wish to accompany him to the Island. OK, fine, I also shared the same thoughts with my kid. :D  So while Tina had her much deserved-rest at home, Gabby and I hopped on the bus, went to the jetty in Penang Sentral and headed to the Island…

Enroute to Georgetown aboard the ferry…

Round trip Ferry rides from Butterworth to Georgetown jetty cost RM 1.20 per adult (PhP 16.8) and RM 0.60 sen (cents or PhP 8.40) per kid. And you only pay once at Butterworth (so if you’re coming from the Penang airport or anywhere in Georgetown, crossing to Butterworth is always free).

Another very short bus ride took us here at Sweetenham Pier..

Gabby and I had the chance to board a 12,000 ton vessel and the boy was as excited as his dad.

No we didn’t go on a cruise! How we wish, but you certainly know we won’t board a cruise ship without our muse (Tina of course!).

We went to Logos Hope, the world famous floating library that took its maiden voyage to Malaysia this year; docked in Penang since last week of August and will leave for other parts of Malaysia prior to Singapore on 25th September.


“A community of 400 UNPAID VOLUNTEERS from over 45 nationalities lives and works together on board Logos Hope. With over 5,000 book titles bringing knowledge, help and hope to the world…” Absolutely it’s a unique and inspiring experience! :)

Has Logos Hope visited your country already?  Check it out…

Apparently, it already docked in the Philippine shores too but it took us to become expats in Penang before we get to experience it.

The little kid was so happy on board the floating library…

There’s a book for everyone, even if you’re looking for the most delicious ones…

Since this largest floating book fair travels through so many countries, book titles are priced in units and there are a charts provided that convert the unit prices into local currency…

Titles are so varied and mostly affordable.

Logos Hope has different sections, prior to the main book fair, there’s a “Welcome LifeBoat Theater”. There’s that “Journey of Life” that will surely melt your heart by merely looking at the illustrations on the wall; they tell story even without trying…

Those walls will make you reflect in a blink…It cuts through me.

Then there’s everyone’s favorite part of Logos Hope, the International Cafe where you can have ice cream or coffee or both, depends on how you were inspired by those books, haha!

Volunteers of different colors and hair-dos try to make kids’ visit to Logos Hope more fun and memorable; they even hand away colorful sculpted balloons…

Imagine the passion and dedication these unpaid volunteers have as they serve Logos Hope; truly inspiring…

I know I still have a lot of grains to swallow, but as a young father and a medical educator, I say it’s so easy for any fool to teach anyone to earn a livinlifeg but it takes a ton of passion and skills and dedication to teach anyone how to live a life.

I’m glad I accompanied my son to Logos Hope last Saturday. We both learned beyond books.

12
Sep
11

TALES FROM A TAXI CAB DRIVER IN SINGAPORE

We met some people in Singapore. We even encountered ourselves. :)

After we took a bus from Bencoolen Street and alighted at One Fullerton, we made a decision in a heart beat that we need to postpone the plan of strolling at Merlion Park, Esplanade and enjoy the view of Marina Bay Sands to a later time because the sun was scorching hot that morning.  We opted to go ahead of schedule to Universal Studios.

And so I led my family to walk towards the waiting shed and with an outstretched right arm, I waived for a taxi cab. Clueless that we were waiting in the wrong side, I wondered why cabs without top lights that say ‘hired’ would not stop and pick us up (read: taxi cabs should take passengers from the side street and not from the main road–logical enough!).

Until one of the cab drivers on the main road signaled me to wait at the back of the bus stop and took us in.

Meet Andrew, the Singaporean taxi driver who sounded like more Filipino than we are…

Singaporean taxi cab driver, Andrew with Gabby

At first, I didn’t know how he easily spotted that we’re Filipinos, it must be how we speak. As the unusual friendly taxi-driver-and-passenger-conversation started and went on, Tina and I found ourselves so engaged with Andrew’s little stories about our own country.

My cynical brain initially thought that this guy’s cheap words about his passengers’ home country were just randomly uttered to tourists’ fascination for time being but I was completely wrong.  Andrew really knows and likes the Philippines not only because his money could buy more for him in our country but he fell in love with almost everything back home.He mentioned he has been to the Philippines several times and that his travels already took him to Iloilo, Cebu, Davao and Makati City.  Tina, with so much amusement told him, “You’ve been to a lot places in the Philippines than we do.”

He described how he felt when he bought an entire lechon (roasted pig) somewhere in Cebu and shared it to the locals, mostly kids of various ages that he found along the beach.

Andrew’s also aware of unpleasant news back home. He also recalled being with his cousin in a Korean restaurant in Greenbelt Mall in Makati and suddenly was shocked upon hearing gun shots during the time that the Rolex watch store in the said mall was robbed. He also mentioned that he knows the tragic tourist bus hostage drama that involved Hong Kong nationals in Rizal Park in Manila. For a moment, I sanked in my seat; I cringed. But despite all those, he still spoke highly of the Philippines.

Apparently, Andrew fell in love with the Philippines. He elaborated that he likes the freshest and affordable seafoods, pristine beaches and simplicity of rural life in Iloilo, he remembered how he enjoyed his stay in Shangri La Mactan Hotel in Cebu and was so fascinated with Davao. Then, Andrew professed his desire to buy a condo unit in Makati City someday.
While some of us, Filipinos feel that the Philippines is hopeless, we met a Singaporean who plans to retire in our own country someday.
Upon reaching USS, he even instructed us where to go to find its entrance. I gave him S$50 because I didn’t have smaller bill; I was expecting him to get a tip on top of the taxi rate but he did not. It was one of the most fascinating taxi cab rides that Tina, Gabby and I experienced. The trip from One Fullerton to USS was short, but definitely extraordinary.

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Beyond Toxicity’s Singapore Blog series includes:

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23
Aug
11

DURING OUR TRYING TIMES…

PRAYERS are all we can offer against all trials that our family has been experiencing. Unbelievably, things have been emotionally, physically and financially draining but it is only through prayers that we gain strength and could keep our sanity intact amidst things that are happening beyond our understanding.

Just last Saturday, I was informed that Joshua, my 12 year old nephew back home had CVA (cerebrovascular accident), commonly known as stroke. His case was a result of an aneurysm or ballooning and rupture of blood vessels in his brain brought about by AVmal (arteriovenous malformation); unknown to all of us, he had that intracerebral vascular abnormality since the day he was born.

Who would have thought that a very active youngster as Joshua who has been playing basketball with his team in their school and community has congenital vascular abnormality that can suddenly lead to stroke?

I saw my nephew grow before my eyes and I can personally and professionally attest that his medical history had remained unremarkable until the said diagnosis. He even engaged in a game before he had the attack at home last weekend. He was immediately brought to the ER of The Medical City in Ortigas, was admitted to ICU and subjected to diagnostic imaging procedures (CT scan, angiogram).

When I called my mom, I chanced to talked to one of my nephew’s MDs; she confirmed it’s AV mal that led to bleed. Two days after, he was put under the knife to evacuate the clots and repair the 4 intracerebral blood vessels. According to my brother (Joshua’s dad), the first operation was a success to initially repair the 3 blood vessels, and his son will be operated on for the second time (hopefully the last) today, Tuesday.

(At such a young age,)  He’s already post left frontal burr craniectomy with placement of ICP monitoring device, post embolization of left parietal arteriovenous malformation and craniotomy, evacuation of hematoma.

We ask for prayers for his uneventful surgeries and less complicated recovery.

Months ago, when my paternal grandmother passed away, one of my aunts failed to bear the situation, she also incurred stroke and until now, has been undergoing rehabilitation and recuperation. Our prayers also go out to my Tita Violy.

I need not elaborate on our other domestic problems; nothing can be more difficult than having family members with physical ailments. In my almost 35 years of existence, it has already dawned on me that life’s full of inevitable challenges but we believe we have a good Lord who’s definitely bigger than our burdens.

Life goes on.

We just have to keep the faith.

And uplift our spirits.

UPDATE : As of Tueday, 23rd Aug 2011, accdg to my relatives back home, his operation went well, the clot that was removed as per their description was as big as an apple. 72 hours post-op observation is highly critical, so please help us in praying for joshua’s recuperation. thank you po.

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About the photo above : Sunset viewed from our porch last 22 August 2011. For some, sundown is perceived negatively, i think otherwise; it’s a promise of a new hope, a fresh beginning.

14
Aug
11

QUOTES

“Love and respect those people who treat you right, and do nothing but pray for those who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy.”    -from twitter.

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

- Proverbs 13:20

“The Lord is my light & salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”   – Psalm 27:1 NIV

*What are your favorite inspiring quotes?

30
Mar
11

MUDRAS : INSPIRING GESTURES

I consider myself lucky for being exposed to fascinating diversities that are so apparent in my current work place and its surroundings.  Penang isn’t only a foodie’s paradise but a multi-racial haven where various cultures and religions breathe and thrive harmoniously.

In a community where Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism (and Christianity) mix peacefully, I found myself having profound respect for these religions. Despite my minimal knowledge about them, my fancy was heightened gradually with  anything that symbolizes love, peace and humility.

Just when I brought my wife+kid and our visiting friend to 2 Buddhist temples in the heart of Penang Island, I never expected that something would still be interesting considering that it was already my 3rd time to be there last week, nonetheless, it felt like every visit offers a remarkable charm.

Inside the temple, documenting the hand gestures of images of Buddha, the ones they called Mudras happened spontaneously…

Abhaya Mudra – Imparting Fearlessness, Reassurance, Protection, Blessing.

Dhyana Mudra.  This mudra signifies meditation
Varada Mudra – Symbolizing Charity…
Vitarka Mudra – Intellectual Argument, Debate, Appeasement, Teaching, Giving Instruction, Reason…
Dharmachakra Mudra. Teaching, Preaching, Turning the Wheel of Dharma…
And the other hand signs… 

that despite unlabeled, obviously represent simplicity, wisdom, enlightenment, truth and other values of Buddhism…

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” -Buddha.

