Friday, July 2, 2010

Sinturong Pangkaligtasan

It has always fascinated me to no end how obsessive flight attendants get when it comes to securing one's seatbelt. The Filipino terminology for it however, sinturong pangkaligtasan or safety belt, resonates much more with me. The belt is designed to prevent you from flying off your seat when the plane hits air pockets or diminish the chances of your face being planted on the monitor or tray table in front of you, if the pilot had to brake suddenly.

A recent trip from Tacloban however made me think of additional reasons for calling it a “safety belt.” I had just come from a two hour drive from Ormoc where I lectured the night before to Tacloban to give another talk. Deciding to fly back immediately, I relished the thought of getting an hour’s worth of work on the plane. Upon boarding, I found myself seated beside a young boy, say around five years of age, accompanied by his amiable grandmother. He sat there smiling, occasionally peppering his lola with questions about the flight. Soon after take off, the seatbelt warning lights were switched off upon which I flipped my laptop open to start making my lecture. The multitasker that I am, I opened an episode of So You Think You Can Dance while making my keynote presentation. I smiled as the child leaned from his seat to get a better view of my screen. Little did I know that my frown was not far behind as he started poking my screen. Let me reiterate, it was not merely pointing, but POKING. I had just cleaned my screen, which was immaculately black, and in a matter of twenty seconds, it had more smudges than an aquarium in a day care facility. To the credit of the grandmother, she put up an effort in restraining the child but it was just like Pacquiao versus Hatton. The fight was over even before she could utter the word stop.

Before you think I have digressed tremendously from the subject of this piece, I beg your indulgence for a little more story telling. As little Damien could not be restrained, I slowly slid my laptop away from him and lo and behold, the grubby little fingers could not reach them anymore. No, there was no protective force field but a nice strip of cloth with a buckle strapped across his abdomen that provided my laptop salvation. His safety belt had now become my sinturong pangkaligtasan.

Don’t get me wrong. I love kids, having three nephews and two nieces. I know how children are. But in our household, they know the meaning of stop. In the olden times, the sinturon or belt was a tool of discipline. Disobedience meant your butt cheeks getting acquainted intimately with the strap. Barbaric as it may seem today, this was done with the best intentions. It was designed to make you understand the gravity of an offense and give you a lesson, albeit physical. This corporal punishment was designed to set you on the right path and provide you a figurative safety belt as you traveled through life. As children, our parents’ arms cradled us and protected us from harm’s way. As we grew into adults, we had to strap ourselves in with the lessons we were given in childhood.

I was never at the receiving end of the belt therefore I do not believe it is needed. For certain individuals though, I believe it may have served its purpose. This child needed lessons on restraint, but of course, children will be children, thus I will allow him a few more years to learn. He should thank his lucky stars that I keep myself buckled for the entirety of any flight. It thus prevented me from adding an additional belt to strap him into his seat. My safety belt had now become his source of salvation.

Thankfully, the flight arrived on schedule and I quickly unbuckled my strap, rose from my seat and got my bag from the overhead bin. Deciding to let bygones be bygones, I flashed him my most sincere smile and he granted me one in return. The buckles had now come off and we were now at peace.

Waiting for the plane doors to open, I stood in the aisle patiently. As I did so, I heard a faint scratching noise, as if a mouse were nibbling on a piece of paper. Scanning around to look for the source, I looked in horror as I saw my friend Damien furiously scratching away at the exquisitely crafted banig frame I had been given as a token for my lecture. The overhead bin never looked as appealing to me.

Mga binibini, ginang at ginoo, isuot muli ang inyong sinturong pangkaligtasan!

Choice Cuts

I have always loved buffets as they provide a wide range of choices for the inveterate eater. You run the risk of sensory overload and heartburn but you also have the pleasure of sampling a wide range of culinary delights. In the same vein, long haul flights, despite the agonizing duration and confinement, have always been made immensely bearable by the personal video on demand. It offers you the latest movies, complemented by recent blockbusters, classics and most importantly, world cinema; a veritable buffet to satisfy any palate. Allow me to describe a few movies, I have sampled recently and give you my choice cuts.

