childhood, health, personal

Why I Didn’t Become a Medical Doctor

As a child, I idolized my dad the doctor. I still do. He is the humblest doctor that I know of. He does not go around wearing a white robe or a stethoscope around his neck just to show what profession he is in. He usually wears long-sleeved shirts rolled to the elbows and a pair of slacks. Because he is fond of charity work and of helping out relatives, we did not even own a car when I was young. Whenever there was a jeepney strike, he had no problems with walking to the hospital. (I got this from him. I have no problems with taking the public transport even if I can afford to pay cabs. Cab drivers make me feel awkward and scared.) We later moved on to an apartment, which was about ten minutes’ walk to the hospital he worked for then.

Today, even though he lives in the Caribbean, drives an SUV and lives in a large house in a good neighborhood, he remains humble. He is not patronizing like some doctors that I have met and I’ve met plenty, given all the ailments I have. He is a quiet man. He makes me believe that silent waters really run the deepest.

As a child, I wanted to become a doctor. In high school, when my family was already living in the Caribbean,  I decided I would become a psychiatrist. This, however, coincided with the desire to become a writer and a nun.

So, why didn’t I become a medical doctor?

1. I was a sickly kid.  – Whenever I was admitted to the hospital where my dad worked, nurses would whisper about me and how I was the daughter of the Chief of Clinics.

2. I could not stitch to save my life. – I thought that since I was awful at stitching cloth in Home Economics I would not be effective as a surgeon. I have such clumsy hands for an artist – contradictory, right? But I would rather make mistakes on paper than on somebody’s skin.

3. I am too emotional – I probably would cry along with the patient or his relatives. That would be very awkward and unprofessional. (Okay, I am actually good at hiding my feelings but I probably would spend my life with an aching chest.)

4. I take everything personally. – If someone dies under my watch, I probably would take the despair to my own grave.

5. I thought I would become really old before I become an MD. – I was wrong about this. I am 31 now but I don’t feel old. My 28-year old brother had just finished his medical internship, is about to take the board exams and will eventually move on to his Orthopedic Surgery residency.

6. I basically fell in love with Bill Gates. – I took Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science for my “O” and “A” levels. I did not take “Chemistry” and “Biology”, which are subjects required when one wants to pursue Medicine.

I don’t really regret being who I am right now. Okay, sometimes I do and sometimes I have “what if” moments. It could not be that bad, though. I have a Bachelor of Science in Digital Illustration and Animation. I have 18 units in Masters of Mathematics. I experienced four days in Law School and I am now an MFA in Creative Writing student struggling to finish my thesis proposal. I am also a Multimedia Arts instructor and a paid blogger. I’m a mom to a three year old who is smarter than most kids his age: can read a little, can add small numbers, expert with laptop and tablet, solves puzzles that are designed for elementary students, knows how to count to 100, etc.  If I play my cards right, I could still become a doctor, not a medical one, though. It could go one of two very different ways: a Phd in IT/Computer Science or in Literature. I am not sure which, yet. My life is like a weird Choose Your Own Adventure book, with options that seem to not belong to only one person.

childhood, motherhood, personal

Votes, Pledges and Little Kids

When I was a little kid, I was painfully shy. Well, I still am, but I could at least manage it better now. I could even go crazy with my closest friends – in a geeky way of course, because I don’t drink, smoke or party. When I was little, however, my mom signed me up for things that I felt I was not quite built for. For example, I was a majorette in fourth grade but I had two left feet. The teacher who was head of the Drum and Melodica Corps in my elementary school was frequently frustrated with me. I did not really want to be there in the first place, I wanted to protest, but held my tongue as usual.

below: (me, at age 7 with my brother Richard, at age 4)


One of the most unforgettable experiences I had when I was small happened when I was six years old and was part of a group of children who were to dress up as angels during Easter Sunday as part of the “Salubong” tradition. The Salubong is basically a reenactment of the Resurrection with Mother Mary, angels and the rest meeting the Risen Christ as a new day rises.

There was a lot of fundraising going on for the church. The boy and girl with the most money raised will be the ones to play the most major angel roles during the early dawn of Easter Sunday. They will be held by ropes by the waists and will sort of fly around.

My family could barely find people who were willing to give donations. So, of course, I ended up as one of the singing angels on the sidelines. It was actually fine with me because I did not really want to end up raised high above with a possibly uncomfortable rope around my waist. I understand now, however, how parents and children really value the very concept of winning and not really the prize. Knowing that a lot of people support you is also a good thing. The kids, though uncomfortable, were the centers of attention. They reveled in the experience, at least if they were the sort who liked to be noticed.

(Joreb and me, early 2010)


I flashbacked to this experience recently because I have been signing up my toddler Joreb in all sorts of contests. The Smart Parenting Model Search was attractive to us because it would mean either getting on the cover of the March 2013 issue of the magazine as grand prize winner, or at least being featured in at least one of the pages as one of the top six kids. Conscious of what such an event could do to a shy kid, I tried to gauge Joreb’s reactions when he saw the other kids. Was he comfy about it? Was he scared? Thankfully, Joreb is not as shy as I was. He turned out to be a lot more confident, a trait he got from my mom and his dad.

Upon the recommendation of one of his godmothers, I also entered Joreb in the Mead Johnson Book of Best Starts competition. Kids are battling for Facebook votes this time. The top ten kids will each get iPad 3s. The next 10 kids will get 2000 pesos worth of gift certificates. Joreb already has a 7″ tablet. So, our entry is not motivated by the prize. We just want to know if we can win. We also want to know just how many people will be supporting him. Quite a few had already enthusiastically voted and to them – win or lose – I am forever grateful. Some kids already have 600 plus votes because they used Mead Johnson products in three of their pictures. Joreb only has 200 plus votes because his Sustagen photo was worth 200 points. It is a long shot, we know, but the whole campaigning thing is fun. It is also a road full of discoveries.