No Sense Going Back To Bad Memories

There is no sense to coming back to some areas of your past.

Right in the midst of preparing for board reviews, I was trying to declutter little by little my small living space at home. In my constant digging up of stuff, there were things that made me smile, like that diecast car gifted to me by one of my closest friends, still in pristine condition after all these years. There are things that made me wonder what might have been, like that old engagement ring that has since collected dust at my cabin. And then there are some stuff that would have elicited negative emotions had I seen it years ago, only this time it didn’t.

Hidden in a maze of admission documents, printed transcriptions, and scratch papers is an envelope dated almost a decade ago. Ascribed there was the letterhead from a previous employer. Even before I open it, that all-familiar dread crept into my inner conscience. I’ve been through this before years ago, and yet that feeling is lingering once again.

I opened the folder as if it was the day it was first sent to our house. As if that’s going to change the outcome, like watching the replay broadcast of the game that happened last night. And so there I was again, sitting at the corner of the bed, rehashing how it felt like.

It was the formal announcement that I was fired from my job. It’s the first time that I wasn’t able to get out of a workplace that’s not on my terms. And while it was something that I was expecting (I wasn’t really happy during my final months of stay there and I can sense that a split was imminent), it still hurt.

My pride, perhaps more than anything else, was hurt. I think I deserved better treatment than that, but the higher-ups thought otherwise. At this point, I was frustrated, firmly believing that I do deserve better. There were some grand plans on the horizon, with collaborations that would have pushed my profile to the next level. But hey, they got the last word in this, and there I was then, finding myself at the waiver wire.

I closed that letter, and for a mysterious reason, actually kept it. I was determined to make it by any means necessary, and I won’t let that cut define me or whatever my future would look like. Interestingly, I wouldn’t have considered a career in medicine if this entire fiasco didn’t happen. Inadvertently, this scenario has indeed set me up for bigger things. Call that fate or serendipity or whatever. It was amazing to say the least.

That once dark chapter in my life was now far off my rear-view mirror. But that was now. Back in 2013? 2013 me did not take it well, to say the least. I was really adamant that I’m going to come back better than ever and they are going to regret the day that they fired me. I guess I kept that letter so that I can have that all-important reminder that I got to keep pushing hard. I have that strong emotional need to stick it to them and everyone else who have counted me out.

Fast forward to 2020, and I saw that letter once again. I opened it for the first time in maybe 5 years, and it’s now filled up with a thick layer of dust. I read it aloud in my mind one more time, just slow and loud enough for my mind to hear, and in one motion crumpled the paper and dunked it in the trash can.

It’s over now.

The torment from that moment has already passed me by. Almost 7 years since that day, I have finally been able to say that yes, I am now at a better place. While I am still a long ways to go to being the person that I want to be, I am more confident than ever before that I am at the right direction.

So now, it is time to let it go, for there are some things in your past that makes no sense to return to. There are more important things to look forward to, like my upcoming board examination, like the continuing growth of my nephew and nieces, and even the slow but sure rehabilitation of my war room.

May all the things that made us bitter back in the day make us better eventually.

PS: I was scouring other letters after I wrote this, and I saw some of the recommendation letters my mentors from college wrote for my medical school applications. Those never cease to make me feel ecstatic. Of course, those letters end up being kept in a safe place at my room.


120 Days

September 13, 2020. That would be the official start of the Physician Licensure Examination. And if I can tell you that right now I am 100% prepared to take this test, I can probably pass for an uber-talented liar.

Because while I’ve been doing my just preparations to get ready for my biggest challenge yet, I am nowhere near ready for what is to come.

For those who do not know, this test is by any means not a walk in the park. You can check this out to know more about this test. 1200 questions across 12 different disciplines, spread out across 4 days. As previous takers would say, it is not just an examination, but rather it is a life experience.

And yet here I am, staring almost blankly in my stack of reviewers, unsure of where I would begin. The still-progressing pandemic, the uncertainty of the continuation of the post-graduate internship program, and the inner turmoil that has silently defined my existence are just some of the distractions that I need to get out of the way. If the boards is already not hard enough, here I am actually trying to make it a little more harder for myself.

