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Levels

Growing up, I never learned how to choose friends.

In the province, the sense of community– of just accepting the people I meet, be friends with them by virtue of the fact that I trust in their goodwill– is deeply rooted. The word “trust” here is defined as faith in a person based on he/she growing up in the same town as I did. Trusting them in good faith.

In good faith.

The past years, particularly the past months’ events, changed that. Drastically.

I learned how to do “levels,” a mindset with a pattern of actions that I employed whenever I meet new people, or even get to know one person deeper. It was a method summarized by one goal: be mindful in who you reveal your heart to.

I learned that not everyone who comes close to your heart can be fully trusted. And not everyone you share your story with are actually genuinely sympathizing with you.

I learned that some people are concerned primarily of what you can deliver, and not on how you are doing. That some people can be downright insensitive of the treasures you value the most, and still try to proclaim that they value your welfare. I learned that some very intelligent people can be manipulative, and in subtle dominance, impose their own will on you.

I learned that, in the midst of all these, it is my decision to accept or allow them. That it is in my control on how I relate with them. That in the end, it is still my decision, to follow or assert my own voice.

In the end, I learned that it is my choice to be silent, and I was silent for a long while. That is not good for me.

I learned how to recognize, assert and value my own voice.

compassion · CYA Staffer · doctor · doctor dreams · faith · friendship · God · inspiration · Milk Matters · pearls · personal · Phi Lambda Delta Sorority · sacrifices · Service · spiritual dryness · UP-PGH · work

Parallel Experiences

I can’t help but think, as I am experiencing my uninspired moments in Christ’s Youth in Action staff, that these moments are going to recur when I proceed to Pediatrics residency.

Contrary to popular perception, staff work is actually toxic. It is so different compared to what the students apparently see. There are a lot of stretching of the self, a lot of dying, a lot of breaking, a lot of pruning, a lot of feedback (for me, because I am stubborn) that happen in the background and away from the prying eyes of the university students. A good shattering of expectations leads me to realize romanticizing staff work is not going to work if I want to stay.

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Christ’s Youth in Action Staffers doing a Rurouni Kenshin pose in honor of Flo. Cute namin!

Not that the shattering is a bad thing. It’s part of the process. And in staff, I’m experiencing what it really is like to be a disciple of Christ. And I feel I am not even closer to the woman He has created me to be. The disciplining of the leaders in CYA staff is probably one of the most strict, yet most loving, that I’ve signed up for.

I also cannot help but think, during this seemingly lack of enthusiasm in what I do, that I’ve dealt with similar moments before.

Cases in point: Phi Lambda Delta Sorority and my internship in UP College of Medicine.

Gela with Phi Surgery
I cannot count how many little boys I circumcised. Organizing a tuli mission is one of my main jobs when I was a leader in Phi.

No need to bore you with details, but these two big decisions of my life contained my most uninspiring moments. But look what came out of it: during my term as Phi’s Sister Caritas, Milk Matters was born. Then, I was able to graduate from UP College of Medicine with awards for leadership, service and meritorious performance. I passed the Physician Licensure Exam! Goodness abound.

So as I try to find ways on how to deal with this demoted spirit in staff work, especially since BUSIER days are coming, I have three lenses I can look at that can present me rich strategies I can be creative to use: to look back and be grateful; to look forward and be ready; and to experience the present– find joy in what I do and do the things that bring me joy. (Read Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it for the Lord and not for men.)

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CYA Medicine just launched out! Here I am taking a two-hour teaching off my doctor work to cater to my brothers and sister in Medicine schools. (PLM and UP Med) High yield ito ang saya! No regrets doing it kahit sobrang pagod ako after this.

I am just afraid of completely missing out on what the Lord is trying to teach me in these moments of dry inspiration. I need grace for a good sense of detachment. Another strong motivation is I just do not want to go back to the old me. Not anymore. I want to learn Your ways, Lord.

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Just because I am radiantly beautiful and happy to be here. Where I am right now. Though I know not the road ahead of me, I trust in the Lord that He will carry me through, victoriously!

Grant me faith for the future. Grant me a grateful heart. Open my eyes to see your work in me and in others.

What are You teaching me? Teach me to persevere and find joy in things that I do, even if I don’t see its fruits.

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Thank you Letter Easter

Jodie. Thank you for inspiring change among 55 graduating IE students to think and step up in becoming future business leaders.

UST CYA, last April 2, 7 and on May 2 recently spearheaded Launch Out!, a series of talks about personal leadership that equips the students to think and decide to become the future’s successful business leaders.

But more than being successful, Launch Out! has driven the main point that a good and fulfilling life consists of becoming a person of significance, regardless of titles and positions of power.

“After listening to the talks, it just made me want to become a significant person who lives for others, not for myself,” says Berns, one of the graduating UST IE students.

