Thursday, October 30, 2008


I went to the University of Santo Tomas, my alma mater since 1975 where I finished a degree of Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at the College of Science in 1979. From 1979 - 1983, I did my medical school AND my graduate school at the same university and finished in 1983 with a Doctor of Medicine and my academic units for Master's of Science in Applied Mathematics.

My internship program was in an army government hospital and I did 6 months of rural work immediatelly after my board exams while waiting for the results. In thosae days, automation was not yet a magic word and the magic wand would yield our results in about 6 months, after the board examiners had manually checked ALL the test papers!

I had gone back to the University upon invitation by Dr. Mario Zarate and Dr. Mauro del Casal, to teach medical/biostatistics in Pharmacology and Physiology in the medical school. After a year, I decided to take a leave of absence to pursue my residency in Pediatrics at the UST Hospital.

Four years of residency, and a fellowship program at the Boston University Medical Center,and later a scholarship from the Southeast Asian Medical Education Organization and The World Health Organization at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, had me realize the wealth of medical information I had unearthed.

In 1993, I rejoined the faculty at UST and continued teaching Pharmacology and Pediatrics. I rose from the rank of Instructor 3 to Full Professor in that span of time and held academic and administrative positions in the university. I am, so far the longest sitting editor-in-chief of the Santo Tomas Journal of Medicine (official publication of the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery, UST).

Teaching was like second skin to me. They say that teachers are born and not made. And that is so true. My students always gave me high ratings not only for my teaching ability, but my passion to teach and learn as well. UST was home to me for the past two decades.

Today officially marked my last day with the faculty of Medicine and Surgery at UST. I opted for an early retirement. Some of my friends feel that I will be a big loss to the university, but some university officials feel otherwise. Whatever and whosever feelings are or were hurt, is not the intention of this blog. We move on...

Today, I went to the medical school, held my last class at 7 am, did my last work at the journal office, saw patients...and as I left the office, my secretary for over 18 years ran after me to tell me that should I need anything, anything at all, not to hesitate to let her know.

I'm not good at saying goodbyes and with a heavy heart had simply closed the door, looked back at her and smiled.

Leaving the academe was a decision that was not easy to make. But life goes on and there is life after UST...

JocJoc Bolante...the joke's on us!

So Jocelyn "JocJoc" Bolante, the supposed mastermind of the Fertilizer Scam amounting to 728Million pesos ($15Million) in 2004 is back in the country called the Banana Republic!

If everyone will recall, the allegations of the Fertilizer Fund for the farmers was apparently used by JocJoc (sources have it was that FG had asked him to use the money to "spread" it around to government officials) to assure that Ate Glue would win the presidency.

Whatever! After so many years in the US, after the US justice prevailed on the escapist acts of Mr. Bolante where he was unable to use his money and influence to make sure that he stay in the US, he is back in the Philippines!

But wait. In this country of grease and monkeys, something was amiss. Upon arrival from a Northwest Airline flight from the US, he complained of chest pain (drama queen!!!) and tadahhhhh ... is whisked off to St. Luke's Medical Center (where the first family is observed to have many connections among its doctors and administrators). JocJoc suddenly has a room (suite, ehem...) ready and that's it folks - the poor guy needs to rest, he needs to be worked up, for health reasons he's shitting yet in his pants so he needs private time because he's stressed and anxious and damn this government.

You can't help but wonder how the drama unfolded and who the director and producer of this stunt is. But it's a no brainer that someone in the highest place in government had something to do with his being given the red carpet treatment! JocJoc WAS only an undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture. He wasn't an administration official that held the highest place in the land. Just like Garcillano (remember the Hello Garci scandal?), they were nobody! Nobody! I mean, how can anyone like JocJoc who's a mere undersecretary of agriculture, afford an 80M peso house in Ayala Alabang? Think about it. This government of GMA is so fu**ed up that you can smell the shit when the plane lands in this banana republic. What's so pathetic is that the middle class is more preoccupied with the economy and callused with all the graft and corruption of the government officials, the generals, and whoever has access to the coffers in government that they have been numbed.

So much drama! The Euro Generals being eclipsed by the Joke - JocJoc. And one episode not having and ending.

There is, however, a central plot - GREED! And so much of it!

Showbiz na showbiz si Ate Glue....and the Joke's on us.