I know that sooner or later, I got to have to find a way to figure out how to get started with this. More importantly, I got to find a way to finish this out. This has been a process that was more than a decade in the making, and now I am improbably at the final step of the journey. I really should be glad, I really should be grateful, I really should feel positive about it, knowing that I’m one of the few who actually made it this far. Regardless of what I have been through over the years, I somehow managed to find a way to come closer to my dreams.

But beyond this, I am living the dream of everyone else around me. I am living the dream of my parents, which I represent as the final frontier for their family to come full circle. I am living the dream of my brother, who confessed that he wanted to become a doctor but fate took him on a completely different track (but still with more success than I ever enjoyed). I am living the dream of my aunt, who was talented and driven enough to become the first physician in the family but didn’t made it, and instead focused on being the ultimate kingmaker of an impressionable class of second-generation “children”. I am living the dream of my community, looking to show everyone that you can make it from my side of town. I am living the dream of the next generation of future physicians, who said that I paved the way for them to get into this field.

Whether I wanted it for myself or not, I have become the embodiment of other people’s hopes and dreams, and that is one hell of a responsibility to carry. I cannot allow them to fail, to crash and burn, to feel that their investment is all for naught.

Within 120 days, I would be taking my biggest challenge yet. Perhaps the thought that I am not really alone in this journey would motivate me enough to stop procrastinating and start producing.

All By Myself

This will become a chapter in my upcoming book series The Fake Doctor, which would detail my life and times while chasing my dreams of being a licensed physician. The creation of this book is still in progress, with my release target before the end of 2020 or when I pass the Physician Licensure Examination, whichever comes first. 

It was a quarter after 1AM. It was the evening of Labor Day. Of course, no one could celebrate it in their usual ways because of the enhanced community quarantine. We are more than a month since this started, and things are not getting any easier. The countdown towards the Physician Licensure Examination continues to tick, and yet you can’t put the foot on the throttle because everything is still so unsure at the moment.

Because I cannot fall asleep and I am too restless at this point to even have a close-to-productive study time, I decided to turn on The Social Network, just to see how is the rest of the world doing in the dead of the night.

One of the casualties of this pandemic is school. All levels of schooling have been completely cancelled, wiping out whatever is left of learning curriculums and (as far as I know), promoting virtually everyone. This includes current seniors in medical schools across the country, with the situation proclaiming them graduates almost by default.

I won’t go into the technicalities and ethics of such decisions made by schools and their partnering hospitals, because that is a completely different issue altogether. But here I was, skimming in the Social Network, seeing these future doctors celebrating the successful completion of their abbreviated clerkship programs.

Being there at the trenches once upon a time just like them, I know how this joy feels like. The immense hard work and sacrifice needed to overcome 4 years (and sometimes more) of medical school put a massive physical and mental toll on even the toughest of souls. Then it is topped off by a 1-year clerkship program, or as we call here, the Fake Doctor Experience. And while the experience is equal parts fun and life-altering, it’s beyond exhausting. After the experience, you are just not the same.

Needless to say, the joy of completing an experience like that (and being one step closer to one’s ultimate dream) is a cause for celebration, and no self-conscious person at social media should be able to rain on that parade. But seeing all those pictures of celebration and community has brought back an old pain that I was trying to run from for almost a year now.

I completed clerkship, and tagged photos of me were non-existent. Sections taking victory and family pictures, but you ain’t got one. You want to celebrate your success, but you ain’t got anyone to celebrate it with. I never had the opportunity to develop a “family” within my own section because they threw me under the bus the first opportunity they got. Of course, there were some awesome “working relationships” since then, but I doubt any of those ever went beyond “working”.

I don’t know how people really felt about me back then, but it’s not like I don’t even have to ask. I mastered the art of staying anonymous on group meetings, slipping out of gatherings in the first possible opportunity, and blending into the background. Conversely, I also mastered the art of the rejected friend request, the art of navigating “I-don’t-want-to-do-duties-with-you-but-we-have-no-choice” situations, and just being that guy who everyone seems to think is a joke.

Whenever there were calls for group pictures during consultant visits or grand duties, I more often than not chose to be a photographer, because I feel that I don’t belong there. Nobody ever asked me out, and nobody ever asked me how I was. Maybe it was meant to be that way, you know?