My appetite for food is only matched by my fascination for movies. It does not make me a critic for either and I do not aim to start now. At most, I am what you would call a fan.

I started off with A Single Man, the first directorial effort fashion designer Tom Ford. It speaks of the life led by one who has lost his great true love. Superbly acted by Colin Firth and supported by Julianne Moore, the scenes of the movie move with deliberate beauty and a sense of purpose. The topic may be off putting to the people with limited perspectives as it speaks of homosexual love. Looking at the movie with an unbiased view however will allow you to appreciate a truly moving story. Each scene appears as if it was taken from the pages of a magazine, mimicking the ads of old by Tom Ford when he used to work for Calvin Klein. Rating: Fine Dining. Not for everyone but exquisitely prepared by a master chef. May leave the fastfood lover wanting for more but will leave the food critic extremely fulfilled.

I decided to follow this up with lighter fare, going for It’s Complicated. A rom-com including my favorite ingredient: Meryl Streep. She can truly do no wrong. The movie speaks of life after separation when your husband has an affair. You end up having one of your own, ironically with your ex-husband, this time becoming the offender instead of the victim. Alec Baldwin is a perfect choice for the husband, brave enough to appear in his birthday suit in a hilarious scene. A welcome addition is an toned-down Steve Martin, who probably received the perfect dose of lithium to control the mania that usually afflicts his performances. Some scenes do appear too contrived but it is infused with enough realism that makes it a balanced offering. Rating: Home cooked meal. You do not have to go out and dress up to appreciate this. May be sampled in the comfort of your home. I would not order this in a restaurant but I will gladly savor this in my house.

The third movie I saw was Planet 51, It was an animated feature about an astronaut who landed on another planet, he was feared as a brain-eating zombie converting being who is helped by the natives to return home. Voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jessica Biel. Call it ET in reverse. Sadly, this is where the similarity ends. It’s more like Planet of the Apes by Tim Burton. The only blip I see in his stellar career. I never really got into the movie nor care for the characters. Definitely light years away from Pixar and even, Dreamworks. Sadly, I did not even finish the movie. Rating: Five day old french fries. Pomme frittes are always appealing but best served hot and crispy. This was definitely soggy.

Movie four was a redo of a classic: Sherlock Holmes. Featuring two faves in acting, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, this was directed by ex- Mr.Madonna, Guy Ritchie. This version featured the famed inspector on massive doses of steroids. Pumped up action with episodes of psychosis. Call me old fashioned but I prefer my Holmes served shaken not stirred. Not much acting chops required from the actors so it was no mean feat to fill the roles adequately. Explanations for mysteries in the movie are given not very differently from how Angela Lansbury would disclose them from the TV classic, Murder She Wrote. Rating: Hamburger. It’s standard fare. People will buy it as it is familiar. Will satisfy the hunger but it is not a meal you will be talking about two days later.

Tired of western cuisine, I decided to for Asian cinema, revisiting a movie I had seen on a previous flight a year back: Departures or Okuributo in Japanese. This was a surprise winner at the Oscars in 2009 for Best Foreign Language Film. It follows the travails of a cellist who loses his job and is forced to take the job of preparing bodies for funerals. His friends and his wife look askance at his work which he grows to love, despite his initial aversion. The ceremony for preparing the deceased is done with same beauty and loving care that is put into origami and ikebana. Its simplicity belies the intricacies involved in the preparation. Wonderfully acted, the subtitles do not detract from appreciating the movie made all the more special with the dialogue in Japanese. Rating: Triple Grade A tuna sushi. No need for condiments or garnishing. Rich taste and leaves one sated without feeling full. You are left wanting for more even if you know you have had enough.

