"Me Time!"

Yes, there is life outside of work!!! Let's go!

Like A Boss!

Like A Boss!

If you want to keep your job, you better find another parking space!

I chanced upon this sign while I was driving along Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City on the way to work. I just had to stop to take a picture.

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Uncertainty

Uncertainty

Now, this is what I call truthful advertising. They’re not sure, but PROBABLY, it’s the best bulalo in town! Have a happy Sunday!

(Bulalo is a popular local dish of beef, bone marrow, cabbage, potatoes, and corn.)

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Blowout!

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Yesterday afternoon, I left work early to go to my dentist.  I was driving along E. Rodriguez Avenue, I stopped at a pedestrian lane, and was slowly stepping on the gas pedal when I heard a sound like the popping of a balloon, followed by hissing.  I looked around me to find out what it was.  At the same time, several startled pedestrians looked in the direction of the sound.  I didn’t find the source of the sound so I drove on.  A minute later, I felt the pickup  wobble.  Suddenly, it was tilted to the left and started to slow down.  Then it dawned on me, “Omg, I have a flat tire! That pop and hissing sound actually came from MY pickup!”  Thankfully, a Caltex gas station was just a block away from where I was and I prayed fervently that we make it there.

I was not prepared for what I saw when I finally got out to check my flat tire.  My left rear tire was not flat, but blown out!  I was still in a state of shock when a middle-aged gas station attendant approached me and asked me what happened.  I guess I just stared at him and it was quite obvious what had happened so he just said, “Do you have a spare tire? How about tools?  I’ll change the tire for you.”  I pointed to the spare tire on the undercarriage of the pickup.  When I came to my senses, I found the tools behind the backseat and handed them to him.  He told me that the tire was already “manipis” (thin) and “malutong” (brittle). I recalled that 6 months ago, when I had the tires rotated that that was also what the guy at the shop told me.  He then went around the pickup, shook his head, and said that all of the tires were already worn out and advised me to buy a new set of tires.  I was also worried that the spare tire would be worn out or flat but it was in good condition.  He changed the tire swiftly.  I thanked him profusely and gave him 100 pesos.  “Thank you din Ma’am.  Ingat kayo (Take care)!”

When I got home, I googled about tire blowouts.  Here’s what I learned:

1.  Blowouts can be caused by anything that lets air escape like a crack or hole in the tire, overloading of the vehicle, and sudden impact.

2.  When a blowout happens, instead of stepping on the brake, continue to lightly step on the gas pedal to keep the momentum then slightly steer opposite the side of the flat tire to keep the vehicle straight.  You can then slow down and pull over to the side of the road.

3.  If you step on the brakes during a blowout, you may lose control of the vehicle.  It could spin or even flip over.

The most important lesson I learned from this experience?  Do not take your tires for granted.  Check the air pressure of tires frequently, if possible once to twice a week.  Check for holes or nails in the tires.  Have your tires rotated every 5,000-10,000 km.  Have the wheels checked for alignment.  Finally, ask an expert to assess your tires if they already need replacing.  Now I know.

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Happy Place

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As I was skimming through my Facebook news feed, I chanced upon an article about my alma mater, U.P. (University of the Philippines).  Today is U.P.’s 105th anniversary.  Aaaah, so many happy memories…

When I was 6, I didn’t understand what the fuss was all about for me to get in U.P.  At 6, all I cared about was playing with my friends in the small playground with rusty swings, super high monkey bars, and creaky see saws.  After school, my friends and I would play habulan (tag),taguan (hide-and-seek), patintero, and agawan base in the little field beside our building.  We collected amorseco seeds, put them into straws and playfully shot at each other’s clothes.  We caught dragonflies of different sizes and colors, put them into glass jars with holes on the covers, and made them into our pets.    We sometimes wandered across the field to the high school building to explore and gawk at the big kids.  When we had money, we bought Twin Popsies, Pinipig Crunch, or ice cream cups from our favorite vendor.  This was our routine up until high school (yes, even tag!).

