Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ano daw?

Or maybe I just didn't get it.

I had better things to do than watch the three hours zarzuela on TV on the Chief Justice of the Philippines taking the witness stand in his impeachment trial.

But I made sure that when I got home from work I needed to hear his side. I still gave him the benefit of the doubt.

So he and his wife come from well-to-do family. That's what he said. They are people beyond other peoples means. In short, we're poor and they have moohlah. Boo! When he was starting in his law practice, he had the foresight to invest money. At the time he was practicing, he said, the currency exchange was $1 = P2. OMG! He was already a lawyer in the 60s?!?! Okay, so let's do a little math. He is 64 today. He was born in 1948. Which means that in 1960 he was 12 years old. OMG!!! He was practicing law already during this time??!?!!? Naman naman naman. Kung si Cuevas pa yan eh naniwala ako. But as far as I know, when I was growing up in the 60s, the exchange rate of the peso to the dollar was already $1=P4.

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt again.

Then there's the numbers. His dollar accounts and peso accounts. His properties. No 82 dollar accounts, no thirty plus peso accounts, no gazillion properties. Just 4 dollar accounts, 3 peso accounts and 5 properties. If there wasn't so much hogwash on how these properties got acquired and how his money got transferred from one pocket to another, what was the big deal? But it didn't seem that way. What was obvious though was the thickly veiled and seemingly deliberate attempt to hide all this cash and transfer properties left and right.

Of course, then there's the drama. I didn't think he scored pogi points by being emotionally moved. And when the cameras turned to the employees of the Supreme Court who were apparently drawn to tears in what was the telenovela of their boss, well that peeved me. It dawned on me that these people in the Supreme Court must be made of the same material, same character and yes, same moral fiber - to stand by his side to the end.

And then more drama unfolded. Did I hear it right that he quoted a republic act on bank secrecy law - citing that the dollar accounts were privileged and that he was guarded by the law not to reveal anything? OMG to the nth degree!!! So how could a guy like the Chief Justice hide under this cloak? If he had nothing to hide, he should have cited that there was such a law but that because of transparency, he was just showing what he had and to hell with the law! But of course, he twisted the drama and took out a piece of paper, signed the waiver and said that all those who signed for his impeachment should show their dollar accounts as well! Naman! Hindi naman ako tanga noh! What about the idiots who did not sign? Yung mga karancho ni GMA na nagnakaw nung panahon ni Gloria. They didn't sign. So they're exempted?

And the persecution complex of CJ was just apparent. He started ranting, raving and emphasizing how he was persecuted in the last 5 months by the Aquino administration. Because? I didn't get it. Was it just about Hacienda Luisita? What vengeance was he talking about? I mean, the palace wanted to get Merceditas Gutierrez out of the equation as well. Was she in any way connected to Hacienda Luisita? When Angelo Reyes shot himself, was it also about Hacienda Luisita? Kawawa naman yung Hacienderong Presidente natin at lahat na lamang eh kasalanan ni Hacienda Luisita.

Then the dramatic exit (note, walking on his two feet) then comeback after all exits were sealed (note, in a wheelchair looking haggard) was the coup de grace. He had a hypoglycemic episode. Dang! My father was a long time diabetic when he was still alive. I am a doctor. And hypoglycemia is easily managed. I can tell drama when I see one and that was one hell of a dramatic episode that fooled a lot of sympathizing kibitzers.

The summary of the news about CJ Corona's taking the witness stand only told one story. That here's a man in the highest office of the land who has lost all moral ascendancy to lead. Perhaps it was a fight to the finish for pride. It was a fight to the end to clear a tainted name.

If you understood what the drama was all about yesterday, then hurray for you. I didn't. Was he sick? Yup. I think he needs a mental check-up and when his mental status has been cleared, the he can probably go back to practicing law again.

In the meantime, the only way out of this is to resign. The people of the Philippines need to move on. Enough drama. Enough justification that didn't make sense. Enough is enough.

There are more important issues to tackle and less clowns to entertain. Ibigay na ang best actor award para matigil na ito!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


14, 15, 16 & 18.

The news of the four teenagers dying in a horrific car crash at 4AM inside the posh Ayala Alabang Village was shocking. They were just two blocks away from home.

Three were declared dead on arrival at the nearby Asian Hospital and Medical Center. One died a few hours later.

Unlike most news that come out of media, there was little said about this except that it was a tragic one and that they were investigating its cause. Of course, because the families are well-off, the media circus will definitely be a hush hush.

But that's not the purpose of this blog.

The age of technology has changed the lifestyle and outlook of everyone. The youth is the most vulnerable in this scenario. With almost anything and everything at our fingertips, the sins of greed, pride, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, anger are also not far behind. The music scene is no exception to this as well. MTV and other movie channels readily available on cable are easily accessible to them. The influence of technology changes peoples perception and the most vulnerable ones are at highest risk.

Several studies point to this as a fact. With parents usually busy chasing their own professions and successes, many of our youth are left to fend for themselves without proper guidance.

Even in my practice, I see more teenage pregnancies today than five years ago. The YAFS (Young Adult and Fertility Study) in the Philippines shows that males engage in riskier behavior than females. More than 60% of males have engaged in sex with multiple sexual partners (both men and women) by the age of 15. Females are lower at 25%. Risky behavior includes drug use and drinking. Even if the law mandates that alcoholic beverage is not allowed to be sold to those 18 years old and below, business establishments look the other way. Date rape with illicit drug use or inebriation through alcohol is considered locally a heinous crime. And while I may be taken for a prude on this matter, accountability of a situation is on both parties who are either sober. One cannot say that he/she was intoxicated at the time of the risky behavior that the risk is on the offending party.

