Thursday, August 26, 2010


I cant help getting so furious about the requirements for job applicants these days. You cannot practically find any job decent or otherwise when your 30. Why?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm still here


Lots of things happened since my last blog. I figured I have a lot of catching up to do. As if I have a lot of followers. :)

In the next few blogs that I am going to write I would like to stand up to my blog's name of being unlimited. So I guess I would be writing about anything. Maybe some sensitive issues here and there. Some even annoying comments of the little things that's going on with my little adventures.

So please bear with me.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Mamang

Before we had cable, I never knew there was Mother's Day. I never even cared after I knew about Mother's Day. It was only after my brother told me about mother's day that I started to do something every time it's Mother's day. But I never really did something every Mother's Day because sometimes I forget its Mother's Day. I don't even have any idea when Mother's Day really is.

Often, I text. I seldom give cards. My excuse- I'm not showy (if such a word existed).

Fact is, I have no idea how I should say Happy Mother's Day and mean it. Really. Really mean it.

I say thank you and it's simply saying thank you. I make cards. Sometimes, I write poems and all that stuff saying this is this and that is that- which I am not good at. But most of the time, I text. If given a chance, I call.

Oh, and I send cards bought from bookstores. The ones that says very nice things about mothers. And if i cant find the bestest (if such a word existed) card for my mamang, I settle with the ones I label "Ay, kini nalang". Then I'd write "I love you" and then sign my name.

I can write a lot of things to my mamang on Mother's Day, but I am yet to prove that I mean it. Really. Really mean it.


The first time I said " i love you mamang " was not easy.

It was just not easy. Really, It was not.

I wasn't scared to tell her. I actually don't know why it was not easy.

Maybe, I guess, those four words aren't enough when spoken.

After all the years my mamang spent for me and my brother, I don't think words are enough. I don't even have an idea what is enough.

My mamang raised two boys (that's me and my older brother) while my father was working abroad. Papang wasn't home when my brother was born. He arrived a month later. Another month later, he went abroad again for work.

Nine months later, I was born.:)

Now that I'm old enough to ask pretty much anything, and avoid being scolded for "kabastosan" , I actually asked mamang how that happened. Funny, I asked. Okey, stupid.

"Meaning? Wala pa gani mitin-aw ang ihi, banat na pud? " I would tease her.

But my mamang would just smile.

Maybe her doctor told her what was taught in medical school- about not getting pregnant after giving birth?


Or maybe I was just meant to be born. I guess that's the reason I was named in Hebrew meaning gift. :)
By the way my brother was named after Noah's eldest son (that's Noah as in Noah's Ark from the bible). Papang was a seaman. He stopped working as one after the Abu Sayyaf burned our town in 1995. I forgot to tell. That would have to be another story.

Papang was home that time. It was the end of his work contract. Luckily. Few months later, he went abroad again for work. I'd love to tell about the day I was born but I guess that would have to be another story.

My brother was just ten months old when I was born. Mamang had twins that time! Well, sort of.

We were raised in Zamboanga City but went to Ipil, which was still named Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur that time, before I completely filled my memory bank with the Chavacano vocabulary. That explains why I don't speak Chavacano. I don't speak Chavacano. Remember?

Mamang finished BS Social Work but never took the licensure exam and worked since papang told her that that wouldn't be necessary since he should work for his family and that mamang should take care of their children. Mamang never opposed papang's ideals. I know she had her plans in life but she loved papang. I admired her for that. It takes enough heart to pursue your own dreams but it takes a bigger heart to commit to the desires of the one you love.


Mamang was always there for us. I mean literally.

I remember during our elementary years whenever we had our school parade. She never got tired of following me and my brother. She doesn't get in line though, but she was just there watching us, carrying extra shirts, towels and a jug of water. A small jug- that is- just enough for both me and my brother.- bottled water didn't exist in our town until the late 90's. I get so embarrassed seeing mamang following us all the time that sometimes I wished she never existed- just like the bottled water.