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As we got older, my friends and I began go a little outside our comfort zone.  We rode the famous Ikot Jeep!  U.P. is the only university with public transportation that goes around the campus so that students could go from building to building for their different subjects.  Our friend’s house was situated within the campus and we often rode the Ikot to her house for lunch and a power nap.  We went to Shopping Center, a one-floor building, which had everything from a cafeteria, a mini-grocery, computer shops, bookstores, dress shops, to salons and barber shops.  Everything we needed, we found there.  But the main reason for our frequent Shopping Center visits is… fishballs!!! and squidballs, and kikiam, and kwek kwek!  (Sorry, I got carried away, but these are just the best street food ever and my mouth is watering as I write).  During cooler days, we walked around the 2.2-km Academic Oval to enjoy the scenery of the buildings and the “Shady Lane” of giant acacia trees.  Sometimes, we went to the Sunken Garden, sat on the grass and discussed school, our crushes, our family lives, and our dreams.

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In college, I met new friends from the different regions of the Philippines with different dialects.  But we all had one thing in common, we loved to “loiter” around campus, and sometimes outside of campus, as there was another jeep which brought us straight to a mall!

Those were the days.

To me, U.P. is not only the Philippine’s top university, it is my happy place.  When I am in a pensive mood or I need to make a life-changing decision, I just drive or walk around campus and everything is fine.  When I feel anxious or worried, I close my eyes and let my mind wander under the shade of the acacia trees.

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Independence Day

It is the eve of our Independence Day.   In our village, I see little paper flags decorating our street posts.  Other than that, there is no indication of any celebration for Independence Day.  With the little time I’ve spent watching TV, I have seen no announcements, no upcoming TV specials, and no advertisements; likewise on the radio.  Isn’t Independence Day important to us anymore?  Is it just another paid holiday for us?

I have never been good at history.  I never saw the importance of memorizing dates, names, places, and events.  But one thing I always remember is the story and its after effects.  300+ years of Spanish colony, 50+ years of American colony, and a 5-year Japanese occupation.  The last of the Japanese troops left in 1945.  After 68 years, are we truly free?  I think not.  We are still enslaved… by ourselves.

Yes, we have been ruled by foreigners for such a long time that we got used to being “enslaved”.  No wonder we are so good at the being in the service industry:  Nurses, caregivers, housekeepers, domestic helpers, drivers, the list goes on.  We are kind, polite, and content. There is nothing wrong with this but we are kind, polite, and content to a fault.  We teach our children to study well so that they can become employed in “good companies”.  We learn that being a good employee (i.e. subservient) could land us a promotion.  We happily slip into the rat race and use our credit cards to buy things to show off to our friends and relatives.  We retire with a lump sum, spend it on the things we could not buy before and end up penniless after 3 years.

The other route we take is to gain employment overseas.  Countries like the US, UK, Australia, Saudi, and UAE prefer us because of demeanor.  That’s really good news, right?  Especially with the remittances.  Our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) have been dubbed Bagong Bayani (new heroes) because of this.  But this comes with a price:  broken marriages, bitter and misguided children, and loss of family values.

But you know, we cannot put the entire blame on our past.  Truthfully, the Spaniards, the Americans, and the Japanese have contributed greatly on our progress as well.  It is our attitudes and beliefs that have put us where we are.  How come Filipinos who migrate to different countries are more law-abiding, bolder, communicate better, and have better control of their finances?

Let’s strive to be free.  Free from corruption, free from debt, and free from poverty.  Let’s start with ourselves. Our country is the most beautiful place on earth.  Let’s not waste our natural resources or our human resources.

(I love this song, “Bayan Ko,” (My Native Land).  I came across this rendition by Libera.  I was thinking of posting a Filipino rendition but when I watched this video, I was deeply moved by it.)

Video courtesy of virgemvoicez of youtube.

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Sissy and I

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“Sissy, I want some cherries.”  I texted my sister last Monday.  Come Wednesday, all the way from Alabang, she brought me two trays of cherries (which I will gobble down promptly after I write this blog!).  What a sweetie, right?

It brings me back to our “bonding days”, when she was still single and we could do whatever we wanted.  When we were little, we didn’t really get along very well.  She was much older than me and while I was still playing with Legos, she was already putting on makeup, nail polish, and hair spray (yes, she was an ’80s kid).  In one of our cat fights, she used her uber long fingernails to claw at my arms.  When I went to school, my classmates and teacher asked me what happened and I told them, “I fell off a tree.”  I got back at her by drawing on her notebooks and cutting holes into her favorite shirt/skirt.

