A friend of mine called the other night to see how I was doing after the Philippine trip. I returned his call last night but things quickly went sour because he kept trying to get me to TALK. I don't know what he wanted me to talk about though. I just told him what happened after the fire. He kept egging me on.
For the past two days I have been updating patients and co-workers about my trip and frankly, I was in no mood to repeat myself. I must have gone off on him somehow.Because today he sent me an email apologizing for making 'kulit', being stupid and not being good at lifting my spirits. I wasn't even aware I needed cheering up. Two other friends kept telling me over the weekend to call them if I needed to talk. Nice offers but I didn't take them up on it. Stuff I want to get off my chest, I'd rather not talk about with non-family members.
What's up with all this talking?
Am I just an ungrateful friend?

This is the stuff of nightmares. Calamari rings the size of tractor tires? Whoa!

This is appalling, inexcusable and unforgivable. The staff involved in the incident are still working because the hospital "didn't have enough manpower to ask them not to work", with only a "stern warning" issued. Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center is still refusing to name the people involved. This poor guy is being raped all over again.

via text messages:
Tom: Ano gimmick mo today?
Me: Just chillin'. Wallowing in post-trip depression and homesickness. Catch up on TV shows I missed. Kayo?
Tom: Naku we all know the feeling. Tawag ka lang if you need to talk. Wala rin brunch lang then laundry.
Me: Thanks! That means a lot. I'll call when I'm coherent.
Tom: Talk to you soon.
Me: Thanks!

Feelin' the love...

"Feels Like Heaven" from Fiction Factory

Feeling nostalgic so I started looking up videos on Youtube.

  1. the neighborhood 'suki'
  2. buying 'tingi'
  3. watch-your-car boys who also direct traffic
  4. security guards who double as watch-your-car boys, umbrella holders and traffic enforcers
  5. salespeople who are on your back as soon as you enter the store. At least this way you can find them easily if you need them.
  6. Eating rice three times a day. Eating rice with hotdog, or with Spam/corned beef/tapa/vienna sausage for breakfast. Or even merienda. No one to say you should watch your carbs.
  7. bringing 'baon'. I was eavesdropping on a conversation that airport security people were having about their baons.
  8. tsinelas!
  9. the useful 'balde' and 'tabo'
  10. funny Filipino movies and TV shows. Even when they're not meant to be comedies.
  11. Having statues of the Santo NiƱo, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Buddha, Fuk/Luk/Sau, even the lucky cat, in one household.
  12. sweet spaghetti. As an added treat, hotdogs or vienna sausages in spaghetti!
  13. Saying 'Xerox' when you mean to photocopy. (also saying 'Colgate' for toothpaste, 'Frigidaire' for refrigerator, etc. etc.)
  14. Using umbrellas on sunny days. It just makes sense.
  15. Using spoon and fork to eat. That also makes sense.
  16. The sight of clothes line-drying, women washing clothes in 'batyas' or 'plangganas'. Using the 'palo-palo' makes it even more interesting...beating the crap out of clothes is probably therapeutic.
  17. Saying 'po' or 'opo', having terms like 'manang', 'tita', 'ate', 'lolo' or 'tatang' as a sign of respect. I hate calling grandparently patients by their first names.
  18. The abundance of tropical fruits and juices, fresh vegetables and seafood.
  19. Filipinos' knack for fixing things, keeping things running, where others have failed.
  20. Filipinos' ability to keep smiling despite their problems.
  21. The sound of roosters crowing in the morning.
  22. The sound of rain against the 'yero'.
  23. "dirty" ice cream, banana or camote Qs
  24. hearing the 'balut' and 'taho' vendors at night. Kinda comforting. It's like having a town crier saying that all is well.
  25. having a "dirty" kitchen
  26. cool, rainy days
  27. plenty of iced treats like halo-halo, mais con hielo, etc.
  28. children making 'mano' to their elders
  29. churches open most of the time
  30. My family is there.

