Sunday, July 25, 2010


Over dinner last night, the topic of conversation touched upon HOMOPHOBIA.

Even in the 21st century, this word has still found meaning to the idiots who are homophobic.

Wikepedia (seems that Webster's is not the main reference material for Google fans anymore) defines Homophobia as "negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality and people identified or perceived as being homosexual. Definitions refer variably to antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, and irrational fear."

The third sentence in the definition - homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as discrimination and violence on the basis of a perceived non-heterosexual orientation - explains the fact that those who are homophobic perceive their sexual orientation to be heterosexual.

Of course, I will not go into the psychiatric imbalance among people who believe that homosexuals have no place on the earth, lest to say that these people have a past relationship that has probably hurt them or a distorted religious belief that only heterosexuals have a place in the sun or an upbringing that is full of hate and bigotry.

There may be friends who will read this blog and feel differently about my opinion and the contents I will discuss, but it is my opinion and you are free to leave a comment - for or against my opinion.

I will not attempt at justifying homosexuality or gay people. Sexual preference, after all, is a personal affair. And while homosexuals do not cast the first stone at heterosexuals who have multiple affairs, are unfair to their spouses, beat up their children or even perform lascivious sexual acts upon them - let us not go into the trivialities of being holier than though.

The irony here is that society seems to accept that gay men who are in show business or media are fit for their jobs on screen or behind the cameras. It is alright for a gay person to be a beautician or a hair stylist or a talk show host or even a fashion model or doctor or nurse but it is not okay for someone gay to be the president or a congressman or cabinet member in government. It's also a no-no for a policeman, fireman, golfer, basketball player, jock, athlete, soldier, navy man, marine to be gay. And since when, did the job description for someone with a personal sexual preference define his or her being fit for a job?

In 1998, civil rights leader Coretta Scott King noted that "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."

Homophobia is manifested in different forms, but call it what you may, it is a personality disorder. And while psychiatrists may not label it as such, bigotry and racism definitely has seen the worst of homophobics - from social homophobia to egodystonic homosexuality.

I remember the late Dr. Robert T. Walter, my professor in psychiatry whom I did one research study on teenage homosexuality with, elaborating the problem on egodystonic homosexuals. Egodystonic (internalized) homophobia refers to a negative feeling of oneself because of homosexuality. The person cannot reconcile in himself the conflicting conscious and subconscious sexual desire to the same sex. This is brought about by distorted teachings and orientation from society or religion or family. The research study Bob Walter and I did in 1990 showed that about 30% of teenagers who thought they were homosexuals were egodystonic and 60% had thoughts of suicide. They repressed their feelings, they engaged in unprotected sex, their discordance created an internal struggle that would scar them for a lifetime. This was definitely NOT a good way to raise your children.

Then there are the social homophobics. This is a distorted perception of a supposed heterosexual that he/she would be approached by homosexuals for the main purpose of sexual adventures. These perceptions are deeply rooted in an individual's fear of being identified as gay. Among men, social homophobia is highly associated with their insecurity of their masculinity. In order to maintain the macho image, they resort to a disproportionate resentment of anything and anyone that is outrightly OUT with their sexuality.

Which brings me back to the topic of discussion over dinner. What do you do with a boss who is homophobic?

Essentially, nothing. Nothing can be done to someone whose ego is scarred or distorted. There is nothing that can be done to someone who has a personality disorder that aggrieves the working environment. I guess that is the problem with the HR department and is essential in the screening process not only of workers but of administrators and bosses as well. Not even the boss should be exempted from being screened as a good leader. Homophobia, after all, is a precursor to a climate of prejudice. If your boss is homophobic, what can assure you that he has no biased outlook on single unmarried women, or men who practice polygamy, or short people in the working environment?

If the merits of a man in the work environment is based on competence, integrity, personality, work ethics and leadership quality, then the homophobic fails in the latter and must not be promoted or given a position at the top of the ladder. They do not, after all, qualify and have no place in the administrative pool as they pose problems in the work environment.

There is something very wrong in the workplace when you allow homophobics to exist.

This is, after all, the 21st century and people like these who belong to the stone age, must stay in the stone age.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Closing cycles"

I rarely duplicate a blog or a written piece, but when I come across a great writing, I can't help but share it with my readers.

After coming back from a well deserved vacation, I am barraged with work. It's why I dread vacations. There's more work that awaits me on my return. While it pays for food on the table or for the clothes on my back or even for a lavish vacation, I cannot help but feel that a part of me is tired.

Yup. Tired. Tired of the mundane and petty problems that you encounter each day. Tired of the routine work - seeing patients, going to the office, teaching students, seeing patients, attending meetings, signing checks, reviewing papers, seeing patients, getting text messages from parents who wait gazillion years for the evolution of the infection in their kids in the middle of the night, attending know the drill.

