Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bear with me (please)


A real black bear cub, distracting me on a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Construction of the official post for The Blog Rounds 7 (TBR 7): Mission I *HEART* The Philippines is still being undertaken. I appreciate all the submissions from eager MD-bloggers. Please do come back soon!

I promise to put up my TBR 7 post before Doc Emer posts The Blog Rounds 8: Practicing What We Preach over on his Parallel Universes blog. While waiting for my TBR7 post, get ready for TBR8. Submit your entries to doc[dot]emer[at]gmail[dot]com on or before 11PM of May 5, 2008 if you wish to join the 8th edition of The Blog Rounds =]

Saturday, April 26, 2008

PhotoHunt: Funny/Unique Sign



I saw this sign as we were driving on Interstate 26 last weekend en route to Beaufort, SC from Gatlinburg, TN, crossing from North Carolina into the Pametto State. This was one of the most uniquely interesting reminders for me that I'm more than 10,000 miles aways from home =]

Now I know how Batman's real identity was revealed hehe =]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Launching The Blog Rounds (TBR) 7: Mission I *HEART* THE PHILIPPINES


In this day and age of pessimism, in the face of seemingly abject poverty, even with the onslaught of fear-mongering, there is reason enough to be proud to be a Filipino. There is reason enough to declare- I *HEART* THE PHILIPPINES!

The deluge of insights for The Blog Rounds 6 hosted by MerryCherry, M.D. on what ails the Philippine healthcare system is, to me, a healthy sign that many Filipinos in general and health professionals in particular still do care about our country.

Realizing, knowing, and acknowledging what is worth working hard for in the Philippines ought to make the task of rebuilding this nation and looking past the flaws of its system easier and more worthwhile.

What is it about the Philippines that makes it lovable?

Why do the foreigners who flock to our shores and those who have vowed never to return cannot resist it?

Why are YOU still in the Philippines?

What are the great things that set our country apart- those that give a positive, endearing hue to the words “only in the Philippines” or “walang ganyan sa States”?

What’s your ultimate Philippine experience that made you thank God you’re a Filipino and/or you’re in the Philippines? Maybe you *heart* the Philippines because of a person, place, or event?

Thanks in advance for sharing words, photos, or videos that express the reasons you love the Philippines. All previous participants of The Blog Rounds are, of course, most welcome to join.

Anybody reading this post- please, do blog about your own ode to the Philippines: In the form perhaps of a listing of the top ten reasons why you love this country- in words, photos, videos, or whatnot?

If you have additional queries, or if you wish to join The Blog Rounds 7, please leave a comment below with the link to your TBR entry. You can also email the link to me thru cfgomezmd(at)gmail(dot)com. I hope to receive all your links by 12:01am Philippine Standard Time of April 29th.

Some things are said best when we say nothing at all. Some things go without saying, But there is still value in declaring out loud that I *HEART* THE PHILIPPINES!

Let’s aim to inform and inspire, arouse and affirm one another that the Philippines is not that bad. Not bad at all.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

PhotoHunt: Thirteen



I didn't quite realize that there were thirteen of us in this snapshot until I was feeling so antsy with work that I was daydreaming of how Christmas 2006 went. It was such a great family reunion, with representatives from the Philippines, Australia, and New Jersey, and an age range of 4-93 converging in South Carolina for a very memorable Christmas.

It's the last Christmas photo I have with my grandma; she went ahead to heaven last February.

But wherever we may be, she's always with us. We'll always be thirteen =]

--==+==--

Off to Gatlinburg, TN and Beaufort, SC for the weekend =] Thank God for the Blogger in Draft feature =] Will be visiting fellow PhotoHunters' site when we get back-

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Sound" advice for those seeking a career in healthcare

There are various areas of medicine that further scrutiny is needed beyond what the naked eye can see.

Ultrasonography is such an area where sound waves are utilized to visualize the goings on inside a patient’s body without cutting him or her up. There are doctors who study extensively to be good ultrasonologists; but in areas where such experts are in short supply, ultrasound technicians can help fill the gap. This challenging and rewarding career to be of service to people by being ultrasound tech is now within the reach of more people with the advent of quality ultrasound schools.

Regardless of egos and stereotypes, the field of medicine and healthcare is all about teamwork. It’s a joint endeavor of the doctor and the patient, the patient and his or her family, the doctor and the health support staff. If one link in the chain of excellent healthcare delivery is weak, the efforts of the remaining links are rendered futile.

Regardless of egos and stereotypes, the doctor cannot do it alone; s/he must not. It is in the mutual best interest of the doctor and the patient that the support paramedical staff- such ultrasound technicians- has excellent training so they can help render excellent care to those in need. And excellent training begins when you click the logo below:

Monday, April 14, 2008

TBR: A sidetrip to Malaybalay, April 2007


Here's my first formal foray into The Blog Rounds (TBR)! Thanks to the MD-blogger TBR hosts for their warm welcome and sincere invitation to join =]

By the time this entry goes online, I'm most likely on a plane en route to visit my parents in the US. From what my parents have planned, it ought to be one amazing summer for us. I hope to update my blog as often as I can. But for now, I'd like to reminisce about my amazing April of 2007 and share my Malaybalay sojourn with you all. This is an entry I've previously posted in this same blog a little less than a year ago.