Monday, October 27, 2008 a time of poverty

As this blog is being written, Ate Glue is in Beijing. According to the newspaper reports, while Ate Glue may not be popular in the Philippines, she is considered an empress in China. My comment - the Chinese can have her as their president. My dear Chinese comrade-in-arms, you can have Ate Glue!

Anyways, let's cut to the chase and let me update my readers on the state of the nation. F**k the people that run this country. The government officials in this banana republic seem to be enjoying sucking up to Ate Glue for whatever penny that can extract from her highness, since she has only a little less than 2 years left in office. So her court jesters seem to be in high spirits and even the honorable "tong"gressmen are just shitting in their pants, not minding the mess they are making nor smelling the shit they are emanating from defending the palace.

Let's see - the "tong"gressmen are flocking and f**king in numbers, creating an orgy of frenzy against the new impeachment against a sitting president. Of course, Ate Glue has already greased those that need to be greased, so the assholes are sitting and shitting pretty on their asses with all that b**lsh*t defense coming out of their mouths.

Aw common people. Isn't this the very reason why we deserve the kind of government we get? Why every Juan, Pilar and Pepe are flocking out of this country? Why we, as a Filipino race do not even deserve to be looked up to in international communities?

We allow ourselves to get trampled upon. We allow ourselves to be shitted on. We don't care how the people in government beg, borrow or steal. We are a pathetic race and we deserve what we get from whom we voted for. We go on our every day lives and demand from government to bring down the cost of fuel, electricity, basic commodities, rice, text message charges, medicines...yet I have yet to hear our country men rise up and demand from government, their moral ascendancy from all the scandals that are being charged to them.

The "Euro Generals" escapade is the perfect example. Why Ate Glue refuses to touch them is beyond my comprehension. It's probably the fact that there is honor among theives...and that is best exemplified by this case scenario.

Imagine that the money changer who had exchanged the peso into euros for General de la Paz, had come out to say that since early August of this year, the 6.9Million pesos was already with the generals because every week, someone would come to his money change shop to exchange for 3,000 - 5,000 euros - until all that 6.9Million pesos had been transacted! And the reasons that de la Paz had given, together with Puno and the other generals had varied from day to day. Now they are singing the song that they brought the money to Russia to buy spy gear and weapons ----- DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!??!?!!?!? Look who's being taken for a ride. Tweedle dee doo and tweedle dee dumb...

And because Ate Glue had stated that she puts her full trust in her generals IN SPITE of this glaring fiasco, which has Senator Miriam under full throttle against the PNP force (and I hope she does trash Puno to pieces), puts the moral ascendancy of Ate Glue in question. Why and whom is she defending? To the generals, their act of impropriety or theft, let's not be coy about the incident, is simply a "me too" act. If Ate Glue can steal from the coffers of this land, why not them.

In actuality, Ate Glue is to blame. She did a really lousy job at being discreet and she used the money of the Filipinos to cover up all those f**ked up deals she and her men made. At a time when more Filipinos are hungrier than ever, accentuated by the worldwide economic meltdown, it is despotic to be robbing at a time of poverty.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

M A C A R T H U R by Bob Ong

One of my favorite authors is Bob Ong.

His writing style is witty, funny and puts the reader right into the picture of his his short stories. His books were introduced to me by my nephew and niece. The very first book I read was A B N K K B S N P L Ako. It's like reading a text message. In Filipino, all the letters are read with an A in the end. The first book was downright humorous and I could relate to it.

His most recent short story is M A C A R T H U R. On my recent trip out of town, I got the chance to start and finish this short novel.

At first, I was taken aback by the language that he used here. Many may find it scandalous that he uses the words "bongaloids, pakyu, tangnamo, titi mo, putres, letse, bogsa,..." explicitly. But the book, written from an observer watching five friends who are drug-addicts, live in the slum area, come from poor families, and are criminals for a living is a realization of the human drama that comes devoid of funny antics. The grotesque way of life may be squirmish for the faint-hearted. But it should be remembered that the people whom Bob Ong writes about are just as real as every Filipino whose stories should be told. It does not push us to understand the travails of Noel, Cyrus, Voltron, Jim... but the stories of Noel, Cyrus and Voltron's families are ingrained in every Filipino family to some degree. And the sidelines are not spared. There is no melodrama here. It is a deviation from the humor that Bob Ong injects in his stories. It is a notch above his other writings.

What's with the title? Buy the book at Powerbooks Bookstore and find out why in the end.

Game of the Generals

The headlines called the 8 PNP generals, the Euro Generals, after the fiasco in Russia.

