Red flags

Used as a metaphor, a red flag is a problem requiring attention.

Red flags are used in various settings – from the work place to relationships.

On Relationships

Every relationship is a work in progress.  It’s always a golden rule that you try not to mix business with pleasure. As a general rule, it’s not good to have two people in a relationship in the same business.  Sometimes the personal stuff gets in the way

1. You justify their bad or wrong behaviour.

You know it’s wrong.  That the decision made was totally wrong.  Yet you rationalise that very wrong decision.  Psychology calls it ‘confirmation bias‘, where we discard all evidence that don’t align with our views and keep only those that do.  If you find yourself justifying someone’s meanness or traditional mindset, it’s time to pause and step back.

2. They don’t talk through issues.

It’s bad enough that you get the silent treatment.  But when people unwilling not to talk through issues – big or small – that’s a red flag. I mean, really.  We all don’t agree with each other some time.  How we handle those disagreements speak volumes of the relationship.  In any good relationship, walking away isn’t a solution to the problem.  Remember, it’s not about who wins in the argument.  It’s about how the problem is resolved.

3. Your boundaries are always being tested.

You’re pushed and pushed even when you can’t or shouldn’t.  It’s got to be their way or no way.  These are the people who will demand that you change because they insist they have it their way.  Even if you say NO.

4. They have a massive feeling of entitlement.

While every relationship isn’t a balanced one, we try to make it as equal as it gets.  When someone feels entitled to us doing more for them than what is fair in a relationship, that is a huge red flag.  It shows a clear lack of care.  There are people who think that the relationship revolves around them.  Only their overall happiness matters.  And this becomes a habitual pattern.  While one person gives and gives and gives, the other gives one back.  This is selfish and it’s like life is there only to meet their needs.

5. They constantly deny, criticise or dismiss you.

You know how it is when you’re not invited? That’s right. They don’t have to tell you up front that you’re not wanted in the company with his or her friends.  That’s because they’re ashamed of you.  And that you’d probably feel uncomfortable (or vice-versa).  When you get these feelings and find yourself in that position of “giving in” to keep the peace, look again.  Your self-esteem is diminishing.

You get that feeling that some things are not right – secrets, unexplained behaviours, unexpected reactions – you’re not wanted in their life.

A red flag is a warning signal. Multiple red flags tell you that it’s time to cut the ties.



That’s the number of episodes of this one season Chinese series which landed on Netflix last August 2018, entitled Rise of Phoenixes.

The series is based on the novel Huang Quan written by Tianxia Guiyuan, whose central plot resolves around the Tiansheng Empire and the brothers who desire to succeed the Emperor. Intertwined in this series is the story of love, treachery, education, religion, betrayal, sacrifice, loyalty, and being filial. There’s also martial arts in between.

The historical details are precise and the setting, costume, photography and cinematography is spectacular. Not only is the script well written but the acting is worth an accolade of awards.

The rollercoaster plot is suspenseful and addicting. I couldn’t get enough. The final episode left me aghast for days. It wasn’t an expected ending but one where it was the best ending to this beautiful story.

If you have Netflix, this is a must watch especially this very long holiday weekend.

We’re all going to die

…but what you do before that happens is what matters most.

I am writing this for a friend whose mother was diagnosed to have cancer. The family wanted her to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. After two cups of tea and a cup of tears, she asked my opinion.

I told her I had none.

I was sad. And wouldn’t want the same kind of situation where one would have to decide on matters where the heart and the mind collide.

As healers we want what is best for our patients. We offer the best treatment options, health care and assurance. Medicine, after all, is not a perfect science. We work with odds, weighing benefits over risk. We work against odds, with scarce resources and that will to survive.

I told my friend if she had asked her mother, what her wishes are. After all, her mother is educated and should be informed at the options available to her. Unlike many Filipinos, their family does not need to hurdle the financial obstacle. Cancer therapy today has made strides in not only minimizing side effects, but in improving survival rate as well. Cutting edge technology in medical science has altered the landscape on how we address diseases today.