On the lighter side of things, my son, Gabby was so natural as he tried to absorb the atmosphere inside the temple…
*Any insights and additional inputs on Mudras and Buddhism in general, are highly appreciated.”
22
Mar
11

THEIR FIRST FEW DAYS IN PENANG

Je suis tellement heureuse pour vous. Dis bonjour à Ma’am Santos :)

Que Dieu vous bénisse toujours :)

(I’m so happy for you. Say hello to Ma’am Santos :) May God bless you always) -This was one of the several comments I’ve received on facebook after I’ve posted a photo of my son and wife’s arrival in Penang International Airport last Saturday. Those words came from my wife’s student, Myeen, who’s born in Belgium and raised in France.  Pinas but spent her 10 years in Belgium and had traveled France and some countries in Europe. I always have my widest smile every time she posts comments on French; such a beautiful language I wish I could learn. Won’t you be happy if others are happy for you and your family as well?

20 March 2011, Sunday : On board the ferry that takes us to and from Butterworth to Penang Island; ferry takes approx 12 minute ride; kinda relaxing for me unless there's inevitable little isolated hassles. (tingnan nyo si ate, nakatingin sa mag-ina ko, hehe!)

And so I became the happiest man alive on the day I finally brought my family to Penang. They’ll be staying here with me until God knows when.They arrived safely from Manila to Kuala Lumpur via Cebu Pacific (4-hour-flight) then had another flight from KL to Penang via Air Asia (about an hour-flight). I saw them coming out of Penang Airport at around 6:10PM last Saturday. That moment was surreal!

We’re all thankful to the Lord for despite the vertigo episodes that Tina was having during their entire flight until they reached Penang (imagine, she fainted down to her knees in front of the immigration officer at Kuala Lumpur-LCCT airport) plus the fact that she was only one to carry all the 37 kg of check-in luggages and 13 kg of handful of cabin-bags, not to forget that the rains (only) poured from heavens when we’re already in the cab enroute to our condo, they arrived safe and sound. God was indeed good all the time!

Tina wanted to hear mass the next day but I knew there’s no scheduled English mass last Sunday at the parish where I frequent so we postponed it the following weekend.

We hopped onto Rapid Penang bus, hit the roads to the jetty, transferred to the ferry then took bus again to the Island. (Cest la vie for we’re still living in Penang mainland, but before August hopefully, we get to transfer to a new place in the Island itself).

I took them to Queensbay Mall, one of my favorite malls in Penang Island where I usually spend my days off inside its coffee shops and cinemas. Tina and Gabby only had one chance to go to Queensbay during their 2-week-break here last December.

At the Queens food court, we feasted on Beef Fried Rice, Yee Mee noodle dish, peanut and lotus balls (aka buchi) and Too Foo Far in brown sugar, of in Pinas we call it, taho less tapioca or sago. Sarap kumain pagkasalo pamilya!

Then we watched the movie that had Johnny Depp’s voice, Rango…

Rango : "No man can walk out on his own story."

It wasn’t difficult to like Rango for the three of us are all followers of most Johnny Depp’s kiddie-movies. The fantastic visuals and spectacular scenes plus the splendid voices rendered to the animated cast made the movie truly entertaining. Rango, like most contemporary cartoons is filled with matured themes and quotes that kids might find to early to absorb. Like how many kids can easily grasp the importance of a hero finding his true self? Nonetheless, I saw Gabby smiled and laughed at few chase scenes and that was enough for me as I start to fill in those days that we’re away from each other.

The following day after my work hours, we visited few of our colleague-friends’ home-away-from-home.

Gabby, striking his seriously wacky pose at the hallway of the condo we visited.

It’s so comforting that my fellow MD lecturers welcomed my family to their living rooms (actually, i personally requested if we can peek in at their condos for Tina to have an idea of how Pulau Pinang urban living looks like). You don’t have idea how hard it is to live as an expat with barely friends and relatives you have lived with since you existed until you become one.

Chance led me to discover the song that’s so apt for our present family status.

I honestly don’t know who Bruno Mars is and am completely clueless with his music until I stumbled upon this wonderful song that speaks my thoughts exactly. Please do yourself a favor, click the video and sing to your heart’s delight! Let me know of what you think.

Tina and I are aware that we took the big leap as we begin to live and thrive here in Penang that’s absolutely far from our own comfort zones. We’re taking one day at a time; hopefully in God’s will, we may be able to become happier, healthier as we begin our new life here.

What’s most important now is we’re one family again.

God bless all our loved ones!

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14
Mar
11

SOME THINGS TO ABSORB

Have you ever thought of spending at least an hour of your week with no worries even a bit; and just be child-like again? Thinking about it almost seemed like a luxury already but I did. I already did. :D

Five weeks ago, I decided to pursue my frustration want of learning to play the violin.  I know I am a beginner and I will not have to be defensive in stating that it’s never too late to learn anything because it’s damn true. If you must know, every hour of my theoretical and practical violin sessions with my 21-year-old (read : I’ll be turning 35 on September) Chinese teacher, who has been a violinist and a pianist for 5 years and counting and a very patient and passionate at her work (she does other jobs too), I never think of any worries and do nothing but enjoy the moment. It’s always fun to be child-like again!

I always look forward to my Wednesday dates with Amanda (my violin). Browsing and reading music scores from these kiddie-beginner’s books accompanied by CD, however difficult (to coordinate my hand with my eyes) is always fun for I like what I’m doing . Aren’t they cute? haha! :P

It’s hard to learn violin when you don’t have any background in playing the piano, worse, in reading the notes. But there’s nothing difficult for someone who perseveres!

haha! :D

FYI, I’m done with more or less, 10 practice songs with bowing and open hand and just started learning to play the violin with the songs using 1 finger (After 10 or more songs, then we’ll proceed with 2nd finger, 3rd finger and lastly the 4th with variations on notes of course).

I also dared myself to learn a bit of taking photos (some called it photography) last month and began to look at everything as a photo-opportunity. :D  Everything is almost picturesque with Alfonso (my Nikon D7000).

One of my senior colleagues, who happens to know photography since I’m 2 years old, have been generous in sharing some of his tips and whatnot about the hobby. He advised me and another fellow to buy and read some photography books and magazines because, according to him, it is only through it and by practice that we will learn. I couldn’t agree more.

One afternoon at Popular Bookstore in George Town, Penang, he suggested a book which I bought the next day. It’s by 2 Asian authors with title, A Billion Shots.

The book is beautiful. The photos are fantastic. I am considering sharing it to my few readers, by buying a new one and have it as one of the prizes to my upcoming blog anniversary contest (This humble site will turn 4 on May 8 and the small-time-blogger-from-Penang, ehem, that’s me! hehe, is thinking of throwing another contest for his tribe or cult(?) (that’s you!) next month).

Other than those books, I also took the word from my senior colleague to buy affordable photo-magazine that features D7000 and tricks on how to capture gorgeous pictures.

Time is all I need to browse and absorb them all.

What have you been busy browsing?

It’s fun to forget about work. forget about hassles. forget about monthly bills. forget about homesickness. forget about people who don’t value you. even for just an hour. The moment is priceless!

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PS : I used to read few of Dan Brown books and would like to continue on more titles when i find time. I’d like to continue reading paperbacks soon… And you?

09
Feb
11

WATZUP, DOC?

We’re only half way through the week but I felt I have done so much of both unimportant and essential things.  I have been quite preoccupied with several things that were good enough to slightly diminished my boredom and homesickness.   

Work has been busier lately with the incoming lectures in Anatomy-Physiology; coupled with its Laboratory or Practicals and Tutorials for PreMed; an almost endless everyday-meetings with my colleagues and bosses but I am not complaining. Despite of the paper works and powerpoint presentations that go with it, I am grateful for so many things the past weeks and could not entertain to think any negative thoughts.

There’s still that nightly Skype with Tina and Gabby, regular preparation of my baon (cooked foods + fruits) to work, ironing my work wear, washing laundry and dishes –things that an expat do on a daily basis. Nakakapagod din minsan! Talaga naman!

But who would not be excited if you know you’ll be reunited with your family in 38 days and counting?  Just last night, I took out my credit card (again!) and purchased airfare tickets via online reservations at Cebu Pacific (MLA-KUL) and Air Asia (KUL-PEN) for Tina and Gabby. 

They’ll be coming over with 20 kg of luggage each on March 19. Yeeha! They’ll be here with me in Penang for at least we (Tina and I) have contracts with our employers. (FYI, Tina nailed a 1-year renewable contract with Penang Adventist Hospital during her 2-week December break here but she still has to wait for the release of her Malaysian Nursing Council Registration before she can start exploring the Operating Room).

Remember, AMANDA ,my violin?  We’ve started playing music together for the very first time as I’ve started my weekly beginners’ class with her. Ang saya, during the one-hour session, I’ve relived my rondalia days when I was in Grade 4 playing banduria with my schoolmates.

And tomorrow, I’ll bring my other toy baby,  ALFONSO to work to try to capture some scenes and whatnot. I still have to exert efforts in reading its manual, online forum on photography and ask anyone who cares to share their expert opinion about getting started on DSLR photography to a newbie like me.

I’m in love with my camera and violin.

I have started watching a TV series of a psycho killer named DEXTER via downloaded episodes online copied directly to my external drive from my colleague-friends. They’re at Season 5 already, I just started with Season 3 Episode 1 this afternoon and to think that there are 12 episodes per season, there are more to catch up with them.

At this early, I am thinking things like transferring to a new condo for rent at the Island on or before August –this means, I and Tina have to be ready with at least RM3000 (xPhP 14) for the 2 months advance, 1 month deposit plus budget for things to buy like the basics of urban living.  And then there’s Gabby’s education here.  I’m planning with Tina’s approval, to enrol him first to piano lessons (Gabby prefers it than violin) on April then scout with them an  appropriate school for our kid. I think we can enlist him on or before January intake here; at least we have the resources by that time; I hope. *crossed fingers*

I also have other financial and family problems that are not supposed to be discussed publicly. Oops, did I just mention it?

I try not to dwell on problems that I cannot handle alone. I’d better be busy with something more fun and productive.

I still wish to spend a whole day sleeping in my bed, thinking of nothing. I am so weak to do it!

And you?

How’s life treating you lately, if  I may ask?

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17
Jan
11

10 THINGS I HAVE NOT DONE BEFORE

One of my friends of 18 years and counting, and the same person who introduced me to the world of blogging, Rob of Sensory Replays (to quote his verb-) urged his fellow bloggers to do a post similar with his.  He even required everyone who will follow suit to name the entry “10 things I have not done before.”  So obedient as I am, here goes my own boring list…*drum roll, please!* 

1. VIOLIN.  I want to learn how to play it, seriously. The thought didn’t come suddenly but a childhood dream. I cannot put into words how fascinated I am with this string instrument; each time I get to watch an orchestra play, my ears are always biased to its sound. 