The 8-man Philippine contingent that went to St. Petersburg, Russia to attend the 77the Interpol meeting, embarrassed the Philippines when retired comptroller MR. de la Paz had tried to take out of Russia 6.9Million Pesos (105,300 euros) on their return trip over a week ago.

Instead of the government officials pacifying a mad crowd, it sent mixed messages to the Filipinos by "defending" the retired general from why in heaven's name he was carrying that much CASH with him.

The day after the news had hit local media, DILG Secretary Puno was seen scrambling to defend his generals, saying that it was an approved budget but to the tune of 2.3 and not 6.9Million Pesos. But Puno had to save face and thereby explained that the money was to cover for airfare, accomodations, allowance, food expenses and other "contingency funds". The next few days were more embarrasing because we had one general covering up another general and Puno flip-flopping on the flak that has been barraging his office.

First and foremost, I cannot help but be filled with anger. Anger because this government has made each and everyone of us look really stupid, if we were to accept the reasons provided as to why de la Paz still had 105,300 euros that were undeclared when he was exiting Russia!

You don't go right up to the airline counter and say, hey you, I'm buying a ticket to Moscow right here and right now. Nor do you go up to the hotel and say, hey buddy, you got a room for $200 a night? Give my 8 buddies and their wives a room each and I'll pay you in cash!!?!?!?!!? And when one of the generals DO GET SICK during the trip, you don't bring up that wad of cash at the hospital and say, fix him I've got the dough. And even if they claim that the money was to pay for the total expenses of the generals - why was there so much moolah left?!?!?!?!?

And this is not like the first time these generals are on a field trip.

These events take months of planning. Since the government knew that de la Paz was already retiring this month, during his trip to Russia, why did they still send the guy? You don't send someone who even if he undergoes training in a conference will NOT be useful to the police force any longer.

There are more questions than answers in this Game of the Euro Generals and unless Ate Glue do something about this dilemma that her generals are caught in, it makes more sense to let Sen. Trillanes out and put these generals in jail where they belong until they sing the right song.

They say that money can buy anything. So how much are the souls of our cops?

No wonder this country is looked down by foreigners in terms of graft and corruption. But you can always have Justice Secretary Gonzalez try to use his decrepit tongue and foul mouth try to salvage the President and her humpty dumpty men.

Election is about 1 1/2 years into the corner my friends. It is time change the realm of Philippine Politics.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Spa vs. The Mandarin Foot Spa

It was another Saturday.

Since the Mandarin Foot Spa had opened at the Casa Susana/Vicente Arcade at the Alabang Town Center area over a year ago, my family and partner had frequented this place. It provides great foot spa (and body massage - oil or dry, and silk facial service) at a reasonably great price in a delightful ambience. The only downside is that you could practically hear your neighbors (especially the Filipinos) talking or not silencing their mobile phones (so what else is new with the Filipino?). But the upside is the service and the bang for your buck. At P500 (less than $10) you get a 1 hr and 10 minute foot reflexology service, which will surely make your feet smile back and thank you for providing the attention it needed.

The wonderful thing about Mandarin Foot Spa is that they have Chinese reflexologists, who for only P180 ($3.50) more, would be the one to do the massage - body or feet or hands.

Yesterday, we had dilly dallied and made a reservation at the Mandarin Foot Spa, but canceled later, only to re-book. Unfortunately, the place was already packed, so off we went to The Spa which is located right at the Ayala Alabang Town Center.

The original spas among spas, I had not visited The Spa for over a year since Mandarin opened. It wasn't only because Mandarin offered a cheaper service. After trying out Mandarin, I swore that The Spa had mediocre service.

Nevertheless, our tired feet needed attention and well it's been over a year. Perhaps things have changed.

Much to my dismay, the service was not only mediocre, but a cheat. For P750 ($15), I was supposed to get 60 minutes of foot service. But the foot soaking took 10 minutes, and the massage a measly 40 minutes. The girls and the attendants were in a hurry to close up and so were making a ruckus in the massage room. My feet weren't smiling back and I swear that I wouldn't recommend The Spa to anyone ever again.

Sure, the ambience was far nicer than Mandarin, but the ambience doesn't take you far except for the ethereal mundane aspect of appreciating a waterfall in the waiting area.

Next time you guys need to get a massage and when you're in the south, check out Mandarin Foot Spa. I guarantee you better massage service than The Spa.

Friday, October 10, 2008

American Politics

Like millions of people worldwide, the world is watching American Politics unfold like a drama series on prime time.