She told me that her brothers and sisters wanted the best care and that the doctors had explained to them the outcome. In spite of the poor prognosis, her mother would probably have 6-12 months more. Or longer. The outcomes were unpredictable and based on various variables. She would have to contend with some side effects with treatment. Without treatment, the outcome was grim. But the children wanted their mother to receive the best treatment. And to be given that chance to battle her disease.

It would be another day before I saw the family. It was a somber meeting. Because I was the pediatrician of all her kids, her mother wanted to hear my opinion.

I told her I wasn’t sure of what to say except echo what the doctors already confirmed. Held her hand and asked her, what would you like to happen?

She smiled back and told me, she was ready.

The quality of life would be intolerable. She was tired. And she had seen other members of the family go through cancer treatment. She told me that she would just be procrastinating the inevitable. There would be time. To make amends. To enjoy life as life should be. To be able to finally fulfill her bucket list. To go with dignity and peace. Then she asked me, “if you were in my shoes, would you still pursue the treatment options”?

I smiled. Held her hands. Then hugged her. And she knew my answer.

That was a year ago. Without any treatment she lived another year. Battling pain and living life. They buried her a week ago. A celebration of life, love, and the choice to live …and die with dignity.

You see, we’re all going to die. But what you do before that, matters most.

Dear self

There are days that you have no one but yourself to depend on. Not even your parent(s) or relative(s) or better half will understand. Those days when opening your mouth or providing an opinion can hurt someone you love. There are just those days when you need to be alone. Go somewhere far. Escape the madness of life. Only to be whole again.

I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. It’s one of those days when you really just want to sit at the window and look at the sunrise holding a cup of coffee in one hand and just watch the day go by. Or curl up with a bag of chips, a good book and stare at the sunset. Or listen to sad songs and cry.

There is nothing wrong with taking a break from everything and concentrating on yourself.

You are not responsible for fixing everything that’s broken.

You don’t always have to try making everyone else happy. Make your own happiness and peace of mind a priority.

And it’s not being selfish when you deprive someone your attention when you need to find some moments of sanity.

Sometimes, when you get too embroiled in other people’s lives or stressed at making ends meet…you get to miss yourself. Taking a personal day off from the humdrum of life is being kind to oneself. We can, after all, only heal when our weary body and soul rests from all the pain.

Dear self. It’s just you and I today. Let’s make this the best day of our life. Reset. Recharge. Rewind. Repeat.


Others call it a flip flop.

It’s like a trend today. And it gets to be tiring to have to make heads or tails of the news.

By changing lanes very quickly, it confuses even the rational individual.

The death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is an example of changing stories. Jamal’s death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has remained a glaring mystery in his murder. Statements out of Saudi claimed Khashoggi was armed and had fought it out in the consulate. Today, Saudi prosecutors say the killing was planned.

But this is not the first time that stories of espionage had changed rapidly. The reason for the inconsistencies is to confuse people and make them tired of the issue or topic. After all, the best way to mislead the reader is to waylay them.

There’s a lot of that going on in local politics lately. Juan Ponce Enrile, who once said that there were atrocities during the Martial Law years had flip-flopped on this during an interview with Bong Bong Marcos. In today’s news, he once more becomes inconsistent by apologizing for the faux pas, and blaming unlucid moments (of a very very old man).

Or there’s Sid Lapeña on the news flip flopping on whether those metal containers containing the 11B pesos Shabu shipment were or were not actually there. After the exchange in barbs and evidences with PDEA, he concedes like a little boy, “sige na nga”, and affirms the presence of drugs in the metal containers that were able to get through customs.

Oh but we don’t have to look far for the tree that bore these fruits. The president, after all, appointed these incompetent nincompoops. Without doubt, many of them are not cut to lead. Loyalty cannot be the first qualification for governance. After the academic and experience requirements are fulfilled, the vetting begins considering all qualified people equal. My janitor is loyal to me. Do I expect him to become my chief finance officer?

