Perfect Day

Every year in UP PGH Pediatrics residency, we get to have our leave. That is two weeks per year for the first year residents. It is one whole month for the second and third year residents.

I cannot say it is fair enough, given that we go to work practically every day for the rest of the year for three years, and we only have one day off per month. Say that we are provided for and I admit my salary is more than enough for a single doctor like myself, a high salary will not compensate for the missed birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, family dinners, so on and so forth. Plus the excessive number of hours of overtime in the hospital with the more (superlative, need I say?) excessive number of hours of sleep and food deprivation that are clearly uncompensated.

Not that I am complaining. Nuh-uh. In fact, I am more than happy to be in residency. Despite the struggles, the tears shed, the stress, the anxiety that come with bearing the full weight of being a licensed Pediatrician-in-training, I am very pleased with my life right now.

My life at this point is brimming with hope, with bravado, with the proverbial fire in the belly. I am inspired, and it is with divine grace that this inspiration stems from a deeper core within me. More of like an ancient calling– that being a doctor is somehow genuinely intertwined with the mission God sent me here on earth to accomplish for Him.

I am happy. This happiness is deep, akin to joy.

I felt joy surging within my heart when my family and I went to have dinner in Shakeys to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. We were complete then. All five children made every effort to come home to Palawan and to be with everyone.  All of us were happy to be together once again.

The truth dawns on me and I will never forget it: I have everything I need. God, my family, good friends and a job I am passionate about.

Equally important is, I have myself too. The self I have always known to be: the Gela who is hopeful, passionate, honest, driven, committed and sincere in loving. I somehow lost perspective of who I am during past struggles and personal issues.

I am grateful to God for the grace of acceptance, and for rooting my heart on the truth of who I really am in God’s eyes.

Every day of this precious, golden two weeks of leave, I savor and enjoy. Not a time wasted for sadness, irritation or anger. Not one negative thought can steal the sunshine of each day spent with family, even if we are just at home doing household chores.

Every day felt like my last day of leave, and I made sure to be mindful and enjoy every moment with family and good friends.

It is amazing, Lord. Your work is really good. Thank You for the time to rest and just bask in Your goodness.


Talk of the Town

I am a public speaker. And here are my discoveries about my blossoming relationship with the craft of public speech.

Though I already did have quite a number of talks for experience, and some of them were big talks with big audiences, I cannot say for sure exactly how many talks should I make still in order to be an official, legitimate speaker. I  had no formal training except for the times my mom made me join the declamations/orations/elocution contests during grade school until high school. I am not even sure if one can count that as formal training. From there on, all I had was the continuous flow of opportunities to speak. The talk proper became my precious practice as well.

Preparing for my big talk in the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) which happened last September 2 in Landbank Plaza, Manila, was an eye opener in the way I have been loving this craft.

I call it a craft, because public speaking is an art. The speaker is the canvas. The message is the inherent value. The way it is delivered– the words, the non verbal gestures, the pauses, the emphasis on some ideas– is the different strokes and varying colors.

The way it is delivered depends largely on personality. How a speaker concocts her talk, how she prepares for it, how she delivers it, what words or style she uses, depends on the uniqueness of her personality. One can see the quirks here: the jokes, the wit, the seriousness, the profundity, the ease, the energy. Each talk is bound to be different from one another despite trying to communicate the same message, because each person is unique. Each one has her own experience. Each one has her own way of understanding the message and communicating it across the audience.

Although the fun and entertaining trait of the talk can be found in the different strokes and varying colors, alone it cannot suffice for the worth of the message. I am not impressed by speakers who are highly entertaining and makes the audience laugh, takes off splendidly but fails to land the points of her message to the audience. She was in there for theatrics and performance, not for communicating value.

I think the most important responsibility a speaker must be able to do is to communicate the inherent value of the message. And to try to communicate it wholly as to how she understands the message. Why is the message important to her? And why should the audience know its importance? The inherent value of the message is the big rock of any talk. Failing to communicate the “why” of the message empties the whole talk. It becomes flimsy and forgettable.

