The lie detector

A man buys a lie detector robot that slaps people who lie.

The man decides to try it out at dinner.

Dad: Son, where were you during school hours?

Son: At school.

The robot slaps the son.

Son: Okay! I was at my friends house watching DVD!

Dad: What’s the title of the movie?

Son: Kung Fu Panda

The robot slaps the son again.

Son: Okay! It was a XXX rated sex film!

Dad: What!!? When I was your age I didn’t even know what an erotic or X rated movie was.

The robot slaps the dad.

Mom: Hahahaha!!! He is YOUR SON after all!!! Hahahaha!!!

The robot slaps the mom.

Dear Carla and Charles

How time flew. And how you’ve both grown into wonderful adults. You may not be perfect in all things, but to me, you’ve done yourselves proud. And that is enough perfection for me. And your mom.

The circumstances of your growing up is a million miles different from the “ordinary family”. The extraordinary circumstances of our losses in life was a painful pill to swallow for all of us, and your mom mostly. But the story of our lives needs to be celebrated and shared because in spite of these circumstances, we all did just fine.

With the early passing of your dad, both families needed to pull together. Kudos to your mom who needed to raise both of you in the dual role as father and mother.

I am writing this for you to remind you of family and the ties that bind us together. Your growing up years were the most challenging. Emotionally and financially, we were now all providers. I don’t write this to say that you owe your family anything. It is out of love that we provide. And out of love that we will sacrifice for your future. All I ask is that someday you pay it forward.

We’re all proud of who you’ve both become today. A friendly advise from someone who has been on the road less travelled. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible because all things are possible. Go for it. I will be here to catch you at that worst moment in your lives. Most of all, don’t forget the virtue of humility. Stay grounded and focused on happiness in the journey to the goals in life.

One day, you too will have your own family. Treat them well. Be the inspiration to their lives. And most of all, write your stories and help people write theirs. The chapters of your lives may be their book.

Love always


Love letter to my sister

Do you remember the time when we fought like cats and dogs? I think it’s normal between siblings that there’s what they call “sibling rivalry”. I think it was more of attention-grabbing than anything else. It was weird that we really didn’t fight much as we were growing up. Weirder that we had only each other to run to when we had problems. Weirdest that even as siblings, we shared more of our world than other families would.

Yes. As we grew older the challenges in life became struggles. In hindsight, these struggles made us stronger. Made us closer. Made us believe that even as a small family, we can overcome many things despite the difficulties life threw at us. The scars are visible, yet they serve as our reminders that we fought hard. And we fought well.

It was ironic that you found a Christmas card I gave you 29 years ago.

I know that the passing of Edward was difficult particularly when you were pregnant with Charles. We were all devastated with that loss. As a family, we overcame the uncertainties and well, God provided, and the kids are now grown up and living decent lives.

You’ve accomplished your purpose and perhaps, I’ve accomplished mine.

I still keep my part of the promise. Because we’re family. And Family is all about love.

I am writing this for you, to remind us that resilience in times of adversity can win. And there are small victories in our relative joys in life.

And I’m sharing our story so that others can believe in the magic of discovering happiness even during the worst of days.

With much love,

Love letter to mom

Dearest mom,

It’s been quite awhile that I’ve sat down and thought about where life has led us today. I know that I’ve been busy and we’ve both gotten older. We even share greying hair and wrinkles already. The reason I decided to write you a love letter is to let you know that in spite of the weirdest, roughest days of my daily grind, I never stop caring for you.

I know that there are days that you’d tell me that you’re old and useless already. It pains me that you tell me that you’re most useless because of your difficulty in walking. Or that you’re not being able to cook for me my favorite dishes any longer. Or that you’re unable to run errands for me like you used to.

It pains me to see you depressed and lonely during most days or dream of bad things or simply wait for the maid to assist you when you need to move around.

We all wish that everything in life is “what it used to be”. Reality is, it’s not. Life is a cycle.

When we were born, I know you and dad were overjoyed at having a baby to take care of. After another year or so, my sister came along. And we became a handful. Life did not come easy for a young couple to raise us. But hey, you need to pat yourselves in the back because you did a good job. We didn’t turn out so bad after all.

I’m grateful for everything you’ve done. I want you to know that! The arguments and discussions will always be part of a healthy discourse in the family. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

For the love you so unselfishly shared during my highs and lows in life. For the moments when I just needed a hug. For the days when I had a shoulder to cry on. For the years of hardship you carried so well in spite of the challenges in life.

I am writing this for you because I want you to remember that I will always be thankful for everything you’ve done for us. The least I can do is to repay that unabashed love you so generously shared through your sacrifices is through my own way of caring for you.

And while my memory and your memory are still intact, let me express my profound gratitude.

Thank you for being my best friend.

I love you to the blood red moon and back. 💖

The homecoming @35

Class of 1983. Yep! 35 years after graduating from medical school, this bunch of crazy, lovely, wonderful and great people still managed to come together from all parts of the country and the world to be with one another for our alumni homecoming.

This year, we were the coral jubilarians. It was a festive and memorable occasion. While I missed some other gatherings of our batch, I could not help reminisce those crazy times we shared.