For almost a year, I was half-clerk, half-homeless man. It would have been fine had everything ended there. But the aftermath was even worse. You know the story; I was unable to graduate due to the consequences of the protest that nearly ended my career. Even the mere opportunity of being able to honor my family and smell the fruits of my (no, our) hard work was taken away. I hate how it felt back then, I still hate it up to this day, and this hate will probably live on long after I slip into my grave.

Minutes turn into hours, and hours turn into days. Still, I ask myself this: did I really deserve all this? Am I really that much of a bad guy that I can inspire such contempt and loathing from everyone else?

All those bad memories from the previous year have been rearing its ugly head once again, at this unholy hour no less. All the pain inside that I have kept for that entire year has all came roaring back to me once again, and it is affecting me in a really adverse way. I should be settling towards devoting my powers (or whatever frustrations I have) into something more productive, but it is much easier said than done.

There are hours when I just get randomly enraged, with people around the house seemingly shocked why I am sauntering aimlessly like someone needled me in the ass. It has affected my sleep patterns in ways that it hasn’t had in a very long time. This is getting into my nerves, but I got zero answers on how I can resolve all these questions running in my mind.

All these bad memories are coming back to haunt me, and I am nowhere close to achieving a possible resolution, or at least a closure, for it.

All I see is this reenacted image of my younger self, isolated and ruined. Worse, when juxtaposed to my current self, there isn’t much that has changed. I am still more or less isolated. There is always the impression that you’re still always the person the group can do without; the person whose peers think lowly of; the person they definitely laugh at whenever there’s a chance. I still had that boulder-sized chip on my shoulder, still with a pathologic need to validate one’s self, only that validation is nowhere yet near in sight.

Such is the pain of being all by myself. And as early as now, I’m bracing myself for a repeat. I can’t make people love me. It’s just too much.

I am still hopeful that things will still change. Maybe that will come after this book gets published. Maybe it will come once success comes. After all, success is the most powerful attraction tool. But right now, the pain still remains.

I hate it. It’s been more than a year now, and I am still all by myself.

The Sun Shall Rise Again

It has been 4 weeks since the last episode of the Fake MD series took place. After all, it’s been 4 weeks since there were any duties for us. As part of the stipulations of the enhanced community quarantine, and partly due to the ethical limitations of assigning medical interns in the middle of a pandemic where the rest of the world has no full idea of how to fight yet, medical interns in the Philippines were suspended from proceeding with our training programs.

I know there were a lot of us who would rather be out there in the field, fighting side by side with peers and mentors and serving the nation in one fell swoop. And there are some interns in different parts of the country who chose to stand defiant, go beyond what the duty called, and went to the frontlines anyway. May God bless their kind souls a hundredfold. I would have wanted to be there as well, to be honest, but I had to put things into perspective.

I had a chat with one of my friends who works at the frontlines right now. She said that it’s just right that we should not be going to the frontlines yet. She had a lengthy list of reasons why, but I’ll save that for another day maybe. She told me that we shall have our chance to serve the country. Sooner or later, we will be the ones who will be there, making the life-and-death decisions that has come to define our professional existence.

She concluded with this: for the meantime, you got to equip yourself in such a way that once you are the one who is standing in that chasm between life and death, you will be ready to play your role in the best possible way. One of the best ways to do that is to keep enhancing your knowledge daily and to protect yourself at all times. Yep, that just meant: stay at home and study.

Yet, all the while I am still guilty of slacking every now and then at home. Frankly, I am not sure if I am on schedule in my preparations for the 2020 board examinations. And in spite of that frank assessment, I would rather stay stuck at a lower gear. I was enjoying whatever is going on with my personal life; staying with family, working on my hobbies, playing with the thought of creating my own bio, etc. Anything but working on becoming a doctor.

To be honest about it, I am thankful, too thankful in fact, that I was one of the fortunate ones. I didn’t have to go outside to work, literally putting my life and limb at risk just to earn some money. I didn’t have to worry if I am going to have food on the table in the next few days. I have a family who is currently not suffering from health issues, let alone COVID-19. I always thank the Lord for that. I am fortunate enough on that regard.

In the midst of what’s an uncertain future, I keep looking forward to what’s coming next. Society at large, especially at the local scene, is at a constant disagreement on how to proceed with this crisis. The populace stays divided, with people progressing their own agendas and beliefs at the country’s detriment. Meanwhile, all those in the forefront of this crisis are being stretched, some close to their breaking points. There are people dying out there, and a definitive solution and plan for action have generally not been laid out yet.