We are all loyal to the president. Since he is the duly elected leader of the country.

That extent of loyalty will vary over time. And ends when love of country reigns in our hearts and mind.

When what he does is inconsistent with what he says, then skepticism arises. When he sides with evil and wrong decisions because of friendship or acquaintances, people will distance themselves from being loyal. It creates dissent among the ranks. Mistrust.

When you don’t walk the talk, you don’t expect an appreciative audience. It is human nature to distrust someone with inconsistencies. Only fools or opportunists will trust someone with lack of integrity.

Real life relations are the perfect example of why trust matters. When inconsistencies happen, when you cannot look at your partner straight in the eyes because of indiscretions, when you hide from others because you’re too embarrassed to face your ghosts, when you cannot address issues at home or work because personal conflicts collide with honesty…these are the times when our integrity slowly erodes. Until there is nothing left to show. To believe. To hold on to.

Inconsistencies destroy not only a person and his relations with other people. Inconsistencies have destroyed empires. Inconsistencies are used by tyrants as a strategy to confuse and literally divide a nation.

As Jim Collins puts it bluntly

The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.

Respect is earned

It’s ironic that sometimes the more chances you give the more respect you lose. Your standards begin to be ignored when you let people get comfortable in knowing that another chance will always exist. They start to depend on your forgiveness.

While kindness is a trait that we want to give (and receive), giving it is often mistaken for weakness. People tend to abuse the kindness and forgiveness. It erodes the core of love, and respect. When kindness is abused, respect is lost.

All respect is earned. No one receives it or deserves it laid out on a silver platter. Our integrity speaks highly of the kind of respect we deserve.

Respect is learned as a child. It’s otherwise known as breeding. There’s an interesting post in Pinterest and I’m sharing that with you.

I was raised to show respect. I was taught to knock before I open a door.

Say hello when I enter a room. Say please and thank you, and have respect for my elders.

I’d let another person have my seat if they need it.

Say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’, and help others when they need me to, and not stand on the sidelines and watch.

Hold the door for the person behind me, say “excuse me” when it’s needed.

To love people for who they are and not for what I can get from them.

Most importantly, I was raised to treat people exactly how I would like to be treated by others.

It’s called respect.

The insult

Over ten years ago, I was on the same event as Vice Ganda in Cagayan de Oro.  Vice was the entertainment number in that meeting. As a rule, after my talk, I never stay around for the entertainment portion (if there is any).  Not that I don’t like to mingle with the crowd.  I just frown upon having to have entertainers in a scientific meeting. From what I gathered the day after my talk, the doctors liked (actually loved) my talk.  They were, however, not pleased with the humour of Vice.  They said that it was “insulting” because his jokes were at the expense of the other doctors in the audience.

I did not recognise Vice even when we were one seat apart on the plane from CDO back to Manila.  The person seated beside me told me that Vice (who had an aide in tow) was a rising comedian and was the entertainment portion of the conference last night.  I nodded, looked at Vice who was asleep on his seat.  Then looked away.

Who knew that his kind of humour would catapult him into fame and fortune?  And don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against his becoming rich and famous.  I actually laud his success.  And this is the point where I say – EVEN IF.  Even if his humour is crass and personal. There are those that are entertained with this kind of humour.

I’m not a fan.

He’s had recent tiffs with the press and people over his remarks.  And he wouldn’t care less.  After all, he’s at the top of the world. Right up there together with all the other comedians of his stature.  Or the likes of Tito, Vic, and Joey.  Self-Deprecating humour peddled to entertain at other peoples expense.

His recent catty remarks and political overtones on his shows have been done in bad taste. While there is a thin line between entertainment and sensibility, that line is crossed when humour becomes insulting.  Even if it was meant as a joke.

The recent reactions of  various entertainment people like Aga Muhlach, Lea Salonga, Bea Alonzo to name a few, on political matters garnered mixed reactions online.  For obvious reasons, personalities are influential to a certain degree.  Which makes it important that they choose when, what, and how to say it at an appropriate time. And yes, while we live in a democratic country (last I heard we are still a free nation) and there is freedom to express one’s views, the views of someone popular, will matter.