While I subconsciously chant - "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go..." - I cannot help but be tired and weary. After all, it seems that I've been doing this my lifetime. I have a feeling I'm about to explode.

As I write this blog, the rain seems to be filling up the waters on the streets and hopefully, Angat Dam. The dreary weather in Manila seems to aggravate the hopefully, temporary depressive moments of life.

I dug into my bucket of quotes for the day, waiting for an uplifting moment...but the sparkle was just not there. What happened? Where was it?

I know I am not alone in situations like these. We all have these "moments". But we all need a push to face the door and overcome this mundane world, searching for a meaning even during the twilight years.

A friend had sent me this link on a piece written by Paulo Coehlo, one of my favorite writers. The title says it all. And while it may present a somber atmosphere to what I am feeling today, it gives me the courage to take the day a bit further and look forward tomorrow, no matter how weary it gets.

I hope you all like it the way I did. No one could have better said this than Coehlo...

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end.

If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through.

Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters - whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents' house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden? You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened.

You can tell yourself you won't take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that. But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister - everyone will be finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

None of us can be in the present and the past at the same time, not even when we try to understand the things that happen to us. What has passed will not return: we cannot forever be children, late adolescents, sons that feel guilt or rancor towards our parents, lovers who day and night relive an affair with someone who has gone away and has not the least intention of coming back.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away. That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts - and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.

Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss - that is only poisoning you, nothing else. Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the "ideal moment."

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back.

Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person - nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need. This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles.

Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.

And I start this today...tomorrow, will after be a new day, a new cycle begins. And soon it will be time to close another cycle and begin another one...again...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Laid back and finding myself in L.A.

Finally, I get to write about the final part of my US trip.

While it may sound like a saga, this finally puts the cap on the vacation spiel.

The 5 hours flight from New York to Los Angeles was an on-time flight. That was, of course, after Delta called me the day before that there was going to be a change in aircraft (from a lie-flat bed configuration to one that just tilts 120 degrees). No explanation given, "sorry for the inconvenience, you have an option to change your flight, but hey here's a $300 coupon/voucher that you can use on your next trip with us" dialogue spewed from some call center somewhere in the US. And since he was calling on my Globe roaming service, I had like 2 minutes to decide and just grab the coupon/voucher for the next leg of my flight.

It was farewell New York City and hello Los Angeles.

From one coast to another, from an urban jungle to a laid back urban city, Los Angeles was an upgraded version of what I dreamed Metro Manila should be. And dream on I will.

After getting a rent-a-car from Hertz at the Airport and figuring out how the GPS navigational system worked, it was time to ask the car to lead us to our hotel - Sofitel Los Angeles on Beverly Hills Boulevard.

While this is my second trip to L.A., the previous trips were business and no pleasure. This time around, I did take the time out to enjoy some of the theme parks (Universal in particular - where getting a Front of the Line ticket was twice more expensive than an ordinary day ticket but hey it was worth it. No queuing at rides or shows was a breather.), some of the good food, in the company of old friends and colleagues (again), and of course some time shopping in IKEA with my partner who seems to be obsessed with IKEA that we needed to go the Carsons and Burbank branches of this store.

Of course there was also the trip to Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, The Kodak Theater, Staples Stadium, a drive to Redondo Beach area, and did I mention so much IKEA on the itinerary?

With the shopping and fun done in the daytime, the evening was passive and laid back - having dinner and chatting with friends whom I have not seen in gazillion years. There was so much to catch up on. Personal stories told. Life stories retold. Reality checks with our past, present and future. Then there was finding out how life treated us and the "what ifs" we missed. Emotions sometimes ran high, but we needed to hide some of them. But sometimes it just takes a true friend who was willing to listen, to let go...

And this made this trip to Los Angeles one that I will always remember.

As I had always wanted to own a property in the US, somewhere that will serve as my vacation spot, Los Angeles would probably be on the top of my list now. Laid back, good weather, nice neighborhood, not too noisy and not too crowded. Something that will always remind me of home and the feeling that I never left at all...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Aquino hits weather bureau for error -, Philippine News for Filipinos

Aquino hits weather bureau for error -, Philippine News for Filipinos

Basyang, PAGASA and the third world country

I will interrupt the completion of my vacation blog with a word from our sponsor.

I will take this opportunity, to bash at a government agency. One of my favorite past time.

PAGASA - otherwise known as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration, is a part of the Department of Science and Technology services in the Philippines. Since I can recall, I have to say that the weather bureau in this country has been the worst I have seen in the world. As a matter of fact, ever since I could read and write, I had already doubted the accuracy of weather prediction from PAGASA.