You can just imagine my extreme excitement last Saturday, when my senior colleague told me that she and another MD-lecturer-friend are already scheduled to start violin and voice classes respectively in a Chinese-own Music School here in Penang. I immediately asked the rate per hour, and it’s reasonably affordable, RM 60/4 sessions in a month (that’s exactly RM 15 per hour x 4 sessions or PhP 210/session).  The instrument can be purchased from the Music School too.  Let’s wait and see…soon!

2. GO BALD. I wanted to sport a skin head for the longest time but Tina doesn’t allow me.

Admittedly, at 34 I have thinning locks. Thanks to my dad who unfortunately inherited me with hair attributes of poor quality (thin strands in less volume, got used to it already, so no worries).  Now, I can sense that the time is near to sport a new look but not too soon. *bagay kaya? vote now!*

3. ORGANIZE A CHARITY EVENT.  Another blog buddy, Chyng of No Spam, No Virus, No Kiddin’   inspired me after she successfully put up a Christmas party and gift-giving and more for the kids of a certain orphanage in Bulacan recently.  I think everyone who knows her should follow her footsteps in doing such generous endeavor.  At her young age, hats off ako kay Chyng!

I am not promising to do it this year but with a goal and plans in mind, I know things will spring soon.

4.  SLEEP ALL DAY and DO NOTHING.  I used to sleep less and wake up early.  Like even weekends, I have my body clock set with such schedule. I want to experience how it is to be narcoleptic and lazy for a day.  

5. SERIOUSLY SAVE, SAVE and SAVE.  *enough said*

6. SINGAPORE, INDIA and other parts of ASIA.  I could have included countries in Europe but with our personal 2011 financial outlook, a lifelong dream for a European trip shall have to be frozen until that time comes.  For now, traveling to neighboring Asian countries might be feasible but still subject for budget approval. *wink*

7.  GET MY OWN DOMAIN.  How does docgelo.com sounds like?  Honestly, I don’t have any idea of getting my own domain. Help! Only heard that it’s cheap per yearly rate and that’s it. On the second thought, I don’t want to have separation anxiety with wordpress.

8. SOLITARY BACKPACKING.  This one’s a challenge. For a traveler no, but for  a family man like me, it is. After Tina and I had Gabby, most if not all of our trips were done with him and I am not complaining. 

9.  SEND OUR SON to SCHOOL in FOREIGN LANDSo help us, God!

10.  BE A STUDENT AGAIN and PURSUE OTHER POST GRADUATE STUDIES.  I hope this happens soon. I cannot wait.

Do you have your own list or at least ideas in mind of the things you have not done before?

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31
Dec
10

LOOKING BACK AT 2010, LOOKING FORWARD TO 2011

The outgoing year has given me a lot of humbling experiences. Only my family and truest friends can attest that 2010 has been a tough year for me, financial-wise. I have been under the weather but nevertheless, I am so grateful to our good Lord for providing His blessings in critical times when I needed the most. 

Huge decisions ranging from dropping a job early this year in the name of principles, to accepting new offers to continue to seek personal and professional growths and making vital sacrifices for my family and myself form part of my 2010.  Despite my on-going struggle to become stable, there were countless remarkable memories from this year to cherish.

I reckon being in two Asian countries for more than 2 weeks (and counting) as a great privilege for me. I’ve experienced varied cultures, beliefs and religions, was exposed to amazing gastronomic flavors, have been to wonderful sights that provided opportunities to learn new things and at times, to unwind and be stress-free.

Looking back, I never planned nor thought of being in these places to wintess the turn of events happen before my very eyes. Indeed, God’s love works in mysterious ways.

Experiencing Tokyo (for 2 week-all-expense-paid trip) was truly one for the books.  I swear, I’ll revisit that most expensive city with my family someday.

The stylish and luxurious street of Marunouchi was definitely unforgettable…

 

Like other tourists, I also fell in love with the street Ginza…

Tasting authentic Japanese foods which are among my favorites really heightened my appreciation of Tokyo…

 Places like Akihabara Electric Town…

Harajuku, Shinagawa, Gotanda, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Asakusa are worthy of recall…

Who would not enjoy Tokyo Disneyland…

and Tokyo Disneysea…

While the second part of the year gave me a chance to work in Penang. Thank you, God!

I was impressed with one of UNESCO’S World Heritage Cities, Georgetown…

I became part of a small community of 24 Filipino MD-lecturers amongst multicultural faculty of an international medical university, all proving our worth not to anyone else but primarily to our families…

I got to experienced an overnight sailing via Star Cruise Pisces with my friends/colleagues.

I have embraced the fact that my work site is absolutely rich in diversities…

Everything has been overwhelming.

But the sweetest thing that happened to me this year was when I had a chance to bring my family over to Penang after 5 months of homesickness and solitude… Our reunion that brought us to Penang Island, Genting Highlands Resort and the city of Kuala Lumpur that also gave Tina that 1-year renewable contract as an Operating Room Nurse in a Joint Committee Accredited Hospital in Penang Island (she’ll start working after her registration with Malaysian Nursing Council is released that we hope to happen 1 – 3 months from now) has been truly rewarding.

 

I pray for abundance, health and safety for my family, friends and myself.

I wish I can perform my job beyond my employer’s expectations and more importantly, I want to continue being an inspiration to others, particularly my former and present students.

I hope for more travels and learning opportunities to come our way.

I’ll try my very best to save, save and save and to establish my family abroad in God’s will.

I pray to become a better person and a blessing to others.

With challenges and graces from 2010, I pray that I can carry on to 2011 with so much hope, optimism and faith.

So help me, God.

Have a prosperous, healthy and happy 2011, everyone!

—————————————————————————————

this post also serves an entry to (for tina to win the prize from) jeanny’s blog contest.

Visit her blog Starting A New Life. :D

08
Dec
10

TILL NEXT WEEK

Dear blogger-friends and readers,

This week has been crazy and the following days will be eventful.

I had to reformat and reinstall an Operating System to my laptop after my Windows had shut down improperly and left me with no internet, no computer-use for 2 long days (yesterday was even a holiday here in Penang). *kung nasa Pinas lang ako, ang dali pumunta sa Gilmore or Greenhills to seek help* I felt so futile without my laptop, worse to be dissociated from the world wide web. Yes, admittedly, I am net-dependent but know less of these things.
After my colleague lent me his installer, Thank God, I am online again!
However, I never thought that the process of rebooting, reinstalling, uploading what needs to be uploaded again will be so tedious for I’ve never done any of these before. Admittedly, Tina is more tech-savvy than me. I have little patience when things have complexities and hassles in between.
Anyway, while I’m still befriending my new system, I promise to visit your sites early next week and to update this blog on those dates. I’ll definitely share to you my reunion with my family as I’ll fetch them from Penang Airport this Saturday morning and the many things to happen thereafter.

I’ll appreciate if you can pray for their safe trip from Manila to Penang this Friday-PM-Saturday-AM.
Till then…
Thanks! :D

03
Dec
10

DAMN WRONG!

Dear fellow bloggers,

What would you feel if someone asked  permission from you via private message in facebook inbox that she will use your photos (from blog and fb)  for his/her marketing stuff without specifying the exact pictures and number of photos to be used, never gave credits and worse, if she exerted time despite her allegedly busy schedule, of cropping your photos’ watermarks before uploading them all the next day on her company’s facebook fan page 

After I relayed to her through private message too on facebook that I felt disappointed of her act, she even had the nerve to tell me to “get back on my accusations or at least ask explanation in a benevolent way because sarcasm  is not something that gel well with her.”

I was not even sarcastic but only true to my thoughts.

Read : Although I can be obnoxious if you want to.

I felt I was robbed.   disrepected.   disregarded.   morally offended.  

And you?

Her greatest problem : She does not know that the word APOLOGY has been existing for ages.

For some and perhaps for her, this issue is petty but for me it is not, simply because I take pride and passion in everything that I do.  

Sincerely,

docgelo :(

PS :  People should avoid messing up with bloggers, don’t you think so?

30
Nov
10

CHILDREN, SAY 741,176,323.20 PESOS!

And so I heard, a solitary soul won the grand lotto jackpot in Pinas. 

I have never imagined myself winning such luck! But just in case,  probably I will :

  1. Buy a lot somewhere in Tagaytay and build our dream house with wonderful garden and minimalist oriental interiors.
  2. Buy a couple of cars but not the luxurious ones.
  3. Help my immediate and extended family financially.
  4. Invest on anything about food; either build our own resto from scratch or franchise Jollibee and McDonald’s or other fast foods and fine dining food places we like.
  5. Donate sincerely / anonymously to charity : institutions like public hospitals, orphanages, home for the ageds here.
  6. Establish our very own foundation for the needy and generate jobs.
  7. TRAVEL. TRAVEL. TRAVEL the globe! I want to explore Europe and Latin America, Australia, go back to Tokyo, New Zealand, Bangkok and other parts of Asia with my family.
  8. And the list goes on… That will be all for now. I’ll update this soon…

And you? What will you do if you become mucho dinero?

18
Nov
10

AGONY OF AN OFW DADDY

I never felt so helpless in my 34 years of existence until the past 48 hours.

While my 6-year-old son was having episodes of vomiting after meals, loose bowel movements on top of intermittent fever ranging from 38′C to 40′C + and was complaining that his head hurts, I was only on skype to monitor him.  How pathetic was that?

I feel so sorry that I am not beside him to assess what’s wrong with him; was not there to give him medicine, was physically absent to feed him and cannot personally bring him to hospital for laboratory check up, neither I can even comfort him to say the least. :(

My wife, Tina who was with Gabby the whole time he was sick, had difficulty in dealing with the situation alone despite being a nurse herself.  We both broke down to tears while we’re on skype;  my experience was more painful, worse I felt futile because I cannot do anything but pray.

As early as Monday afternoon, she brought our son to a private hospital where blood tests revealed lymphocytosis (an elevated volume of specific white blood cells) which could mean presence viral infection; thankfully his platelet count was within normal count ruling out Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.

With prayers, love and support from family members, relatives, friends and even anonymous blog and facebook buddies and intake of  prescribed antipyretic and increase volume of fluids and much needed rest, Gabby’s feeling better now. Update : he became febrile again this Thursday morning and will be brought back to the hospital for follow up consult and repeat blood tests.