Movie six left me dehydrated: Invictus. This was based on a true story of the South African rugby team and Nelson Mandela’s dream of a rainbow nation. Morgan Freeman was Nelson Mandela and I cannot imagine any other actor doing this role justice. Matt Damon, as the captain of the team, shows the same acting brilliance he has displayed in The Talented Mr. Ripley and the Bourne series. Actual footage from the liberation of Mandela and his subsequent election as president of a divided country made my hair stand on end. Clint Eastwood has become the consummate director who understand the characters well and has mastered the art of storytelling that I last appreciated with Gran Torino. He was able to portray Mandela as a man, emerging from thirty years of imprisonment with forgiveness in his heart yet with personal demons that have scathed him and his family. My tears came as furiously as I wiped them away. Rating: Wagyu steak, medium rare. Starting with great ingredients, care was put into cooking it that is was not too tender nor was it too tough. Perfectly cooked by a master chef.

I decided to make my last movie a musical as it was the only one I had not sampled. For this, I chose Nine. A movie adaptation of the Broadway hit, it was helmed by no less than Rob Marshall, the genius behind Chicago and Dreamgirls. The screenplay was made by Anthony Minghella of The English Patient. Added to this Oscar nominated mix was a bevy of my favorite actors: Daniel Day Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Judy Dench, Penelope Cruz and the icon, Sophia Loren. Kate Hudson was a revelation and Fergie was surprisingly good. I started with expectations that were stratospheric which was probably why I ended up a bit unsatisfied. The musical numbers were all great but I never really got into the story, nor did I sympathize with Guido, Lewis as the main character. I guess this was due to the fact that the actors were featured primarily in spot numbers that did not allow you time to bond with them. If you asked me however if I would watch this movie again, in an instant, I would say “definitely”! Why? Because of Marion Cotillard. She was amazing as an actor, as a singer and as a dancer. She got to me. She definitely topped everyone in this movie. Rating: Tapas ordered separately. These are small servings of great dishes. Care must however be made in ordering them to make sure that they complement one another, making the meal a truly enjoyable experience. Nine however was an experience too rich, each serving great on its own but not as good when taken together.
I apologize for this review taking so long as I believe that each dish has to be savored. For just like a true lauriat, the dishes are not served together but one after another, allowing each dish to be an experience on its own.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

hot and heavy

This statement is most likely going to be associated with porn or at the very least, porn masquerading as romance novels featuring a long haired blonde male with an unconscious brunette in his arms, waiting to be...romanced. I've always loved looking for the origins of idioms or common sayings but sad to say, this one has eluded me. Just to set the record straight, I did not think of writing about "hot and heavy" as I was watching or thinking of nasty stuff. As I climbed the stairs to the fifth floor of the hospital, I literally gushed with sweat from all my pores muttering to myself how hot it was and how heavy I had become. Trust me, it was not a sight that would get you "hot and heavy."

Going to the meat of the matter, no pun intended, what makes this saying stick to your brain?Using my English Lit knowhow, the use of alliteration makes it slide off the tongue effortlessly. Again, no pun intended. Saying hhhhhhot and hhhhhhheavy is quite catchy though it makes one feel as if "nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura." Certainly gets you in the last song syndrome mode but you are going to get stares for the wrong reasons, if you keep repeating those two statements as if they were your mantra.

Another reason probably why the phrase is so memorable is that it is such an oxymoron. Would anyone really find Jabba the Hut hot? I believe that even Paris Hilton who is known for throwing her signature line "You're hot!" would bite her tongue. Not to be politically incorrect with reference to the members of my tribe, but being heavy is not a typical criterion for heat generation. You may feel hot, with the added layers of adipose, but you're probably the only one who is experiencing the heat.

A positive spin on this may be when it is made to refer to being industrious. As the era of industrialization set it, heavy machinery were created to speed up the process of production Operating these at full capacity was known to generate intense heat. A focused and driven effort to achieve one's goals therefore can be described as "hot and heavy."

This summer is proving to be one of the hottest ones on record with the La Nina unleashing its fury. Rotating brownouts have started and sadly, we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. The campaigns for elective positions have begun and it has certainly heated up. Insane candidates with inane advertisements invoking invented stories to ingratiate them with the public. These need heavy solutions.

We need to put more weight into our efforts in protecting the environment and our natural reserves. Heavier fines, penalties and sanctions have to be put into place for dereliction of ones stewardship of this earth. We need to put more elbow grease into analyzing the abilities of our candidates, their intentions and their plans to draw the country out of the hell we are in. Filling the ballot will be easy. Weighing the options will be hard.