Then one day, probably we both matured, we became the best of friends.  She even helped put me through med school.  She paid part of my tuition, bought my books, gave me allowance, and paid part of my apartment rent.  On weekends, she would fetch me from my apartment so that I could spend the weekend at home and bring me back on Sunday night.  She rewarded me by bringing me to the movies and feeding me my favorite food.

When she got married, little changed.  Whenever she went out shopping for clothes, I would always have a blouse or two.  Twice a year, she would take me out shopping during end-of-season sales. She would buy a lot of bags, use them a couple of times and then give them to me (probably so that I would not refuse the new bags).  At one time, she gave me a steady supply of revel bars from the Saturday market until I thought I had diabetes!  She even bought me a bejeweled dog key chain and a Swarovski dog pendant when she came upon these in her travels to other countries.

Going back to the cherries, the majority was sweet, some were bitter, some were sour, and some tasted like wine…just like my sissy and I.  Thanks sissy! Thank you for being my second mother and best friend.  I love you to pieces.

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Weekend with Ben & Jerry

Yey, weekend!!! Everybody looks forward to the weekend, especially after a hectic work week.  It’s the time when we can catch up on snooze, relax, bond with our significant other, and eat good food.

I have been craving ice cream for quite some time now.  I absolutely love ice cream!  Despite the fact that I’m lactose-intolerant and that I need to be just a few feet away from the ladies’ room, I decided it was time to give in to the feeling.  I saw a picture of ice cream once in my friend’s Facebook page and I was curious to try it.  JY and I drove over to nearby Rustan’s in Katipunan Avenue.  For 1 pint, the ice cream was quite expensive.

Behold, Ben & Jerry’s!!!

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Wow.  That was the only word I could utter after just a spoonful of the Peanut Butter Cup.  That has got to be the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had!  I love how every spoonful had half of a peanut butter cup in it and how the saltiness of the peanut butter cup complemented the sweet and smooth ice cream.  It was so heavenly!  I felt very light, as if I could just float away with happiness.  JY beat me to it… he was already on cloud 9!

Just who are Ben & Jerry?!  Whoever they are, thank you for bringing us so much joy! 🙂

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Gratitude

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I’m just so forgetful.  I keep forgetting that God is good all the time.  I’m so ashamed.

I’ve heard that before you’re born, God plants his purpose for you deep in your heart.  It is something that you are passionate about and something that you long to fulfill.  After decades of trying to decipher my purpose, I believe I have finally unearthed it.  My purpose is both very exciting and very scary.  Overly ambitious.  I’m in denial and I’m still trying to shove it back to the deepest recesses of my heart but it just keeps coming back to the surface.  But its flowchart is very clear in my head.  I have a great plan!  But every time I take a step to fulfill my purpose, I’m pulled 10 steps back.  It’s very frustrating and I’m losing hope.  I shy away from God because I’m such a disappointment.  At the same time, I am angry.  Angry at myself and angry at God.  I’m sorry Lord, I just need time.   I hold on to this:  “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever (Psalm 138:8).”

And just when I’m about to give up, he nudges me with his loving hands.  Thank you, Lord.  Forgive me for doubting you.  You have given me a blessing today which will put me on my way to fulfill my purpose.  My heart is bursting.  To God be the glory!

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Humor in the Clinic

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“Aaaack! They’re coming!” we scream as we see wide-eyed, eager freshmen trooping towards our door.  Yes, it’s enrollment time once again and an average of 50 to 100 freshmen mob me daily for their baseline medical history and physical exam.  Despite the dizziness, near-fainting episodes, body pain, hoarseness, gastritis (due to missed meals), UTI (due to infrequent pee breaks) and varicose veins (due to prolonged standing/sitting) that this brings, we still get to see the humor in our job.

SCENARIO 1:  Students filling out the medical form.

Student A:  Status: In a relationship.

Student B:  Status:  It’s complicated.

Student C:  Sex:  2x a week.

Student D:  Personal history, other diseases: Romantic heart disease.

SCENARIO 2:  During the interview.

Dentist: “What’s your phone…” (was not able to finish her sentence)

Student:  Says with pride, “Samsung!”

Me:  “What’s your number?” (student left the contact number blank)

Student: “I’m sorry Doc, I already have a girlfriend!”

SCENARIO 3:  The visual acuity test.

Nurse:  “Cover your eye and read the letters from the chart.”

Student:  Covers BOTH eyes.

Nurse:  “Kindly read the letters on the 8th line.”