The thing that she did which I considered the worst that time happened when both me and my brother went to Boy Scout Camp at Pagadian City. That's three hours away from our town. It was a one week event. Mamang didn't go there. No she didn't.

She sat in our elementary class the whole week! -took notes and talked with our classmates!

That was in Grade six.

I was so embarrassed. I feel like melting everytime my classmates talk about it.

But that was then.

I started realizing what mamang did was something to be proud of in the late 90's, and just like the bottled water, I accepted the fact that she was always there for us.

It took her a big heart to go beyond her boundaries. I bet not all mothers could do what my mamang did. :)

As a child, I've always wondered how big my mamang's heart was with all the things she endured in life for us. I was curious.

There was no way I'd be able to see it but I was able to listen to it when I was about seven or eight.

My lola was placed on peritonial dialysis for chronic kidney disease and we took care of her at home. Those were the days that I had my access to the wonders of the stethoscope. I even started learning how to take blood pressure measurements, assisted in setting the IV lines and most of the time annoyed my mamang with my questions. Goodness, I guess that also made my mamang think I want to be a doctor when I grow up.- I never thought of it until now.

"Lub Dub, Lub Dub"

That was the first heart sound I heard. My Mamang's. Then I listened to mine.

"Lub Dub, Lub Dub"

"Ambi na nang stet. Maguba unya na. Mahal ra ba kaayo na"."Unya na ka mugamit ana kung madoktor na ka". She would scold me.

Few months later, my lola passed away.


"Anak. Tan. Tala, mangadto na ta sa Emergency" she said one day.

After making sure everything was fine at home, she told me to go with her for her monthly injection at our District Hospital. Days later she would ask me to place warm compress on her butt.

"Mang, nanglagum lagi imo lubot. Ngano man ni?

"Ana man gyud na basta human indyeksyon" She told me.

For days I would watch her trying to hold back her tears from falling everytime she moves in pain from her injection.

That happened every month.

"Naa man gud ko sakit sa kasing kasing" she would explain. "Mao na magdoktor dyud ka aron mubantay ka nako".

I couldn't understand it. Her heart sounded just like mine. It's perfect.

It sounded just like mine.

I was there everytime she had her check ups. I never really knew then what she have. All I did was memorize all her medications and her laboratory results. After all, I was mamang's little doctor.

I learned later in med school that my mamang has Rheumatic Heart Disease. She was advised to undergo a Mitral Valve Replacement after I finished my premed course. That was eight years ago. But she would always say, "Di lagi ko magpa-opera kung di pa madoktor ako anak. Kinsa man mubantay nako?".

I listened to her heart again.

Irregularly irregular, with murmurs.

I hated reading cardiology topics since then. I don't want to know what will eventually happen to my mamang. Worst, I don't want to know how it will happen.


"Hello mang. Kumusta?" I answered over the phone.

It was barely a month before the medical board exams.

"Anak, kumusta man imo review?"

"Okey ra man mang. Perteng daghana sa wa pa nako mabasa. Unsaon na lang ni?"

"Ay, kaya lagi na nimo."

Her words never failed to inspire me.

"Kung pwede pa lang akoy mubasa sa imo libro." she adds.

Papang seldom talks on the phone but I know he listens if mamang and I talks.

"Ikaw? kumusta na man ka diha? I asked.

"Okey ra man ko diri." she says.

But she sounded different.

"Mang? Ga oxygen ka karon?"

"Oo lagi." she answers. "Maglisud na man ko ug ginhawa tan." she adds. "Pirme na pud ko gina-ubo."

I paused for a while, then I continued. "Aw, maayo ra man kaha imo ginhawa kung naay oxygen. Ayaw lang pud pirmig lakaw lakaw diha sa balay. Kanang imong ubo, basin dala ra na sa tun-og. Kadlawon man kaha mugawas?"