I remember that when I was still in Grade School (which was gazillion years ago), each time the weather bureau would declare signal number 1, I knew that the sun would be out and that it was another day off from school. As I grew older, these beliefs were reaffirmed every typhoon season. Seriously, the weather bureau in the banana republic cannot be relied upon.

If there is anything, at the very least this God-forsaken country should have invested on in the last 9 years at the very least of Ate Glue's administration, was the brains to at least upgrade our weather tracking system. So we were able to automate the election - big deal? The usage of the PCOS machine comes once in every 3 or 6 years (depending on usage). Accurately detecting the weather in the country - especially when predicting when, where, and how - the next storm's path is, is without a doubt a more reasonable investment on the part of the government. But knowing how the government officials think and work - that there would be no long-term kickbacks nor vested interest in the political playing field in that graft and corruption would be minimized because each local government unit would be more disaster prepared - upgrading the weather detection system in the Philippines is not within the scope called immediate need.

To the shrewd and imbecile politician - the misery of a calamity will always be beneficial to him or her. From all the rubbles of mud, flood, dirt, and death is the money to earn from rebuilding and politicking their way around the gullible Pinoys in this country. What better way to show how third world we are, than to make a mockery of even our simple way of predicting where the next storm will hit.

The latest fiasco on how accurate (or not) PAGASA was in predicting the path of typhoon Basyang simply confirms my hypothesis on how lame and pathetic this agency is at predicting the weather systems that affect the country.

On July 13, I knew that a storm was approaching the Philippines. I heard it on CNN at 10am. The weather person was saying that it was expected to hit Luzon. She said that it was taking an erratic route and would either veer north a little bit or change directions and move near Metro Manila.

Of course, PAGASA had a different story. In the afternoon, they declared signal no. 1. This sent the children (even those that were almost 5'10" but were still in grade school) scampering to the malls with their parent(s) in tow! Why was that? What were these parents doing at the mall? There was an oncoming storm.

Outside, the wind was still and the sky was cloudy. The weather was humid and warm.

Before I went to bed that night, I was watching the news on ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel) and the newscaster assured the people of the Philippines that yes the storm was on track for Nueva Ecija, according to weather experts in PAGASA.

A little past midnight on July 14, I woke up because of the blackout. Then the winds began to howl and the windows began clattering. I told my mom that this was a big storm. Imagine that Metro Manila is only under signal number 1 and we could feel the wrath of the storm. Poor people in Nueva Ecija. This meant that the province would have been eliminated from the face of the earth or the Philippine map by tomorrow. If what we were feeling in Metro Manila was only 1/8th of what the Novo Ecijanos were feeling, good luck to them. But the howling and lashing of the wind and rain didn't stop until almost 5am. For almost 4-5 hours, you could literally feel the battering of the storm against the concrete walls of our home.

At 6am, the storm had left. But not after shutting down power in Luzon for 24 hours. To this writing, only about 50% of Luzon has had it's power back. Many places are still without electricity. To this writing, I now know that the storm did not take the path PAGASA predicted. Typhoon Basyang had a brain higher than that of Prisco Nilo from PAGASA. It made a fool out of the latter by taking the path less traveled by most storms - into the heart of Metro Manila.

The following day after the wrath of Basyang on Metro Manila, President Aquino had confronted PAGASA on the inaccurate prediction. Of course, PAGASA was left with no recourse but to admit that its equipments allowed them to release a forecast only every 6 hours and that they were very very old (short of saying antiquated) storm tracking devices. They also admitted that their best meteorologists had migrated to other countries of greener and verdant pastures. It was like saying and confirming to P-Noy that this the best that PAGASA can do.

As for P-Noy, this is his first test of a disaster. The problem is, will he do something about this or change the image of the Philippines and defuse all political interests for the interest of the Filipino public? It is up to the government to change the image of the Philippines or keep it embedded in the hearts and minds of all the world that the Philippines will always be a third world country - in heart, in mind, and in spirit!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New York City - Of vacations and friends

I've always believed that life is how we make it. And what better way to spend our journeys and write our journals or life stories with the little adventures we experience and reuniting with friends whom we have not seen for a long while.

This was what this vacation was all about.

New York City was my first stop in my US vacation. Despite the fact that this was 4th trip to the Big Apple, all the previous trips were work related. Getting a break from all the stress of having to see patients was a breather. Seriously, while some of the people reading this blog may be patients or parents of patients - I hate to admit the fact that the routine clinic and classes and office work was burning me out.

The weather in New York City was picture perfect when I arrived. It was, after all, the 4th of July weekend. All stores were on sale, there was Macy's fireworks to watch, and the weather was great! The week before, the city had a heat wave and the day after I left, another heat wave! Talk about experiencing delays, I am still grateful that I didn't arrive on the day they shut down JFK for around 5 hours due to a bomb threat. I heard from the concierge at the hotel that they had guests that were still on the airplane because JFK had a bomb threat and the airport was closed to everyone. All passengers were kept on the plane for hours while the airport was cleared and flights were delayed.