The point is that we all need to be accountable for individual actions. Whether we flirt or project to other people we casually meet in a club, bar or social networking site, any risky behavior we engage in will always have consequences. And it is sad that we forget that personal accountability during the most vulnerable period is often overlooked.

We can always blame it on the "age" of growing up, or that it was more "fun" getting engaged in risky behavior, or that "we will never know until we've tried it", but the painful lessons and consequences will leave us scarred for life.

It is time that parents get more responsibly involved in raising their children properly, not in the image of what their neighbors have or don't have, but in the spirit of what a family should be. Friends should look out for the good of other friends and not encourage or bully them into being "cool" or "in" so that children and adolescents become "acceptable" to peers.

I can only blog about this as a reminder to all that maturity and responsibility is part of being taught during the upbringing of our children.

I hope that there is still time for many of us who raise our children or nurture relationships.

I pray that they're not dead before they reach their prime.

It would be tragic to have to bury your children.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Will she, won't she?

I waited until the top 3 to write down this blog entry.

I have never been much of an American Idol fan. Even with past Fil-Am idol contestants Jasmine Trias or Thea Megia, truth be told, I was never impressed.

Then Jessica Sanchez came along.

Seriously, this 16 year old Filipino-Mexican American can sing! Watching her week after week was something I looked forward to on a Thursday night in Manila. She wowed me and made me a firm believer of what is truly called pure raw talent.

Then she got the lowest votes even before she could land in the top 5. Whatever drama transpired with "Saving Jessica" was one hell of a show! The fact is that she is the only "save" in American Idol history to land in the top 3.

The life story of Jessica Sanchez revolves around a young girl in search of a dream and passion for singing. She was first seen in "America's Got Talent" when she was only 11 years old. Ironically, "America's Got Talent" producer Simon Cowell had commented back then that in spite of Jessica not making it to the finals, commented that "she's one the best I have ever heard." And that was five years ago.

Today, Jessica sings her heart out to America, hoping to capture the final two spots in the race to the finish for American Idol. Last girl standing and yes, she is neither black nor white. She is born to immigrant parents who had gone to seek greener pastures in America.

It's a matter of talent. Either you've got it or you don't. And bias aside, Phillip Phillips needs to leave AI and leave the final battle to Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez. As a matter of fact, I still don't see what America or Randy Jackson sees in Phillip with all the nicey comments to his mediocre singing. Of course, with Ledet, Sanchez and Phillips left in the competition - it would be sad to see Sanchez lose out to Phillips as the latter is a poor competition to Ledet. Most of the "controversial" winners of AI have never really had careers that took off with the runners-up like Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, to name a few, making names for themselves today.

The little girl from Chula Vista, San Diego has made me a firm believer that the Filipino is one of the best in the world. Her rendition of the Jennifer Holliday song "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" was one of the best I have ever heard.

Our lights shine when we are given the opportunity to. And as a Filipino I am proud of Jessica. Proud to encourage Filipinos all over the world to vote for her. Proud to even tell the American public to judge with their ears and heads and not see her as a mixed brown girl raised in the US of A.

And as I count down to the last few weeks of AI, I keep my fingers crossed that Jessica Sanchez would be given the chance to be pitted against Joshua Ledet - not because I want, but because it's what's left of AI's last 3 talents.

Turn up the volume of your computer and you'll hear why Jessica has even left me...stuttering....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Humane till the end

He buried his wife two years ago. She succumbed to cancer.

A few months after his wife's death, his 9 year old son was diagnosed to have rhabdomyosarcoma, stage IV.

In spite of the devastation that came his way, he tried to stay strong. He worked day and night in order to make sure that his son got the chemotherapy he needed. He was looking for a cure.

I don't know him personally. Today, at the gym, my trainer introduced him to me. He didn't talk much. He told me his son has cancer and he's dying. He just wanted to talk. He told me that after the last round of chemotherapy a few days ago, his son seemed to become weaker. The oncologist told him that he has lung metastases but that they could try another protocol. He looked back at his son who at this point could not even walk. The indwelling catheter has been there for the longest time as well. Aside from the battle with cancer, his son was battling the infections that was making his frail body weaker and weaker.

He heard about me. That I am a pediatrician. That I had several patients from the country club.

Could I help?

I sat there and listened and when he stopped telling me his story, I told him that perhaps it was prudent he discussed the prognosis of his son with his oncologist. He told me that that was just it - they would try another protocol. He felt that his son was getting worse. Would the new protocol help?

I looked at him in the eye and asked him what his son thought.

That was when he shed the tears.

I needed to look away. I could empathize with him.

When he stopped to sob in between, I asked him again what his son thought.

He said that his son said that he was tired and was asking him if it was near the end...and he was looking for a miracle.

I held back my tears and told him that if I were in both their shoes, I probably would look at the realistic part of it all. I cannot tell him what to and what not to do. First, he will need to spend a bit more time with his son. He will need to borrow another moment, another day with him, and even in the terminal part of his son's life, he could spend more time with him because tomorrow may not come again.

You see, as doctors, the reality is that we can cure sometimes, relieve often, but must remember that need to comfort always. We are not God and we cannot play God. There is a hand that guides us and helps us in our daily encounter with our patients. But that we remain focused on being more humane to our fellow men, is the hand that heals even the devastated spirit.

I asked him if his son was ready.

That's when he broke down completely and just nodded his head.

My last question was - is he ready?

Except for the sobs in between, the silence was deafening. He needed to cry, and I needed to comfort. I had no answers. I could not perform miracles. And I will pray for them.

Tomorrow is another day, another battle - who knows maybe another miracle.