  1. crazy drivers. Why do you speed up when you see someone trying to change lanes or cross the street?
  2. U-turn slots!
  3. Tailgaters, lane swervers. Even worse, people flashing their high beams to let you know that they're taking the right of way, whether you like it or not.
  4. Mga hagad.
  5. Salespeople at your back from the moment you enter the store.
  6. Pink everything! What is the MMDA thinking?!
  7. People not saying excuse me or thank you.
  8. People's general subservient tone when you enter a store or restaurant.
  9. The lagay system/cronyism/nepotism and other variants.
  10. Long lunch breaks at government offices. How do they get anything done?
  11. The government and its blatant disregard for the plight of Filipinos.
  12. The divide between rich and poor.
  13. Billboards that are eyesores and distractions to drivers everywhere.
  14. Celebrity endorsements for everything!
  15. Squatters.
  16. The 'bahala na' mentality. Or the 'pwede na yan' way of thinking.
  17. The Filipino male's 'macho' mentality.
  18. Powerful/Corrupt/rich men taking Filipina young things for mistresses. (I know, it takes two to tango. Too bad this is the women's way out of poverty.)
  19. 'Poor me'/victim mentality.
  20. Thinking that everything foreign is superior.

I told Lynn how odd it was to come back to the US and find that life has gone on. Don't they know that we had a fire in our home in the Philippines? That we have problems?

  • I fell asleep on the couch with the TV on yesterday afternoon. I woke up to the 5:00 news. I wondered why they were reporting on an event in Kew Gardens, Queens. And why the newscaster was black.
  • I keep thinking that I'm hearing a rooster crowing.
  • I was driving to the post office to pick up mail this morning. I saw this man walking and thought to myself, "oh look a white guy".

In the many years I've known you, I've never seen you cry. True, I've heard rumors that you cried during the LOTR films, and "The Constant" episode of Lost. But to actually see you weep was heartbreaking. If there was anything I could do I would have done it.
You'll probably tire of hearing that things you lost were just material things. But they were YOUR things, and you were attached to them for various reasons. Even if you replace them, it wouldn't feel the same.
Bad things do happen to good people. It's just life. To paraphrase Gandalf, all you have to do is to decide what to do at the time it is given to you.
You are a stronger person than you think or say you are. Spending time with you and seeing your childhood photos made me realize how impressed and awed I am by the person you've turned out to be. There is no shame in feeling hurt or weepy or scared. Lesser mortals have broken down for even lesser reasons. Only by going through your current emotions could you get through them. Accept your fears and worries; nothing is illogical. They wouldn't be fears if they were logical.
Get some much needed rest. Sleep with beautiful dreams.
Buy a safe.
Get smoke alarms and fire insurance.
If you get overwhelmed by your job duties, do what I do. I always tell myself, it's just a job. There are many jobs, and only one of ME.
If the Magic Sing microphone could judge people, it would tell you that "You are a excellent person."

To call your behavior an overreaction is an understatement. Didn't your mother ever teach you not to raise your hand in anger, at anyone, EVER? You are a sad, sorry little old man.

08 April 2008: a fire started in a vacant apartment next door to our home in the Philippines. It burned down the room I shared with Lynn and Cecile, as well as the servants' quarters and bodega in the back. Watching television coverage online was heartbreaking. I shudder to think what could have happened if my parents and Lynn weren't here visiting. I went back with them to help with the clean-up at least. Thank goodness a lot of family photos were salvaged.
We heard that the fire wouldn't have reached our house if the firemen had gotten there early. They went to the wrong street, probably because they allegedly went to a place of business first. Probably paid off to protect the property, a common practice apparently. Money rules the world. We have the volunteer fire force to thank that the flames didn't reach the rest of the house. Their way was blocked, and fisticuffs even erupted according to some bystanders.
8 homes, 7 families homeless, lives ruined or at least changed. As if life in the Philippines wasn't hard enough. If it was arson, I hope the guilty party is held accountable. Shame on you, you greedy bastard. I hope you get nothing from the insurance company.