Student 1:  “defpotec!!!”  (read as D-E-F-P-O-T-E-C)

Student 2:  “8!”

SCENARIO 4:  The audiometric exam.

Young Nurse:  “You have to press the button when you hear a sound so that the bulb will light up, okay?”

Student:  Nods.

5 minutes later and the student has not pressed the button after the nurse’s numerous attempts.

Young Nurse:  Repeats the instructions.  “Let’s try again!”

5 minutes later, still no pressing of the button or lighting of the bulb.

Young Nurse:  Frustrated.  “YOU HAVE TO PRESS THE BUTTON WHEN YOU HEAR A SOUND!!!”

Student:  Eyes brimming with tears.

Senior Nurse:  Says to no one in particular while writing on the logbook,  “Oh by the way, I forgot to plug in the audio! Can somebody plug that in?”

SCENARIO 5:  During the physical examination.

Me: “Okay, I will now listen to your heart.”

Student:  “Oh no Doc, I’m brokenhearted!”

Doctor 2:  Checking the ears of a male Marine Engineering student, “Okay son, good news, your hymen is intact.”

Student:  Confused.

Doctor 2: “Oh my, I’m sorry!  I mean your eardrums are intact.”

SCENARIO 6:  Checking the throat.

Student comes in with a giant purse and sits on the chair beside my table waiting for her physical exam.

Me:  Woozy and near-syncopal after examining a huge wave of students.  “Okay, are you ready? Open…your bag.”

Student: Bewildered but opened her bag anyway.

Me:  “Oh I’m sorry!!! Open your mouth!”

Laughs from all around the clinic.

It’s still true… Laughter is the BEST medicine.  Thank God!

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Summer Rain

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When we were in grade school, we were taught that in the Philippines, we had two seasons:  The dry (summer) and the wet (rainy) season.  Hey, it’s summer!!! So why is it raining?

Actually, we all know why: Climate change.  It rains during the summer and it’s still hot during the rainy season.  But still, this did not stop our company from having an outing.

The sun was scorching when we arrived at our destination, Terrazas de Punta Fuego in Nasugbu, Batangas.  The heat made me want to jump in the pool in my street clothes! It didn’t surprise me when I felt big drops of sweat run down my forehead, neck, and back.  My naturally wavy hair couldn’t be restrained from poofing up.  I looked like a poodle who just finished working out at the gym (hence, no pictures of me will be shown).

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We were served welcome drinks as we were led to our cabanas.  After we settled into our cabana, I sneaked out to do some picture-taking of the place before we got busy.  They had an infinity pool, a kiddie pool, and a wading pool with a fountain at the center under a canopy of palm trees and fire trees.  Blue tiles lined the pool and just looking at the pool made me feel refreshed already.  I promised myself to change into my bathing suit and dive in as soon as I finished taking pictures.  I quickly made my way to the beach to finish my task.  The beach had semi-fine white sand with little ghost crabs flitting about.  There were colorful flags lining the beach that flew lazily in the wind.  There was also a jet ski and a motorboat with a banana boat in tow parked on the water’s edge.  A volleyball net was set up near the cabanas ready for use.

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Most of my workmates were already heading to the beach and lining up for the water activities. Since it was my first time to join the company outing, I didn’t know that mornings were spent at the beach and afternoons were spent in the pool.  I didn’t feel confident about my swimming skills to participate in the water activities so I decided to wait in the cabana and read from my tablet.  A while later, one of my workmates was injured when their banana boat turned over.  She had a golf ball-sized swelling on her temple.  I had her put ice on it but I knew her to be hypertensive so I had to watch her closely.

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After a sumptuous lunch, l got ready for my swim.  And then… it rained!!! Large raindrops fell on our cabana and lightning cut across the sky.  My workmates who were already swimming in the beach and in the pool were politely asked by the staff to get out of the water for safety reasons.  Sigh.  Foiled plan.  It was a blessing in disguise though because I got to do what I did best, zone out.  The air was no longer humid and it had quite a comfy temperature.  I put on my earphones, turned on my music and read a book.  I almost dozed off when I was told by a workmate that the rain had stopped and we could now proceed to the beach/pool.  I checked the clock… almost time to go.  I said, “Go ahead, I think I’ll just enjoy the scenery, ” which I did.

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There will always be a next time.  But hey, the rain will always be welcome.

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