And yet, in spite of that, I remain hopeful that we will overcome this crisis soon. Life shall move forward, and sooner or later we will be back to doing the things we do, including the things we have somehow taken for granted along the way. For me, that’s perhaps the biggest lesson that I learned in this one-of-a-kind experience (I hope we don’t experience something like this again in the future). It gave me a bigger appreciation of the things I do that I often take for granted.

From being able to take leisure time outside to being able to enjoy the company of my nephew and niece as they grow up, this situation has inadvertently made me think of the “privileges” that I get to enjoy and how these experiences do matter in the grand scheme of things. I look forward to having this crisis end and get back to a normal life, though there’s always the impression that beyond this crisis, things would definitely never be the same again.


I would like to end this with this story. Recently, my circadian rhythm (or in layman’s terms, body clock) was completely on a whack. I fall asleep and wake up on times that have no coherence with each other. One day, I will wake up at 5am and the next day I will fall asleep at 5am for no real reason.

Just this Easter Sunday, I was able to wake up right at sunrise. With the streets relatively empty and the sunrise seemingly more beautiful than usual (I’m not sure if it’s because the skies are clearing up due to human inactivity or I’m just not used to seeing the sun these days), I spent an inordinate time looking up. I even took some photos of it. It was that spectacular; waking up earlier than usual was made worth it by that moment.

I am never the most religious person out there, but I felt like God spoke to me on that day, on the day that He is to rise no less. In spite of how bleak the situation is at this time, the sun will rise tomorrow, and hope shall spring eternal once again. Even if the end of this crisis is not yet in sight at this time, I firmly believe that sooner or later, we are going to be back. One community at a time. One city at a time. One nation at a time.

The sun shall rise again, and so shall we.

Man of the Town

Doctors of both past and present have been endorsing to me that family/community medicine is like a vacation of sorts from the grind that is hospital life. Regardless if you are having your internship on a public or private institution, this time of the year serves as a temporary reprieve.

And who wouldn’t think of it that way? After all, you get zero duty status, weekend breaks, mostly uncomplicated cases, and a laid back atmosphere. It’s the perfect time to destress, catch up on studies, and maybe try to get to know more about the cases you handle in the community setting. But perhaps just as important, it is also the best time to take a look at both patients and the health system in a more intimate way, in a setting much closer to home.

Health starts at home. It all starts with the people becoming more aware that they should take care of themselves better. It is always being said that prevention is always better than cure, and what better way to do it than taking health care closer to home? This is where a grassroots approach to health care can come into the picture. And this is specifically where your health programs at the barangay level comes into the picture.

Over the years as a medical student, I was quite fortunate enough to come into communities that have relatively well-developed health care systems. Of course, such systems are the product of the hard work of the local governments who plan and finance these initiatives, the doctors and allied health practitioners who choose to serve the communities and provide their technical know-how, and the members of the community who keep these systems running. But everyone who has been here in the Philippines know that everything is still a work-in-progress.

If health care is a work in progress even in developed countries, what more in countries that are considered as “developing”? There is still a lot of work to be done to refine the healthcare system in this country. There are still a lot of locales in the country that have poor access to health care. And even in places where health care is relatively accessible, health practices of some people is still less than ideal, to say the least.
Just ask anyone who come to consult with wounds that don’t heal to the point of gangrene, or those with sexually transmitted diseases (and actively transmitting it to their partners), or those who don’t comply with their medications that they end up with morbidities, even when these medications are available for free. There is still so much that can be done for improving health care in the country, and it all starts at ground zero. Again, health care starts at the home.

Beyond the hard work that is right in front of everyone, there is the thrill of actually being able to serve the community, of being a part of the community. Frankly speaking, though there is a lot of work involved in planting the seeds of good health care in the grassroots level, it is a lot of fun doing it. And it is not just because the schedule is very friendly.

Let’s get started with the people.

As someone who had an abbreviated stint in community medicine due to reasons that have nothing to do with medicine (trust me, you won’t like me to talk about it), this is virtually my first time to get a complete taste of how working in the community is like. Over the past few weeks, I got a newfound appreciation on those people that work on the barangays all over the country. These are the hardworking men and women who serve as the backbone of the grassroots programs of the national health system.