This 3-talk series happens every Tuesday, 2-4pm in the Engineering Building. Speakers are Mr. Harvey Campos, Mr. Raoul Roncal and Mr. Jerome Quiring.

compassion · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · Global Health · God · life · Milk Matters · Phi Lambda Delta Sorority · sacrifices · Service · sisterhood · UP-PGH

One Seed Grows

MM WDC

This is the photo of my sorority sister, Ja Verceles, as she represents Milk Matters in an annual convention in Washington, DC. Milk Matters has been selected to participate through poster presentation and in the conference for global health.

I am so proud. I cannot help but thank the Lord for the grace to actually see this happen. I am thankful, that as I look at the photo I see two blessed things: 1. To see what Milk Matters has become, that I treasure it like a child borne out of my heart, and though I have become detached from it, my love for it has been stable, steady; 2. To see that my sorority sisters are growing out of themselves and becoming a better version of themselves through service.

Six years of intensely immersing myself in service taught me to focus on the latter blessing. To invest on people. To add value to their growth by helping them maximize their strengths and work on their core passion. That, in fervent hope, as they work tirelessly and relentlessly, a change of heart happens.

That is how I show my love– through service. Amazing how it gels together, when before the Milk Matters team only set our sights on just one milk drive and see how it goes from there. The Lord makes me see His work bloom right in front of my very eyes three years after its conception. I am but His servant.

It is great to see women with such big potentials who dedicate their efforts to help the poor and the sick Filipinos.

*This is the second international conference participated in by Milk Matters. The other one is an international award and representation in China. That is aside from the many accolades it has received in University of the Philippines College of Medicine and at regional and national levels.

compassion · CYA Staffer · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · God · life · love · Milk Matters · personal · Phi Lambda Delta Sorority · prayer · Service · UP-PGH

Seeds of Service

Featured image above is a photo of one of my baby patients when I was intern. He was my inspiration when I wrote my speech entitled “Ang Bagong EDSA.” He just slept soundly on my chest. Little did he know he was instrumental in rekindling my fire for service, which was the EDSA speech’s spirit.

From my stint in the sorority up until staff work in a Catholic movement called Christ’s Youth in Action, seeds of service has been the prominent battle cry.

I was called for the planting. Look at my photos years before I was called as a staffer/youth missionary volunteer. How eerily prophetic it sounded.

God really moves in mysterious ways. These were my sentiments during my leadership years in Phi Lambda Delta that I can relate to staff work:

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“Sometimes, you really cannot sit under the shade of the tree whose seed you just planted. You plant the seed, and trust in God that He will put it under the care of the people whose good hearts become the roots, water and air for this worthy seed to grow and flourish. Mabuti talaga ang Panginoon.”

Prophetic. The worthy seed (at that time I was talking about Milk Matters) reminds me of the mustard seed talking about the kingdom of God. Look at where I am now. Instrument being used to be one of the builders.

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Meet the OG. Original gangster of Milk Matters. This was the first meeting of the team, when MM was still an abstract yet inspiring concept.

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“Ultimately, we serve because God called us to… Nagkamali ako along the way, but I am sure hindi ako nagkulang (sa effort).” I really gave it my best shot as the service arm leader for Phi. #noregrets One of my favorite jobs in the world.

And this is my nephew, cotton ball. Meet my fluffy cotton ball.

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compassion · doctor · doctor dreams · faith · God · love · Milk Matters · Service

“fLORD”

fLORD (flÖrd) v. action word meaning to be utterly amazed and awed as witness to the Lord at work

Exactly my experience this past week.

When Dyan Castillejo (Sports Unlimited TV personality) agreed to share her message to the participants of Christ’s Youth in Action- University of Santo Tomas Rekindle, it was the Lord moving His hand in this anointed Christian Life Series.* Ms. Castillejo and I happened to be on the same floor as she was also a guest for another UST event. She approached me for directions to the restroom. Grabbing this opportunity, I asked her to share her message of encouragement to our CLS participants. And she gave one powerful testimony about God!

The blessings started two days before that. Our large penalty and principal sums in a government institution was waived. From almost two hundred thousand bucks we were now down to pay only less than fifty grand.

Then, we initiated a series of personal leadership training called, “Launch Out!” for graduating students of Industrial Engineering. Every Tuesday from 2-4pm, a sort of meta-coaching sessions will be equipping them on how to be good, compassionate and competent leaders in the workplace.

Rekindle bagged a special place in my heart. To be honest, I only expected around 10-15 participants. Ten was a good and realistic number, I thought. When the icebreaker games started, batches of students came pouring in. Athletes comprise almost a third of the participants (we reached twenty three, more than half were men), so Ms. Castillejo’s powerful testimony was the Lord’s way of shaking us up. All in all the first session of Rekindle was a message for me that this is the Lord’s work. I was a witness on how the Holy Spirit moved among us, and we were caught in its trail of fire as it ignited not just the students but the servers as well. My doubts and worries for Rekindle vanished. With that amazing display of grace, I was floored by the Lord. Nasupalpal. (I love Tagalog words they perfectly capture the strength and potency of the exact thing I was going to say.)