I had a grand time enjoying Central Park, Good Morning America (live) with Mary J Blige performing, watching Wicked on Broadway, having dessert at Serendipity and Cafe Lalo, the Peruvian chicken at Pio Pio, Asian fusion food at Momofuku, roaming the Chelsea and Queens area, shopping at Woodsbury Outlet, going up the Empire State Building, having dinner at the Rockefeller Center, having lunch at the Trump Tower, shopping on Fifth Avenue, enjoying the 24/7 Apple Store in the heart of Manhattan, having breakfast in bed at the Sofitel New York, watching the Twilight Saga "Eclipse" at Times was truly a memorable vacation.

What made it more memorable was the fact that friends that I had missed in the longest time had taken time out to meet up, in spite of their busy schedule, for lunch or dinner. And this was more than I could have bargained for in New York. It was a "reunion" that made me recall the days when they were my students/residents. As a matter of fact, nothing could have made me happier than seeing them successful in their own field of specialty.

When I boarded my flight for Los Angeles on July 5, I felt a sense of separation anxiety. Has the trip ended so quickly? There was still so much to do, so much to see, so much to experience. But this was only my first stop.

As the flight took off to my next destination, I resolved that I shall make plans for my next East coast vacation again.

There is a character in New York City beyond the lights and sounds and food and fun that beckons you to come back. And they are the friends you have made in your journey called life.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

“Concrete Jungle and Wet Dreams are Made Of…” –The Flight and Destination New York City

I rarely blog when I am on vacation. A well deserved one if I should say so myself. For the next two weeks, I am in the United States in general and New York City and Los Angeles in particular.
It’s what I shall call a familiar reunion.

My last trip to the US was 5 years ago. On board Delta Air (Northwest Airlines before), it was what I would call déjà vu. My greatest fear on Delta Air is the delays due to “unforeseen glitches”. It’s an old plane. What did we expect? It’s business class elite is not really one to look forward to. On all my business class flights, I can firmly say that the US carriers have the worst business class services and are the most uncomfortable flights. But because no other international carrier is allowed to fly the domestic routes (transatlantic), I had no choice but to take Delta Air.

Of course, Delta Air did not disappoint me. We were boarded at 245 pm for the 320 pm flight from Narita to JFK in New York. At 340pm the pilot makes an announcement that due to a technical glitch in the hydraulic system, we will not be leaving on time. And that we should sit back, relax and wait for the next announcement – in 1 hr and 30 mins…
My first thought was – why did they board us? I am definitely sure that the mechanical problem was being addressed even prior to boarding. I don’t know if the Japanese mechanics were self-assuring that they would finish the job on time or if the pilots thought that this was a minor problem but the wait inside the plane was to say the least – inconvenient.

There was nothing else to do but add more hours to the already dreaded 12 hours flight from Tokyo to New York. And after 2 more announcements – on apologies and further waiting – we were finally in the air at 515pm.

Delta Airlines will badly need a major upgrade on its flights. The bathroom in the business class has no amenities, is dirty and stinky (and I can’t help compare the toilets to Singapore and Cathay Pacific which are always kept spick and span by the crew), and the entertainment while on demand are still limited for a 12 hours flight. The personal amenities are only on the long haul leg. Which are limited to socks, toothbrush, lotion, lip balm, earplug, eye shutters, ONE floss and toothpick - so much for the amenity kit.

Then there is the seat recline, which is a lie-flat bed but does not recline to a full 180o flat bed but angles at about 160o and makes you feel like you’re slipping the whole time you’re sleeping.

During dinner, a glass of chardonnay, a tablet of melatonin and half a tablet of Stilnox and I’m in Lala land!
We arrived at JFK at around 445pm (New York time). After taxing the runway, the plane parked a few kilometers off the airport with the pilot announcing that we would need to stay in the aircraft another 30 minutes because of congestion at the airport. So why was I not surprised?

After so much sighing and personal grumbling, we finally got to immigration (which was a breeze) and customs (which was another breeze) and my driver was impatiently waiting at the arrival area with a dilapidated signage that shouted out how late I was.

We left the airport around 540pm and hit right smack into rush hour in New York City on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon. My driver was not happy about the late arrival on the plane. This Chinese immigrant was waving through the streets of New York talking to the dispatcher in Mandarin. I guess he thought that since I was a Filipino, I wouldn’t understand a f*ck*n word he was saying…but I do understand the language because I am Chinese. I let him curse and take us through the streets in brakes and gas pushing. The roller coaster ride was dizzying to say the least. I wanted to puke right in the limo but that would have made his day. At exactly 710pm, I arrived at my hotel – the Sofitel New York on 44th St and 5th Avenue.