In those moments, I know I was only helpless but certainly not hopeless for I know God is with us.

I wish I will have the means next year to bring my family here in Penang not only for  a vacation  but for them to stay with me here for good as I continue with my work.  This will all happen if Tina can find work here after I have applied dependent/calling visas for the 2 of them and only if we can afford sending Gabby to an International School here.

My wife and I can only wish and plan things out for the best, but still, we’re both submissive to His will.

————————————————————o


12
Nov
10

ELEVEN TWELVE TWENTY TEN

Dear Tina,

You know that Friday used to be my favorite day of the week for obvious reason until I felt a bit depressed and fatigued this late afternoon.

Oh yeah, it’s all about work but I am not complaining.

Nonetheless, I’m still thankful.

end of story.

——————————————————-0

Dear Gabby,

These are the photos that I took this morning when we went to Georgetown, Penang.

It simply blew me away, son. :D

Funny, that a simple street scene can make someone’s day happy.

love,

Tatay-doc  :D

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Penang Island, see you tomorrow… :D

06
Nov
10

MUCH ADO ABOUT LONG WEEKEND

Dear boredom and homesickness,

I hate you both.

I’m sick and tired of entertaining you.

always,

-docgelo. :D

FYI, long weekend in Penang started last Thursday night for Hindus’ Deepavali or Festivities of Lights was celebrated yesterday, Friday. Of course, our work resumes Monday so it follows I need not to spoil the 3-day-break.

Initially, my friends and I planned to go to Singapore and explore the Lion City via train from Penang;  don’t ask me why but it didn’t push through. :(

Then one of us suggested to just stay within Malaysia and experience the island of Langkawi; too bad all ferry trips and hotel accomodations were fully booked. :(

Worst,  3 of my housemates were all out –two of them went home to Manila; one of them chose to spend his birthday alone in an undisclosed place for the duration of our break, and the other one came home late at past 1AM 2 days ago after he attended a medical mission facilitated by our company.

Needless to say, I was absolutely bound to be home alone last Thursday evening.

After 6 years of being with my wife+kid  physically every single night and day before I became an expat, it dawned on me that I find it difficult to be alone.  Perhaps, I may be able to tolerate such in due time.

So after work last Thursday, I decided to go straight to Penang Island; went  to Queensbay Mall (the largest and the most welcoming mall in Penang) and did little shopping…

  • bought some non-Halal supplies : ham, bacon and Spam lite for baon next week
  • a baseball cap from GAP winked at me so I gave in. :)
  • A 360-thread count King-sized bed sheet set in black from AKEMIuchi on sale with 70% discount
  • 2 shirts on sale from a certain boutique
  • and of course, phone calls to Tina and Gabby comforted my lonely evening.
  • I also bought something to remind me of my most favorite holiday…

The kid in me kicks in and I put him beside my other pillows…

Now, Santa and Woody serve as my company whenever Tina+Gabby end call in Skype. :D

Friday came and docRonnie (my housemate who came home late from Med Mission) and I went again to where else but Queensbay Mall. With our backpacks & laptops in tow, we spent the entire afternoon at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

Two more colleagues came to join us–docJhoram & docAnna.

Before I savored CBTL’s Cafe Americano, chicken pie and yogurt parfait, I thought of resuming my old forgotten on-and-off habit of reading paperbacks.  So I went to the basement of the mall and at a bookstore called Popular, I purchased Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.

After reading Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code long before they were shown on screen, it’s only now that I am following again Robert Langdon’s adventures.

It’s Saturday and we’re here again at the same coffee shop of our favorite mall, doing the same thing we did yesterday but certainly I am neither bored nor that homesicked.

I’d like to think it’s only mind over matter, is it not?

———————————————–o

19
Oct
10

UNTHINKABLE

These strawberries were completely clueless of their fate.

They didn’t have any idea whether they will be eaten wholly, bit by bit, crushed, blended, mashed, or juiced.

Alas, I forgo with the whipped cream and dunked a pair in my oatmeal+condensed milk.

Apparently, no one is certain in this so called life.

Every single thing we do has risks.

Either we go for it or we don’t.

Truth is, life is indeed a gamble.

We wouldn’t know best until we take a great leap.

————————————0

 

 

 

 

24
Sep
10

TEACHING BEYOND BOOKS

Few days ago, I candidly post 2 shouts out in facebook (yes, it’s part of my limited virtual social life other than blogging & tweeting) and was impressed with the long thread it generated;  my 2 posts had 70 and 50 and still counting-comments from them.

I asked my former Medical-Surgical Nursing students about their MOST REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE/S with my class.  They may believe this or not, but I certainly miss doing lectures for them regardless whether their sections were the most stubborn or the most intelligent ones. With all my pride, I am grateful that they are now all RN and/or US-RNs, working not only locally but in different parts of the globe.

Here are some of their comments…these definitely reveal the other side of me.

I teased some of them who are now living/working in the US that they have to treat me when I get a chance to travel to their places…

I am extremely proud of my students not because they made it to my class and they’ve successfully passed local and/or foreign registration exams and are already within the same playing field, but more so of their gratitude!  No one can buy gratefulness of others. It’s a pure bliss!

Hopefully, I’ll get same opportunity in being a part of molding smart minds of our present Medical students here in Penang who by the way are mostly government scholars.

The challenge continues…

_____________________________

PS : docgelo started teaching Medical-Surgical topics in the academe back in 2004; handled thousands of Nursing students in 3rd and 4th year for 10 semesters including summer classes until 2008; then he moved to a review  center for NCLEX-RN (US registration exam for foreign-grad RNs) from 2008 to 2010 before he became one of the medical university-college lecturers in Penang, Malaysia.

18
Sep
10

THIRTY FOUR

on my side table in my room here in penang : my life in photos

It’s my birthday today and it’s my very first away from home. :(

Update :

Drs. ronnie, j.sayao, roy, alvin, dante & anna (who took the photo) : they made my day warm and special, THANK YOU!

With only home-cooked spaghetti which was painstakingly prepared for hours to perfection by one of my housemate-friends, Alvin (salamat, sobra!) plus 3 medium tubs of sundae and some kiddie balloons, I had one of my most memorable lunches ever!

low-cost birthday meal but really heartwarming! sarap ng spaghetti, Alvin!

In the absence of my wife, Tina and our son Gabby whom I dearly miss, I felt special on my big day in the company of  my new found friends who now I consider my family here in Penang. Mushy it may sound, but I am sincerely thankful for making my very first birthday away from home, really special.

Perhaps like the others, I’ll be used to being an expat too, celebrating special occasions far from my loved ones. I know it’s part of the price we have to pay in exchange of a better future of family.

I’d like to thank everyone who greeted me here in my blog, posted messages on my facebook wall, and those who sent me e-cards.

Forgive me Lord, for my shortcomings. In any case, may those people I wronged be forgiving too.

Thank you Lord, for all the blessings and for giving me another year.  May you continue to bless my family, friends, blog buddies and relatives with better health and may You put us all in Your care always.  Amen! :D

Happy Birthday to me! :)

15
Sep
10

TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES

glorious sunset in butterworth, penang, malaysia; photo taken 14 september 2010

Dear Lord,

My family and I cannot thank You enough for the downpour of blessings despite life’s challenges.  Our dad may have accidentally injured his left knee last weekend but we’re still grateful that his surgery yesterday became uneventful.  We pray that Your healing hands be laid upon him and may You lead him to complete recovery.

Similar to our simple appreciation of a beautiful sunset which symbolizes that we made it through another day, may the untoward incident be perceived as a reminder for all of us that everything really happens for a reason.

Amen.

13
Sep
10

OUR SENTIMENTS EXACTLY

“Clarisse, kausap ko si Paul noong isang gabi. Sinabi niya sa akin na, malungkot siyang uuwi ng Pilipinas, hindi dahil sa magkakahiwalay kayo. Malungkot siyang uuwi ng Pilipinas dahil wala man lamang daw siyang dalang appliances.”

“Pero sabi ko hindi, mali…mayroon kang iuuwi, Paul, mayroon….Iyon iyong SENSE of PRIDE mo para sa mga kababayan natin dito na nagtatrabaho. At sila ang tunay na KAPURI-PURI sa lahat, di ba?.”

“Minsan, madalas nakakagawa tayo ng pagkakamali…parang nakakalimutan na natin ang mga pinangarap natin sa buhay, iyong mga pinangako nating gawin. Tapos kadalasan pa, nasasaktan mo pa kung sino pa iyong mahal mo.”

“Pero kailanman, tayong mga Pilipino HINDI NATIN NAKALIMUTAN KUNG BAKIT TAYO NASA IBANG BANSA. NANDITO TAYO PARA SA MGA MAHAL NATIN SA BUHAY.”

“Kahit gaano kahirap ang buhay dito, kahit gaano kalungkot, titiisin natin iyon, para lang mapaligaya natin ang mga mahal natin sa buhay.”

“Sa bawat patak ng pawis natin, ng luha natin; alam niyo kung ano ang kapalit lang noon? Iyon lang simpleng ngiti na galing sa kanila.”

“So, kahit magkawatak-watak tayong mga Pilipino; hindi tayo magkita-kita, iisa lang naman ang hangad natin–Iyon ay MAGING BUO ANG PAMILYA NATIN.”

“At syempre, para matupad iyon, kailangan nating tumayo pagkatapos nating madapa para matupad iyong mga pangarap nila.”

“May kasabihan nga e, Ang PILIPINO kahit saan lugar mo dalin sa buong mundo, THE BEST IYAN!, THE BEST TALAGA.”

-Raffy’s monologue in a wedding scene from the 2005 Star Cinema’s  movie Dubai.

13 September 2010, Monday. One of my colleagues and housemates here in Penang who’s on a short break in Manila posted this scene on a video on his facebook wall. I wanted to post the said video on my blog and even sent request from the person who uploaded it but I’m itchy to share it.

Because we still have 7 more days off before we resume to duty next Monday and I’m having a lazy day, I painstakingly transcribed Aga Muhlach’s monologue in one of the Tagalog films that in my opinion,  best reflects most expats and OFWs’ sentiments and insights. Ricardo Lee who wrote the story and the screenplay brilliantly expressed my present thoughts exactly.

