inspiration, med school


Yesterday, I met with my cousin mostly because of the whole-day power interruption — the humidity was too much to bear that my face was shimmering but not splendid — and partly because the five-day pseudo-break calls for catchups with people I seldom hang out with. (Thanks, med school.)

Anyway, she told me of an anecdote that, I’m pretty certain, will stick with me for as long as my memory is reliable. 

She rode a taxi going to the hospital where she works as a nurse. Taking cues from her uniform, the driver talked about a time he fell ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. He talked about how hospital bills and medicine were too costly, especially given his meager income. Needless to say, he shares the same story with millions of Filipinos whose daily income is insufficient even for daily needs. Then, he expressed gratefulness along these lines, “Buotan kaayo ang doctor. Wala na lang ko gipa-bayad [professional fee] kay dili man gyud nako kaya maka-bayad. Dako kaayo akong pasalamat sa iya.”

He’ll never forget that doctor, he said. Intrigued, my cousin asked, “Kinsa diay na nga doctor?” 

“Doctor Aranas,” the taxi driver replied.

Apparently, the doctor he was talking about is my father. (The driver probably needed a minor surgical procedure.)


People often assume my parents forced me into studying medicine. I don’t take such assumption as an offense because, looking from a common perspective, it’s expected. They’re both doctors and I, a development communication graduate, suddenly decided to enter this labyrinth called med school. This, my friends, is a typical reaction:

But I disagree. My parents themselves, in the words of my mother, “discouraged” me before enrolment. More of a daily reality check. Our conversations included them telling me I would need to overhaul my lifestyle and habits; my resiliency and determination would be put to test; and that med school is not “glamorous” as most people make it to be. I have been studying only for four months but I can attest to the truth of their “words of precaution.”

I willingly signed up for this not only because it’s the only field I see myself committing to until the age of retirement but, most important — I have seen how my parents use their profession in helping make other people’s lives more bearable, return these to normal, or in giving the slightest hint of relief and reassurance.


He is not an unbelievably wealthy surgeon who spends 90% of his time at work but my father definitely has the traits of a doctor I want to become — earning enough through honest means and handling patients, regardless of economic status, the way a human deserves to be treated and not as a mere piece of disease with a hefty paycheck attached.

inspiration, musings

Seven minutes

This video from School of Life, otherwise known as a treasure trove of thought-provoking, inspiring, and succinct insights with beautiful animation on YouTube, is one of those internet finds I re-watch and revisit. Here is its outline, some points of which I’ve paraphrased; others I’ve copied verbatim:

  1. realistic
    1. conscious of the realities and challenges entailed in a project but is not devoid of hope
    2. knows that something difficult is being attempted, thus remains steadfast, calm, and less prone to panic when  problems arise
  1. grateful
    1. alive to moments of calm and beauty, even on extremely modest ones
    2. aware of the harsh realities, she draws full value from the peaceful and sweet
  1. foolish
    1. unsurprised by the coexistence of deep immaturity and of “adult qualities” like intelligence and morality
    2. tries to budget for madness and is slow to panic whenever irrationality rears its head
  1. humorous
    1. takes the business of laughing at herself seriously
    2. laughs at constant collisions between the ideal way of plans, dreams, and events happening and the demented way they turn out
  1. polite
    1. realistic about social relations like the difficulty of changing people’s minds and of having an effect on their lives
    2. reticent on being frank about what they think
    3. realizes how seldom it is useful to get censorious; is aware of how differently things can look through the eyes of others
  1. accepts own self
    1. has made peace with the yawning gap and common ground between her ideal self and actual self
    2.  is not ashamed of herself and can give reasons she is difficult or easy to live with
  1. can forgive
    1. recognizes extraordinary pressure everyone is under, especially in a world where resources are scarce and limited
    2. slow to anger; doesn’t lead to worst conclusions about what’s going on in the minds of others
    3. generous to reasons on people’s behavior
  1. resilient
    1. has a solid sense of what she can survive
    2. knows how things can go wrong but remain livable
  1. doesn’t envy
    1. sees the role of luck, and twists and turns that lead a person to a state of fame, wealth, and power
    2. doesn’t overcast herself to having a different fate
  1. acknowledges regrets
    1. aware of the impossibility to fashion a spotless life, no matter how glamorous it appears; one can make extremely large and utterly in-correctable errors
    2. aware that one cannot see a life story without devastating mistakes etched across it
  1. calm
    1. knows that turmoil is just around the corner, thus she finds the need to nurture a strong commitment to the idea of being calm. For example, a quiet evening is an achievement and a day without anxiety is to be celebrated.
    2. not afraid of a “boring,” more quiet, and calmer life as something worse could be happening

As I acknowledge my 22nd year of living two weeks from now, my birthday wish remains: be wiser in this sense. Yes, I would greatly appreciate tangible gifts — like a watch with minimal design and a leather strap, a book, or cold, hard cash — and greetings from family, friends, and acquaintances but nothing beats a present that brings peace of mind and doesn’t depreciate even when my 22nd birthday is but a distant memory.