A few months ago, the gloves were off to two candidates for President of the United States of American - Senators Barrack Obama and John McCain. As I would put it, a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. A neophyte in the political arena, who happens to be black (nothing against his race my friends) and an old maverick, who happens to have been diagnosed with cancer sometime ago and is a staunch ally of the sitting unpopular president of the US, George Bush.

And we thought that the stage would end with these two slinging it out with one another at a time when the American economic crisis was dragging the global economy with it.

Then along comes Sarah Louise Heath Palin, current governor of Alaska, who is the vice-presidential running mate of Sen. John McCain. Rest assured that I was one of those who became an avid follower of the news, trying to find out who this woman is and where in heaven's name did she pop up from. As if thunder and lightning had not stricken the US, comes a woman who, after seeing all the interviews on television, seemed clueless about the world. Her likening governing Alaska to the United States and the proximity of Alaska to Russia as giving her credentials for foreign affairs matters is utterly brainless.

Okay, so the Japanese company that manufactures her Kawasaki 704 eyeglasses is using her pictures to sell their eyewear. And okay, the frame she wears looks good on her. Yet the $375 glasses (I didn't know that a governor's salary would cover for that expensive eyewear), doesn't cover up her seemingly clueless responses to serious questions.

If the Republicans are happy with her, well that's their choice. They just found a puncher to wham Obama, and Obama should not fight back this air bag.

But for Palin to be even considered running for VP of the US of A...has got to be an act of desperation for the American government. Really now, are we suicidal?

It's like the Americans are into masochism and flagellating themselves with even the thought of a ditsy woman like this running for the second highest office in the land. They are moving from purgatory straight into hell.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Today's headlines regarding the economy of the world was not good.

The economic problem which began from a subprime mortagage on real estate properties in the United States had escalated to become a global problem. As of this blogging, it has now spilled to England and Iceland has melted away, so to speak.

The stock exchange plummeted in all sectors and this has thrown investors into a frenzy.

They say that the Asian countries are least affected from this worldwide problem, and the Philippine economists are beating their breasts with pride that the among the ASEAN countries, we were the least affected when the stock market dived for the sixth consecutive day in trading.

Okay, so we have the good news on the local economy in the business pages of every newspaper. Heads up with the peso not plummeting as rapidly as the other financial exchanges. But that's the newspaper or errr.... Malacanan Palace reporting. The government is pinning all hopes on the Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) for the coming Yuletide season. With the predicted surge in remittances, the financial economists predict that the peso will be buoyed up to P42.00 to the dollar (up from the current P47.75 trading as of this blog).

These are definitely not good times rolling. But if there is one thing that will not halt the Filipinos from doing, is spending for material things. The Pinoys have a penchant for showing off. I have a friend who works for the IMF and is based in Washington DC. She drives a Toyota while her Filipino maid drives a spankingly new Mercedes Benz!

In the Philippines alone, the gadgets are the yuppies best friend. Never mind if they don't eat the right meal or have medications for their illness, as long as they have the latest gadgets, that should make them happy...temporarily.

The other day, I gave a lecture together with two other prominent doctors in the field of Neurology and Cardiology, respectively. The cardiologist, Dr. Romeo Divinagracia who happens to be the president of UERM as well, said that part of the reason why statistics on mortality and morbidity for hypertension and heart attacks have not changed in spite of the advent of good drugs to control these are perhaps due to non-adherence to drugs being prescribed.

When it was my turn to speak, I talked about poor quality drugs that abound in this country and why patients turn to generic drugs. I have nothing against the latter, just the former. Poor quality drugs have no place in any market, because they can kill. Not producing the intended efficacy and/or problems on its good manufacturing practice can pose safety issues, which consequently become lethal to the patient. But the Filipino patient will NOT spend more for medications because they cannot boast of the drug. Besides, treatment of diseases is not drug therapy alone, but also non-pharmacologic (change in lifestyle, eating the right food, practicing healthier living, etc.).

So the stock market has crashed and the problem is global. Right now, the problem seems to have no light at the end of the tunnel...and I disagree with the government that the Filipinos are spared from this global dilemma. With a global meltdown, there will be no place for OFWs in countries that are suffering from the economic glut and the BPO (outsourced business) may get affected as well. As if this is not a double whammy that will slap us right in the face, the government doesn't seem to have a bail out plan when this happens.

Right now, we can only pray that this doesn't happen.

Back to work everyone...