I have seen the movie several times back home but it didn’t cut through me until I became what I am today.

————

* Thanks to Mr. Romel Rivera for sharing the link to the video. If you want to watch it, click  here.

19
Aug
10

SENTI

Matamis, kasing-lasa ng pan de coco at coco jam ngunit iba pa rin kung nasa atin ka.

Kahit pala simpleng pan de coco mula sa paniderya sa Pinas ay nakaka-miss kung OFW ka na.

It has been exactly 22 days since my fellow  Pinoy doctor-educators and I left our families, our country and our lives in Manila for work in a medical university in Penang, Malaysia.

Despite the frequent use of Skype, SMS, e-mails and phone calls, we’ve been seriously missing our loved ones and a whole lot of things back home.  We’ve started experiencing the discomfort of being away from places we’re so familiar with, to our daily routine and even simple things like enjoying our common meals.

Being away from our usual lives and getting out of our comfort zones make us more sensitive and sentimental.  I just want to perceive all these as challenges in exchange of a better life for my wife, our son and myself.

Inspite of a more lucrative career and a promising professional and personal growth,  nothing can ever replace the warmth of smiles, kisses and embraces from people who matter to us the most.

Note to self :  Welcome to buhay OFW, docgelo!  Isipin mo na lang, mas malungkot kung hindi ka nabigyan ng ganitong pagkakataon at higit na mahirap ang mawalan ng pera para sa pamilya. Cheer up, you’ve got so many friends & relatives backing you up and a lot of blessings pouring from Lord. :)

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

13
Aug
10

KNOCK, KNOCK!

Doors of opportunities open at a given time, it’s up to us whether we enter or leave.

I wasn’t ambivalent when the chance to work abroad came along about a couple of months back. I am dead sure to do the job that has been my passion despite the sacrifice of leaving my wife and son back home. I strongly believe that if you’ve set your mind and heart on something, the yield is nothing but positive.

On my 15th day of stay in Penang, Malaysia, my cup still overflows with gratitude to everyone who have contributed in bringing me to where I am now. I am only at the foot of the so-called mountain-to-climb but I feel so fortunate for each day has been a blessing.

Everything would not be possible if the entire universe did not conspire. To my family, closest friends and their relatives, to the people who brought me to this work in this medical university, I am and will forever be thankful.

I am sharing with you the simple words I’ve emailed to my employers this morning with the hope to infect you with gratitude.

Greetings!

I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude for giving me a chance to work with other Filipino Medical educators, and be a part of whom you called the school’s Meducationists. Rest assured, Sir, that I will contribute to the growth of the medical school and its people with the best of my abilities.

Thank you too, for facilitating our accomodation and making us feel so welcome in Penang.

I take pride in being a part of our institution.

Sincerely,
docgelo

17
May
10

WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” ~Denis Waitley

Last week, I was referred to help out a medical representative to conduct a free clinic in Mercury Drug, Lagro, Quezon City.  Despite the fact that I only received an honorarium and the site was literally far from my place, I was thankful and eager to attend because I know it’s always great to reach out.  And so from 1PM to almost 6 in the evening, majority of my patients were in their geriatric years; only few were in their 30s, 40s.  Most of their conditions were Hypertension and/or Diabetes.  We offered free consultation with blood pressure monitoring and Random Blood Sugar (RBS) testing.

I saw my late maternal Lolo and Lola in almost all faces of  patients I’ve seen that afternoon. They’ve fought the same conditions and peacefully died from its complications.  Until this day, there are moments that I miss them.  They raised all of us, their apos, while my dad was away as an OCW and my mom has always been busy working.   As I conduct that free clinic, I could only wish that I have given more time to my Lolo and Lola then.  I also hope that my son, Gabby will continue his good relationships with his grandparents–both my parents and my in-laws.

All patients that I’ve seen were grateful and left our table with wide smiles.  An 80+ year-old lady even kept on wishing us, “God bless you!” countless times until she bid us goodbye.  That for me was one of the most priceless moments I’ve experienced;  a happy one.

I came home that day with a free Jollibee Meal, tired but smiling eyes and stories to share to Tina and Gabby.

Some people say it’s always a choice to be happy. At times when my days are gloomy, I just look at Gabby, listen to his stories about cartoons or simply see him smile and everything seems to be alright.

What’s your take on happiness?  Are you always happy?  What makes you happy ?

28
Apr
10

ARE YOU A PIG OR A CHICKEN ?

It may not be apparent in my posts but honestly, I’ve been going through my most trying times that only my family and a couple of friends know.  Despite life’s extra-challenges, I thank the Lord for they’ve been so supportive emotionally, financially and most importantly- spiritually. 

Admittedly, I’m not that religious but I maintain a constant communication with my Creator.  And it’s only during Sunday Masses that my family and I attend where I find peace of mind and solace.  

Last Sunday, even Tina, Gabby and I were a bit late at Greenbelt Chapel for the 12 noon Mass and found the church expectedly packed, I still appreciated the fact that we still managed to listen until the last words.  There was a guest speaker who happened to be a seminarian; spoke of a parable that you may have been familiar with :

“When the pig and the chicken thought of a surprise birthday gift to their master who owns the farm, the chicken suggested for them to prepare a breakfast in bed.  The pig asked the chicken of what to cook, the latter proposed the former, ham and eggs. 

The pig felt it was unfair for him because the chicken will just lay and donate her eggs while for him it means a self-sacrifice.”

Then the seminarian asked the faithfuls if they consider themselves as chickens who know how to give and donate or are they pigs who are willing to offer themselves entirely.  

I say it’s a tough one to be a ‘pig’. 

At this point, I’d like to solicit prayers from you, my kind readers that I may endure life’s challenges and for me to be able to bounce back.  Thank you! 

I’m so grateful for my family and friends.

I’m thankful for blogging that became my outlet and an extension of my social life even virtually.

I appreciate you, my blogger friends that through your visits and comments you keep me company.

On a lighter note, I may not be a ‘pig’ now who can do unthinkable offerings but I have a few piglets in my barn in farmville, now I’m laughing out loud! 

Gabby has his own too; but he’s more preoccupied with Plants vs Zombies while on a summer break from school. 

Tina is also busy tending her hacienda…

Seriously, my family and friends keep me sane by reminding me that life is indeed beautiful. It isn’t perfect and sometimes unfair, but it’s still damn good. 

I pray for strength, health, happiness.   

20
Apr
10

COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS

Last week, my wife, Tina along with her colleagues paid another co-worker a visit at her hospital bed.  One of her fellow clinical instructors has been fighting Breast Cancer and its complications for several years and is now admitted because of her terminal condition.  The sight, according to Tina was unbearable.  

At lunch time yesterday, my wife informed me via text that she and her colleague will drop by a Pediatric I.C.U.  after their work to visit another sick patient.  This time,  it’s a 2-month-old baby of  her colleague, who was admitted for several Congenital Heart Defects.

When she came home early evening, Tina described how she felt upon seeing the infant.  Being a nurse , she understands the pathology but as a mother, she was deeply affected by the condition of the baby.

We were talking over dinner last night how grateful we are to the Lord, that despite our own problems and struggles, Gabby, Tina and I remain healthy and hopeful.

15
Apr
10

TATAY-DOC SPEAKS

“A man’s worth is measured by how he parents his children. What he gives them, what he keeps away from them, the lessons he teaches and the lessons he allows them to learn on their own.” ~Lisa Rogers

I am a young parent.  My son is turning 6 this October; and a month prior to his birthday this year, I’ll be celebrating my 34th.  I know it’s not our ages or the number of children we have that defines a parent.  It’s the maturity that lies in accepting the responsibility of becoming one and  how he handles and goes through life with his kids.   

In both troubled and happy times, I draw strength from the Lord, not for myself but for my son.  He and his mom are my utmost priorities.

                                                        THEY HAVE REDEFINED MY LIFE.   

                                                              THEY’RE  MY  LIFE NOW.

I’d like to see my child grow as a whole-rounded individual who always keeps an open mind to understand that life isn’t purely fun and play but also filled with trials and tears.  I know it’s too early for Gabby to absorb all these but is there any rule or specific date for parents to inform kids about  these things ? 

I and his mom always try to explain to him in simplest possible ways, those little facts of life. Like when we usually see beggars on streets; kids sleeping on gutters, some people who are ill, particularly of his age, we frequently tell him that he’s luckier more blessed because he’s healthy and free from any sickness; he has a home to shelter him, and so fortunate to be well-fed; with no early obligations except to enjoy schooling and his childhood. 

Perhaps, it is clear to my son, that we may not have everything now, but at least we’re living life happily together with so much love and faith in God.

With the way things are, my wife and I are so grateful to the Lord for having  Gabby.  Not only because he is smart and excels in his studies and extra-curricular activities but he simply brings joy despite the hassles and challenges of our daily living.

I am aware that I have to continuously grow as a person for me to become a better parent; and every single day is such a wonderful learning experience! :)

——————————–<@

for parents out there : how would you rate yourself as a parent and your life with your kid/s?

for singles who plan to become  parents : how do you see yourselves as parents someday?

20
Feb
10

WHERE’S THE NOTICE?

Two evil traits that I have that only my family, closest friends and my former Medical-Surgical Nursing students know and have experienced are the art of sarcasm and my being obnoxious.  But like a silent dog, I only bark when it’s needed.

Last Friday, my blood pressure soared the highest when I and my wife found out that our internet was suddenly disconnected by Smart Bro.  Consider it petty but for my family (I+Tina=Gabby), the www is part of our daily lives for a ton of reasons.

If you must know, I am tasked not only to provide but to handle the budget in our family and pay the bills (yes, bizaare it may sound but Tina prefers it that way and I’m not complaining).  And come hell or high waters, we’re thankful that we haven’t been delayed with the payments of the bills (Thanks for my being OC and during our trying times -thanks to our support network).  Not until this hassle with Smart Bro.  The problem rooted about a couple of months ago when we started not receiving any billing statements from that broadband provider.  We patiently waited but we didn’t receive any.  

Preoccupied with other things, I didn’t settle the account as there were no bills.  IMO, this wasn’t  irresponsibility on our part as consumers because Tina and I only wanted for their office to straighten things up with their billing and collection processes.  

About a week ago, I received a call from Smart Bro call center agent regarding the unsettled account.  I requested the  agent to issue me a billing statement and I will gladly settle the dues in no time.  A week after, we didn’t receive any as if my request fell on deaf ears.  