Entertainers enjoy better opportunities than the ordinary Juan. I am sure that they are aware that what they say can affect opinions – whether right or wrong.  You can see their influence in the various commercials they star in.  As endorsers – they have a following. Particularly with the gullible ones who are unable to discern what is true, from what is a marketing gimmick. Advertising is the best medium for brainwashing peoples minds.

Because entertainers have an advantage at media mileage, they should be able to manage their conflicts appropriately.  They need a higher level of discernment when they speak because the political arena is not a studio or a rehearsal for some segment or series on television.  They need to check facts before making statements or comments with an unfounded basis. They are not exempted from this.

While they (or anyone for that matter) can always say that they have the right to freedom of expression just like anyone, the degree of impact on what is said (whether it is right or wrong) is different. After all, what may be meant as an opinion or a joke can end up as an insult. Mean. Trashy.

It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

– Mark Twain

If you feel alluded to, remember, think before you open your mouth. It’s a fair reminder that we need to see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Just because you’re on a pedestal does not make you a god.


Is a condition that is characterised by an irrational fear of building an intimate relationship with others.

It is the fear of trusting people due to bad experiences with prior acquaintances.

Trust issues are not easy to reconcile with.  When we trust people, we often reveal our most vulnerable side.  Doing so exposes us to the risk of betrayal.  There is no hurt greater than one when trust is broken.

Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

Building trust starts from the day we are born.

We trust that our parents will take care of us – for better or worse.  The first psychosocial crisis in life should be resolved when we are babies in order to develop basic trust.  The level of trust is higher in children with more secure attachments to their parents or caregivers. Children are raised by adults who offer them control, direction and guidance in their lives.  During the growing years, aversive childhood experiences contribute to children’s mistrust and eventual lack of confidence.  How parents and adults communicate with each other and their kids can affect their child’s trust issues.

Parents lacking in integrity tend to be duplicitous in their communications.  They are bad role models for children who get confused with double messages, real life scenarios and actions not corresponding to what they preach.  In the book Steps Toward an Ecology of Mind, Gregory Bateson points out that children learn to distrust their perceptions in social interactions when they have been confused and mystified by double messages experienced in their family.

It is these painful and confusing events in childhood that create a profound impact on us throughout life.  The natural defence mechanism is to build a system of defences against that pain, confusion and disillusion.  Children whose parents are from political clans are usually the most broken.  As they interact socially with people in the community, they are raised in a home with double standards – making them understand what it is like to be a politician’s child, and how to reason out their status in society.  Many of them grow up learning to never trust anyone.  Others have an increased sense of vigilance.  If they were hurt by their parents’ dishonesty, they can see other people from a skewed perspective and develop harsh, cynical attitudes toward them.  These are self-protective defences that preserve an illusion of strength and vulnerability, yet these same defenses limit our capacity for trusting others and for finding fulfilment in a close relationship.

– PsychAlive (Psychology for everyday life,

Because trust issues are deeply rooted from our child rearing days, growing up mired in confusion, deception, infidelity, and self-destructive behaviour results in an adult who is anxious, devious, manipulating and dangerous. A person filled with hate and lack of compassion.

Trust matters.  It helps preserve love, affection and tenderness people feel for one another.  It is these feelings of mutual trust that continue to sustain people through the inevitable challenges of every relationship.

Honesty is such a lonely word

Singer and songwriter Billy Joel in the song entitled Honesty, writes the lyrics beautifully of a highly principled, ethical and moral dilemma.  While the whole song speaks about honesty in relationships related to love, the chorus talks about the quality of being honest and how lonely the word is.

Honesty is such a lonely word

Everyone is so untrue

Honesty is hardly ever heard

And mostly what I need from you

Some people purport “white lies” or “little lies” for fear of hurting others with the truth.  When a spade is called a spade, when the cruel reality is revealed in spite its consequences, honesty may sometimes hurt but will be appreciated much.