Find Out Which Disney Girl You Are!
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You scored as Pocahontas

With the wind against your face, the sounds of the birds singing around you, you feel more alive than anything. Like Pocahontas, you feel most alive when you're in nature where you belong - man's beginnings were in nature, it just makes the most sense. As you find yourself in nature, remember that not everyone feels this way as well - try to ease them into your way of thinking, or just introducing them to your lifestyle! Everyone loves nature - just sometimes not as much as you!











Snow White


Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
















I had a white female former co-worker who had to go to the laundromat to do her laundry. She was always complaining about the non-English-speaking weirdos she encounters there. I thought that was rather harsh because I go to one too for washing bed linens and comforters. People never bothered me.
Until this morning.
Today the automatic door was broken, and there's a sign that says use the other entrance. This middle-aged white guy walks up to the door which of course fails to open. He lets out this barrage of curse words as if that would magically open the door. Thank goodness there were no children around. He wasn't even carrying a load of laundry. He probably just didn't want to walk his overweight self over to the other side of the building.

"Most people are bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling."---Dr. Cox on Scrubs.

I was watching Passport to Europe with Samantha Brown last night. She was in Geneva, enjoying a free tour of CERN, where physicists are building the world's most powerful particle accelerator. (They are hoping to replicate the Big Bang.) Now how would these scientists communicate with each other in the world's largest particle physics lab? You invent the World Wide Web! Coolness...

I had a physical yesterday. And they gave me a tetanus shot! You're supposed to get one every ten years. So now my left arm is sooo sore! I had a miserable night. I may even have had a low-grade temperature. It reminded me of my Siena elementary days, after we got our vaccinations. Nice to feel like a little girl again...NOT.

It's unbelievable how some people can't shut up. I felt like my head was going to explode Thursday night when a female patient just wouldn't stop talking for almost the two hours that she was there. Someone called her a typewriter, just clackety-clacking away.

What is it with these unprovoked animals attacking people? Today I heard about this hawk attacking a girl in Boston's Fenway Park. Before that there was the eagle ray killing a sunbathing woman in a boat off the Florida Keys.

Lynn and I were just talking about me getting my own place in the Philippines. That reminded me of my patient who has a Filipina girlfriend. He loves telling me about her and her family who are all still back there. Her youngest sister just graduated from nursery school. The little girl asked for a new dress so he sent her $20. They told him this could probably buy 3-4 dresses. He asked me if I have a house back in the PI, or building one. Or if I send money home, that type of stuff.

Moments like these remind me of how lucky and blessed I am. To have no major concerns other than silly ones like should I go to the gym tonight, do I really need to buy that new book or DVD, what's for dinner tonight, or the usual complaining about staying late at work.

Right now, there are people who don't need to work out to stay slim; they can't even meet the daily minimum calorie requirements. Schools without books or computers or even classrooms, people with no jobs, or work in sweat shops.

Oprah loves to quote Meister Eckhart: "If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is 'Thank you God', that would suffice." Amen to that.

At least 3 times now, I emailed some celebrities. Not stalkerish, just thank yous or congratulatory messages.

  • Here was Ari Sandel's response after I congratulated him on his Oscar win:
Thanks so much for your email! Words cannot describe the last 24 hours. I'd
like to write more but I have about 1100 emails, 350 texts, and 200 voice
mails so I am a little slow in getting to everything and so I must be brief
for now. I feel like it might take me weeks to get back to everyone! Its
been an overwhelming and surreal and absolutely fantastic experience! Truly
amazing! I especially appreciate the support and congrats I have been
receiving, that really means the most to me so thank you for your email.

So sweet! PS Where're my residuals?!?!?!?!

Seth is so good at responding.

  • Oh Marty! No response. I COULD turn on you JUST LIKE THAT. (kidding of course)

I saw this on one of the Mythbusters' guys' t-shirt on TV, fleetingly, so I know not if it's accurate:

"Reject your reality; substitute it with mine."

That would be grand.


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