I hated myself. I knew what was happening. I've read it. I had my review.

"Pero para mas maayo mang, pacheck-up ka diri karon." I added.

"Okey ra man tan. Sa sunod bulan nalang human imo exam, anha mi sa Cebu. Uban ta magpacheck up."

"O sige" I replied. "Ikaw gud. Basta ingna lang ko kung unsa man."

Our talks were short that time. I was having my review. That was the reason we both told ourselves. But I know the reason why she called. Mamang needed help.

I couldn't do anything. I'm her little doctor. I was scared.

Days after that we had her checked here in Cebu


"Mang, Pasar mi tanan" I told my mamang.

My aunt screamed. The rest of my cousins celebrated. It was like Manny Pacquiao's victory over de la Hoya. Hatton's fight was way to easy. :)
We were at my aunt's house in Mandaue City that day. Mamang already had her check up and was advised for the operation.

We didn't have oxygen at my aunt's house. I slept near my mamang's bed. Every night I hear her breathing harder and harder. I hated myself. I knew what was happening. I've read it. I passed the boards.

"Salamat sa Diyos. Doktor na gyud akong anak" she told me.

"Okey na ko magpa-opera nak."

I was lost for words. That was it? That was all my mamang ever waited for. To know she had a doctor.

"Naay oathtaking diri sa Cebu. Magsabot pa daw sa" I continued.

"Pwede ta muadto ug manila para patsek-ap dayon balik ta diri Cebu para sa oathtaking."

Mamang agreed and we went to Manila.

Mamang was weak, she had a hard time breathing. Still, with all her strength she endured going to Manila and back to Cebu. "Basta naa akong anak, okey ra ko", she would always say.

Boarding the airplane was a challenge for her. We would stop walking often times to catch her breath. She never asked for oxygen. She says "Kaya ra lagi ni nako, naa bitaw ka".

Now, I am mamang's little doctor.

She was scheduled for the operation a month after, so we went home to Zamboanga. We still need to come up with all the money we need for the operation. More than half a million. Thankfuly, all our relatives were able to lend us enough money.


"Kahadlok man diay no?" mamang told me after being told what the doctors would do to her for her valvular replacement.

We were at the briefing room at the Philippine Heart Center that time. A day before her operation. Everything was explained with video presentation minus all the gore you actually see inside the operating room.

"Ipasok dyud nang tubo sa imong baba?" she asks, referring to the ET tube.

"Yes mang, pero tulog na man ka ana."

"Pwede ka musulod sa operating room? Doctor man ka."

"Di guro mang uy. Diri ra ko sa gawas. Sagdi lang kay diri ra man mi hulat ni papang."

"Dako na jud diay kaayo and daot sa ako kasing kasing?"

I paused, I don't want to lecture on the anatomy of the human heart. I'm no good at it.

Days before the briefing, mamang underwent a Coronary Angiogram. Me and my papang waited anxiously at the waiting area as my mamang was wheeled in to the room.

"Pasok ka dito." my mamang's doctor told me.

I never expected that. I went into the Angiography room and mamang was lying there. She smiled at me.

"Dito ka sa tabi ko, tingnan mo heart ng mama mo."

All my life I always wanted to see my mamang's heart. I kept wondering before how big it was. I kept wondering how it worked even though I know it's broken.

That moment I was not just looking at a human heart. That is my mamang. I was looking at my mother's heart. There it is. Beating! In real time! That is the very heart that pumped blood to keep me alive while I was in my mother's womb. Mamang's heart kept beating even if it's broken. It kept beating for me. It kept beating for my brother and it kept beating for my papang.

I held back my tears.

"Ipapasok na namin ang dye." I heard the doctor saying.

"Is that the left atrium?"I cant help but ask. I see its silhouette. I'm not good at the anatomy of the human heart but it looked really big compared to the drawings I see in Netter's.

"Oo, dilated na masyado." mamang's doctor continued. "Kailangan na maoperahan mama mo."

