Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Blind Side

To date, I’ve watched a grand total of two films on my own in the theater. The feeling’s weird, yes, without company, but sometimes, there are movies that you simply have to watch no matter what, as if your movie-watching life depended on doing so. In the end, it is not about the company or the setting – it’s about the film itself.

Towards the end of last semester, JULIE AND JULIA opened in local theaters. And it would have been so hypocritical of me not to go see it: That’s like the Meryl Streep and the Amy Adams in one film - again (I still say Doubt should have been up for Best Picture). I have to admit, there were some dragging parts, but I guess that’s simply one characteristic of great films: they always have these dull parts for the viewer to anticipate something better (No County for Old Men, Doubt, Babel, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, etc.). As always, Meryl was a goddess. Simply perfect. And Ms. Adams, well, still a big fan.

Yesterday, with nothing to do, I went to watch THE BLIND SIDE. I didn’t expect much from it; Sandra Bullock's Golden Globe clip was my only guide. But this is one of the most touching films of the school year. 

The Oscars are near, and will Streep and Sandra tie for Best Actress?

Anyway, have you seen these Hitler parodies on YouTube, the ones where they dub this scene from the movie "Downfall" with all sorts of zaniness?

And yes, I’m now a Tenor 2 trainee of the UP College of Medicine Choir a.k.a MedChoir.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Yes, NSTP meant free time. But not so free. One Wednesday morning, they brought along F, a former drug addict, and his wife to give a talk.  They do that every year.

It was my first time to come face to face with a (former) drug addict. More interestingly, it was my first encounter with a self-confessed addict-alcoholic. And to think that until yesterday, I would have been more interested on say, rapists or serial killers (though I’m just not as inclined to meeting either one, mind you). But something that F, in all simplicity and directness, said yesterday really captured my attention.

“Addicts are not bad persons; they are sick persons.”

Upon hearing this, many people would immediately disagree – or even regard the speaker with a certain level of distaste. After all, addicts are into illegal drugs – and anything illegal has to be wrong, as society dictates. So, how can someone who patronizes something that’s against the norms of society still be considered as ‘not bad’?

In the first place, it was a rather weird setup. Upfront is a man who may (to the narrow-minded) seem to be boasting about his escapades with drugs; later on, his equally skilled story-teller-of-a- wife romps her way onstage with her side of the story and struggle. And there we were, budding medical students, listening to one man and his wife’s ornate battle with drugs told in the cheeriest way possible.

But, in more ways than thinkable, the setup wasn’t weird at all. It was… right.

For how do you summon the guts and nerves to admit to your frail, “miserable” wife that you already have a second spouse who happens to be banned by society, and which by the way, you’ve kept secret for more than the last decade? Or how do you live out a year, each day praying for God to kill you, only to emerge victorious in your journey towards rehabilitation? Or better yet, how do you tell such a story to the whole world with utmost pride, with the purest of intentions, and with that matter-of-factly, no-joking-around, this-is-a-lesson-for-us-all voice?

Drug addicts don’t differ that much from the child with dengue fever or the old man with lung cancer. Like the most severe medical cases that we may encounter, drug addicts deserve just as much attention and care. As (future) doctors, it is not only our job to dig up our brains and cure the patient to the best of our abilities. It is also our responsibility to become a friend – and more importantly, a companion to the patient. It’s not enough to be a brilliant doctor; what we need are compassionate doctors.

My viewpoints did change after yesterday’s class. It taught me that beneath the sick, uncaring façade, is a soul waiting to be freed from an illness. Addicts are not bad; they are sick… and they need to be cured. Few people have as much will power and strength as F, and as much compassion and loyalty as Rachel. And if F and Rachel survived their battle, then we (future) doctors can surely help many more survive theirs.

Waking Life

In Philosophy I under Master Ignatius, which may seem ages ago already (but isn’t actually), we watched the film “Waking Life” and were made to write a one-page reaction paper on a line of our choice from the film.

There’s no story. It’s just people, gestures, moments, bits of rapture, fleeting emotions. In short, the greatest story ever told.

A young girl clutches her teddy bear as her mother enters the terminal building and blows her a flying kiss. A high school student sprints through halls and pathways just to pass his paper on time. A middle-aged man grumbles in the driver’s seat as traffic takes its toll. An old woman opens her eyes and realizes that cancer has failed to down her for yet another day.

We have seen these images flit across our eyes, in the television or somewhere in imagination. And like every other picture of the same nature, we casually ignore them and let them pile in a stack labeled “normal happenings,” “everyday life,” or something of the sort. Everyday, we pine for something big – extraordinary, out of the ordinary… special. Everyday, we keep our hopes high that life will have a wonderful surprise or twist. But no matter how long the time we spend in hoping and wishing and dreaming, the “extraordinary” will never come.

That is because what is happening around us – everything: a tick of the clock, a race across streets, a slip on the floor, laughter – is what we have been unknowingly waiting for lifelong. The people that we met or barely even know, what we feel as each second passes, an act of kindness or rage released, even the harmonious chirping of the birds – this is what life is.

Life is a composition, a masterful musical piece made by combining different sets of notes. Life is an artwork, the graffiti of colors plastered across and all over one another to create a parade of colors. Waiting only makes us blind to what is unfolding before our eyes, to what is “the present” and “is.” We must live with the world, or learn to live with it, for it is only in the world – and not in waiting – by which we live. The story is already written; we need not wait for it, but must learn to read it.

There is nothing special that’s coming. Special happens in life itself – the greatest story ever told, and the only one worth reading.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Definition of Instinct

It will always be a huge challenge for a teacher to handle forty (or in this case, forty-one) of the most brilliant young minds in the country cooped up in a single classroom. This, as some of you may very well predict, was the core of the issue that defined yesterday afternoon’s borefest – in other words, SocSci I under Madame Vitz.

On one hand, we have premedical students who strongly believe in the existence of an instinctual and instinctive human being.

On the other hand, we have a field of study that does not believe in ‘instinct’ as defined by the millions of Darwinian worshipers.

Problems occur when these two opposing sides are forced to coexist.

The problem is, the course wants to offer, shall we say, an alternative peek into the human being – not as a biological species, but as a social creature. It seeks to let the students look at the human being from an entirely different POV.

The problem is, said premedical students see no (direct) need to take that alternative peek. They are going to be doctors; the scientific mind is the one that needs greater nourishment.

The problem is, the viewpoints of the medical and behavioral sciences are not on the same plane – not even in the same universe – in the minds of the students.

Thus, we get Vitzkrieg-ed.


Oops… keep an open mind. =))