I have seen them work firsthand, and I can tell you that they are among the most skilled and the most diligent people you will ever see. Contrary to what most people think, those who work in these health centers, even down to the community volunteers, are highly qualified to perform their respective tasks. I was pleasantly surprised just on how skilled these people are, from the clinical skills to the way they interact with people from different walks of life.

But beyond the skills, it is their heart for the community that allows them to work beyond what is needed. Sure, the pay at these health centers are pretty good (yes, I said it), but the amount of work they perform on a daily basis is immense. If you don’t have the heart for it, I tell you, you’re not going to make it in the long run.

And really, they are some of the kindest people you will ever meet. For once, I never really felt like I was an outsider, though literally I was the outsider who is using their facilities for the entire month! The culture of respect is just off the charts, and that is something that I truly appreciate. And dare do I say that maybe, I shall miss it for certain when I get back to the real world of medical practice?

Then we go next to the people that we serve, which are the patients.

While being a community doctor is by no means the hardcore version of serving the underserved and underprivileged (if you want the Mack Daddy of it, the Doctor To The Barrio program is for you), you still get the chance to serve the underserved and the underprivileged by being one. It is a fact that not all barangays in the country are made of well-to-do people, and most of these barangays are actually composed of people who would otherwise succumb to the burden of disease if they are not given the proper care.

I get to interact with a lot of these people over the course of my duties. From the cuddly little babies to the creaky yet still adorable elderlies, each of them has their very specific needs. From time to time, I got to read and reread my guidelines just to make sure that I got them right. Still, I got to see to it that they are at ease the whole time. I want to make sure that even if they are paying nothing for our services, they are getting their money’s worth every time they go to my spot.

You can say that’s investment for the future. That’s probably true. But for me, that’s what good service is all about. You may not know it all, but you can make sure that they get the best possible care. You may not get favorable outcomes all the time, but you want to make sure that they can keep up with the process of care and still feel human after everything.

Looking back, I can say that I am going to miss this rotation. Being the “man of the town” was quite a life experience, and I hope I can get to do this again in the future.

I haven’t gotten that vacation that I was seeking (too little time and too little money often render it impossible in alternating doses), but I hope I can get to do it soon…after passing the PLE in 6 months’ time maybe. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

On Days When You Can’t Save Everyone

“Some days you can’t save them all.”

This is the immortal words of Dr. Ronnie Baticulon, pediatric neurosurgeon extraordinaire, as mentioned in his book of the same title.

A lot of people think that we as doctors play the role of god. And even if we have mentioned it time and again that it’s a role that we never seek to play, a lot of people still think it is exactly that.Most of the time, we do able to pull it off, sign of a good bill of health and the patient goes home unscathed, ready to fight another day. But there are times that even our best efforts are simply not enough.

It was our final day of duty at the pediatrics department. It was just after Christmas, and me and my other groupmates have our sights firmly on enjoying the remaining days of 2019 at the comfort of our homes and at the company of our families. But during our entry, something was just amiss. We hear that dreaded word that we never heard during our 2 months of rotation.


I came into the hospital, and there’s this kid, just under 5 years old maybe, laying on the hospital bed lifeless. One after another after another, we tried to resuscitate him. In spite of our best efforts, the poor kid has passed away. It was a stunning turn of events for everyone involved. For one, we haven’t dealt with someone dying for the past 2 months, and possibly more if you would include the previous rotations. For another, the patient’s profile won’t strike you as someone who might be dealing with a life-threatening condition.

But there he is, laying lifeless on the bed. Dead for reasons that are still to be determined. We failed in reviving him, and there are more questions than answers right now.

No words have to be said. There is a palpable tension in the air, a bad taste in the mouth that just couldn’t be washed out easily. Even though I haven’t directly managed the patient (the patient came in the previous night, while I was off duty), watching someone die that young simply does not feel right.

I can see the family getting emotional, dealing with the level of grief that can only be reached if someone died in such an untimely manner. I can even see some of my colleagues fighting back tears; they are just as distraught as I am, and maybe even more. It was certainly a dark moment that put a damper on the rest of our transactions for the rest of the day.

Some people think we can save everyone, but we really can’t. And on this day, we were unable to save him from an untimely demise. And people need to understand this; they think that as doctors, we are used to death, that we don’t feel pain when our patients are dying right in front of our eyes. That is very far from the truth. Because if there is someone who will feel hurt when someone dies of illness, beyond the family, it is the doctors who carry the burden of grief.