The speaker is the canvas. It is in her mind that she forms the words. It is in her heart that she derives her passion. It is in the lens of her experiences that she sees through the value of her message. She is not a tabula rasa. Everything she says is pre-formed by previous experiences, tainted by the hopes of her dreams and influenced by the maturity of her character. Her thoughts, ideals, dreams even the broken ones are there to substantiate and make whole the message. She makes her own self the moving canvas: to paint on and to paint with.

When the speaker, the message and the way it is delivered harmonize into one to form the talk, that is creation. The speaker unites herself to the message, becomes one with it in the process of preparing for it and actually delivering it. The pain of the preparation, the laboriousness of thinking, writing and practicing, are likened to the pangs of birth. Once the message is formed, the words into place, with the right pauses and emphasis on some parts, the talk stands to become a living entity of art pronounced to life by the speaker. Its spikes of fire in the hearts of the listening audience is its manifestation of being alive.

I am glad of this newfound perspective. I hope to still learn a lot from these. I pray for more speaking engagements to come.


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.

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.)

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.

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.

Clerk 157

Each medical student has his or her own class number corresponding to the surnames’ alphabetical arrangement. I am 157 out of the 162. I am one of the people who belong to the last block, occupy the farthest of the locker spaces, and can be at peace when it comes to graded recitations because my surname’s a kind of a charm for starting with the letter V. Teachers call us last, and the questions are not so difficult by then.

“V as in Victory po,” I tell the lady who writes “Billa” on my health record.

“B as in Bictory?” she asks. I make the peace sign and she gets it.

Being the 157th clerk in our batch in UP College of Medicine Class 2016, however, affords no perks or points whatsoever. All of us have to be trained under the rigors and pressures of UP-PGH so we can be the best doctors of and for the country. No way out but through, unless one quits.

And by God’s grace, I finished my first month of clerkship and am currently on my third department rotation assignment in Orthopedics (specialty for bone diseases). Such happiness! After assessing numerous distressed patients, extracting bright red blood for tests, coaxing shy veins to appear for intravenous lining, writing on dozens of patient charts for disease management, presenting different cases of diseases to consultants and residents, toxic 24 hour duties, busy nights at the Emergency Room, sleeping on the ER bench to catch up some needed rest, doctors’ rounds at 12 in the morning, bloodied uniforms while taking care of vehicular crash patients, studying medical books despite the tiredness and hunger and lack of sleep because in the morning a patient’s case will be presented to a senior doctor, etc.

Busy life. And I only have Ophthalmology (Eye), Otorhinolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat) and Orthopedics (Bones) under my list of clerkship experience.

No, I am not ranting. I write this to try to make sense of everything, as a thanksgiving, because despite the sacrifices I choose to make while living my doctor dreams, I can honestly say I love what I do. I love where I am now, and I cannot see myself as anything except as a doctor, to be working anywhere except in a hospital. I love the action and challenge of learning about my patients’ lives and their diseases, of being inspired by the excellence my mentors, senior residents and consultants display, of being an instrument of God to care for and heal His people.

Sacrifices are part and parcel of this profession. I am home from my 24 hour duty to find the apartment empty. I see my younger brother a lot less now. With my schedule intertwined with the hospital, there are family parties I cannot attend, CYA and Phi activities I cannot join, sleep that should have its maximum to three hours only. My free time has become a prized leisure time: first for the Lord, for catching up with my family, for studying, for eating, for taking care of myself when I don’t take care of patients. My dinner tonight is my first meal of the day. I am tired from duty and I opted to sleep rather than eat.

Everyday, I still choose to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to pray. I’d be insane if I don’t have God to be with me as He molds me to be His image of a best doctor. Like clay in a potter’s hand, I pray that God bless me with the grace to strengthen my faith in Him. That amid the tiring, sacrificial and sometimes frustrating life of a clerk, I can find in Him the peace of mind, the satisfaction of heart and the grace to deny myself, to take up the big and small crosses and follow Him. He is always there for me to be my number one mentor. He is, after all, the greatest physician of the whole wide universe.

Nine months to go. Lord, reveal Yourself. Open the eyes of my heart. I offer my clerkship year for Your Glory.

Cruxes of the Sister Caritas

In this blog I write about what I feel and think in utmost honesty. I seldom write about Phi, and when I do, it’s just too sensitive that I have to write and rewrite, edit and reedit all I have to say in fear of blemishing the good name of Phi that in the end, the resulting piece is just too peachy to be real.