--==+==--

The flight our team booked for the HOPE Caravan mission was to arrive at 5pm Friday in Cagayan De Oro City. However, thinking that I might as well make the most of my 10-years-in-the-making trip back to Mindanao, I decided to take the first flight out of Manila that same day. I planned to make a side trip to visit my very good friend and med school classmate Lester who worked as a city health physician in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

I arrived at 6:34 am in Cagayan De Oro City. I remember the exact time because just before the plane came to a complete stop, the lead flight attendant on that PAL trip thanked us for our business and proudly announced that we arrived six minutes ahead of our scheduled 6:40am arrival at CDO. (And it was something to be proud of: the supposed 5pm arrival of the Cebu Pacific flight of our bosses arrived at least half an hour late and our Cebu Pacific flight out of CDO the following day was delayed for at least an hour!)

Feeling like a host of the travel show Lonely Planet, I set out for my solo journey to Malaybalay City, with Lester’s instructions tucked safely in the inbox of my phone- which was dangerously close to being lowbatt.

From the airport, I took a cab to the Agora bus terminal. I thought the cost of the trip which Lester informed me about- P200- was a bit exorbitant but I soon realized that the bus terminal was about a good 10, 15 kilometers away. The initial glimpse of Cagayan De Oro City I got through that first cab ride gave me the impression of that is was really a booming city- big high-end real estate developments, seemingly newly-built roads and shortcuts, and a mall that, on bad days said my cabbie, delayed travel by as much as 50 minutes.

I arrived at the Agora station, a busy hub of buses going to various points of Mindanao. I quickly got into an air conditioned bus bound for Valencia, the city after Lester’s. The bus was just three-fourths full so I feared that it may take a while before it pulls out of the terminal. Luckily, they leave every half hour so despite the empty seats, we were on our way.

If our plan were to proceed as laid out, I was supposed to arrive in Malaybalay City by 10am, go on a tour of the city with Lester, have lunch from 12-1, then proceed to the last leg of our tour, then be in the bus back to CDO, in order for me to meet my bosses in time for their 5pm arrival.

Lester said that all I had to do in the bus was sleep. I did plan to sleep- considering that I left the house at 3am to make it to the 5:10am flight. But I didn’t get to sleep because I was so giddy with excitement that I didn’t want to miss a single millimeter of the view. As it turned out I initially sat on the wrong side of the bus; for the best view- sit anywhere in the column of seats behind the driver.

Through out the 88-kilometer, 2-hour trip from CDO to Malaybalay, I was treated with an almost uninterrupted view of rolling terrain (above, in Manolo Fortich town), meandering mountainside passes, and lush greenery occasionally bisected by small rivers and creeks (below, in Impasugong town). And of course vast expanse of land dedicated to pineapple and bananas (below).

I left CDO at around 7:30am and arrived in Malaybalay City terminal a little before 10. At first I got confused whether I was supposed to alight in Malaybalay or in Valencia. Good thing Lester was quick to respond to my query via SMS. In not more than 15 minutes after landing in the bus terminal in his turf, we were off. (Below, my first upclose encounter with a mosque in Mindanao.)
Malaybalay is the capital of Bukidnon. It’s a city which still feels like a small town or a small town that just happened to be called a city. Everything seems so accessible, within reach, compressed in a set dimension of space, and yet it didn’t seem the least bit stifling.

As doctors are wont to do, I wasn’t able to take off my hat as a physician nor as a public health professional. While Lester and I were updating ourselves about where this classmate is, who is doing what, our conversations were periodically dotted with discussions on the local health system in his city. In fact, if not for our trip to the Monastery of the Transfiguration, my time in Malaybalay would appear to be an official study trip for either UP or GK!

Among the highlights of my visit:

My peek into the Bethel Baptist Hospital, just within the poblacion district where I met Dr. Asuncion, a family and community medicine specialist and the hospital’s medical director, Lester’s erstwhile boss under whom he practiced for sometime before joining the city health department. The hospital is an oasis in the middle of what seemed to be an area in need of expert medical care. The staff seemed really competent and inspired to work for the patients who seek their advice and care.

My crash course of the Malaybalay health system- from visiting various health centers to reliving a part of the PGH experience through a short tour of their provincial hospital to the sneaking a quick look at their herbal medicine syrup laboratory (for sampalok-luya-kalamansi cough medication) to the very impressive Malaybalay Emergency Rescue Unit, the city’s version of the US’s 911, just the second of its kind in the whole of Mindanao.