Speaking of the burden of grief, I just left for community rotation when another piece of bad news came into may way, in a way rather unexpectedly.

I just finished my 1st day at my community rotation. I was walking towards the terminal to pick a ride back home when someone called me.

It was a familiar face. It is the father of one of the patients I handled way back in late November or early December. I can’t quite remember when I handled his case, so I was surprised that he actually recognized me, a full month after we met. Because he was in relatively good spirits, I was sort of expecting a little bit of good news from him. What I received was something that I least expected.

With the smile on his face giving in to the tinge of pure pain, he said to me this. “She died just days ago due to the recurrence of her disease (would not disclose this for privacy reasons). It was the final day of her funeral and we intend to have her interment on our home province. My entire family is there. Would you like to pay a visit?” I can feel his voice trail off from there, but he bravely put on a smile and continued. “This is not the way I envisioned to start the new year. To lose my daughter at such an early age. But I got to endure and keep moving forward for my family, particularly her siblings.”

We then parted ways. With what he said in my mind, I remained speechless for a few minutes, watching as he vanished from the distance to come visit her daughter one last time. In my mind I kept wondering: could we have handled her situation differently that would have prevented this demise from happening? I grew up in this craft that not all deaths are your fault, especially if you did your best to do the right thing in in the heat of the moment.

One of the fields that I am considering to get into once I complete my studies is pediatrics. While nothing is set in stone yet, it’s one field that for some reason has become very much close to my heart. However, if there is a downside to being a pediatrician is that the deaths hurt. Well, death is very much a part of the everyday dealings of a doctor. Our training aims to avoid death or at least make its arrival as graceful as possible. Every death hurts, but the pain of a child dying is a pain that is completely different from the rest.
It’s a pain so severe that it’s one of the few times that you actually wish that you can play god, just like how some patients and outsiders look at us. The problem is, we can’t. And no matter how good we get, we can never be that.

We could never play god, but with each patient that we encounter, we get better. Whether it’s a completely harmless case that doesn’t even require admission or a curious case that ended with death, all these experiences help us get better. It’s these painful experiences that serve as the bitter pill that we need to swallow in order to enjoy those sweet victories of being God’s instrument for healing. We might never be able to save everyone, but each case allow us to learn and make us better prepared to save a life moving forward.

And so, even though there are days that I can’t save them all, I keep moving forward. Like everyone else in this craft does. The glory of being able to do this for a living greatly outweighs the pain it delivers. And so, the story continues.

This mixtape is dedicated to the 2 kids I mentioned in this story. Rest in paradise.

Of Empty Planners and Unfulfilled Plans

The end of the year is coming once again. Of course, there is a deluge of people sharing the highlights and lowlights of their lives, but most of those shared of course are the highlights. Of course, I had my share of highlights as well, but behind those are some goals that are left unfulfilled, words that are left unsaid, actions that are left undone, and plans that remained as such.

As I was searching through my things in the penultimate day of the year, there was one item that shocked me the worst. It was a planner I got as a freebie from a popular store way back from December from last year. While I am not really the biggest fan of planners (I do know a lot of people who cannot live without them), I picked that planner up because I was planning to actually use it.

365 days and a multitude of events later, the planner remained unused. In fact, it was still wrapped in its original packaging. Incredible.

Would that planner end up being a waste? Not really, because I am planning to use it for this year! However, beyond the fact that I left it unused, it is yet another case of me being unable to fulfill my own plans.

It might be a rehash of my plan from last year, but I do plan now to write about my plans. It has been an ongoing problem (or could it be considered as a character flaw?) that I wasn’t able to follow through with a lot of my plans. Though there were a lot of plans that actually came to fruition this year, there are a number that didn’t. Some of those unfulfilled promises ended up holding me back, preventing me from reaching all my goals and probably making my 2019 just a little brighter.

So one of the things that I am going to do differently this 2020 is to actually make use of my planner, to put all my plans on writing and track down whatever progress I would be making on a day-to-day basis. I mean, what’s there for me to lose on this one, right? After all, I got that planner for free, so I might as well utilize it. Now that I am approaching a “contract-year” type of year, I would need to get as much edge as I can possibly get.