My mamang had a big heart. I mean literally.

"Dako-dako napud mang." I continued as I held her hand in the briefing room.

I know she has listened to her doctor for a thousand times about her heart. Believe me, I've been with her through most of her check ups. But, mothers always love to listen to their children's lecture even though how bad it is as long as it's their child speaking- okey, that's just me, i dont now if it happened to anybody else. So I did a lecture- with visual aides, of course.

"Ah." She says.

I smiled.


It was a beautiful morning. The day my mamang will get her heart fixed finally arrived.

"Kumusta man ka mang?" I asked her.

"Wa gyud ko katulog tarong kagabii. Ma okey ra kaha ko ani?" She asks.

"Ay, kaya lagi na nimo."

That time I hoped my words were enough to inspire her.

I thought, "Kung pwede palang ako nalang ang operahan para nimo.", but no words came out of my mouth. I was never as vocal as my mamang. I was scared.

"I love you mamang" It took all my strength to say those four words. She deserved more than those words. I have no idea what else I could do.

She was wheeled to the Operating room in the morning and was placed in the Surgical ICU in the afternoon.

"Salamat sa Diyos. Human na gyud." Papang said in relief after being told everything was okey.

Mamang underwent a successful Mitral Valve Replacement.

She has actually recovered and is having her regular check up at Zamboanga City these days. Maybe sometime this year she'll be back in Cebu or Manila for further tests just to make sure everything is working just fine.


I just called my mamang today, I said Happy Mother's Day and I Love You Mamang. :)

I didn't send any cards, or text. I just talked to her. I said sorry I wasn't able to send anything. She said, "Okey ra, basta naa ra ka, okey na ko."

I just hoped she deserves a son like me. Broken as I am, I know I'm not worth everything. I just hope I'm enough for all the things our family has endured in life. I'm not bigger than what I think I am. I'm my mamang's little doctor.

I started writing this story the day I thought it was mother's day. I actually don't care if it really is mother's day. I guess its today. But, then again who knows when mother's day really is. All I know is that for me, my mother's day was the very day my heart started beating inside my mamang's womb. (maybe by the time "mitin-aw na iyang ihi"). That was the very day her heart knew I was there, and it kept beating for me, broken as it is.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Story

This happened while I was in med school.

It was during the end of our second year.

I was hoping I could go home for the vacation. We had a tight schedule since the next school year was expected to start early and our grades weren't released yet. Then it happened.

I was able to go home. Most of us passed. :)


The night before my travel back home, I called my mamang. I told her I'm going home, of course. She said Okey.

"Magluto ko'g alimango". She told me, "Dugay na man ka wala kakaon ug alimango no?", of course. I said Okey.

I went home the next night.

The travel was long. This is the usual route I follow going home. From Cebu, we would stop by Dumaguete then arrive at Dapitan Port the next morning. Then I take the tricycle ride going to Dipolog. That's 30 minutes of sitting on a vibrating piece of metal covered with a thin foam and some synthetic leather. Most of the time my butt would feel so numb that I can't even feel I have a butt. It's like Lidocaine drip localized on your ass. If you're unlucky enough you'd end up sitting at a back of the driver with your hand holding on to the tricycle roof, in one position!

Now that would be general anesthesia.

That position was set when the tricycle wasn't traveling yet. It's like playing "P.S. I love You" and no one tags you to say "I Love You" for 30 minutes while sitting on traveling motorcycle, holding on to dear life with a vibrating metal under your ass when you'd start going on your way to another City.