Too perfect it becomes fake. I hate fake.

Tonight I am honoring my desire to write about a certain aspect of myself that I only write about in my private journal. Instead of focusing all energies towards studying for OB, I just want a holy purge and attempt to make sense of my experiences as the Sister Caritas. Here goes.

The original title “Burnout of the Sister Caritas” is a bit outdated. Recently, I am steadying myself again in a stronger footing as the Head of the Service Arm. But that’s getting ahead of myself. Let me enlighten the readers on a bit of history.

I ran for the Office because I wanted it so bad, I swore I would do anything to prove to the Sorority I am up for the task. Anything. Ah, how young I was. Brimming with passion, energy and an overdose of hope. I was basking in the headiness of serving others and the great, great potential of Phi in the realm of Service under my leadership. That was to be the source of my will and my woe.

Little did I know that soon I would be facing seemingly insurmountable problems, and feel unguided and lonely in my path as the leader of a Committee whose only gratification comes after a laborious and tiring work. With a Committee driven to produce results of helping others through extensive effort investment, and whose results may fall short of the goal every so often, naturally it becomes an unpopular starting arena for many, but inspiring for the determined some.

I cannot avoid that. Different people assess and decide their limitations and potential to be of help. I can only inspire action, not force it.

Working with a few working bones in a disjointed skeleton, I realize important lessons that dawned on me as I spend this year as the Sister Caritas:

Passion keeps you going, but you need to have direction. The passion to help is the soul of the Caritas. Without the soul there is no meaning. Passion is infectious. It makes the people around you see and feel the bright and the good in a project that seems daunting to execute.

But you need the direction. And the direction comes in three levels, according to importance: from God Almighty, from mentors, and from myself. I see Caritas work as in itself having a semblance of sanctification. Service to others is God’ mission. If I lose that perspective and I hog all the credit, then I debunk God in the priority list. I will fall in to the trap of thinking I am the only one who caused all these good things to happen, and with God only in the background. Wrong. Pride is the enemy of goodwill. Pride comes before destruction.

Service as an endeavor of social good brings about a positive feeling about the self. It develops the goodness in a person. But hogging all the credit as attributed only to the self is destructive. That is why I always needed to go back to God mainly for humility.

Passage to be continued…

My only goal is to keep the Caritas pure in its pursuit to help people and alleviate suffering. This is my own true calling, and I prefer to live by and protect this calling from others’ vested exploitation, even from my own insecurities. Problem is, I cannot do it on my own. Neither can I do it if I keep on exacting expectations from people who might not be sharing the same passion as I have.

Insignificant things

Nipping unhelpful attitudes at the bud.I need liquid courage to face tomorrow.And liquid “wala akong pakialam eto ang dapat” to mix with it.

Sabi nga ni Mahatma Gandhi, we may be doing insignificant things in our lives, but it is important we do it anyway. 🙂

anything to motivate me to get back to my job tomorrow, papatulan ko na. Because I know it sucks to have to do things for the reason you just need to do them. Tomorrow I wake up early, I take a bath in the cold of the morning, I skip breakfast, I don my white uniform and wear white shoes. I hail a trike or multicab, drop by my workplace, sit on the chair assigned to me for eight hours a day, see children who have the usual complaints: nadapa, nasugatan, masakit ang tiyan, masakit ang ulo, mga best actors/actresses ang iba diyan, mga nabukulan, mga nahihilo… I’m giving myself the space to complain at maging reklamador ngayon. Ngayon lang. Mamaya ok na ko. Bukas ok na ko. And in the long run, after all of this is finished, gagawin kong status sa facebook ko na namimiss ko na ang trabaho ko. Na namimiss ko na ang ingay ng mga bata. Na namimiss ko na ang co-workers ko. Kahit may tsismis na pinapakinggan ko nalang dahil ayokong madamay. Hindi nalang ako titingin sa kung anong hindi ko trip sa ngayon.

Papasok ako sa trabaho ko bukas, dahil kailangan ko. Papasok ako sa trabaho ko bukas, para na rin sa sarili ko. Para somehow, makatulong rin kahit papaano.

Sige na nga. Papasok na ko bukas :))) Ayan, naeexcite na tuloy ako ng bahagya. Hahaha 🙂 Fighting! AJAness!