There are other plans that I would want to do this year. One of them is to regularly update this page and continue to make my other “passion projects” thrive. And also up my savings. And get my license to heal this year. And there are more that either haven’t crossed my mind yet or I am still too giddy to share. I hope you stay with me with the entire year.

For now, it’s up to me to make sure all those plans actually translate to reality this time around. It will all start with filling up my empty planner at last.

The Return 2: Why Is The Mixtape Coming Back

So Why Am I Coming Back?

Days ago, I talked about in detail why I went on an unofficial retirement from blogging. So, if it is a process that I somewhat detested, why am I coming back now? Isn’t that now a way of contradicting one’s self? Well, if that’s how you see it, then it’s definitely a self-contradiction. Regardless, I am plotting a pilot version of a comeback and I would like to see for myself where this would take me. So why am I making a comeback?

Here are some of my reasons why I am doing it now.

Perhaps more than anything else, writing provides me a means for self-exploration. Other people may have different ways of doing it, and some would swear by the results of their chosen method, but this is the way that so far has worked best for my case. Looking back at my own thoughts and what has been happening to me gives me time to reflect on how I am doing at the present and help me plot ways of how I can make things better moving forward.

Writing also provides me a way to express myself and introduce different facets of my persona and personality to others. I am not really great at expressing myself when you do get to meet me, and I know more than a few people who at first (and second) glance think that I am nothing more than a buffoon. I got to know a lot of people thru my writing that would otherwise never give me a chance if they didn’t see what my thoughts are. It’s an unconventional way of “getting to know me”, but it does have a good enough success rate.

For the most part, writing has been good to me. It has given me the platform to speak my mind in ways I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. It has allowed me to make a living, even help me survive graduate school. It has allowed me to develop skills that has proven effective in a lot of the things I do professionally. It has generally been good for me. If I could help people be able to express themselves better thru this platform, I would be more than happy to do so.

And for this reason, The Mixtape is (semi-officially) back. Can I keep this up? Only time will tell. Will this get support? I don’t think that matters, really. But yes, I do hope that we can get to interact thru this platform moving forward.

Let me take you to a ride on my wild side.

The Return Part 1: Why The Mixtape Vanished

For those who knew me long enough, you may know me as that dude who writes about random stuff. Like very random stuff. From how I did the from the day that was to whatever I learned from some random thing I’ve read, if I find that notable, I would have probably told it.

That was the Mixtape was all about.

For years, that has been like a routine. Some came in at 12pm, while others came in at 4am. Some are written while I am at the heat of the moment, while others were actually made on a drunken haze. But whatever that was written there, for better or for worse, everything came straight from the heart.

Then one day, I decided that I want none of it anymore. And just like that, the Mixtape was no more.

For years, people have been badgering me what happened. As the social media world transitioned from Friendster to Facebook, it slowly but surely died a natural death. But it was more than just the transition that banished it from existence. There were really a lot of factors involved as to why I stopped writing altogether.

The first reason why I stopped writing The Mixtape was because my priorities were changing. It would be asinine to say, but there are a lot of things that can happen within the span of almost a decade. I went from being a struggling college student who was trying to figure out life while still within the support bubble of my family, to being a struggling college graduate who was straddling the thin line between being a certified professional and a high-grade bum. This shift is a huge factor why I had to look the other way. I got to protect myself because little else will do it for me.

The second reason why I stopped writing The Mixtape was because there is such a thing as too much writing. Even for someone who is very passionate about writing, writing day in and day out could be borderline exhausting. I was fortunate enough to get more than my fair share of gigs writing about all kinds of stuff. And while I can never truly say that I am better than others, hell I haven’t published anything under my name just yet, it was good enough to bring food to the table, so to speak. And being able to bring food to the table should take precedence over anything else, right? That’s adulting for you!

The third reason why I stopped writing The Mixtape, and it’s something that may baffle everyone else that was around me for a long time, is because I see the need to filter my own thoughts. A lot of people think that I was running my mouth, and at times it has been getting me into trouble. As someone who is not exactly a choir guy, putting my life out in the open is a problematic prospect for people who respect me, and a talking point for those who don’t. You can imagine the kind of headache I delivered to them, and you can imagine how they implored me to shut up.