Correct me if I’m wrong but what I know with any local service providers like Meralco, Manila Waters, PLDT, Sky cable and the like, notice of disconnection shall be issued prior to the act itself.  But with Smart Bro, they have done it without a word. True that they’ve called me to ask about why we haven’t paid yet but the inefficient call center agent did not notify us that disconnection will be done within a particular period.

And so when we found out that our net suddenly expired at around 3PM last Friday, I immediately called the Smart Bro hotline and they received hot words from me (no pun intended).  I explained everything to the call center agent whose name was unremarkable because she was useless to me at that time.  I was fuming mad over the phone because of their UNFAIR CUSTOMER SERVICE.  I asked the agent if she can reconnect our line immediately after I pay the bills –she was unsure to my disgust!

After we have been loyal post-paid broadband clients for several years now and the fact that we haven’t missed paying our bills to them, I think their action of sudden disconnection without proper notice was FOUL and INCONSIDERATE and that their Customer service BADLY NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. 

After paying PhP 2,000 at the nearest 711 branch around 3:30PM, Friday, I called again the Smart bro hotline and demanded to the call center agent that she better restore our connection within the next few hours because I already settled the 2-month-unpaid dues even without issuance of the bill (Smart Bro post-paid per month costs PhP 999).  Again, I received reply of uncertainties and no assurance at all.  She was not even apologetic and neither thankful on her company’s behalf!  Why oh why?

The poor employee even insisted that it was noted in their computer that someone from our home allegedly received the bill last month.  Huh?!  We’re only 3 in our household (I+Tina =Gabby) and all of us including our preschool son cannot remember a thing doing so. We aren’t saints but we are far from being liars.

She told me that even if I already gave her the details of the (7-11) receipt and that I have paid the dues, it would take around 24 hours to reconnect our internet line. Duh?!  I know it would only take a press of a button from their whatever-machine to restore our internet again so why do we have to suffer to wait?  Doesn’t she know my crops in farmville will wither given that long waiting time without a net *kidding* 

FYI,  other than postpaid, we also own a prepaid Smart Bro — that’s how loyal we are to them.

I swore to her that I will switch to Sun or Globe Broadband if she won’t restore my connection ASAP.  And I am sincere when I said that.

After I promised the poor call center agent that I will blog about the matter, I dozed off for a couple of hours. And after I woke up just before dinner, I and Tina were on-line again.

Should there be always coercion and force before someone does his/her duty promptly?

To Smart Bro : LOYAL CUSTOMERS DESERVE NOTHING BUT FLAWLESS SERVICE. REMEMBER THE BIGGEST ROOM IN THE WORLD IS IMPROVEMENT!

Like a merciful father, I forgive but forgive me I still have active+young neurons so it’s hard for me to forget, hence this post.  

I ask you kind readers, what’s your internet connection? Is it prepaid or postpaid?  Have you experienced any hassles expected or otherwise with regards to these service providers?  Would you care enough to share in the comment section. Thanks.

Inspite of this not-my-usual-post, everyone deserves a great week ahead so have yourself one! :D

05
Feb
10

DISTURBING BEHAVIOR

If you’ve been to Boracay, or at least have read or viewed something about it, you may be familiar with this beautiful rock formation known as Willy’s Rock, the famous landmark at Boat Station One in the island paradise.  It’s entirely visible in the morning, and is always almost half-submerged during high tide in the afternoon.

We were fortunate to see it and experience the crystal-turquoise waters and pristine powdery white sand on the last week of October just last year.  

This morning, Tina and I were literally shocked; can’t help but uttered “OH MY GOD!”  when we learned from a news item reported on Umagang Kay Ganda, a local morning TV show, that the owner of the resort where Willy’s rock is located, removed and burned the image statue of the Blessed Virgin on top of the grotto because of the reason that he’s now a pastor of a certain religion thus his act, alarming the parish priest of the Island.

We honestly respect other religions and beliefs but my wife and I are disturbed why others can’t do so.

Just imagine if our 5-year-old son who was with us in Boracay last year knows about this, how do you think parents should explain that other people could do such thing to something that represents one’s faith?

22
Dec
09

I PRESCRIBE

Unapparently, I am stressed these days.  And God forbid, I guess the hassles will be carried on until the first few weeks of 2010.  I worry a lot and am anxious of most things concerning work, finances and domestic problems indirectly involving Tina and Gabby.  Who doesn’t have problems, anyway?  My greatest consolations and things to be grateful to God are having a sickness-free family and their support & much of love that like batteries–keeps me going! :D  

I have to write it down to make it at least tangible, so as to remind myself of what to do and how to cope with life’s daily challenges.

Here’s my prescription to myself : 

Do you think you need one too? 

Not so long ago, I took a chance in an interview in a healthcare company and I can still recall vividly the question of the HRD manager which I honestly answered :

“What do you do when you’re stressed ?”

I told her in a heartbeat : “There are 3 things I do when I’m stressed, first I pray, second I try to pause and remember how my son giggles or laughs, and third I indulge -in food and blogging. Then when I’m collected I begin to think critically and analyze what needs to be done.”

I may sound too preachy when in fact I’m not-so-religious, but I really turn to Him when I’m troubled.

Sometimes, which I think should be done always, I even thank the Lord for problems; I believe He will not challenge us if we cannot bear it. Do we think the same?

What about you?  How do you cope up with stress?

God bless all of us this holiday and the coming New Year! :D

Have a worry-free Christmas, above and beyond our toxicities! :D

17
Oct
09

ONE FINE DAY

Guess where we went on an early Saturday morning…IMG_4203No, it isn’t Boracay yet :D  A day before our flight to paradise, my wife, Tina, our 5-year-old son, Gabby and I left our place in Quezon City before 7AM and headed to Antipolo City.  

My family and I are not that religious, but we maintain personal relationship with Him.  We decided to hear mass, pray and ask the Lord to be with us and calm the weather,  not only for our trip tomorrow but moreso for the people who were afflicted by the two recent typhoons – Ondoy and Pepeng and their places that were devastated to be spared of the recent tropical storm, Ramil that already entered Philippine area of responsibility.

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My 3 brothers and I were raised by our parents whose tradition include going to Antipolo Church particularly before a travel or a flight somewhere.  And so I wanted Gabby to grow up with the same belief that the Lord and the Virgin of Antipolo guide anyone who seeks their intervention prior to a trip.  Antipolo Church is devoted to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.

One special thing happened just after the Holy Communion.  When the priest invited everyone to say the prayer to Our Lady, an old woman in pink standing in front of us opened her clutch bag and handed two of these novena cards to me and my wife.

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We really appreciated her gesture and smilingly thanked her after the mass.   We plan to laminate these novena cards for us to keep.

After the mass, just like the way we used to do with my parents before, Tina and I brought Gabby to the back of the altar to go upstairs and kiss the mantle / veil of the image of the Virgin.  We first brought and lighted candles and said our intentions and prayers at its lobby.     

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Cameras are prohibited  inside the altar and the museum of Our Lady to keep its solemnity.

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Tina bought rosaries for both of us  and had them blessed at the Church’s office. 

Before going home, Gabby requested if we can have breakfast at one of his favorites; where else but Jollibee :D 

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Tina had beef tapa which is a sweet and salty spiced tender beef strips, while I enjoyed Jollibee’s creamy macaroni soup and corned beef meal. I like corned beef so much that I consider it as one of “I-can-eat-it-everyday-meals”  :D  My favorite is a local brand (Purefood’s, although Palm’s from New Zealand is also yum!)

While Gabby had his usual chickenjoy (and massive gravy) and peach mango pie.IMG_4221Of course, no visit to Antipolo is complete without sampling their food specialties.  Antipolo is known for suman and other native delicacies and roasted cashew nuts.  We only bought suman for our afternoon merienda. Suman makes a delicious pair with mangoes.

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My wife likes suman fried and caramelized with sugar; I like it as is, dipped in sugar.

At home, I immediately browsed PAG-ASA‘s website and found this satellite image and diagram of typhoon Ramil’s course…tcsatpic

No public storm warning signal is raised as of this writing.

PAG-ASA’s forecast : 

Sunday morning:  700 kms East of Casiguran, Aurora
Monday morning: 470 kms East Northeast of Casiguran, Aurora or at 510 kms East of Tuguegarao City
Tuesday morning: 240 kms East of Tuguegarao City.

track
PAG-ASA noted, this disturbance will not affect any part of the country within the next 36 hours.

Prayers, as they say can move mountains.

Regardless of our religion, let’s unite in prayers that tomorrow and the days ahead will be brighter and storm-free for all of us. 

We had enough of the rains. It’s high time to move on and move up after the storm.

We all deserve a day or two to enjoy. :D

17
Sep
09

MY BIRTHDAY GIFT

Dearest Gabby,

For the past few weeks, I’ ve been thinking of a charity work that could be feasible as my thanksgiving, as I celebrate with you and your mom my 33rd birthday tomorrow.  Because I cannot do medical mission alone, I thought of donating few pieces of my not-so-old-still-wearable shirts to someone  but then, I opted to give it to your Lolo Ben and your uncle instead.  I also considered bringing your used baby clothes to an orphanage, or visit and do some feedings at a care home for the aged to no avail. 

I  practically chose to do this today….

1

 At exactly 7AM, I was at the Blood Donors’ Center of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City.

Since I’m off from work until few days, I have taken the chance to donate 450 mL of my blood. I became a walk-in-volunteer blood donor again! This is my fourth time to do such activity and it feels good to have helped anonymous patient live his/her life longer.  

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I wish when you grow up smarter and healthy, you can also do the same to reach out to needy hospital clients. Don’t worry anak,   it’s medically beneficial for us to donate almost half a liter of blood (50ml is the anticoagulant per bag) once in a while because as we do so, our bone marrow is stimulated to replenish what is lost.  Blood donation refreshes our circulation at the same time, prolonging the life of someone.

The venipuncture using a large bore needle didn’t hurt too much; I just thought of my goal during the process.  The friendly professional staff allowed me to take photos of the bag and generously offered this snack for free after the donation to keep me from fainting or being dizzy. Their token included a black headcap with the hospital’s logo and the phrase “I am a Blood Donor” at its back, isn’t it sweet?