Oh, did I mention about the baggage? Yep, your baggage would be safe and sound on top of the roof or at the back of the tricycle provided it was held secure by plastic rope, and if you're unlucky enough, by a plastic straw. Then it would be like playing "P.S. I love You" and no one tags you to say "I Love You" for 30 minutes while sitting on traveling motorcycle, holding on to dear life with a vibrating metal under your ass while saying please don't fall again and again with eyes focused on your bags as if you have telekinetic powers to keep them from falling. :)

The travel would also be different if you take a hired van going home. It's an air-conditioned van with broken air-conditioner, so all you'll get is a high setting from a broken fan. Can't choose where you'd be seated since you're in a hurry and most travel only when full. That is what we call "alas puno". This is also the time when human beings are equal to baggage. You'd be shoved wherever you'd fit inside the van. Together with your baggage, of course.

Then I traveled home.

I took the bus after the motorcycle ride.

Three hours later, I was home.

My older brother welcomed me literally. He had posters saying Welcome Home! It was a corny day. Then I saw my papang. "Amin ko be" I said. He stretched his hand and I made "amin".

"Asa si mamang?"

"Tua sa kusina". Papang answered. So I went there.

"Hi mamang! Amin ko be"

She smiled and stretched her left hand. "Naunsa man nang imong kamut?" as I was referring to her right hand. "Ay!, nasamad, gamay ra gud."

"Okey. Gidressingan man kaha na nimo?"

"Oo." She said.

I was so tired from traveling so I slept the whole afternoon that day and woke up by dinner time. "Timing":)


"Hala, kahumot sa alimango!"

It was dinner time!

I sat on the dining table where my mamang and papang with my brother were, of course, then started eating. I saw the crabs!

"Naay alimango o." my mamang said.

She gave me the best looking piece.

It looked different.

New recipe, I guess. It had dessicated coconut stuck underneath its shell and it was bathed in coconut milk. "Wow!" I took a look at it then shoved it aside.

Then my mamang asked, "Di ka ganahan?"

I replied,"Yaaak, Okey ra unta to kung walay sapal!" smiled and ate the prawns.

I failed to mention, "Lokon" (those big black prawns) was also served.

"Kato lang unta simple pagkaluto mang. Mas ganahan ko ato" I added.
She smiled and said, "Sige ugma, magluto ta ato."

We ate and talked a lot. Well, I didn't eat the crab, of course.
Mamang finished eating first. She always does. I intended to finish last. She silently sat on the chair where she usually sits after a heavy meal and watched T.V. We have cable. Remember?

Then I took my last bite.

The crabs were still there. Untouched.

I sat face to face with my mamang's new recipe. It smelled good, looked delicious, and I was wondering how it tasted, since I've never seen crabs cooked that way before. It doesn't looked like it was cooked with Alavar's sauce or something, but it looked special. Besides the stuffing, it looked like the shell was tied back to the crab. The whole thing was intact- with pincers and all. I even wondered how the coconut get stuffed inside the shell. It must have been a painful experience trying to stuff a live crab with coconut. You have to open it alive and try hard to stay away from those pincers! I smiled at the idea. I was about to take a piece and start eating, again, but I made one big excuse. I was full.

I was about to stand when my brother told me, "Di ka mukaon sa alimango?"

"Ugma nalang, Initon ra nato na." I said.

Then he told me. "Si mamang baya nagluto ana. Wala gani mi nakakaon diretso ana ganina kay gihulat ka nga mukaon".

I was lost for words. I didn't know what to say.

"Kabalo ba ka gi unsaan na pagluto ni mamang?"

My mamang cooked me a special recipe.

It was prepared that very night after I called I was going home. She asked my brother to buy the crabs that evening even when all the stores were already closed. He had to ask his friends for help just to get the fattest and tastiest crab there is because his little brother is coming home.

My mamang spent the whole night preparing those crabs. She took the shells off while the crabs were still alive and fresh, stuffed the dessicated coconut in each of the crabs shell and tied the shell back. That was just how that dish was made.

I sat down and looked at the crabs.

My tears started to fall. I had no right to hold it back.

My mamang just sat there. She was watching T.V. We had cable. Remember?

I sat beside her.

She noticed me beside her so she looked me.

"Okey ra anak." she said. "Magluto ra ta sa imong gusto ugma."

