Monday, April 21, 2014

The Extended Summer, Week 1

These days, I've been sleeping a lot. Way to start the epic extended summer vacation. Also, where are all these mosquitoes coming from?!

Church Visits: 10

Holy Week is a huge thing in the family, and not because it means getting the trusty passports out (because that would just be so not Catholic). We take our Visita Iglesia seriously; Iloilo province, after all, has some of the country's finest selection of churches. And to the three psalmists of this year's Santa Maria Parish Easter Vigil, you were disasters. What a shame.

 In the town of Janiuay, Iloilo, ruins of the old church and the staircase leading to the new structure beside it.

Books Started: 1
  • On the Road (by Jack Kerouac)
Two weeks ago, watched "Kill Your Darlings" - a severely underrated movie directed by John Krokidas and featuring an atrociously underrated performance by rising star (and new favorite actor) Dane DeHaan - which reignited pretentious quasi-obsession over The Beats, hence, this choice for a first non-academic book since David Mitchell's "number9dream" back in October, I think. Said "obsession" started with the puzzling movie "Howl," starring pre-Instagram-ranting, Ben Brantley-hating James Franco as Allen Ginsberg; in "Darlings," Ginsberg is played by Daniel Radcliffe (good) and the controversial Lucien Carr is played by DeHaan (exceptional).

But the book, which just had a movie adaptation (two years ago, was it?) starring actress with palsied face, more famous as girl who played Bella Swan, is beginning to feel like a chore. The protagonist, Sal, keeps going places yet doesn't seem to know where he really wants to get to - a tiring charade, really, almost like he's goading the reader to scream what the author could barely mumble, which is, "Settle down!" 

Aerial view: The CCP area, Harrison Plaza, the green of Manila Zoo, Quirino Avenue, Malate. Taken during my flight home last Tuesday.  

Films Watched: 9
  • Blue Is the Warmest Colour (France, dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)
  • Gravity (dir. Alfonso Cuaron) - second viewing 
  • Enough Said (dir. Nicole Holofcener) - second viewing
  • In the House (France, dir. Francois Ozon)
  • Ilo Ilo (Singapore, dir. Anthony Chen)
Tempted to call this a miracle, if only because the simplicity of the filmmaking conjures a whole universe of unspoken emotions.  
  • Metro Manila (UK, dir. Sean Ellis)
To borrow from "August: Osage County," what a load of horseshit! Clearly, Ellis has a very poor understanding of the Philippines and its people. He's obviously intoxicated by the land - witness no less than eight frames of the famed Rice Terraces during the opening sequence - that the finished product reeks of a foreigner's clumsy, barely studied take on this country. Plus, sloppy dialogue! And tons of continuity issues (one moment, they're in Balintawak; the next, they're in Recto)! The saving grace of this disgusting poverty porn is John Arcilla; Ana Abad Santos and Miles Kanapi are great too (Kanapi's the best character in Lav Diaz's "Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan").
  • Neighboring Sounds (Brazil, dir. Kleber Mendonca Filho)
Loved this film, its slow unfurling perfectly capturing the way we spend much of our time observing others. Nothing much happens here - the highlight has to be Maeve Jinkings' bored housewife making a vibrator out of the washing machine - but then, so is the case with real life.
  • Rio 2 (dir. Carlos Saldanha)
This was fun - totally bought the auditions shtick, overdrawn as it is (but who can possibly refuse a baby capybara belting out "Memory"?). However, lacks the novelty and huzzah! factor of its predecessor, which is to say, "Shrek 2" remains the only animated feature to have bettered its original. 
  • Two Lives (Germany, dir. Georg Maas)
You gotta love how the Germans make their movies: As with last year's "Barbara," so much subtlety, without ever letting the suspense dip.  

Watermelon shack along the national highway, Oton, Iloilo.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Climbing Mt. Maculot

This happened on January 9 - three months ago - but then a lot of other stuff got in the way, like reviewing shows (yey!) and studying (ugh.) and pretending to like babies in Pediatrics. It was Quiapo Day, or the Feast of the Black Nazarene, when we did this climb. And since this was officially my first "real" mountain (I'd gone on two pseudo-mountaineering trips back in high school, but they were really more of wilderness trekking), I thought I'd just dump all my unedited photos in this post. 