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 The center was expectedly clean and orderly. The staff who did the extraction was very polite, professional and friendly. (Thanks, Ms. Joan!)

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After the procedure, she handed me a note of Pre & Post Blood Donation Instructions and advised me to claim my Donor’s ID a week after.

I wish when you grow older, you can also find in yourself a stimulus to reach out to others as the rewards will always be greater in Heaven.

Love,

Tatay-doc :D

PS : I’m excited to enjoy another hotel buffet dining experience with you and your Mommy Tina this Sunday!

————————————

Pre and Post Blood Donation Instructions :

1. The blood sample extracted from you will be initially screened to determine your hematocrit level and blood type.

2. You may take a light, low-fat snack/meal. Avoid eating heartily before blood donation.

3. Leave dressing over venipuncture site/s for at least 3 hours but not more than 12 hours.

4. Drink at least a full cup of water or juice before leaving the Donor Room. Increase your fluid intake over the next 48 hours.

5. Do not smoke for at least 2 hours and do not take alcoholic drinks for the next 12 hours.

6. If you feel faint, dizzy, cold or suddenly weak, put your head between your knees.

7. Avoid lifting heavy objects to prevent bruising or discoloration around the extraction site. This will disappear in a few days. Should a bruise appear, apply a cold compress for the first 24 hours to prevent swelling and a hot compress after 24 hours for the resolution of clot. If severe pain or discomfort develops, call the Donor Room at (63-2) 723-0101 local 4110 to consult with the nurse on duty.

8. Male donors may give blood again after 3 months while female donors may give after 6 months. We will be glad to see you again for your next donation.

Thank you for your blood donation – St. Luke’s Medical Center

28
Jul
09

A CALL FOR PRAYER

UPDATED :  I posted this entry 4 days prior to her death.  Former President of the Philippines Corazon Aquino died of Cardiorespiratory Arrest secondary to Colon Cancer, Stage IV.   She peacefully joins our Lord at 3:18 AM,  o1 August 2009.  May her soul rest in God’s embrace. 

Filipinos all over the globe will forever remember your unparalleled contribution to our democracy and freedom. 

I was in my 3rd grade when one of the world’s peaceful revolutions happened in EDSA back in 1986.  I can still vividly recall the events how she was catapulted in power, mandated by the Filipino people as a result of longing for democracy.  Needless to say, I grew up with her governance. 

I do have my highest respect for Mrs. Aquino, not only as our former president who brought back FREEDOM in our country but as a person with deep FAITH beyond religion; a responsible woman who raised her kids despite of being a widow;  a lady who stood by her man in one principle,  and someone who stood up against a formidable dictatorship on behalf of the many.

Disregarding political issues, the more I admire her. She’s a woman of strength and humility. And now that she is battling with that dreaded condition, I don’t only sympathize with her in spirit but I emphatize as well.  As a man of Medicine, I understand the pain she’s bearing.  No one deserves to suffer that long and noxious.  It’s best to pray for miracles, but for now I honestly hope for alleviation of her physical pain.   

I am one with the many Filipinos and people across races who pray for her.  It’s the least that I can do in my own gratitude for what she has done to the Philippines and to us Pinoys.  May the good Lord bless her with His mercy.  And may her condition bring UNITY to all of us again.

02
Jul
09

PINOY LAUGHS

Babala:  Bawal ang seryoso!

I had good laughs when I viewed this album from a Filipino group account in facebook which was reposted by one of my fb buddies.  The one who compiled this Funny signs album allows sharing it to friends so I am disseminating some of those laughs to you.  I bet you’ll enjoy it too, LOL.

post1  Oo nga naman! Sayang ang buns.

Ayan, naglaglag na po! 

post2

Wow, pare, bo-malabs!  Ano ba talaga, kuya ?

post3     post 4  I’m afraid to dine here!

post13

Apparently, they need professional help!

post5

Baloooooooooooooooooot….

post6   

post 7   How about a custom made teeth with built-in camera?

Perhaps the sign below was made specifically for dogs …

 post 9  Sandali  lang.

   post10  Definitely not for diabetics!

Widding ba kamo,  dung?  post11

Just making sure it’s clearly understood….

post12

  Malfaction, Marvin ?

Pinag-isipang mabuti ang rehistro ng mga pangalan…

post 15 

I like the humor of this church…

o

I didn’t get this!  Adik ang nagsulat, LOL… l

And here’s a proof that our government too, is ridiculous has humor…

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29
Jun
09

I WISH

When things do not happen the way we (my wife & I) plan it, I just pray for strength and acceptance of His will and just think of the truth behind the cliche that, “everything happens for a reason.”

My mind has been quietly restless for the past few days,  thinking of so many things that I would like to do and achieve…want need  to :

1. Improve more as a person, as a family man, as a professional. Continuously share my worth to the ones I love and value.  Be an inspiration and somehow motivate others to do positive things.

2. I want my family to be free of any sickness if possible.  It weakens my entire being seeing my 4-year-old son with any illness especially his recent episodes of  now-controlled mild fever and signs of Upper respiratory tract infection.  With the daily news on the rising number of infected Filipinos with swine flu, and even those without history of travel get affected, I can’t help but to think of his condition.  My wife and I get deeply affected when Gabby’s sick.  He’s been healthy since he was born and for him to be healthier is always part of our nightly prayer. 

3.   Seek other means to attain stability.  It’s my ultimate dream to become stable – emotionally and financially.  It’s not that I am so disturbed with this but I just wish to wake up one morning without a single worry about anything.  Don’t you wish it too?  Financial stability means security.  And that goal remains to be attained.

4.  Think of options to achieve our goals. We want to work and eventually migrate overseas.  My wife has successfully registered herself as a nurse in California and currently waiting for an employer via her agency to be deployed to the US even with a working/non-immigrant visa.  Her dad in Missouri filed another petition under category of married sons/daughter of US citizen for the three of us through his lawyer but it would take years, I guess before it’ll be granted. It won’t impose any conflict since the petitions (from her soon-to-be-employer and my father-in-law) are of different categories. 

On my part, while waiting for those petitions to be granted, I am seeking  other opportunities to work abroad.  My job here offers good pay but isn’t enough to sustain us long-term.  I and my wife would like to maximize our potentials to earn and eventually save by working abroad.  However, despite the fact that we’re so goal-oriented, we still need to wait for that perfect timing and chances.    

5. Be patient.  It is a virtue as I constantly hear it from my friends. And I need patience most of the time.   

I WANT TO :

1.  Be happier.  I am not a dysphroric or gloomy person but I want myself and my family to be happier and to infect others with happiness too.

2.  Build our dream house one day.  I just hope it’ll be sooner than I think.  

3.  Help others by building a small foundation to help the less fortunate particularly street kids or the ones in orphanages or terminally-ill children in public hospitals. Also to extend help to those geriatrics in the rest homes without their families to remember them and to those who are in prisons.  This is one of our aspirations once we established ourselves financially. We’re never greedy and it’s best to share God’s blessings whenever possible.  

4. To travel and experience and enjoy the globe with my family.  I have never been to Europe and I’d like to breathe air in Paris, Venice, Rome, Spain, London and the rest of that part of the world before I die  (I’m only 32).

5.  Aspire for more things….

6CPhoto sourced from Almagnus

Life is what we make it. 

But what if we lack the sources to make our goal of painting our lives with vivid colors possible?  

I always seek guidance from our big Boss in Heaven.

Thy will be done. =)  

What are your aspirations and wishes?

Ofcourse, I also wish for world peace, seriously.

10
Jun
09

BATO-BALANI

I digress from political issues. 

Allow me to show you some kiddie stuffs that we’re fond of collecting…

Our family loves traveling. Who doesn’t?  But we’ve only traveled a few countries so far, we haven’t explored the rest of the globe yet;  life is short, and there are so much to see and experience and eat and whatnot.  Except for my youngest brother who worked as a crew in Costa Atlantica that got him into 30 countries across Europe, no one in our huge clan has explored that part of the universe yet.   I promise to make a post about his 5-month-cruise-work/trip soon.   For now, settle for our few fun collectibles from our own travels and some pasalubong…    

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Yes, we collect fridge magnets  from most places we’ve been to.  Do you?  It’s fun,  it never misses to unleash the kid in me, try it some time, LOL.  Just a caution : it’s habit-forming!  

Fridge magnets from our travel tell stories, or at least remind us of  good memories.  I just regret  not to start this “hobby” earlier when we went to California and Las Vegas years ago.  We’ve been to LA, San Pedro, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Malibu, 17-mile-drive, Carmel, San Francisco, Yosemite, Fresno and San Diego in California for more than 2 weeks, and explored the themed hotels in Las Vegas Strip for 3 days (stayed in MGM and the then Stardust).   Man, those were the days of glory! 

When I married my wife back in 2004, we to Bangkok, Thailand via Lufthansa in a package tour for our honeymoon. We stayed in Amarri Watergate Hotel for a couple of days and we also forgot to buy fridge magnets!  We’ve been to one of the biggest weekend markets in the world – Jatuchak in Bangkok but all we bought were T-shirts, slippers and no fridge magnet.  We have to go back there one day not only to buy what we collect but to enjoy more of Thailand.  

Moving on…

IMG_2205This place has pure gold-24-hour-air-conditioned mosques. They have a water village where natives are living in air-conditioned-electricity-supplied houses on stilts in a river! Amazing! Trees are abundant in the city so despite the tropical weather, there are lots of sources of oxygen (and oil, and gold, and oil, and gold, LOL).  Other than the mosques that we toured, we liked the Royal Regalia Museum where treasures of the sultanate of Brunei are enthralled including the golden (yes, another golden!) chariot that was used in Royal Parades.  We’ve been to Empire Hotel in Brunei, but only as part of the city tour package we availed at the hotel, how I wished we can afford a room in the “golden” hotel.  We flew via Royal Brunei Airlines where foods were overflowing for the rest of the flight from Manila-to-Brunei-(had an overnight and a half-day city tour there)-to Bisbane,Australia-to our final destination then here…IMG_2215We’ve been to Auckland, New Zealand for 7 week-vacation back in 2005.  We visited our relatives there who are now in Melbourne, Australia.  It’s good that few of the friends and distant relatives we met stayed there met in NZ; it’s nice to keep in touch with someone living where New Year always comes earliest.