School wasn’t just about coming to class and taking and passing the exams. It wasn’t just about studying to get a diploma (though I got mine a few months later than my batch mates). It was having fun and learning at the same time.

After medical school, we all went separate ways. Our journeys may have been different. Some married. Some stayed single. Some worked for the government. Others the academe. Others the corporate world. And most of us went into private practice. Then there were those who passed away. Too soon.

Homecomings remind us of the camaraderie we all share, even after school. It’s a beautiful reminder that life goes on and only we can chart our destinies.

The class of 83 is family to me.

We are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions. Yet our roots remain as one.

I will always be grateful to my Alma Mater and my professors who have molded us into who, what and where we are today.

Until the next five years again my friends when all roads lead us back home.

The daily grind

When I was growing up I always wondered why my father had to wake up so early in the day. He’d be up at 430am to get ready to go to work. By the time I was going to school, I’d usually hitch a ride with my dad. He’d drop me off and most of the days, he’d also pick me up after classes on the way home.

It was his daily grind.

And he’d always say, “I owe I owe so off to work I go.”

We don’t realize what most parents go through to place food on the table, send their kids to school, put a roof over their head, worry about the clothes on their backs while chasing their dreams.

Back then when the internet and the technological revolution was still intangible, the daily grind was a much slower process. It was like watching life evolve in slow motion.

Friends were actual people who played with and shared your most intimate and despicable moments with. They made you cry, laugh, and love at different phases in your life.

And then there was work. Not being subservient to the Internet had its pros and cons. (And that’s another topic altogether). The upside was that the skills I developed as a clinician was truly one that I would treasure. My generation, was the last of the dinosaurs.

Fast forward to today, I’d say that I’ve almost come full circle. Slowing down has crossed my mind gazillion times. The adrenaline rush of work and anxiety is a rollercoaster ride that’s taking a toll on my daily grind. And the years have made me gradually feel the aftermath.

And I remember my dad. He passed away at an early age of 59. I miss him a lot. Especially those moments spent with him. Because he was too busy providing, he eventually suffered two strokes and passed away. Too soon.

As we venture into another year, it’s time to reflect on whether I will let the daily grind affect the moments in my life that I will miss.

Remember, there is never a rewind button in our lives. If we let the daily grind miss out on what is essential, we would have life pass us by.

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. – Dr Seuss

Chapter 1 – Tokyo Stories

When my mom turned 80 this year, she insisted that our family trip should be to Tokyo, Japan.

My mom is a strong woman who took care of my father who suffered from a stroke due to complications of diabetes. When my father got sick, my mom had to find means to make ends meet. Medicines and therapy for my father did not come cheap. When my father passed away 23 years ago, she was devastated.

Our family is not perfect.  We have dysfunctional moments.  The last five years has been most difficult.  My mother began to deteriorate in her ambulation.  I guess we need to be thankful that her mind is functioning well, but you can tell that age has taken a toll on her.  Her agility is now challenged with a quad and a wheelchair.  There were moments she’d look into your eyes through her cataract glazed eyes with questions and hints of sadness over her condition.

She’s irritatingly repetitive and yet beautiful in her own quirky ways. She’s needy to the point of clingy but thoughtful in her own quiet ways. I get to lose my patience only because work supersedes the attention she desires.  There were (and still are) tug-of-war moments between work and her needs. The work-balance relationship (especially with my work in government) is a work in progress.

This trip to Tokyo wasn’t an easy one to arrange.  It’s cold, crowded, and transportation is expensive (no kidding).  I’m sorry (not!) if I blew my top at Philippine Airlines (on Facebook) when they decided to change the aircraft configuration two weeks before our travel! While airlines do what they do for the sake of profit, I’m pretty sure that if it was owned by the government, the airline would have gotten pummelled with all the insults on social media.

Arriving in Tokyo through Haneda Airport was the better choice.  The airport isn’t as crowded as Narita and it’s nearer to Tokyo than arriving through Narita. I arranged for a limousine from the hotel to pick us up. It would be impossible to travel on the train with her and our luggages filled with her pampers, her quads, and her wheelchair in tow in the cold winter!

This trip was all about Inang. As requested.

She had her photo-op with Hachiko.  Her crossing (on a wheelchair) at Shibuya at 9pm.  Her enjoying ramen in a quaint dining area where ramen was ordered through a vendo machine.  She loved the Muji shop in Ginza. Ate with gusto at Shake Shack in Maranouchi. Had snacks at Dominique Ansel in Omotesando.  Bought trinkets and souvenirs in Harajuku.  Enjoyed the cake and tea at Laduree in Shinjuku. Shopped relentlessly at Takashimaya. Watched the flurries from out hotel window on a cloudy Saturday.  And yes, see Mt. Fuji each break of day from her bedroom!

What did this trip teach me?

My mom is now old and frail. Whatever moments we can spend with her while her senses are still intact, will always be the goal.  We watch her move much slower now, as she needs more assistance when moving.  Doze off more often.  Eat much less.  It’s the sad reality of life.

As I write this first blog of the year watching the sunrise and Mt. Fuji from our room in Tokyo, with my mom snoring in the warm bed at 7am, I cannot help but smile and say, thank God for another year.  We made it mom!

This, is my Relative Joy.


P.S. You may want to read about Inang in this link on my other blog.