I held her hand. My tears fell.

There was nothing I can say to take back what I did.

All I could do was hold her hand.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Life and no Letters

I'm from Zamboanga.

After having said that, anyone would think I speak Chavacano.
Well I don't. I'm a half blooded Ilonggo.

Now after having said that, you would think I speak Ilonggo.
Well I don't.

I speak bisaya.

But I'm not from the Visayas since Zamboanga is in Mindanao.

My mamang speaks bisaya, but she's from Dipolog. That's one of the Cities in Western Mindanao and still part of Zamboanga Province.

Papang speaks ilonggo since my lolo and lola are from Iloilo. I just dont know where exactly.

Everytime I say what I just wrote to someone I just met, they would say, Okey. Then they would ask "Muslim ka?".

Well I'm not.

Then I would start telling my life story like this. Okey, sort of.

Im from Zamboanga Sibugay. You can't find that place in the map since most maps sold at bookstores aren't updated yet. Zamboanga Sibugay Province is a newly declared province composed of few towns which once were part of Zamboanga del Sur. I have no clear idea how we eventually ended up dividing Zamboanga del Sur since the only thing I remembered was when I was in high school, we had rallies and campaigns calling for a division. A few years later we had to change our addresses whenever we fill up forms since it seemed like we transferred to Area 51- in Mindanao. The only proof of existence of our place is when I start telling the story of the Abu Sayyaf attack in Zamboanga. But that would be another story.

I grew up in a province where life was very simple. I never thought of being a doctor when i grow up. Unfortunately, I was made to memorize a speech when I was in kindergarten saying -(imagine the young Tantor in Tarzan)- "when I grow up, I want to be a doctor". That changed everything. That also explains why I have a stethoscope on in my profile picture. Still I was happy with it. Some things could be worst.

I finnished gradeschool at a public school, for which I am proud of. I could still remember playing at our schools ground under the pouring rain together with my cousins. A few days later, we would look for mud pools created after the rain since if we find mud pools, we find tadpoles! Who could resist collecting those helpless tadpoles? We would place them in a plastic bag and suffocate them to death. Or, we could pool them in a mud pool where there will be too many of them and they'll die of dehydration.

My childhood years in the province opened my curiosity to almost anything. Back then we were practically able to identify almost all subspecies of spiders- to name a few "taga mais"," taga balay", "taga mangga", and the famous "istar-istar". Skills were developed like "bintot bintot" hunting in the corn fields, not to mention exploring the "baboy-baboy" burrows and pulling them out. We never had computers to surf then. We explore things on our own. Got stung by bees and fell from a number of trees.

My teen years were unremarkable. Well, except for the fact that our urban civilization was introduced to Cable TV. :)

Then came college. My life then became almost the same as those from the province struggling in the city to get a degree. It was no longer simple. But that's another story to tell.


By this time I could sense that anyone reading what I wrote would be starting to think If they could still take more of my story. So I will end here.

Honestly, I'd like to tell more. I'm just not sure if anybody would still continue reading. Even I could see this blog going blah blah blah... so I'll stop.

My life still has more stories to tell

I have nothing to say about the letters stuff though.

Have to think about it very hard.

Wait, are we suppose to get a message through here?


Monday, April 6, 2009

Sa Unang Higayon

First of all, I should say, I have never written any formal literary piece. Well, I did when I was in grade school but that was exclusively for the sake of getting pass through my subjects. Formal themes like "How I spent my Summer Vacation" and "My Family" ended more like "my teacher's vacation" and "her family" after the corrections were written in red ink. I am a terrible writer and my teachers could stand witness to that if ever my confession would be challenged. The statement "Out of Context" written in red ink or if I'm in lucky enough, written with a red marker- broad tip- is a regular feature of my typical reaction paper or a poem interpretation. It's not because of my teachers, it's just me. So I guess I did my fair warning for those who will be reading my blogs. :)