Our drive through the GK villages in Malaybalay, with houses very much unlike those I have seen in Luzon and some parts of Mindanao (above and below)…

And a really high highlight, our drive to the Monastery of the Transfiguration, just ten minutes from the city proper. A divine complex tucked away from much of “civilization” with an amazing new chapel whose interiors will really bring out the pious among all of us and an even more amazing vista wrapped around it which made me feel and taste a little bit of heaven…

Snippets of joy still: meeting their city mayor, eating at a funky joint called Mindy’s, stopovers near the capitol grounds (below), catching a glimpse of their city health office, all the warm smiles and handshakes and invitations to comeback and stay longer…

This is my own Amazing Race: Malaybalay edition. One of the most unforgettable half-days of my life. Arguably comparable to any half-day city tour I have ever taken in Singapore, Hong Kong, New York or San Francisco. And I have had an excellent driver, Kuya Mulong (below) and an excellent tourist guide in the guise of a doctor, my friend Lester Geroy, who relocated there in Malaybalay soon after the August 2005 Philippine boards, to live in an area where he did not have family nor friends, serving as a physician for people he did not really have much initial connection with, a move that baffled me when I came to know about it.

Now I know why.

--==+==--

My Malaybalay sidetrip is only a part of my Amazing April of 2007. Here is how the rest of that summer went.

I hope you enjoy yours!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

And the winner of my contest for The Blog Awards Challenge is...


Congratulations to JoanJoyce for winning my mini-contest for The Blog Awards Challenge promotion! Your prize of 500 credits should be in your inbox now! You also have a bonus prize for being one of the first to signify interest in joining the contest!

Other early birds- The Gorgeous Earthling and Lady Rose- will receive bonus prizes as well! 100 credits for each one of you three ladies!

And for Villa214 and Novz, as a token of my appreciation for taking time to join the contest, 50 credits are already in your inbox too =]

Don't forget to visit The Blog Awards Challenge website to find out who won the iPod Shuffle up for grabs in the site!


AND THE MAIN EVENT-

The first task for The Blog Awards Challenge is due to be announced TODAY, April 13th!

Bloggers: on your mark, ready, get set, post! Good luck!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

PhotoHunt: Twist(ed)

A year and a half seemed too long a time to wait to see my parents again- but in just two days, I'd be with them again in the States! Yey! Here are some of the happy twists and turns of my last trip to the U.S. during the Christmas holiday season of 2006.

A myriad flavors of free-flowing Coke products from all over the world, strategically placed toilets for those who've had too much to drink, plus this modern artful contraption of meandering Coke bottles greeted us at the World of Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

Greenville, South Carolina is my parents' new home and home as well to the Liberty Bridge, a 355-foot long curvy footpath that gives visitors a scenic access to the Reedy River Falls that cascade below.

Gnarled branches frame the vast expanse of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, touted as the largest private home in America. Its interior is as fascinating as its magnificent facade; it was such a bonus to see the entire house decked up in its Christmas garb.

Charleston, South Carolina is my kind of city to visit, with its wonderful mix of my two loves- history and good food. The restaurant of Hyman's Seafood Co.- famous for its wrought iron staircase and stellar she crab soup- provides the perfect setting for the convergence of gustatory and geeky needs.

Mom and Pop! See you on Monday!

(PS: I'm trying out Blogger's new treat- the automatic scheduled posting of blog entries written in advance. I put together this post at around 7am of April 11th. Let's see if this will get published at 12.01am of April 12th...)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

PhotoHunt: Glass



Taking a break now from toiling at my unbelievable pile of work as the school year winds down here in the Philippines, I'm reminiscing once more about my student days in Finland.

The photo above is of the main building of the Tampereen Yliopisto- University of Tampere- our home for three of the five weeks we were in Finland to participate in the Global Health Course. It was one of the best five weeks of my life, as it gave me the chance to learn current trends in medicine and public health; interact with kindred spirits from Finland, Tanzania, and Chile, and; helped me love more the work that I do and the people and country I do it for.

The interesting blend of vistas and architecture as above are likewise some of the bonuses that made everything really worthwhile.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Blog Awards Challenge - Update for Entrecard Users!


In a little over a week's time, The Loud Cloud and The Composed Gentleman's THE BLOG AWARDS CHALLENGE will commence.

I can't wait for the back-to-basics writing replete with mental gymnastics and cerebral jousts on the blogosphere to begin this April 13th! For those in the competitive mood already, click on the image above to see how to win nifty prizes.

But wait! Here's more good news!

Attention - Entrecard users!

Write a post about THE BLOG AWARDS CHALLENGE and get a chance to win 500 Entrecard credits from me!

To join my mini-contest, just leave a comment after THIS post by April 12, 2008 8am Philippine Standard Time with the link to your blog entry about THE BLOG AWARDS CHALLENGE. The first 3 bloggers to leave a link to their entry for this contest will automatically receive 50 Entrecard credits. After the deadline for submission of links and all the entries have been verified, one blog will be randomly chosen to win the modest pot of 500 Entrecard credits. (There's a chance for the prize/s to increase if I get lots of drops between now and my mini-contest's deadline.)

Don't forget to leave a comment also in the THE BLOG AWARDS CHALLENGE website to get a chance to win an iPod Shuffle! The winner of my contest will be announced here on April 13.

Good luck everyone! And thanks for your help in spreading the word about THE BLOG AWARDS CHALLENGE!