The fourth reason why I stopped writing The Mixtape, and perhaps this is the most important reason of them all, is because at some point, after years of experience, I have felt that I have become irrelevant. While a lot may consider me friendly, too friendly in fact, I never really felt that. A lot of the friends that I’ve met over the years, to put it kindly, I don’t feel them anymore. Maybe it’s just changing priorities. Maybe it’s just them pursuing their own growth. Hell, it might be me not growing. But I don’t feel the love that I used to get before. Add more than a few unfriending episodes, and that sealed the deal for me.

So at some point, I just cannot tell when, I just decided enough is enough. Since I got enough gigs to whet my appetite for telling stories, there is no need to tell my own stories anymore. If I have gone irrelevant, who the fuck needs to hear what I got to say, right?

So for the record, with apologies to my long-term fans, that’s how The Mixtape ended. And for those who knew me post-Mixtape, please don’t ask me how those days were. It was equal parts cringe-worthy and pride-inducing. It was my writing career at its rawest, and depending on who you will ask, it was the best.

It was almost a decade since The Mixtape has ceased operations, but its influence still exists. A lot of the people I still keep a close relationship with would tell me that they got to know me better thru my blogging. Some still know me for it. From being someone struggling to get a college degree after getting delayed, being a perpetual 12th man in some really good basketball teams, making a long-distance relationship work, dealing with different levels of peer pressure, and everything else in between, The Mixtape proved to be an outlet, and an online megaphone that amplified my miniscule voice if you might add.

Was I considering a comeback? There were multiple times over the years that I considered a comeback. The comeback bids were derailed by different reasons. I put it off, then put it off, and then put it off once again. I just don’t have the juice to do it anymore. And when I do have the juice, there are other priorities that have to take precedence.

So why come back now? That I would answer on part 2.

Another Day In Paradise

“Oh, think twice. ‘Cause it’s another day for you and me in paradise.” -Phil Collins, Another Day In Paradise
5pm, just another slow Monday afternoon. It was a stressful day in every definition of the word. I, together with many of my comrades, were basically feigning sleep to absorb as much knowledge we can. Not only is this essential to accomplish the short-term goal of passing exams and surviving courses, but it is also essential to accomplish the long-term goal of being functional physicians.
Of course, the work goes beyond that. Once you go home, it’s almost as if the day is just starting. Medical school is time-consuming, but life goes beyond medical school. Countless chapters, notes, and transes are still to be mastered. You still got to attend to your family who anticipated the time of day they’ll hear your voice echo “I’m home”. There are still house tasks, work, extracurriculars, all that shit.
Life goes beyond medical school, so unless you are an island or an android, you still got to do all these. With whatever energy you still have left. There are even times when the things you do become so overbearing that you forget to do it with a smile on your face and a joy in your heart.
However, even though you forget the joy of being where you are right now sometimes, you should never forget it.
This is because the opportunity you have is basically your own personal paradise.
Picture the opportunity you have in your hands at the moment. It might be messing up with you at the moment, but there are more than a few people out there who will happily put themselves to your position. Remember the price you paid to get into this position; not everyone has the ransom to pay for this chance but you have it. You earned the position you’re into, or at least have others by your side to enable you. That by itself is a miracle.
Think of the people you once rolled with side by side but did not make it for one reason or another. I am very sure they would love to be with you: make progress with you, share your victory and pain together with you, accomplish dreams with you, only they weren’t able to make it with you. I’m not saying it’s your moral responsibility to do so, but the fact that you made it should be an incentive for you to keep going.
Think of the people who are supporting you in your journey, those people who go all in just to make your life just a little more bearable. Think of the people who financed or continue to finance your pursuits. Think of the people who help you get ready daily. Think of the people who continue to support you, even if that means they will somewhat be relegated to the background on some (if not most) days. They may not be the ones passing the requirements, they may not be the ones taking the exams, but they are the ones who stay in the background to ensure you have all the leeway in the world to do what you have to do.
When things get too hard for you, try to stop and think of all these. It may not be all flowers and sunshine, but someday it shall be. You may not be living comfortably right now, but trust me, a lot of people would love to take your place. It may be a struggle, but don’t forget to see the silver lining behind the struggle. You are where you are for a reason. Think of it as a good thing.
Before you even think of quitting, think twice. ‘Cause it’s another day for you and me in paradise.