We have to be industrious. It is up to us to carry the load, the burden of responsibility in moving our country forward. To do nothing is to add to weight to the uselessness that plagues our nation.

I apologize for tricking the reader into going through what I started off as a deceivingly lightweight piece. Getting you interested was the easy part. Heating up your passion for our country may be harder. Encouraging you to pick up the heavy task of helping in nation building may be the hardest. It's time for us to get hot and heavy for the Filipino people. Those who can least afford it have been doing it for us all these years.

yogurt yap

It's been quite a while since I wrote about anything. True to form, I have decided to yap about yogurt. Never have I been associated with healthy eating. Eating, yes. Healthy, no. Yogurt however is something I have always been fond of. My first date with it though was an encounter literally gone sour.

During one of our family's summer trips, I explored the breakfast buffets with a sense of wonder. Tucked in a corner were small cups emblazoned with "Dannon" and pictures of fruits. Reaching for one and peeling off the tab, it revealed what I believed to be ice cream. Squealing with delight, I reached for a teaspoon, scooped a bit and shoved it into my mouth. Instantly, the tangy taste hit my tongue causing my lips to pucker as if purse strings had been pulled and my eyes to cross paths, making me see two cups of this detestable dessert. Rushing to my parents' table, I exclaimed "Panis!" So much for being a sophisticated child traveler. Rancid it was not. It was yogurt.

Fast forward thirty years later. My palate has become more sophisticated and my girth has followed my age accordingly. I have gotten to know yogurt quite well and our relationship has gone way beyond intimate. In fact, I have become enamored with it, especially the frozen kind.
I would like to admit that I am an addict and my addiction is Pinkberry.

A frozen dessert restaurant opened by a Korean-American couple in Los Angeles, this heavenly place has now even invaded the West Coast. Aside from the pure taste of the yogurt, the original and pomegranate being my favorites, the silky smoothness melts quietly in your mouth and slides down your throat effortlessly. I apologize for eroticizing the description but it is indeed sensual. Choosing from an array of toppings to embellish your choice makes each experience unique. If you are unsure of your choice, the server behind the counter would gladly give you a sampler to experience that bit of heaven. A word of caution though, borrowing from an advertisement, once you start, you can't stop.

It helps that the restaurant is as simply designed as its product. The quality of the yogurt though is matched by the Philippe Starck furniture. I guess it helps that the owners are architects as well. Eating in therefore makes it a truly five senses experience.

Unfortunately, this is not available in the Philippines. Tonight however, I came across a potential substitute at the Shangri La Mall. Tucked in the right corner as one enters the large revolving doors of the mall is an unimposing stall. No seats and tables, one cannot linger about. This was the Golden Spoon frozen yogurt outlet.

The choices rivaled that of Pinkberry in terms of number. The company design however reminded me more of a chinese restaurant than a yogurt store. Looking through the list, I asked for a small cup of simply tart. I felt as if I was a husband cheating on his wife after swearing fidelity to Pinkberry but this damn hot weather had made me vulnerable to temptation.

The server formed my yogurt tower in the cup. Pure white, perfect swirls, standing in perfect attention. So far, so good. Next on the agenda was what to top it with. I chose butterfingers, granola flakes and cookie dough. Now for the taste test. Scooping a bit of yogurt without the toppings, I popped it into my mouth. Smooth and silky it was. The tartness though left me wanting for a bit more. Moving on to the toppings, the sweetness of the butterfingers and crunchiness of the granola flakes added just the right texture to the plain palate. The cookie dough was alright but did not really make a major contribution. A source of disappointment though was that the center of the yogurt tower had an air-filled space. In other words, it was empty. Shelling out 200+ PhP for a cup made me look for something to fill that void. Overall though, I would rate the small cup three out of four berries, when compared to my true love.