Mt. Maculot is officially part of Cuenca, Batangas; on a map, it stands on the southern border of Taal Lake. Much of what you need to know about the mountain and organizing hikes (day hikes!) can be found in Pinoy Mountaineer, which is run by Gideon Lasco, a fellow Intarmed.

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The view from the Buendia LRT station at 6:30AM.

During the tricycle ride to camp, first proper glimpse of Mt. Maculot.


Starting the trek.

Bamboo, which used to be my frustrated-horticulturist father's favorite plant. (Now it's orchids.)

Our first glimpse of Taal Lake.

Trail marker.

Hike member Josh.

Rest stop 1, featuring Hike leader Sgt. Sexylegs (a.k.a. Terence) in white shirt. His thighs are so much bigger now, thanks to CrossFit.

Hike member Orly, who loves to dance.

The Plains below.

Rest stop near the top!
The Mt. Maculot Rockies

The summit.

Mt. Makiling in the distance.

Hike member/mother Hannah having lunch.

Hike member Madison being... silly.


Hike member Samuel Antoine.


Hike members Jim (left) and Orly.

Taal Volcano.

Sgt. Sexylegs and I. Seriously, the man has no body hair.

Lunch break.

A leaf insect!

Men being adventurous. Upper right of set features Hike member Jom and his swanky camera.

The group before the descent.

Saying goodbye to Cuenca, Batangas.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ten Things About Community Medicine

The Year Level 5: ICC Year blog posts - stories and anecdotes, patient encounters and hospital drama, and the many colors of UP med school from the perspective of a third year. Here's the sixteenth entry, under our two-week rotation in the Community Medicine section of the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Note 1: As of this writing, we are officially done with third year medicine proper and have started the epic four-month vacation.

Note 2: Many people don't see Community Medicine as a real rotation. Because it really isn't, if we go by the definition of 'rotation' as 'see patients here, prescribe drugs there, do tests everywhere'. Community Medicine is an immersion; it is, as someone put it, the art of getting along with strangers.

1. Our group was assigned to Barangay 733, an urban-poor community along the border of Makati and Singgalong, Manila. The main health center is Fabella, which served as a sort of headquarters for our rotation. But we only went their twice; the rest of the time was spent with the people.

2. Meet our volunteer health workers (VHWs): Ate Linda (right) and Ate Lucie (left)! (Now that sounds like a Woody Allen film.) There's also Ate Kenneth and Elna and Joanna, but it was mainly these two extremely generous people who accompanied us for the length of our stay.

3. Captain Jigs is the current leader of the barangay, seen below with his bevy of councilors.The barangay hall is a place of overstated simplicity.

4. Saturday in 733 is aerobics day - unless the instructor doesn't come, which was what happened during the one morning when we'd all dragged our asses out of bed to get to the barangay before 7-freakin'-AM.

5. Boys walking in their underwear, but that's not such a strange sight in this country. (One of them wore boxer-briefs over briefs, which totally defeated the purpose of covering up, and which only magnified his, um, giftedness.) They have a "fraternity" called the Society of Blues, which we assumed is short for "boys who dig pot."

6. The main thrust of our group's immersion was to reinforce our VHWs' knowledge on taking vital signs and administering first aid. During our final presentation in class (no photo), we did a radio play, reenacting the iconic lines and unforgettable scenes during our stay.

7. The final presentations featured an overwhelming number of people in drag and hipster outfit. And Pinoy rap numbers. "'Nung ma-in-love ako sa'yo, akala ko'y pag-ibig mo ay tunay." 

8. Herbal Medicine session! I chopped all that oregano in the first photo!

9. It's impossible to ignore the disparity of wealth in this part of Manila. Just a couple of streets away is the bustling, ultra-chic La Salle neighborhood. And Zark's Burgers, which is the regular La Sallian's method of choice for getting heart disease.

10. The barangay assembly, which morphed into "The Last Stands of Ex-Capt. Rosales." It was the ultimate showdown, as the previous and current regimes struggled to one-up each other. The bigger tragedy, though, was that none of the issues really got resolved; people here have the tendency to avoid confrontation and just sweep their issues to the side.

Postscript: The Intarmeds of Block 8 with Dr. Gene Nisperos, who's part of the pioneer batch of the program. And congratulations to Vince (center, in gray shirt) for, you know, life!