Auckland or the City of Sails wasn’t that bad, we love it there! Peace- the abstract thing that can’t be easily found somewhere else, was all over the city.   We initially thought that NZ was so primitive with only cows and sheeps, but we’re so wrong. It was one of the British colonies just like Oz so it’s more urbanized than we thought.  However, malls and other establishments usually close at FIVE PM except on Thursdays – Kiwi’s night out until NINE PM.  Entertainment was not that adequate with only 4 channels on our cousins’ plasma TV.   But Mother Nature is at her best at NZ.  Entrance to Botanical garden was free.  Museum’s fee was so minimal.  Culture of Maoris remained to be intact.  The weather was fantastic!  I love it.  Given a chance, we’ll explore it again. I want to go to its capital – Wellington via long train ride from Downtown Auckland.   I also wanted to go to the southernmost area of NZ – Invercargill where the weather is always single digit in Celsius, LOL.  I just love cool weather. I rather go layered dressing than sweat my exocrine glands off.  IMG_2207Hong Kong… Been there twice -1993 and 2006 and if I have the means, I’ll go back there, bring my family as soon as tomorrow, LOL. 

I like Repulse Bay, The Tram to Victoria Peak, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the Chinese restaurants (in sidestreets), night market shopping, cable cars in Ocean Park etc…IMG_2201We spent our New Year of 2007 in HK Disneyland.  It was whole lot of fun.  That Donald Duck fridge magnet on the right was a pasalubong from my sister-in-law after they got back from HK recently.  Talking about pasalubong, here are some….IMG_2211Given by a friend of sixteen long years and counting, these are two wooden lady-fridge magnets in their national costumes from BAHRAIN.  Our friend, Rob , who works as a paramedic-nurse at an oil rig in the middle of nowhere in K.S.A. gave me those.

My brother next to me (as I’m the eldest of 4 men) is a private pilot to a local businessman. Being an aviator, he’s usually sent to US for flight simulator trainings at least once a year. He had been to Missouri twice (where my dad-in-law is) and to Orlando, Florida once where he got me this…IMG_2204

My parents love traveling too. My mom, who recently flew to UAE to continue her work, celebrated her last year’s birthday with my dad in Macau, they got me a huge Starbucks Coffee -Macau mug and this…IMG_2209They also have been to Vietnam for a job-related trip of 10 days but weren’t able to brought home some you know what..

My folks and my youngest brother have been to this part of the US  for a tour about 2 years ago…  

8

Then locally, we used to go to Enchanted Kingdom for a weekend at the outdoor carnival there that’s close to  only 1/8 of the lot area of Disneyland in Anaheim. Nonetheless, it’s good enough to while away time and transiently forget hassles of daily living.  IMG_2216And since we’re into this,  my wife and I decided to have custom-made fridge magnets from PAPEMELROTI for our son’s baptismal giveaways…IMG_2217

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I hope to add more fridge magnets to our collection…

I’ll feature my brother’s European tour collection soon.

My wife started her snow globe collection.. those will be for another post…

What do you collect other than memories?

09
Jun
09

CON ASS

It’s hard to admit to the www that politics sucks in my country.  Agree ?  Sorry, but I can’t stand it anymore.  I had enough.  Those political TV commercials as premature campaign strategies, those brouhaha about government’s achievements in Philippine economy kuno despite the prevalence of beggars and hungry mouths in slums and streets and everywhere, with lack of provision of free health benefits and education issues, I just don’t get it! 

COME HOLY SPIRIT, WE NEED YOU! COME HOLY SPIRIT, WE PRAY! COME WITH YOUR STRENGTH AND YOUR POWER, COME IN YOUR OWN SPECIAL WAY…..

Perhaps ALL we need now is  divine intervention. TONS of IT, OH PLEASE LORD.  

NOT EVEN THE JUSTICE LEAGUE CAN SAVE THE PHILIPPINES FROM THE FETID-ODOR GOVERNANCE OF THE CURRENT OFFICIALS.  

I’ve stated this before, I’ll state it again- in as much as I want to maintain my blog as apolitical, I am just like you with low resistance to social stress. Imagine with only few months before the deadline of filing of candidacy for 2010 elections, when most of us see spark of HOPE that remains to be HOPE until supply lasts, LOL,  the Philippine congress is up to its ass (again for the nth time without fatigue) to pass CON-ASS. 

IT’S  SO  APPARENT THAT THIS PRO-CHA CHA/CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY IS ALL FOR PERPETUITY OF POWER.  What’s my say to this issue?

1ze811z 

End of my statement.

Care to comment my dear virtual friends ?

13
May
09

THE GRADUATION SPEAKER

“You really haven’t completed that circle of success unless you have helped someone else to move forward”

Oprah Winfrey attends grad rites of batch 2009 in Duke University, North Carolina  / photo by: Jon Gardiner, Duke Photography

Oprah Winfrey attends grad rites of batch 2009 in Duke University, North Carolina / photo by: Jon Gardiner, Duke Photography

These words were uttered last Sunday, May 10, in front of the 2009 graduating class of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, by no less than their commencement speaker, OPRAH WINFREY!  The queen of daytime talkshow was also given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree that lead Oprah to joke the crowd after receiving such, that she will have to require everone to address her as “doctor”  from now on…

I don’t know with you, but I envy these graduates!  Wow,  it must have been memorable event having Oprah on their graduation. 

I like her being a philantropist and an advocate of so many positive things more than being a celebrity.
During my own graduation rites -first from a notable university in Manila in 1997,  and the last to date was almost a decade ago from a  medicine school, our speakers then were a political figure and an doctor-achiever turned businessman.  Both delivered mediocre speeches.  For a momentous event such as commencement excercises, where everyone usually has to wait to forever for the speeches to end,  I believe that despite the length of a commencement speech, it should be inspirational if not influential, motivational and moreso, optimistic.  A talk would be greatest if it encourages anyone to do something good.
Here’s an excerpt from Oprah’s speech sourced from here. 
“It’s great to have a nice home. It’s great to have nice homes! It’s great to have a nice home that just escaped the fire in Santa Barbara,” she said. “It’s great to have a private jet. Anyone that tells you that having your own private jet isn’t great is lying to you. You may achieve great things, but you haven’t completed the circle of success until you help someone else move to a higher ground and get to a better place.”
I can’t help but grin when I read this on yahoo news – “Sadly, Oprah didn’t  follow up these remarks with: “You get a plane! And you get a plane! Every! Body! Gets! A! Plane!”   LOL.
Oprah Winfrey, smiles at Duke president Richard Brodhead, after receiving her honorary degree from Duke University (AP Photo/The News and Observer, John Rottet)

Oprah Winfrey, smiles at Duke president Richard Brodhead, after receiving her honorary degree from Duke University (AP Photo/The News and Observer, John Rottet)

“I am who I am because I trust my gut more than anyone else’s opinion, that is my best advice to you — Trust your gut. You know what is right and what is wrong. Trust your gut and stand in your own shoes and you will be a huge success”

If you can find a way to give back, you will be a huge success…
“If you can summon courage in the face of hardships, I know for sure that you will be a huge success…
“If you can see the possibilities of what you can become and not just what you are, you will be a huge success…
“If you can go through life with humility, you will be a huge success…
“If you can stand in your own shoes, you will be a huge success…
“If you can be generous enough to say kind, affirming words to those that long to hear them, you will be a huge success.”
                -
Oprah Winfrey.

 

 

04
May
09

CARROTS, EGGS, COFFEE

If you’ve read my other posts, you know that I don’t actually read forwarded emails except if they’re sent by closest family or friends or messages that are really worth my time.  Now here’s another interesting email found on my inbox.  This was shared to me by one of our nurse-reviewees (thanks, Anjelly!).  I tell you, after reading this, you’ll never look at these 3 staples the same way again.                       

                    

“A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.

The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. “What’s the point, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity?

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?”

03
May
09

KUSANG-LOOB

I’m all for anything PINOY especially if it champions OPTIMISM or anything POSITIVE like having INITIATIVE, ENTHUSIASM, DETERMINATION, EXCELLENCE, PERSEVERANCE, HOPE…  

Just like this new organization AKOMISMO  which I think is very apolitical (I hope) UNLIKE those TV campaign ads of presidentiables…  The message is so clear and apparent : it calls for personal commitment to do something good for our own.  And if you’re true blooded RESPONSIBLE  PINOY, this should sink into your deepest neurons

Wataryuweytingpor?  Click the TVC and see for yourself…

I  proudly joined  AKOMISMO and had my personal PLEDGE to do something GOOD.  It’s for a worthy cause.

Spread the word and join the crusade.

Plus the dog tags are really nice!  eyeWANT!

g

14
Apr
09

MY INBOX

I have a confession to make. I usually disregard & never read forwarded messages in my inbox especially those chain letters that require the recipient to do the same thing of perpetuating those emails. I can be more productive than doing such. Until not so long ago, I found a forwarded email sent by a relative abroad that caught my interest. I thought it’s worthwhile to share it here for it may INSPIRE & MOTIVATE others to always observe POSITIVISM. It’s a little mushy but it cuts through you.

I hope you like it as I did.

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33

10
Apr
09

WHAT’S YOUR PRIORITY?

On this season of lent,
reflecting on our lives as mortals,
we have to give importance to each minute of our existence
& utilize it to the fullest.

Life is damn short;
no one is certain about tomorrow.
In so many things that we have to do daily,
over & beyond our busy schedules,
have you REALLY thought of your HIGHEST PRIORITY?

take your pick…

3427360957_e9f1aa3d36I study.
I lead.
I inspire.
I believe.
I cook.
I travel.
I eat.
I smile.
I raise.
I breathe.
I drink.
I take.
I give.
I receive.
I search.
I paint.
I sing.
I talk.
I teach.
I heal.
I build.
I motivate.
I write.
I blog.
I preach.
I post.
I work.
I see.
I hear.
3427360957_e9f1aa3d36I say.
I play.
I rest.
I drive.
I laugh.
I sleep.
I follow.
I feel.
I admire.
I forgive.
I dwell.
I grow.
I improve.
I pay.
I read.
I think.
I withstand.
I swear.
I stand.
I dream.
I change.
I decide.
I pray.
I listen.
I uphold.
I promote.
I help.
I search.
I encourage.
I love.

————————————–
Have a blessed lenten season everyone!
cheers,
docgelo =)

“Believe in yourself and you will inspire others to believe in themselves”
- Kevin C. Brown




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