Comparisons are always great but one always has to keep it mind that it is all relative. I am no food expert but I am the master of what I want. Mastery however comes with knowing and my years with yogurt has taught me a few pearls about life and myself:

1. You may dislike someone or something initially but spending a little more time with familiarizing and savoring the experience may change your mindset.
2. Not because something is tart makes it unpalatable.
3. Adding toppings may make the yogurt more tasty but in the end, it is the purity of the base product that is essential. Just like friends, titles and accomplishments may make them better looking but not necessarily better people. Stripped down to the bare essentials, do they still provide you comfort?
4. Do not mistake the comfort that you feel with others as the pure feeling that you get with your one true love. Golden Spoon, you will be my friend but Pinkberry will be my one true love.
5. It may just be a cup of yogurt but give it a second look. You may just be missing what promises to be a great part of your life.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

pakikiramay: istilong pinoy

My attention was called to the fact that my father was an excellent writer in the vernacular. Ironically, none of the posts have been written in Filipino. Now that I have decided to write about something heavily pinoy-flavored, I shall give it a go.

Sabi nga nila, maari mong mapalagpas ang kasal, binyag, kaarawan pero ang lamay ay hindi. Isang malaking kalapastanganan ang 'di dumalo sa lamay at makiramay. Sa ating kultura na ipinagmamalaki ang bayanihan, kahit ngayo'y wala ka nang bahay na mabubuhat, ang di magbigay-pugay sa labi ng isang pumanaw ay sumasalungat sa kaugaliang ito.

Ang mahirap lang nga dito ay ano ang iyong sasabihin sa pakikipagharap mo sa mga naulila, sa mga naiwan. May mga de-kahon na linya: Mam/Sir kami po ay nakikiramay sa inyo. Mabait na tao po ang inyong asawa/kapatid /anak / bilas /biyenan/tiyo/tiya/manugang. Siguraduhin mo lang na wasto ang iyong pipiliin na mga kataga.

Ang susunod na iisipin mo ay ano ang gagawin ko dito sa lamay. Sabi nga nga kaibigan kong si Fr. James McTavish, isang manggagamot na tumuloy sa pagpapari, parang isang piging o fiesta ang lamay sa Pinas. Maari kang pumunta sa hapag kainan at mamili sa mga mamon, puto, pansit at goto. Sa mas marangyang lamay, para ka na ring nagpunta sa buffet ng isang marangayang otel. Mawawala din ba diyan ang mani at ang butong pakwan.

Kung ikaw naman ay busog pa, maari kang makihalubilo sa mga kamag-anak at makining ng mga kuwento tungkol sa buhay ng pumanaw. Kung may sikat na personalidad o artista, maari kang lumapit dito at magpakuha ng litrato, lingid sa kanilang kaalaman. Kung medyo may kakapalan naman ang mukha mo, maari mong kalabitin ito sa balikat, ngitian at sabihan na "picture naman tayo!"

Kung ikaw nama'y nag-iisa sa buhay ang talagang nagnanais na makahanap ng makakatuwang sa buhay, maari ka ring gumawa ng sarili mong speed dating service. Una, ilibot mo ang iyong mga mata sa kuwarto at sipatin ang iyong mga natitipuan. Ikalawa, ibaba ang iyong tingin sa kanilang mga kamay at aninagin mo kung may mga sinsingsing na suamasigisag na private property, no trespassing! Ang mga ito ay tanggalin na sa iyong listahan. Ikatlo, isipin mo ang daan mo sa iyong paglibot. Kausapin ng dalawang minuto ang iyong kandidato na maging kabiyak ng puso habang-buhay. Kung mukhang walang patutunguhan, lumipat sa sususunod na kalahok. Ikaapat, kapag natapos mo na ang iyong paglilibot, tingnan mo ang pinakabagay sa iyo. Ang pinakamatagal mong nakausap at pinakamatagal mong tinitigan ang siyang magwawagi. Huli sa lahat, lapitan mo ang mapalad (o malas) na napili mo at hingin mo ang numero niya sa bahay, opisina, pati na rin suking tindahan. Bago lumayo ng tuluyan, lumingon muli at ngumiti. Ang pagkindat ay opsyonal.