People often confuse honesty for truthfulness.

Honesty is about expressing your opinions and feelings accurately.  Truth is an accurate representation of reality. Both words don’t have to balance each other always. One can completely be honest yet be untruthful.

A schizophrenic can be honest about their fear of the ghost they see in the corner of their room every night.  The truth is, there’s nothing there.

When you are called by the principal of your child’s school because he beat up another child, and your kid says the other child “started the fight”, he’s being totally honest about his opinion.  The other child had called him out for being an ass, your kid got angry and hit his classmate with the algebra book on the face. But in reality, in truth, your child started the fist fight.  We usually will protect our offsprings and we won’t believe that our kid started the fight.  You can always say that your child was being honest. In truth, he started the fight.

Dr. Jeremy Sherman, writes in Psychology Today (Aug 1, 2018), about the difference between honesty and truth.  He emphasizes that the failure to recognise the difference leaves one exposed and gullible.

Gullibility is largely a product of failing to notice the difference between honest opinion and truth.  You may recognise the difference, but we’re all gullible in the company of people who share our honest opinions.

We’re much more likely to spot a fraud who disagrees with us than one who’s on the same page.  We’re much more likely to notice that honesty and truth are different when someone’s honest opinion conflicts with ours; but when someone’s feelings and opinions are just like ours, we’re both in touch with the truth. How could we not be? We both agree? That’s a consensus!

Why do we mistake honesty for truth when we’re on the same page? Because all tend to see ourselves as the standard for the truth about reality.  We assume we’re unbiased.  When we’re with like-minded people, they must be unbiased, too – in direct contact with the truth.

Thinking that we’re the unbiased measure of all truth is why more exes are diagnosed as narcissists by their former partners than there are true narcissists.  Their former partners assume that being loving and attentive to them is the true standard.  If someone fails by that “unbiased” standard, they must, in truth, be narcissists.

What Sherman writes about is the complicated truth.  Sadly, many see themselves as the measure of all things.  Everyone is suddenly a genius or a the gold standard of knowledge.  Anything that veers away from the standard of your opinion is biased.  Because you feel you’re the gold standard.

At any point in our lives, whether it is in the political arena or a battle of relationships and love or getting ahead in the business circle or academic honesty, it’s a fair reminder that you cannot expect loyalty from people who cannot even give you honesty.

It’s a paradigm shift that not many can handle. Ask the politician whose family is running for various positions in politics.  It’s like the story of the schizophrenic. He tells you to believe in his fantasies and fairy tales and empty promises, when in truth there is none.

If you want to be trusted, just be honest.

The lifestyle of kindness

Mark Twain once said, “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

In a world where digital technology has become essential in our day to day communications and relationship, deep conservations with the right people have become priceless.  It is disturbing when we allow the behaviour of others who sow nothing but hate and disillusion to destroy our inner peace.

Buddhism teaches us that “if we have to choose between being kind and being right, choosing being kind will always be right”.

I’ve always said that the anatomy of disappointments are expectations.  It is human nature after all, to expect things done for someone as a favour in the future.  This act is called “payback”.  There are people who make acquaintances with the objective of “want and need”.  We want something, or need something.  They are not true friends.  They are there for a personal agenda.  When you’re not needed anymore, they will treat you like trash.

When we do things for others out of the goodness of our heart, or the purest of intentions and expect nothing in return, we will never be disappointed.

Kindness is not an act.  Our random daily association and interaction with people speak volumes of who we are.  No matter how educated, talented, rich or cool we think we are, how we treat people in the end is a reflection of our integrity.  Kindness is a lifestyle that’s yearning to be learned …and it always begins with “I”. When we learn to be kind to ourselves, we allow kindness to flow from us and that cascades to others as well.

Our days are better and happier when we give people a bit of our heart than a piece of our mind.

As you read this blog, be the reason someone smiles today.