We ended up having a fruitful discussion, and the sisters’ lives opened up to me like sunlight breaking through a sheath of dark thick clouds. I personally felt like staff work has renewed itself once again after a wake of a struggles to the reality of being a volunteer youth missionary.

Lastly, my supposedly free day Friday turned out to be a great day indeed. I joined the PGH NICU staff in a milkletting drive in Pedro Gil area. The experience was amazing.

I assisted mothers who donated their breastmilk for the sick babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I would be carrying their babies or helping them pump the breastmilk into the sanitized containers. Pang-Pedia talaga ako.

Here are the pictures. Enjoy.

Ate Myya taking the groufie with Ms. Dyan Castillejo during Rekindle.

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Arianna and I. She wouldn’t even look at the camera at first.Gela MM1

Gela MM

This one is a bochog baby! She looks like a Trolls figure with her hair. What a happy smiling bebe bochog.

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The last picture is a proof that I am in a health center. May nagluluto ng lunch after seeing patients (so that they the health team can eat together for bonding).

*Christian Life Series (CLS) is a series of talks given by CYA on how to live a good Christian life.

**All photos with children and mommies taken and posted with permission.

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Into the Streets of Shaw

 

I live in a household with seven other empowered women of the Lord. We pray together, share common dinners twice a week and grow in faith as we live out our decisions to give our lives to the Lord.

Tonight is outreach night. Random acts of kindness with the “forgotten” unnoticed people of Manila: beggars and street children.

What a Spirit-led night! What did we do? Keep you posted! 🙂 #HumansofManila

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Millennial Missionary

Three years ago you could not even expect me to pray for you. It would solicit an awkward and noteworthy cringe.

I was a third year medical proper student when I joined Christ’s Youth in Action. At that time I was struggling in the pit of disillusionment as the leader for the outreach arm of my sorority. Seemingly all my efforts to build projects and galvanize the sorority to social action were futile and fruitless. I felt like a failure as the head. With this mindset, I thought that the causes we spearheaded at that time were small, fleeting and disjointed bursts of inspiration that tickled but did not really last.

My core passion is service. Are you familiar with the typical questions junkies for life philosophy ask about finding meaning in what we do? Particularly about what makes you get up in the morning with that unmistakable fire in your belly? It’s service for me. Always been service for me. I would do anything to just go out there and serve. That’s part of the reason why I am a doctor in the first place. Serving the sick and the poor is God’s gift to me, and as a student leader at that time, I take that fervor to heart.

So I found myself on bent knees. Day in and day out, the prayers I uttered in the pews of the Philippine General Hospital Chapel were strewn with tears of frustration and ended with a tough grit to not give up despite my heart growing tired in serving. Little did I know that my saving grace would come at last.

It was Father Chester Yacub, the jolly, eternally smiling priest with that calm, therapeutic aura exuding from him, who told me to join his org back when he was a UP Diliman student. In dire and dying need of spiritual support, I attended my first prayer meeting with CYA the next day. A week after that, I joined the Christian Life Series where I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and came to know God in a deeper and more personal way.

Who would’ve thought that three years after that fateful encounter, I would make radical choices the old Gela wouldn’t even dare try? After finishing med school and passing the September 2016 medical board exam, I chose to set aside a year to volunteer as a youth missionary proclaiming God’s work to students. I even approach random strangers and ask them what I can pray for them. As for the disillusioned student leader three years ago, it is really gratitude to God that my sorority has been hailed as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations in the Philippines, and our service project for sick babies has been receiving national and international awards for its efforts to serve the underserved and in inspiring the youth to do more for the country.

Looking back at those three wonderful years of journeying with the Lord, I can only say that in God, all things work out beautifully for those who believe Him.

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Incubator Bed 10

Since my baby patient’s birth up until his one month of life, he was hooked to a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe. He couldn’t breathe on his own. His lungs were ravaged by pneumonia. It could’ve been just a simple cough and colds for the adults, but when a newborn has been stricken by pneumonia, it spells an ominous life-or-death situation.

When he was born to her 16 year old teenage mother, his lola, who first saw him, was caught between rejoicing for his life and panicking for his eviscerated bowel contents. The disease condition was called gastroschisis. It is an inborn anomaly wherein the intestines and what-have-yous of the abdomen failed to tuck itself inside the body.

It was an emergency operation. He survived with his intestines intact and tucked in, but his lungs failed him. As the days passed I saw him transition from near-death to robust life, then to near-death again. It’s as if he’s just escaping death in the nick of time. This baby was a fighter.

The first time his mother carried him in her arms was when was dead. By then, he was able to escape the trappings of that dreadful blipping machine. Escape the webs of intravenous lines that carry donated blood (he was too pale), array of antibiotics and at least 2 kinds of fluids.