Kung ikaw naman ay busog na o kaya'y kuntento na sa buhay, maglibot na lang at tingnan ang mga bulaklak. Gawin mo itong patimpalak. Kumuha ng isang papel at suriin ang kagalingan ng bawat korona na iyong daanan. Pagmasdan ang disenyo. Tingnan kung walang kamalian sa pagbabaybay o grammar and spelling. Suriin kung kailan dinala ang bulaklak at kung ito ay lanta na. Dagdag na puntos kung di pangkaraniwan ang mga bulaklak o dahong ginamit. Sa dulo ng iyong patimpalak, lagyan mo ng dagdag na ribbon ang mga nagwagi.

May mga taong laging handa sa pagdalo sa isang lamay. May dalang Scrabble, PSP, Nintendo atbp. Kung wala ang mga ito, maaring mag-charades, pinoy henyo, musical chairs o kaya ay bring me. Huwag lang sana isasama sa ikahuli ang mga kagamitan ng yumao o pag-aari ng punerarya.

Napakarami ng maaari mong gawin sa isang lamay na di ka mababagot o malulungkot. Ito marahil ang dahilan kaya ang lamay pinoy ay ganito. Ang ibig natin ay mapawi ang pighati at sakit na nararamdaman ng namatayan. Ang ating nais ay isaalaala ang mga kasiyahang naidulot sa atin ng pumanaw, kaysa gunitain ang mga huling oras niya sa mundong ito. Ito ang tunay na pakikiramay. Ang pagbabahagi ng munting kaligayahan mula sa iyo, sa isang tao o pamilya na nangangailangan. Ito rin marahil ang totoong dahilan kaya di ka na dapat ihatid sa iyong pagpapaalam sa pamilya na naulila. Nagawa mo nang maibsan ang lungkot at pagod nila, at ayaw mo itong manumbalik sa iyong pagpapaalam.

Tama na muna itong naisulat ko at ako muna ay mamamahinga. Pero sana, panandalian muna lamang.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reward and Punishment

If ever I were to be exorcised of any evil that inhabits my body, it would be the insatiable desire to eat. Don't get me wrong. I have seen so many patients suffering from anorexia that I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. It is just that temperance and good food mix as well as oil and water do. Thus my life has been a constant battle between the weighing scale and the buffet table.

Yesterday was one of the worst days this year. I literally and figuratively was sick. Bystander diagnosis provided by my friends, colleagues and students identified hunger as the culprit. Into my seventh week of restrained eating and fifteen pounds down the scale, I had reached a trough.

Hit with what I believed to be the flu,I did what would be therapeutic: go to the mall. Waiting two hours for the next screening of The Wolfman, which turned out to be a snoozer despite its A-list stars, I found myself wandering in the fastfood area. Having had a Caesar's salad with popper shrimp, I believed I could safely traverse the dieter's version of Hades without caving in to temptation. As I passed by this familiar Italian haunt, I saw the misty cooler that contained gelato. Add that to a day when I felt like a suckling pig being roasted over coal, the call of the cones was too hard to resist.

As fast as I could say order, there I was marveling at the variety that danced before my glazed eyes. The lovely girl behind the counter sweetly said "There's more on the other side", swishing her left arm through the air and extending her forefinger to lead my eyes to fantasyland. In front of me lay the ice cream and to my left, the sorbet. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, being asked to choose between the blue and the red pill. Seeing the variety was the reward, choosing which one was the punishment.

In the sorbet corner, one had mango, watermelon, dalandan, orange, limoncello, guyabano and 12 other flavors that escape my memory at the moment. Only one flavor dazzled my eyes from the ice cream stand, and that was Bacon. Before you think I had gone completely bonkers and started looking at the main platters, there was a vanilla looking choice that had brown bits in it, that one could mistake for chocolate. But no, it was a most sinful addictive additive know as bacon.