The warning signals are on.

Ugh it’s separation anxiety.

The case is, I may not hold my job longer than I thought I would. I accepted the job as a school nurse knowing that I would go until December this year. But now that priorities needed to be sorted, I knew I had to sacrifice some and gain some.

The preparation for NMAT is my utmost priority. That would be my biggest investment for becoming a doctor. At least now it is the biggest, because it is after all the first step in becoming one. A step that would influence the schools I am going to enter.

So now that I would be gone for a whole month, with me being on a job order position and all, I don’t think that the boss would rehire me. Hence, the separation anxiety. Somehow I feel that this is inevitable. Thinking about it somehow spurs a sad sentiment (alliteration? haha) because I enjoyed my job. Correction: I am enjoying my job, despite of the chismis, the backfighting, the disrespectful students…ok that was a negative thread. I enjoyed it because despite of the things that let me down, there are more things that I love about being a school nurse. First is, I enjoy treating students with their ailments, be that a serious one or just a hypochondriac phase hehe. Hmmm. I think that’s about the main reason why I entered the school. Honestly, I do get along with my workmates. The thing is, being the target of chismis isno fun at all. It’s undermining the trust. And the fact is, that is a reality. Kaya no need feeling hurt for a long time, kasi ganun talaga yun e. Lessons learned lang along the way.

I can feel it. Gut feeling.

Pakiramdam ko ang daming mangyayari bago matapos ang taong ito.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed. KAYA KO ITO! 🙂

Lord, give me strength and courage and hope. And financial blessings too. Ang hirap po na laging humihingi sa mgaulang ng pera. Tsk, magtitipid na talaga ako hmph.

So far, ok lang. Aja!

So will I take it or not?

Will I go to PGH or not? It’s hard letting go of some things I hold dear to my heart. I watched FMA Brotherhood and they branded it as Greed, one of the deadly sins. Greed wants a taste of everything. He wants to conquer everything. I don’t think it’s greed though.

This is the deciding point. This is the crossroads that for so long I have been delaying to think about, because it involves gaining some, and then losing some. I want to be a doctor, but then it got me thinking: What about PGH? I could be a great nurse. I can strive to be an excellent one and venture to other countries and give myself and my family a great life. Easily said than done, but all things take hard word if they are bound for success. Sacrifices are needed in every new undertaking.

But I want to be a doctor. And the future I know is bright, but today I’ve got to choose and let go some of the expectations I have as when I wanted to be a nurse. It’s a bit heartbreaking. It’s like when I don’t take the PGH exam, I feel the sense of loss. I feel like I’m really breaking up with Nursing. It’s kind of sad. But then again, it’s the path of Medicine I want to take.

I am going to be a doctor. But I am first a nurse. Today, I am a nurse. God, please listen,  and tell me what Your plans are. Please increase my faith.

So will I take it or not?

The long standing question of which the answer I already know from the depths of my heart. What do I really want? It’s service. It’s Medicine. It’s caring. Now, I am enjoying nursing. I am enjoying the service. I am enjoying my personal and professional growth.

Crossroads. It’s down to one decision and one decision alone.

Sometimes life gets on real fast.

It’s September already. I woke up and it’s September, the maiden month of the ber months. The television showed a commercial singing carols.

All I can say is: Wow. It has been up and down, twist and turn roads for me since I graduated from college. And at present I’ve had  experiences that are way too varied than when I was still a college student. If college is a monotony of academic and clinical experiences, trainings and seminars that have helped me become a full-fledged nurse today, being a  part of the labor force has opened my eyes to the different realities that are mixed in nature. Happy, fulfilling, tiring and in all honesty, disappointing.

Now, it’s a new arena. An arena to prove to myself that I can become someone greater than who I am today. And while I am at it, I learn then and again, that striving to improve and making it your sole aim no matter what, is like a mill in the neck. Eventually, the light of God continues to guide me, and I am grateful.

I am grateful for the people who serve as my inspiration. They share the most beautiful and simple truths that are to be the bits and parts of my moral compass.

Simple truths, yet they comprise the fibers of my being. Wielded by the Lord’s hands, I face the fears of enacting them for in the end, these truths are what really matter in life.