Before you yell out,"Blecch! How disgusting!", let us examine the rationale behind this combination. First, salty complements sweet. Tuyo completes champorado. To bolster this claim, those who have tasted Vosges Mo's Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar will attest how heavenly bacon is as a filling for a candy bar. Second, If you're going to sin, let's go all the way baby! The fatty cream with the lard laden bacon should clog your arteries at a much faster rate. Third, both bacon and milk come from farm animals and are both served during breakfast, so doesn't it make sense just to combine the two of them. If anti-tuberculosis medications were packaged into a fixed-dose combination, why shouldn't we do the same to milk and bacon as an ice cream flavor to improve compliance?

As I bound and gagged my conscience to stop reminding me not to look at the gelato, it dawned upon me that I did not have to struggle with my choice. The free market economy dictates that if one had the means to purchase, choice was never as issue. Digging into my pants pocket, I drew out two hundred pesos, enough for two cups and my basement parking fees. Thus, with a full-out smile and a hearty voice, I barked out "Guyabano and Bacon, please!" I was at the summit of happiness. Little did I know that it was all downhill from there.

The guyabano, was tangy enough but was confused whether it wanted to be an ice cream or a sorbet. The schizophrenia just killed it for me. It tried to be authentic but you could feel the insincerity. Very similar to the pretty transvestites of Thailand, better looking than women but the adam's apple just made the view a little freaky.

Allow me to spend more time on Bacon. This was a match-up like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. A cute concept but a bad idea.The most gorgeous young lass of the land with seven small, yet old, men who probably never had a date in their lives. Pretty hairy idea if you ask me. Exactly what I thought of after the first scoop hit my tongue. Might as well have been the poisoned apple.

A simple thought process should have made me arrive at this conclusion even before my money departed from my pocket. Ice cream is cold. Bacon has fat. Cold fat. Baaaaad idea. Furthermore, there is a reason why pigs and cows cannot have offspring. They were never meant to be in the first place. As an old Philippine ad for corned pork (bobby) and corned beef (becky) used to say (from the cow's dialogue), "'Di tayo puwede. Baboy ka e!" Lastly, what the hell was I thinking. I am a 41 year old overweight male with bad genes who is on a diet. Did the mercury in the tuna I kept eating transform my brain into mush?

I have learned my lesson. I will stick to what I know. And If I do not know, I will let someone else try it before me, then ask them so I may know what they know.

Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Punishment was well deserved.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lights Out

Just like a switch being flicked off, Dr. Bernardo D. Briones said goodbye. As low-key as he was in life, he chose to leave us during a school holiday, after office hours, when there were less people around, without fanfare and sans fuss. I received the news via SMS and I went back to the hospital to bid my mentor farewell and offer him a prayer. I, and all of us in the Pulmonary family, had come full circle - saying goodbye to him at a place where we said our hellos.

Upon arrival, I made that familiar trek to the fifth floor, the elevator moving slower than ever before. Entering the room, I saw him on the bed, wrapped in a shroud, with a peaceful look on his face and a slight hint of a smile.The lights had gone out and no one was home.

More often than not, people appear most honest, most vulnerable when the lights have been switched off. They become free to be themselves, to release their inhibitions and to cast their worries aside. Under the harsh glare of lights however, people tend to be at their finest, acting in their best behavior. Curiously enough, Dr. Briones was never that. He was the same person, lights on or off.

He called a spade a spade, never hiding his displeasure when he was disappointed. When he had fun however, he had a chuckle that would follow his cheshire grin that transformed his eyes into slanted slits. He attended to his work diligently, belying his being the Chairman of the Department. He placed a premium on teaching, attending to the clinico-radiologic conferences even during holidays. Commitment to service was very evident as he did his tasks at the outpatient department with nary a whine nor a whimper. His life in the limelight was exactly the same as that when the show ended and the lights were dimmed. To distill Dr. Briones, the man and his life, into the purest form can be summed up in one word: simple.

Let me end my small tribute by describing him as a mentor. To quote Will Scheuster, the faculty adviser in the TV series Glee, "The best teachers don't give you the answers. They just point the way and let you make your own choices, your own mistakes. That way, you get all the glory." Dr. B's performance may have ended but the show still keeps running in my mind!

Fare thee well Dr. Briones and 'til we meet again.